Crossword News January 2017
Happy New Year! As usual we start with our last competitions. The Prize Puzzle for December was Seasons Greetings VIII by Eclogue. This must have been an easy month for our marker. The letters derived from clues provide DR SEUSS and HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS. Solvers are required to delete all instances of C,H,R,I,S,T,M and A, leaving only NOEL in the grid.
Here are some of the comments from solvers.
It can’t have been easy to compose a grid using only the letters of CHRISTMAS (almost) though I have to admit I hadn’t even noticed till I had the grid three quarters full. I had misinterpreted the respectively in the preamble to mean each set of clues in order would provide the message so struggled with that as well. However thanks (again) to Eclogue.
Solve was straightforward enough, did learn a couple of new words (always a good thing) but I got stumped as to the final step after the removal of the “certain characters”. Bar the removal I couldn’t see any season symmetrically in the grid. I put it on the back burner for a couple of weeks, checking every 2-3 days to see if I had missed something obvious, but no joy. It hit me driving home from work on the 5th, I had it backwards, I was supposed to steal “Christmas” and leave Noel. Aargh. Well played gents, well played.
What an amazingly inventive contest by Eclogue!
There were 53 entries, and not surprisingly, they were 100% correct. The lucky winner out of the electronic hat was Peter Covey-Crump from Cheltenham who will soon be receiving a prize donated by Chambers.
A full solution and notes are available at http://wp.me/p7qTXm-3t
Our maths special was Christmas Puzzle by MatriX. This came in two parts. First you had to fill the grid with digits and then in the second part you had to convert them into pentaminos. There is a full solution and notes at http://wp.me/p7qTXm-3z
The pentamino that was not used was the L-shape. As there is no L and with a seasonal puzzle calling for an appropriate title to follow ‘The First’ the answer of course is Noel.
Here are some of the comments.
I spent a while trying to think of a clever title for puzzle 2 and eventually came up with what I thought was a very fitting gem. Only then did it occur to me that this might just be the title I was Meant to come up with and which was Expected of solvers by MatriX, in which case congratulations to him/her for a gem of a finish.
Was tempted to offer the title “Tesselation Torment” having always struggled with these types of problems. A bit of Blue Peter-ing (cutting out shapes and playing with them) at Christmas seemed appropriate, however, and the ending brought a smile. I wonder if this might be a candidate for puzzle of the year. Producing a tiling solution from which to write mathematical clues looks straightforward, but checking this is unique for the choice of underlying numbers is another matter entirely. The added feature of three possible solutions at the halfway stage seems to suggest this was a notable feat of engineering. I wonder if MatriX might write a short note describing how the puzzle was constructed? But that might reveal crucial secrets! Either way, many thanks to MatriX, and to the editors who provided two entertaining routes to the same end.
I naturally assumed we were dealing with the usual 5×12 pentomino rectangle, and so looked for a digit total divisible by 12. Lo and behold, one of the three possibilities qualified. Several hours later, I concluded it was impossible to place the X. After checking everything else several times it eventually occurred to me to count the columns. Oh. A very nice trap and I walked right into it. At least it was obvious what the new title was.
There were only 22 entries, of which 4 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner out of the electronic hat was Gerry Murtagh of Glasgow. Gerry will soon be receiving a 3D puzzle calendar which has been donated by Calendar Puzzles http://www.calendarpuzzles.co.uk/
Our Prize Puzzle for February will be a welcome return for Flowerman with Nicene Creed.
We are struggling to keep up with our monthly puzzles this year. Submissions are very welcome.
The results for 2016 have now been recorded and we can announce the winners of the Crowther Cup.
After the final totting up of the Annual Results we find that once again we have 4 all-corrects for the year – and of course it is a full year this time. 3 of the 4 are ones who achieved the feat last year also, so have now gone two 2 “years” undefeated, and are joined by Matthew Auger, so the full list is:
All entrants can email Robert Teuton at firstname.lastname@example.org for their individual records for the year. Many thanks to Robert for his assiduous checking once again.
News that Tom Johnson has stood down as editor of the 1 Across magazine. The new editor is Hamish Symington (Soup).
1 Across is a monthly magazine for cryptic crossword enthusiasts, a rare source of interesting and ingenious speciality and thematic puzzles by professional and amateur compilers. Many may be known to you from their published work; others are up and coming in the world of crossword setting. What all of the puzzles share, though, is a high quality and an entertaining take on the norm. It offers five puzzles every month; four are brand-new, and one is an Araucaria from the extensive 1 Across archives.
Puzzles may be ‘normal’ blocked grids, barred, blank, circular, Scrabble boards… often, anything goes! Many puzzles have Ninas; most have more overt themes. One puzzle every month is a Prize Puzzle, with a prize of a book voucher generously donated by Oxford University Press.
Formerly edited by Araucaria, Mike Rich, John Henderson (Enigmatist) and Tom Johnson (Doc/Didymus/Gozo/Maskarade/…) More information at http://1across.co.uk/ and you can download a free sample issue.
There is an interview with Hamish in this week’s Guardian blog and a link to a special crossword by Soup. First prize will be a subscription to 1 Across.
A rare chance to see Ashley Knowles (Boatman) with John Halpern (Paul, Mudd & Pink) and Hugh Stephenson (Guardian Crossword Editor) talking about the art, paractice and future of crossword compiling this week. The talk is at Waterstones Brighton, 7pm Thursday 19 January 2017. A free event but do make sure of a place by calling 01273 206017 or emailing email@example.com.
In the January edition of the Crossword Magazine there was more information about its future.
Crossword, Second Series
The monthly publication will be distributed mainly electronically. It will consist of a variable number of separate A4 sheets to be printed single or double-sided at the whim of the recipient.
The suggested paper option will be available for members supplying SAEs or stamps plus address labels.
It is planned that the content will be broadly similar to that of the First Series to include two prize crosswords with the bimonthly clue-writing contest, plus extra suitable content as available.
Two ‘winners’ of each puzzle will be invited to choose a subscription-size monetary prize if they wish.
It is hoped that, with faster communications, it will be possible to include solutions etc in the following month’s issue. Time will tell.
Setters will continue to be offered payment for their crosswords.
It is expected that the annual sub will be £30-£35 world-wide.
The first – March – issue will be offered in the form of a Free Sample. Continued publication thereafter will depend on the number of subscribers enrolled.