Crossword News July 2017

Crossword News July 2017

The June Prize Puzzle was our ninth Round Robin, Liven Up With… This puzzle was based on the saying MONEY MAKES A MAN. Ten answers had to be arranged with the addition of an M to make a man’s name.

Another toughish puzzle reflected in the smallish entry

Total Entries: 37. Correct: 31. Incorrect: 6

(Main error was KAGU for RAGU)

The Lucky Winner out of the Electronic Hat was Paul Henderson who will soon be receiving a prize donated by Chambers.

Here are some of the comments.

Can’t believe that we have reached our 9th CWC Round Robin Puzzle already, needless to say I enjoyed this one just as much as previous editions. I particularly like elegantly constructed puzzles where the thematically adjusted entries are located symmetrically in the grid, as here with the original 10 men’s names. It was perhaps a slight shame that not all of the Ms in the names were either unchecked or mutually checked, as contributors clueing MESIAN and MULISH (and AARGH and RAIN once those 2 had been solved) may have started with a marginal advantage over other solvers. On the other hand, contributors of clues to other thematically adjusted answers were possible temporarily delayed by the lack of any immediate certainty on cross-checking with their own clues’ entries.  Many thanks to all contributors for another fantastic group effort!

I found it tough getting a firm toehold at first, possibly due to the variety of authors and also the cunning nature of the thematic clues.

B****y hell! I came close to giving up several times during the month. The penny dropped while sitting in the sun this afternoon and suddenly all became clear. This was a tricky puzzle with some challenging clues – one or two of which I still don’t quite get (eg 2dn). I also don’t quite understand the title of the puzzle – maybe I’ve completely messed up!  However, a tour de force with setters vying to write ‘the clue of the puzzle’. I’ve selected 3 which I thought particularly deft.

Solvers were asked to vote for their favourite clue. There was a clear winner with a tie for 2nd place.

1st: 10 across – Steve Bartlett – 16pts
TONEY – Hip joining two articulated body parts

2nd=: 5 across – Chris Brougham – 7pts
AARGH – Hot platter (divine) almost turned over – how dreadful!

2nd=: 3 down – Margaret Irvine – 7pts
SHOAT – Attempt to secure a potential bacon supplier

Once again, I am gladdened by the good will of the volunteer clue writers. This was a very clever grid conceived by Wan. Many thanks to all.

A full solution with notes is available at

In August we will be publishing two crosswords. The Prize Puzzle is Extraordinary Rendition by Nutmeg. We also have a summer special, Inwards Outwards, a very clever puzzle, by Vernon.

I am pleased to say that, with recent submissions, our pipeline is full until the end of the year. We would still welcome submissions for 2018.

The Crossword Centre message board has been, in my opinion, the best forum for discussion of crossword matters for many years. However, recently I have received lots of complaints about intrusive and upsetting adverts. I intend to move the message board to a Zeta board. The advantages are, firstly, the adverts are smaller and less intrusive. Secondly, once you register the board will recognise you and it is much easier to add comments. Early reaction to the new board has been very positive so I will soon change all links to the new board. In the meantime, do register with the Zeta board at

And add the site to your favourites.
Guardian setter Boatman will be holding another of his popular crossword masterclasses later this year. It will be in Brighton on the 4th November. You can find all about it at

Also in November, another Guardian setter, John Halpern aka Paul will be giving a fun-filled masterclass in how to tackle the cryptic crossword. You can get all the information and how to book at this link.

Remember that tickets for both of these masterclasses would make an ideal birthday or Christmas present.
The crosswords in the Spectator magazine are always of a high standard. You can try the latest by Columba at this link.

The Times National Crossword Championship will be held on Saturday 4 November in Times HQ, 1 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9GF. Competitors have already done the qualifying puzzles and have been allocated places in the preliminary rounds.
And finally, confirmation of what we have suspected all along. Doing crosswords keeps your brain young.

Best wishes



New Message Board

The Crossword Centre message board has been, in my opinion, the best forum for discussion of crossword matters for many years. However, recently I have received lots of complaints about intrusive and upsetting adverts. I intend to move the message board to a Zeta board. The advantages are, firstly, the adverts are smaller and less intrusive. Secondly, once you register the board will recognise you and it is much easier to add comments. Early reaction to the new board has been very positive so I will soon change all links to the new board. In the meantime, do register with the Zeta board at

And add the site to your favourites.

Crossword Centre Prize Puzzle July 2017

James Patrick? by Towser

Printable PDF version

SPEAKER: ____________________

Sixteen across answers are clued without definition; these have an association with 7 down when read (somewhat freely) in clue order. Clues to the remaining across answers contain a thematic redundant word or words; down clues are normal. Proper names may or may not begin with a capital letter. Solvers should add the name of the Speaker under the grid (6 letters).
1. Faint before American football referee loses supporter (5)
5. Partner mixed type ‘O’, stroking organs (5)
11. Moore to keep going forward – rugby player (4)
14. Low second note (5)
15. French maid returns with the Spanish – raise prince to high rank (7)
16. Wood becoming more stable – tree with unpleasant Scottish smell on high (9, two words)
17. Swarthy and savage nomad territory (6)
18. Is optimum when there is no time to finish (6)
20. Common cold (very) starts as Hudson records cold temperatures in Canada (6)
22. Shortened cotton undergarment supporting bedroom advance (3)
23. Foot of clay poetry in a mark of the Beast (4)
25. European Community invested in efflorescence of sodium salts in India (5)
26. Do not start to stop – manoeuvre bishop little by little (4)
27. No good erasing mixture – common cold snack with miller bread (6)
28. Seized for military use without encompassing order or authority (5)
30. Paving tool put up price (3)
32. An indefinitely large number manning American city college (3)
33. Fellow runs for Spenser (7)
35. Take the top off plastic bollards in the road (4)
37. Instigates simple fielding – mistaken? (6)
41. New Zealand white man from Pakistan, Holland, and (slight surprise) Austria (6)
43. Put back opportunity, scope, or occasion (4)
44. Indian tree with unpleasant smell – will students return grass? (7)
47. Publicity shy nymph from Olympus (3)
49. Short sheet of thermoplastic found in Cavendish science laboratory (3)
51. Rude or clumsy person changed from one final direction to the opposite (5)
52. Embrace? Questionably, Lee Cooper can (6)
53. Extremely hot in hall – may make setters stop (4)
54. Wartime camp for Tudor officers with a term of imprisonment (5)
58. Kelso thatch with no end of work (4)
59. Poetic river source gives the navigator run round (3)
60. Arrangement of mah-jongg tiles out of print (6)
62. Higher areas of the eighth moon moved her heart without hands (6)
65. Guess King divorced in Spain (6)
66. Ingenuity or intelligence the male exhibited by call (9)
67. Improve once in the North after shrapnel rearranged hen (7)
68. Good flank or loin, peculiar to a district (5)
69. Watch fowler run over female sandpipers (4)
70. Oddly, the British liquid used in dry-cleaning Bessemer process…(5)
71. …found in waste additives (5)

1. Ed’s “Return of the Few” or “Castaway” (4)
2. Wind is no cure with smoking Scots monarch who liked cigars (9)
3. Girl embraces doctor – one stupid or useless person (6)
4. Explorer started after Central America body of great water (4)
6. Lab gear deciphered by system using symbols involving reasoning about relationships (7)
8. Go with zero fruit (4)
9. Concerned with healthy start to recovery, this may make breathing easier (7)
10. Hard wooden ball in Kashmir, run kept back (5)
11. An obnoxious person, a player who cuts the cards hiding clubrfc (5)
12. Only child holds wreath of flowers derived from oil (5)
13. Fish start to evade second rods (7)
14. Giving direction to mosque, wandering Brahmin loses name (6)
19. Stokes artificial mix of clay and chalk plaster (in some parts of the country) (5)
21. Old injury – tense to get even (4)
22. To live socially depressed on earth or in hell (5)
24. M1 groove? (5)
27. Spurs on bird such as magpie on board (6)
28. Fed up with single point once put out of countenance (6)
29. Without constant set of beliefs, have another go (4)
31. Accustomed to losing a cubic centimetre (small volume) (4)
34. So let it be as the last word, a James or Patrick? (4)
36. Top of the head famous university in Holland (4)
38. Gloss over, perhaps, personal appearance in the…(5)
39. …course. Oil mixture, make chromatic (9)
40. Sing like Crosby – only first parts (5)
42. Vow or promise from Paisley in the Church (unorthodox) (5)
44. Glaswegian drizzle disperses English crowds (7)
45. Top of the head, lack of lines (4)
46. Time creeps, possibly a consideration (7)
48. A knocking sound on hard red wood – rubbish! (7)
50. Withdrew run in leg of stocking (6)
53. To mistake it for a ring on a dog’s collar (6)
55. What leads “Faerie’s” author (in name, Edmund) to dissemble (5)
56. Otherwise known as a Somerset quarryman’s word for limestone (5)
57. Uncle Sam’s intending to grade sodium (5)
61. Small and sweet sewing case does not open (4)
63. Evasive people back secretive Scots (4)
64. Died after, for example, a mild oath (4)

To enter this competition, send your entry as an image or in list format giving the final entries to before 8th August 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 June 2017

Crossword News June 2017

The May Prize Puzzle was Well-Connected by Dilwitch. This was themed on two celebrated pairs of conjoined twins which solvers had to highlight as well as their countries of origin. The theme was Siamese Twins, CHANG and ENG BUNKER from THAILAND and DAISY and VIOLET HILTON from ENGLAND.  Each twin’s first name shares a letter with that of its sibling.

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

I found this tough, only gaining a few entries at each sitting and am still puzzled by a few of the clues. Very clever construction which had me fooled as regards the theme. I thought at first it was novels or characters. T-cloth instead of J-cloth had me baffled for a while but just as well as I guessed it was novel characters and fortuitously searched for Violet and Daisy. If I had included Jane in the search then I might have missed the theme. Then I was looking for Siam instead of Thailand and first identified Eng at 9ac. A good challenge all the way through.

The nature of the clues, a pair sharing something, was a clever device reflecting the theme, as was the joining of the Christian names in the grid.  Whether “well” was a good choice in the title might be moot: if the Wikipedia entry for the Hiltons is accurate, it is hard to imagine the horror of living with a dead conjoined twin for a couple of days, let alone such unremitting intimacy throughout life.  There were some delightful clues.  Long, long ago, in poems without end, extremely famous, inspired name used a cunning definition to which the placing of commas contributed (is my memory faulty or had it not used to be common to see “punctuation might mislead” in preambles? – anyway, nice to see a lovely example).   They go in for performance and rip off clothes, “——!”, I’d say – a flourish that’s linked to lift and Devotees of romantic novels, women devour lovers’ antics with ecstasy were excellent too.   In contrast, “breaking” in 33 and “through” in 38 seemed to serve no purpose other than to help the surface reading, and does “letter” in 42 perform a double duty in wordplay (edh) and definition?

A very tough puzzle as demonstrated by the lowish entry and high percentage error count of those received!  Main problems were with the highlighting and ELEGIT/SNEB with PLUGIN/SNUB being the usual alternative attempted.

Total Entries    37

Correct            24

Incorrect          13

The Lucky Winner out of the Electronic Hat was Keith Williams who will soon be receiving his prize donated by Chambers.

There is a full solution and notes available at

Dilwitch is the pseudonym of David Harry, veteran crossword enthusiast and a noted clue-writer in the Azed competitions. We met in Gateshead in March and discussed this puzzle. I commented on how fit and sprightly he looked. However, a few weeks later he suffered a major stroke and was rushed to hospital. The last I heard he was making progress in recuperating but it will be a difficult time for him and his wife, Barbara. We wish him a healthy recovery.

This month you still have time to solve and enter your solution for our ninth Round Robin, Liven Up With… Do not forget to send a vote for your favourite clue(s).

Our Prize Puzzle for July will be James Patrick? by Towser. This puzzle has the largest barred grid ever published on the Crossword Centre.

We are still looking to publish puzzles for October and November. As usual we welcome crosswords from debutants and seasoned setters.
In July there will be three crossword meetings. The first will be in Macclesfield on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th. Organised by Dean Mayer (Anax etc) this this will be held at the lovely Alpine-themed Snowgoose Cafe on Sunderland Street. This is within 5 minutes’ walk of the railway station and Travelodge.

John Henderson is inviting 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.

John is also planning a York S & B meeting on 27 to 29 July. Full details are available on the Fifteen Squared site at
A very interesting article in the Washington Post reminds us how D-Day Landing code words found their way into the Telegraph crossword in 1944.

The CWC Clue Writing Competition is going from strength to strength and even if you don’t enter it is worth looking at the clues and joining in the vote. This month’s competition is to compose a Right and Left clue to COLLOP/SURTAX. Voting on the clues to MICKEY continues until the 21st June. The CWCCC is at

If you receive this newsletter by email you are eligible to participate but you will have to register your email address. If you wish to join the mailing list there is advice here

And finally, from The Sunday Post-4 Jun 2017

A SCOTS grandmother, Eileen Doherty, 95 has become so hooked on crosswords that she is vowing to have one engraved on her tombstone.

Best wishes

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