Crossword News March 2017
The February Prize Puzzle was Nicene Creed by Flowerman. This crossword had the theme of ‘every cloud has a silver lining’. The names of clouds had to have the letters Ag inserted. A full solution is available at http://wp.me/p7qTXm-4c
Here are some of the comments.
Tough, tough solve. Hard to get going, and it wasn’t until about 3/4 done that the last few fell a little bit easier, even then I’m still unsure on the parsing of a couple of the clues. None of that is a bad thing, we don’t do them because they’re easy, we do them for the challenge. As for the title, I am lost. Thanks to all,
Nevertheless, this was a terrific puzzle which I enjoyed immensely. There were many brilliant clues. Those involving the subtractions of words [(DU)GITE, (H+AS)SLED and PEG(HS)] were delightful, the last provoking alarming imagery of what might go on in Glaswegian allotments. “Leaving the heads” for [S]CUM + [Z]ULUS was excellent and PREMED was innovative – after all, MASTER can be used for MA, so why not for MED (and MBA, MMUS, MS, MSC etc.)? There were many other clues which ought to be mentioned, but just a few more; GORAN’s heading going down, wife out for run, and the surfaces to Asian country contracted to return soldiers’ property, Dock weed at times choking channel and Brought back some jasmine trees from the east were all wonderful. So, although my miserable grid-delving skills were found wanting, many thanks indeed to Flowerman for a lovely crossword with top-notch clues.
This is by quite a long way the most difficult puzzle we have solved in a while. Every clue was a mini struggle. We are still not sure why it is called Nicene Creed.
There were only 33 entries, of which 25 were marked correct. The lucky winner picked from the electronic hat was Gron Roberts who will soon be receiving a prize donated by Chambers.
You still have time to complete our March challenges, Bottomless Cubes by Urchin and Primes by Gnomie.
Our Prize Puzzle for April will be 1 Across by Opsimath.
If you would like to write a clue in our next Round Robin puzzle write soon to John Nicholson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Saturday 11 March I was at the Listener Crossword Setters’ Dinner held at the Jury’s Inn, Gateshead quayside. There were 110 guests present as Jago started proceedings. We enjoyed a very nice meal, including steak cooked in Newcastle Brown Ale and a delicious St. Clements posset, all the while trying to solve a devious quiz devised by John Henderson.
Then it was time for the statistics and awards. The Radix Auditorum, presented to the best new solver, went to Rosalie McCrossan.
At the beginning of 2016 there were 23 all-correct solvers. However, a hidden hare in Poat’s Buried Treasure knocked out 14 of them and there only remained eight at the end of the year. Richard England remained top of them with 207 all-correct, but, as is the tradition, it was passed down to Tristan and Lucie Melen with a string of 182. They received the Solver’s Silver Salver and, in a delightful change from tradition, Tristan played piano and Lucie sang to us. A clever re-write of a Flanders and Swann song gave us – ‘Twas 4pm on Friday when the Listener did arrive. The couple gained a standing ovation for their witty (and very true) description of a solver’s week.
As usual the all-correct solvers were asked to vote for their five favourite puzzles by allocating points. In reverse order here are the results.
5th XL by Harpy 11 points
4th The Bard’s Coupling by The Bard (Kea) 12 points
3rd Shut That Door by Bandmaster 16 points
2nd No Offence by Artix 26 points
And the outright winner was
6 Across by Shackleton 60 points
The quiz was judged by John and Jane and the bronze casket went to table 3 for their DLM clue to Dame Vera Lynn. After that the guests retired to the bar until the early hours.
On 28 February the BBC2 black comedy series Inside No. 9 had an episode based on cryptic crosswords. The Riddle of the Sphinx initially involved a crossword setter explaining the workings of some of his clues. How the plot ensued might shock most people. In an interview with co-writer Steve Pemberton, Guardian blogger Alan Connor reveals how the crossword came about.
The puzzle contains many hidden messages pertaining to the plot and was published as the Guardian cryptic puzzle on 28 February. You can try the puzzle at https://www.theguardian.com/crosswords/cryptic/27132
If you have access to BBC iPlayer you can view the episode at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08h7trr/inside-no-9-series-3-3-the-riddle-of-the-sphinx
Guardian setter Picaroon caused an uproar after a chance alignment of entries in his 1st March crossword left him accused of political bias. You can read what Twitter made of it in this article on Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/nicola-sturgeon-guardian-crossword-racist_uk_58b6e443e4b060480e0d9a3c
I have recently bought a copy of Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary for Kindle. I am using it on my iPad. The Kindle app is free. I already have Chambers on the same device and, along with Simon Long’s Advanced Crossword Solver, I rarely have to open the hard copy. Using the magnifying glass symbol to search I have found it very fast. Occasionally the headword that you want comes second or third in the search but it is very easy to see which to click on. For me it is very handy for travelling and getting the full 2015 edition at £6.99 it is a real bargain. I have chosen this Kindle book as our Book of the Month. http://amzn.to/2lStnby
Crossword setter Mick Hodgkin, aka Morph etc, has been delighting us with his limericks on Twitter for many years. He has recently published a second book of limericks on the subject of our kings and queens. There Once was a Man with Six Wives by Mick Twister is available on Amazon and other book retailers. It is a fun way of learning history and would make an ideal birthday present.http://amzn.to/2mNXGNC
Guardian setter Paul (John Halpern) plans to run the London Marathon and write all the clues to a crossword while he runs. He needs some helpers as you will see if you read his request.
This year, in aid of Sense UK for the deafblind and in honour of my late brother Paul, I shall be writing a cryptic crossword – while I run!
How it works: a colleague will fill in a grid with 26 words, and 26 volunteers will stand at each milepost holding up a word that they have been allocated. Seeing the word, I record a clue to that word on a dictaphone, and by the finish line, hey presto, we have a crossword!
I would love you to choose to be one of the 26. Perhaps even you and a friend could be two of the 26?
The story we create together will feature in The Guardian at the end of April.
And if you haven’t attended the London Marathon before, it’s a wonderful and inspiring day out.
If you are interested, and are free and able to be in London on Sunday April 23rd, please simply email me at email@example.com with subject title ‘one of the 26’ and I’ll supply details on how the day would work.
If you can’t be there, or if you can (!) I would really appreciate any donation, however small, towards my target. The link is below.