Prize Puzzle June 2017

Round Robin IX – Liven Up With …

PDF version

In the completed grid a letter must be changed appropriately in each of two entries to make them thematic, and to help display a saying missing from the title which must be highlighted (14 cells). The full title would have helped with some entries. Numbers in brackets show entry lengths. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is the primary reference.

1 Incessant rowing having scrapped changing NIC? That’s very normal (6)
5 Hot platter (divine) almost turned over – how dreadful! (6)
10 Hip joining two articulated body parts (5)
11 Drinks concoction of sake after beginning to tremble (5)
12 Lose the back-end when turning worthless jalopy (4)
14 Destroying angels sat in a mausoleum, content but upset (8)
15 Small branches contain core of pulp in Chinese nettle plant (6)
16 Look back over tack rations (6)
18 Ripping yarn I translated, following the Spanish (7)
19 Girl nearly dancing with this lover could be adoring (5)
20 Tease briefly in shower (5)
22 Struggling nag gave away ground (7)
27 Enzyme used in brewing yeast after introduction of calcium (6)
29 Fish speed round lake (6)
31 Vessel’s heaviness – women ejected by starters of Oxford’s annual race (8)
32 Trouble aiming left for elderly couple (4)
33 Class welcomes new tot (5)
34 Start to get drunk, taking cap off rye (5)
35 Attempt to secure a potential bacon supplier (6)
36 Groups half wiped out by violent argument’s conclusion (6)

1 “Show respect for old-timers’ is a clue throwing Charlie off (6)
2 One with two sisters in Latin America, neither one’s heart taking precedence (6)
3 Name-dropping British screen actor, one left behind by the tide? (7, 2 words)
4 Upon the first touch of pig-iron, my temperature soars! (4)
6 Standing to lose kingdom, primarily like Indian princes (5)
7 Angry man with power? Such could include President Donald – not half (5, 2 words)
8 Too entertained by nasal solo (6, 2 words)
9 Disheartened of ancient Asian region towards the equator maybe (6)
10 You’re welcome to sit on a dry pile of rubbish (4)
11 Present arty shows in provocative dress, like Bakewell? (5)
13 Outdo one when this could send you down (6)
17 Regularly praise the lord at first light (6)
19 You wouldn’t stay the night for this party I’d arranged (7, 2 words)
20 Wearing torn black net, like Time Warp singer’s legs? (6)
21 Ponder endlessly on his turning somewhat obstinate (6)
22 Last traces of extinct volcano steeply rising after genesis underwater originally (5)
23 They recognise Ali roaring his expression of joy (6)
24 On one’s own, retired – someone who lavishes affection is needed (6)
25 Instruction to remake notes when writing up section of long essay (5)
26 Cavities absent on a dental practice missing broken delicate cap (5)
28 In due course PM beheaded one persistently bleating in Scotland (4)
30 Goodfella’s topping stoolie, wasting little time with sawn-off gun (4)

To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format giving the final entries to before 8th July 2017. The first correct entry drawn from the hat will receive a book from the Chambers range, which has been donated by Chambers.

You may vote for your favourite clue with your entry. You can just nominate one clue, which will be awarded 3 points, or your top three which will be awarded 3, 2 and 1 points. The person whose clue accumulates the most points will receive a prize, which has been donated by the Crossword Centre.

Clues by: Steve Bartlett, Rod Beards, Rod Bell, Chris Brougham, Russ Cook, Shirley Curran, Raphael Goldblatt, Richard Heald, Paul Henderson, John Hood, Margaret Irvine, Tim King, Chris Lancaster, Eddie Looby, Mike Lunan, Dean Mayer, John Nicholson, Mark Oshin, Mark Owen, Frank Pasterczyk, Bhalchandra Pasupathy, Ed Powles, Cormac Purtil, Kishore Rao, John Reardon, C G Rishikesh, Simon Shaw, Ian Simpson, Andy Stewart, Paul Taylor, Dave Tilley, John Tozer, Mark Wainwright, Luciano Ward, Nick Warne, Clive Weatherley and Keith Williams.

Crossword News May 2017

Crossword News May 2017

The April Prize Puzzle was 1 Across by Opsimath. In this puzzle solvers had to replace the ROLE (1 across) in a film by the surname of the actor who took the part. There is a full solution available on

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

Thoroughly enjoyable puzzle. Only slightly held up by the possibilities of 44ac ending in tor rather than starting ben. Not being a great film buff the internet proved an essential resource for some of the entries. Congratulations to Opsimath,

Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle from OPSIMATH which had me Googling actors and Oscars in an an attempt to precisely describe the theme – (male) actors who had played particular film roles, the actor having won (or been nominated for) an Oscar, but rarely for the role in question – roughly! And the role had the same number of letters as the surname. Overall not too difficult clues, but a few uncommon words to test the solver, and who knew Calvero was Chaplin’s role in Limelight?

I really enjoyed the latest CC puzzle by Opsimath which once again has broadened my knowledge of things cinematic. This time the ten answers to be replaced were all well known characters from the movies, specially chosen so that their replacements (the actors who played each title ROLE), as indicated by cross-checking, would occupy the same number of cells. The clues were very accessible , my favourite being 20d, least favourite the indirect anagram at 14d, and I especially appreciated an appearance from the OSCARS top right. I look forward to the next film themed puzzle on the Crossword Centre channel,  perhaps one showcasing the actresses next time ?  Many thanks to Opsimath !

Opsimath adds these interesting comments.

Thematic replacements in clue order are PECK, SPACEY, DE NIRO, KEATON, HESTON, PENN, OLIVIER, CAINE, CHAPLIN, HANKS

These actors between them have 17 Oscar wins, and a further 29 nominations. The films concerned garnered 18 wins and 23 nods. Only Moby Dick missed out completely.

Heston and Penn won best actor for Judah Ben-Hur and Harvey Milk respectively; Spacey won best supporting actor as “Verbal”; Caine was nominated for “Alfie”. Charlie Chaplin won his only competitive Oscar for the Musical Score used in Limelight, where he played the aging clown “Calvero”.

There were 58 entries, of which 10 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner picked from the electronic hat was Neill Simpson, who will soon be receiving a prize donated by Chambers.

You still have plenty of time to complete the May puzzle, Well-Connected by Dilwitch.

In June we will be publishing the 9th of our Round Robin puzzles. 37 volunteers wrote the clues to a grid designed by Wan. As usual there will be voting to find the most popular clue. You may vote for your favourite clue with your entry. You can just nominate one clue, which will be awarded 3 points, or your top three which will be awarded 3, 2 and 1 points. The person whose clue accumulates the most points will receive a prize, which  has been donated by the Crossword Centre.
Guardian setter Paul set himself the task of running the London marathon and writing a clue for each mile. You can read about it in this Guardian article.

The crossword he wrote was published in the Guardian on 29th April.
You might like to put the 22nd July in your diary for a S & B meet in Manchester to celebrate the 1500th Inquisitor crossword. The editor, John Henderson, has put this invitation on Fifteen Squared.

I’d very much like to invite Inquisitor solvers to The Vine Inn in Kennedy Street in Manchester on July 22nd for a gathering to mark the publication of the 1500th puzzle in the Inquisitor series. As far as I’m aware, it will be the first such celebration of this puzzle which, over the years, has undergone several changes of name (and numbering!). All four of our regular bloggers will be in attendance, together with the members of the checking team and several compilers, so it will be an opportunity for solvers to find out more about behind-the-scenes goings-on.

The event begins at noon (opening time), when (to assist icebreaking) there will be various copies of the day’s puzzles available, including the special celebratory Inquisitor currently in preparation for the occasion. Editor and bloggers will be along to join you at around 2:30pm. During the afternoon, a trophy will be presented to the compiler of 2016’s Puzzle of the Year.

So I can keep a check on numbers, please could I ask that you confirm below your likely attendance, and also (this includes setters who have already indicated that they will be present) whether you would wish me to organise a buffet lunch: the pub has a reasonably good lunch menu, but if you’d prefer a buffet, please say.
Phi has made his last Apex puzzle available on his blog at

He has continued the tradition of Apex in producing A Puzzle Every Xmas with a collection for his favourite charity, the Moorfields Eye Hospital. There is always a clue-writing competition and if you check the solution notes you will see that this year’s winner was Ross Beresford.
Have you ever thought you might like to compile crosswords for the Guardian newspaper? Well, the odds are certainly stacked up against you, as crossword editor, Hugh Stephenson, explains in this article.
This month’s clue-writing competition is to write a clue to MICKEY. You have until the 31st May to enter your clue at


Best wishes

Well-Connected by Dilwitch

Crossword Centre Prize Puzzle May 2017

Well-Connected by Dilwitch

Well-Connected by Dilwitch printable PDF

Every clue has a word in common with an adjacent clue. For twenty-eight clues, solving entails exchanging the part of the clue behind this word with the corresponding section of the other clue (usually to the detriment of both surface readings). In the completed grid, solvers are to highlight six thematically-linked names and the two countries of their origin. The Chambers Dictionary (2016) is the primary reference.


1 Look for famous names here. Which people show up? (7, two words)
8 Long, long ago, in poems without end, extremely famous, inspired name (4)
13 See balls lying in a difficult position (6)
14 By end of course one can see red after balls stick to left edge of fairway. It’s too much (8)
15 One reaching age to retire into ultimately idle wrinkly (5)
16 One reaching age to retire needs suitable place for spectacles (5)
17. Showing effects of age, currently active and in large measure sound (7)
19 ” ̶̶̶ ̶ ̶ ̶ ̶ ̶ ̶ ̶ !”, I’d say – a flourish that’s linked to Scotsman (8)
22 Morris man dancing reel next to lift (5)
24 Top brass having left, these are played on cellos (8)
26 Extra lines: these were delivered after show’s ending (6)
27 Legal preliminary to execution to be delivered in advance (6)
29 Devotees of romantic novels, frivolous bit of entertainment with Kobo (8)
31 Holding the lightest of novels, women devour lovers’ antics with ecstasy (5)
33 One racing luge, possibly breaking records (8)
36 With head at the back, one on luge catches one side of track in all corners (7)
38 Ship carrying highly-ranked officer through mists (5)
41 Ornate dome going over highly-ranked music hall (5)
42 Section of Tanach, a letter from abroad (8)
43 Small part of Tanach, one presented to a congregation (6)
44 After end of bash feel unwell and rip off clothes (4)
45 They go in for performance and applaud (7)


1 African tree starts to widen and gain strength rapidly (6)
2 Auditorium whose sound produces gain in takings (4)
3 In USA, kirsch is tipple for people half-cut (4)
4 Whistling for Scotch – expression of enjoyment found by people of Japan (7)
5 Immigrant leader coming from outside (5)
6 Normal girl eats outside before the middle of May (6)
7 How to express support to Latin sextet? (5)
9 What The Observer did – after supporting The Scotsman it’s financially sound (4)
10 Big cat rejected possible mate – round centre of Kenya this number is enormous (9)
11 Nuts used in stuffing – Savoy regulars eat a fair number (6)
12 Wildly rad new No 1, hottest of all the bars, perhaps (7)
18 Having bedded red head at last, ditch partner no longer visiting bars in town? (9)
20 Peg, dishevelled old frump (5)
21 Directions to come back old partners received (4)
23 Having energy to study, one gets to Number One (4)
25 One self-promoting energetically gets a place to dream about (7)
28 Allow loose lips to leak (7, two words)
29 I could mop up leak in church from joint (6)
30 Fruitcake has always risen in this dish (6)
32 Ghandi’s countrymen could support one heading for independence (6)
34 Girl, foreign treasure, could do translation of Sanskrit, a declining art, unfortunately (5)
35 A source of food Delia exploits (5)
37 Source of heat fundamental to taco? (4)
39 After completion of diagram lift a drink in celebration (4)
40 A display of colour that’s striking or it’s wasted (4)

To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format, indicating the highlighted words,   to before 8th June 2017. The first correct entry drawn from the hat will receive a book from the Chambers range, which has been donated by Chambers.

Crossword News April 2017

Crossword News April 2017

There were two prize puzzles on the Crossword Centre last month. Bottomless Cubes by Urchin was a real challenge as you needed to solve a lot of clues before entering answers. Here is Urchin’s comment on how he came to devise it.

“I created this puzzle as a tribute to a memorable Listener crossword. Ad’s Missing Faces (1977) held the record for the lowest entry since statistics were recorded, only 20 entries of which only 9 were correct. Two years later, Missing Faces II was published, this time with 46 correct entries. However, I noticed that when the solution to the second version was published it allowed for an alternative solution. So I tried to produce a similar puzzle to see how hard it was to create a unique solution. I found it very difficult and thank the testers for their help.”

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

A spectacular puzzle from Urchin, not only because of the seamless way he wove all these words together, but also how he managed to have real words on the faces and edges  (including RUBIKS, a clever touch).  Many unfamiliar words, but very fair clues to help deduce them.  He must be a formidable Scrabble opponent!   Thank you, and best wishes…

This was very tricky and kept us occupied for far too long. The fact that nothing could be fixed until several adjacent clues had been solved made life difficult. It was evident just how important, in a ‘conventional’ crossword, having a fixed location in the solution for even just one letter greatly aids solving. Here we were ‘solving blind’ almost all the 46 clues. We feel a sense of achievement but wish we’d been quicker!  But thanks nonetheless.

A very tough puzzle – but cleverly constructed. I am still not certain that clue 33 actually does what it is supposed to do. It is probably impossible but a final excellent step would have been for all the bottom faces to spell a message. Thank you Urchin.

There were 33 entries, of which 3 were marked incorrect. The winner was John Hood who will shortly be receiving a prize supplied by Chambers.

A full solution is available at

The maths special was Primes by Gnomie. This was meant to be a gentle exercise in logic but it obviously caused some problems. Here are some of the comments.

This was a manageable challenge as it required not much more than a list of 2/3/4 digit primes. There were a couple of user-friendly unambiguous entries to get the ball rolling, then a bit of trial and error on a few multiple choice entries before I came up with the possibility of Alicia. As soon as I tried that, it enabled completion of quite a few answers and the same trick worked for the other names in play. I have not re-checked all my entries but I think I should have all primes where there should be primes  so I’m going to quit while I have a full grid to admire. Thanks to Gnomie for a number puzzle which I quite enjoyed despite my phobia

This was great fun, and well designed.  The solution route I took (unlikely to be the one intended!) ended with 6 possible primes for 19 across.  Using an alphanumeric conversion to identify one was a clever idea.  I suppose the elder brother could be “Ade” or “Ace”, but “Abe” is in the Chambers’ appendix.  Many thanks to Gnomie.

I had a brief look at this and apart form the consecutive prime anagrams did not get any further with. Woke up this morning with the thought of how to tackle it. Only took under an hour from that point. Goodness knows how many hours my brain had been working on it while I slept! Deceptively clever puzzle; neat idea and very well worked out. Congratulations to Gnomie.

There were 26 entries, of which 3 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner, picked from the electronic hast, was Claire Swinson, who will soon be receiving a prize from the Crossword Centre.

A full solution to Primes is available at

You still have time to complete this month’s Prize Puzzle, 1 Across by Opsimath.

The competition puzzle for May will be Well Connected by Dilwitch.
We were sad to announce the death of Colin Dexter last month. Colin was, of course famous for his Inspector Morse novels which were made even more famous when televised. He had walk-on appearances in the TV series and it is interesting to see if you can spot him.

He was an expert at composing crossword clues and it is worth reading through his archive on the & lit website
He won first prize over 40 times in Ximenes and Azed competitions. Here are some of his memorable clues.

This degree makes nudism shivery (5)

Item gran arranged family slides in? (12, 2 words)

What use a 650cc model here? (8)

It’s this Littlewoods could make you (8)

By it ‘truth’ and ‘lie’ looked alternately interchangeable (11)

Coach covering the last fatal trip (9).

The doddery can’t shy me (9)
Just a week prior to Dexter’s death I came across an extremely informative article on his first Morse novel, Last Bus to Woodstock. I knew that he had used the names of other Ximenes competitors for his characters but this article on the Clue Clinic website gives details of all the references.
Last month saw the annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament held in Stamford, Connecticut. The favourite Dan Feyer won for a record 7th time. A full report is available on the ACPT website at

You can see how Mr Feyer did in the final in this Youtube video.
In my report on the 2017 Listener dinner I omitted to say that the venue for next year will be Paris.
If you want to meet up with other crossword enthusiasts the Sloggers and Betters events are an ideal start. There will be two meets next month, one in Nottingham and another in London. You can get details of these and the October weekend event in York on the Fifteen Squared website at

Best wishes


Solution to March 2017 Maths Special – Primes by Gnomie

Primes by Gnomie (Solution)

Solving sequence

17ac 23ac 29ac 32ac 22d are given by simple fact that 11 13 15 17 have to be the sequence of ages – year 2016 is given in preamble so 1999 and 1979 are fixed.
This fixes 24d (=11) as 1901 and 30d and 36ac as 919 and 991
13ac There is only one such sequence 4567
7 and 1 are fixed – possibilities for 10d 29d are variants of 127 157 197
Sole possibility for 9d is 9631
Sole possibility for 8d is 953
16ac is therefore given as 331
6ac must be 1399 (not 3299) since its reverse, 34ac, cannot have a 2 in third position
Sole possibility for 7d is 3499
5d 25d 26d 28d must now be variants of 941 (33ac gave either 457 or 257 – there are not possibilities with 921) so 33ac becomes 457 (this fixes 10d as 571)
28d = 941 so 35ac (which has to add to 11) has to be 317
26d = 149
5d and 25d are 491 or 419
25ac = 421
This fixes 18d as 7229 as it has to add to an even number (14ac has to add to 10)
31ac has to be in ascending order so is 1249 (only possibility) thus 25d = 419 and 5d = 491
We can now fix sister’s name as ADA = 141
15ac adds to 11 so must be 1019 or 1109
27ac 20d and 6d are anagrams, digits 1,9 and 3 are already established, 0 cannot go into cells 20 or 27 so 15ac is 1019
20d is 1193
The only possibility for 27ac is 1319 so 6d is 1913, which fixes 29ac as 29 (has to add to 11)
We can now establish that her younger brother is TIM and she is ALICIA, which gives us the anagram of 1d and 3d as 2311(TAM would work but would give no girl’s name)
Sole possibility for 11ac is 139 (has to add to 13) so 3d (anagram if 2311 at 21d) is 3121
At 4d, the only possible prime that allows the 1d anagram of 1321 is 131, so 1ac is 113
Possibilities for the remaining brother’s name are ABE (125) ADE (145) or AL (112) and only ABE will allow 14ac to add to 10 and also fulfils the requirement of adding to half the sum of 31ac which fixes the anagram at 1d as 1321.

Solution to Bottomless Cubes by Urchin

Bottomless Cubes Solution and notes
A tribute to Ad’s Missing Faces

Edge Words
a – a PESETA Pe + SET + A(tahualpa)
b – b SAPELE (A + SLEEP)*
c – c LEGATE sounds like LEG IT
d – d DHURRA D (Dutch) + HURRA
Top Face Words
1 – 6 CRONES C (caught) + RONES
7 – 12 GADFLY GAILY swapping I (current) for DF
13 – 18 HARARE HA’ (shortened HAVE) + RARE
19 – 24 QUARTZ ART in QUIZ in place of I
25 – 30 RUBIK’S RUB + SKI<
31 – 36 NOSEAN SEA inside NON (not)
Cube Words
1 CUPELS C (third rate) + ELS (ref. Ernie Els) containing UP (aloft)
2 BERYLS SLY + REB all reversed
3 SYBOES comp anag. (soy beans)* = (AN + SYBOES)*
4 YBRENT Bren (gun) in YT (that obs.)
7 COUGAR (RAGU + O (over) + C) all reversed
11 PLENUM EN inside PLUM (cushy)
16 CLAVER CL (Sri Lanka) + AVER
18 G + LAZED wally = glazed earthenware
19 JERQUE JE (Fr) + RUE containing Q
22 HARMEL HARM + EL (elevated railway)
24 RAZZIA Compound anag. ZANZIBARIS* minus BINS*
25 JARFUL FUL(ham) after JAR
26 PULTAN ULT in PAN (face)
28 MANIOC MA + COIN reversed
29 SHMUCK S(o) H(as) + MUCK
33 SQUISH SQUASH swapping A (about) for I(mposition)
34 HOPPER extra P in HOPER

Crossword Centre Prize Puzzle April 2017

1 Across by Opsimath

Printable PDF

All clues are normal, but ten answers, which may or may not be found in Chambers, must be replaced in a way that roughly accords with a theme to be discovered in the grid.

1 A part played in 30 ac. (4)
5 Most of Bahamas to West, captain! (4)
8 Awards given for no marks? (6)
12 Court process about conventional brief consisting of three terms (9)
13 Egyptian spirit initially heartens any lonely Jewish community (5)
15 Dubious confession from cruciverbalist – the usual suspect! (6)
16 More money for small but very troublesome Brazilian pest (4)
17 Special constable repayed and searched among refuse (9)
18 Most of ancient destroyed civilisation (4)
19 East German policemen make an arrest (6)
21 He tortured a ponce, possibly, not an untouchable! (6)
24 Large animal runs out of Greek island (4)
25 Tears back flower to get tiny bit of sponge (9)
27 Frogs – after they’ve been kissed? (5)
28 Officer commanding offensive group (5)
30 Cook takes 50 minerals back in luggage (9)
33 Distant mark shows area of land used for cultivation (4)
35 Cricketer loses second assistant! (6)
38 Twice note no-good grass (6)
40 A club, possibly, or group upset by 31 dn? (4)
41 Sweet fruit shows term of endearment (9)
43 Lentils help for eyesight (4)
44 On mountain peak we hear woman’s hero! (6)
45 Indian police station holds a thousand Cantonese boat-dwellers (5)
46 I’m one old French comedian – no good copying (9)
47 Add interest for a limited period (6)
48 Oddly maidlike, but does she sell this product?! (4)
49 Moderate Conservatives go back to a state of agitation (4)

2 Purple-flowered broad leaved stonecrop or fir tree (6)
3 Deceiver docked grey (4)
4 Linacre sent out plain message (7 2 words)
5 Dead members of a society filmed? (5)
6 101 Rupees about right for a clerk (6)
7 King accepted five donkeys as Ottoman servants (8)
8 Venetian general expelled from brothel lobby! (7)
9 Did ‘e come from Spitalfields? Quite possibly so! (5)
10 Little bits of plants found in noodle soup served by volunteers (7)
11 Ozzie tries to upset vehicles without wheels (7)
14 One French tough harassed Protestant (8)
15 Child on board slides along (5)
20 Drunken peers in merry frolic (5)
22 Ring tone ruined much of the atmosphere (8)
23 Badger’s relative – one of his friends has gutted eel (5)
26 Follow closely 50A light on car (8)
28 Tess could be inspired by these mountain spurs (7)
29 Tin, Uranium and Lanthanum with drug for surgical tubes (7)
30 Give birth to right old clown! (7)
31 Despicable people entertaining signs of chauvinistic intolerance selfishly (7)
32 Pointing in one direction, fellow follows a nut (5)
34 Draw up tripe evenly cut for Scottish darling (6)
36 Gold lost a vital force according to Wilhelm (6)
37 Court heartless dandy like Fraxinus perhaps?! (5)
39 Gather corn left by reaper to find out bit by bit (5)
42 A bird occupied in a particular way (4 2 words)

To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format  to before 8th May 2017. The first correct entry drawn from the hat will receive a book from the Chambers range, which has been donated by Chambers.

Crossword News March 2017

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

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
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

If you have access to BBC iPlayer you can view the episode at
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Best wishes




Nicene Creed – Solution and Notes

Prize Puzzle February 2017
Nicene Creed by Flowerman – Solution



Four undefined clues: 11d, 13d, 17d, & 20d. Their answers are names of clouds. These need to be lined with silver (Ag) before entry, so entries are: NIM(AG)BUS, STR(AG)ATUS, CUM(AG)ULUS, & CIR(AG)RUS

Final solution: In grid are two cloud forms which don’t have a silver lining: ANVIL & ROLL. (Relevant meanings of these words not in Chambers.)

Title interpretation: A “creed” that every cloud has a silver lining as exemplified by the silvery element Cerium (Ce) lining Nine (as in “cloud nine”).
[* = anagram; lower case = deletions; < = reversal]
8. S in REAL<
10. DA(w/R)N
12. sOARS
14. GarrIGUE
15. duGITE
17. CONgiI
18. IDE + A
19. NAM< + OR
21. (A ..R ..L ..N ..U)*
22. dd
23. MOSsad + CIA<
24. (GOOD D)*
26. ArMOUR
28. TAPe
30. BULLy + A
31. G + NA(W)N
33. dd
35. oUMA
37. O + GIVE
41. EMU in L + R
42. Hidden word <
43. edamAMES
44. GUNS<
45. mEN + VOId
47. SOrrY + A
48. h,asSLED
49. (E hAVEN)*

1. MiLE<
2. GAVe< + O + TOmMY
4. P in LEAL<
5. G shifted down in GORAN
6. DO + DRAT<
9. (SUN IS)<
10. wEeD in DUCT
11. N + SUBMIt< #AG
13. U in STRAiTS #AG
16. LORNE<
17. sCUM + zULUS #AG
20. (I + …R) in CRUSh #AG
24. DANg
25. (ALPINE BEe)*
27. Letters of OGAMS mixed with client gives most angelic
29. PoRE + M.ED.
32. UN in NOrmAL
34. M in NOEL<
36. (SOME + M)<
38. sINGLE
39. VILlagER
40. HAVE + ..N
46. PEGhs

Book of the Month
Bradford’s Kindle version

Crossword Centre Maths Special March 2017

Primes by Gnomie

Primes are the subject of homework in December 2016, for the second of four siblings born at evenly spaced intervals. Exploring, she converts the four children’s names alphanumerically (A = 1 etc.) and is surprised that hers is the only one that gives a prime. She fits the names into the grid then fills the grid with prime numbers, none repeated and none beginning with zero. She concludes by writing her name (in letters) below the grid.


Printable PDF version

1 Anagram of 4d (3)
4 Her sister’s name converted alphanumerically (3)
6 Digits of 34ac are reversed (4)
11 Digits add up to 32ac (3)
12 Digits add up to 23ac (2)
13 Consecutive sequence of digits (4)
14 Digits add to half the sum of digits of 18d (4)
15 Digits add up to 23ac (4)
16 Digits add up to a prime (3)
17 Age of 2d (2)
19 Her name converted alphanumerically to a prime (7)
23 Age of 4ac, the youngest sibling (2)
25 Digits in descending order add up to a prime (3)
27 Anagram of 6d and 20d (4)
29 Birth year of 17ac (4)
31 Digits are in ascending order (4)
32 Age of 12d (2)
33 Digits are in ascending order (3)
34 See 6ac (4)
35 Digits add up to 23ac (3)
36 See 30d; digits add up to a 2-digit prime (3)

1 Anagram of 3d and 21d (4)
2 Her elder brother’s name converted alphanumerically (3)
3 See 1d (4)
4 Palindromic anagram of 1ac (3)
5 Anagram of 25d, 26d and 28d (3)
6 See 27ac; contains the same digits as the next prime in the primes list (4)
7 Digits are in ascending order with one repeated (4)
8 Digits are in descending order and add up to 17ac (3)
9 Digits are in descending order and add up to a prime (4)
10 Anagram of 29d; added to 25d this gives a triangular number (3)
12 Her younger brother’s name, converted alphanumerically (5)
18 Digits add to twice the sum of the digits of 14ac (4)
20 See 27ac (4)
21 See 1d (4)
22 Mother’s birth year (she was 20 when her first child was born) (4)
24 Digits add up to 23ac (4)
25 See 5d (3)
26 See 5d; digits are in ascending order (3)
28 See 5d; digits are in descending order (3)
29 See 10d (3)
30 Palindromic anagram of 36ac (3)
To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format, giving the name, to before 8th April 2017. The first correct entry drawn from the hat will receive a book donated by the Crossword Centre.