Crossword News July 2018

Last month the Prize Puzzle was 20/8 by Wan. It was published in June because its theme was the World Cup. Correct letter in misprints give SHIFTED BY WORLD CUPS. Unclued entries were seven of the 8 nations who have won the World Cup Caesar shifted by the number of cups they have won. The eighth nation to have won is of course England who have one, so FOHMBOE has to be written alongside the grid. The title refers to the 20 World Cups divided by the eight nations who have won it.

A full solution with notes is available at

Here are some of the comments from solvers, mostly complimentary.

I thought this was a fantastic puzzle with a most impressive construction.  Including the thematic elements in the grid in a number of Caesar Cipher shifts was nothing short of astonishing.  Big thanks and very well done to Wan.

A nice puzzle with a cleverly worked out theme.  Satisfying that the various winners produced a symmetrical pattern in the grid – with the exception of one team, which no doubt has some superstitious significance for this competition (written half an hour before the Panama game kicks off)!  Thanks to Wan for an enjoyable challenge.

Thanks to Wan for this take on a highly topical theme. I liked the use in the word play of less common meanings of common enough words, eg TEN for a large number, LIMB for mischievous child, KEN for house, SPIT for to spawn, SO for that will do.

However, one solver delivered a strong rebuke to both Wan and me ….’ 🙂

1 – seemed to be a few terrible clues, could have used some better editing

2 – will we never see an end to puzzles reminding us that England won once.

There were 38 entries, of which 5 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner, picked from the electronic hat, was Mark Nichols, who will soon be receiving a prize donated by Chambers.

As most solvers already have the Chambers Dictionary or use the Chambers app, I asked for an alternative prize. For the next 9 months winners will receive a copy of Chambers Complete Crossword Lists which, I hope, will be a useful aid for both solvers and setters.

You still have time to solve another fantastic puzzle as No Coincidence by Stick Insect is the July Prize Puzzle, open until the 8th August.

Yet more delightful challenges for August when the Prize Puzzle is A Study in Scarlet by Phylax.
Friedlander and Fine have published an article in Frontiers in Psychology on the potential use of cryptic crosswords in research into insight problems. The article uses examples from puzzles published in the Magpie. I found some of it hard reading but if you skip to the section on cryptic clues there is a fascinating dissection of the mechanics of solving.

It is sad to announce the death of Guardian Crossword setter, Audrey Young, who was known by the name of Audreus. Her obituary was written by her son, John Young, who is also a Guardian setter under the pseudonym Shed.

Alan Connor has written a tribute to Audreus and her superb clue-writing skills.
In an exhibition on J R R Tolkien at the Bodleian Library there is a Times crossword solved by the writer and embellished with doodles.
I am indebted to Mark Thakkar who tracked down the puzzle as the 9th August 1960.
And finally, you may have missed that John Henderson mentioned me in the i-paper in his series on crossword twitter accounts.

All a-Twitter – 4:  A resourceful chap New to crosswords? Need the Chambers app? Looking for someone to set a special puzzle? Don’t understand a clue? Well, provided you aren’t about to break rules like, say, commenting on prize puzzles before deadline day, do visit Curated by self-confessed “crossword geek” Derek Harrison (@dzharrison), the Crossword Centre is hard to beat, cruciverbally speaking. You can post your questions on its messageboard, find links to other useful sites, buy bargain books and solve Inquisitor-style prize puzzles, some by setters you’ll know from this page, as well as get access to a monthly newsletter.

Best wishes