Crossword News February 2019

Francis Pasterczyk 1938 – 2019

It was with a huge sense of loss that I learnt that my old friend Frank Pasterczyk passed away on Saturday 9 February. Frank loved tough crosswords and was a leading solver of Magpie puzzles. He was an integral part of the Crossword Centre from the outset. He tested all of our puzzles and his meticulous editing was appreciated by the setters. He also had crosswords that he had composed under the pseudonym Regson on the site.

He contacted me 20 years ago with queries about the Listener crossword. I started putting the Listener on-line so that he could do them. Over the years we became good friends and in 2010 we met up in New York, where he and his wife took us to their favourite Chinese restaurant. Despite health problems and major surgery, he defied the odds and carried on enjoying life. As soon as he had received the Magpie he would put everything on hold until he had solved all the puzzles.

I shall miss him greatly.

His obituary was posted in the Westfield Leader.
The prize puzzle for January was One to Ten by Chalicea. This was a gentle start to the year as, once you had guessed the theme, you could fill half of the grid. Unclued lights gave the alternate lines of ‘One, Two, Buckle My Shoe’ from one to ten. Solvers were instructed to SORT CIRCLED LETTERS – ELEVEN TWELVE thus requiring them to write ‘Dig and delve’ below the grid.

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

Thank you for a lovely puzzle that did not find easy to start but once going, it was good fun and interesting.  It was not long before some guesses could be made of the un-clued entries and for once, I was correct first time.  I confess I had to research on-line for the required addition at the bottom of the grid.  Not so much a lapse of memory but I doubt I ever knew that far into the nursery rhyme.  Thank you for a lovely start to the year and I look forward to many more puzzles from Chalicea.

I initially thought this was going to be a battle but, suddenly, something clicked and I ‘saw’ ‘Pick up sticks’ which led to the other thematic entries and completion wasn’t too long in coming! Thanks to Chalicea for another well-crafted and enjoyable puzzle.

Here is my attempt at the January 2019 Prize Puzzle. It always amazes me where the ideas come from and then how the concept is created into such an interesting puzzle. This one had just the right amount of difficulty for me, requiring some consideration and research before the penny finally dropped.

There were 52 entries, of which 2 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner was Chris Edwards, who will soon be receiving a copy of Chambers Complete Crossword Lists which was donated by Chambers.

There is a full solution at

You still have time to finish the February puzzle, Side to Side by Nod.

The March Prize Puzzle will be our eleventh Round Robin crossword. With a grid designed by Wan, each clue was composed by a volunteer setter.
Last month I mentioned that Coin Gumbrell was retiring from setting and many solvers were wondering who would take over on the Everyman crossword. Since its start with Ximenes the Everyman has gained a reputation as an accessible crossword with clues that are fair to the solver. On the 27 January the first post-Gumbrell Everyman appeared and it was, in my opinion, shockingly bad. A crossword editor would have asked for over half to be rewritten for lack of conventional indicators. You can judge for yourself at

Following some discussion on Facebook, George Heard came up with a spoof which he called the Veryman. Well, it made me laugh.
Voting has taken place to name the Inquisitor puzzle of the year. I am delighted that Harribobs took first place for his Go West, Young Man crossword. He had his debut puzzle on our site and since then has produced a number of cracking puzzles. You can see the other results here.
David Astle’s new book, Rewording the Brain, deals with cryptic crosswords and whether they can improve your memory and boost the power and agility of your brain. Kathryn Friedlander has written a fascinating review of the book. It might make you want to buy a copy.
Roy Dean, holder of the record for solving the Times crossword, died in December. He was an exuberant character, whom I had the pleasure of meeting on a couple of occasions. My greatest memory is of him singing at a dinner for Apex. His obituary is published in the Times.
I shall be going to the Listener Crossword Setters’ Dinner at York racecourse on the 2nd March and am looking forward to meeting friends old and new. As usual, a full report on the evening will appear in the April newsletter.

As part of a de-cluttering process chez nous, a lot our books are going to charity shops. However, some of my vintage crossword books, I feel, should go to interested crossword enthusiasts who want to add to their collection. Therefore, I have put some for sale at reasonable prices. You can see them at
The clue-writing competition has a new contest. Your challenge for February is a STANDARD CRYPTIC clue to RAINBOW (7) by the closing date of MIDNIGHT GMT THURSDAY 28th FEBRUARY.

The statistics for 2018 are now available and make for interesting reading. Congratulations to Tom Borland on winning the annual honours competition.

Best wishes