Crossword News March 2014

The Prize Puzzle for February was Elbows by Nod. As one of the testers I know that this demanded a lot of thought although the theme was straightforward - all of the answers had to be entered with a right-angle turn.

Here are some of the comments. 

It was never easy to get going, owing to some clever clueing which made solving them hard and then the fact that nothing could be entered in the grid with any certainty. However, as time went by and crossing words confirmed what went where, the solving process speeded up dramatically.  One of the last words I entered was one of the first solved - but I didn't get and indeed still don't get the definition. HISTRIO is defined in Chambers as an actor. I can't find any link to a tree, unless of course the actor's performance was particularly wooden!  A quick check of the grid shows the Ximeneans will probably complain about the unchecked issues.  ANGLE - triply unchecked via NGL

SPENCES & SITUATE - three unches each, PHILOGYNOUS - five unches but triply unched via OGY.  These did not cause me any issues personally as it was very clear from the clues as to what the answer was.  Overall, I enjoyed this challenge and believe that this is a gimmick that I would not mind seeing used again.  Thank you Nod.

 I thought this was a brilliant puzzle, quite difficult, good clues and a well worked out grid. Congratulations to Nod.

 I thought for the longest time I would be turning in this one incomplete. The NE corner, for me, was impossible, with 4,5,6,10 and 12 being my last five entries. I was clueless, no pun intended… until I chanced upon parsecs and had the next four in twenty minutes.  My level of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment with a solve hasn't been this high in a while.  It was all I ask for in a puzzle, novel (and new to me) concept, fair clueing, extremely infuriating at times and great satisfaction on completion. It also had my new favourite clue (18 Sting). Kudos and many thanks to Nod, I look forward to our next encounter.

 There were 57 entries of which 43 were correct. The winner was Todd Konkel, from Sterling, Virginia and he will soon be receiving a copy of the Chambers Dictionary which was donated by the publishers. A full solution is available on our Puzzles page at

 This month the challenge is Exchange II by Regson and you have until the 8th April to send your entry.
I am looking forward to going to the Listener Crossword Setters' Dinner in Cheltenham on 22 March. It may well be a sad occasion as we drink to absent friends. The last three Listener crosswords have been by setters who passed away in the last year, Mr Lemon, Radix (of Mango) and Syd Lexis.

 As usual I shall be reporting on the event and the prize winners in my next newsletter.

This week has seen an innovation in the Times with a daily Quick Cryptic. This is a 13 by 13 grid with easier cryptic clues. Crossword Editor Richard Rogan hopes that it will encourage more solvers to attempt the cryptic crossword.
The new edition of the Chambers Dictionary will be launched this June. The publisher's blurb is as follows.

 This new 13th edition retains the much-loved features of The Chambers Dictionary, including the unique quirky definitions for certain words. It also includes a new Miscellany section at the back of the Dictionary, showing how words and definitions have changed over the history of The Chambers Dictionary.

Last weekend the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament took place. The winner was the favourite, Dan Feyer. You can get all the results at


Best wishes