Crossword News February 2024

The January Prize Puzzle was Untitled by Hawk. The title, to be discovered, was LABYRINTH. Misprint corrections spelled EIGHT ISOLATED CELLS CAN FORM A MYTHOLOGICAL CREATOR, yielding DAEDALUS, builder of the Labyrinth at Knossos. Highlighted cells show a Chambers definition of labyrinth.

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

A real tour de force by Hawk. This one was a bit of a struggle but it helped having the clues in normal across then down order. It was hard enough to create the correct pattern of 90-degree symmetric bars, so I can't imagine how difficult it must have been to create the "phrase path" and the "isolated cells" in a crossword like this. Kudos to Hawk for a real challenge.

This was a tough start to the new year but ultimately a very rewarding puzzle. I found the clues to be very difficult with most of the misprints being very well disguised — there were certainly very few I got straightaway. For me it was a puzzle that I had to keep coming back to and working away at. I thought that the final step was great - I wasn’t sure I’d spot the path without a lot of grid staring but it didn’t take too long and a quick check of Chambers confirmed it.  Thanks to Hawk for a really challenging but enjoyable puzzle.

I assume the one-word title is LABYRINTH (from the Chambers definition) though an argument could be made for DAEDALUS (who gets two references from the revealed message and isolated cells).

There were 34 entries, of which 4 were marked incorrect. The marker decided to mark correct any entries with Daedalus as the title. The lucky winner, picked from the electronic hat, was Christopher Edwards, who will soon be receiving a prize book that has been donated by Chambers.

There is a full solution at

You still have time to solve our February puzzle, Annus Mirabilis by Phylax. The closing date is the 8th March.

The March Prize Puzzle will be our 16th Round Robin – At Sixes and Sevens, designed by John Nicholson and with all the clues written by volunteers. Remember that 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 also has been donated by the Crossword Centre.

We have a delightful puzzle for April but we would welcome submissions of puzzles for the following months.
Robert has been checking the statistics for 2023 and will soon be announcing the results. The leading solver will get their name inscribed on the coveted Crowther Cup.
You can learn more about the Crowther Cup at this link.
I have been following Dave’s Scrabblegrams (@dc_scrabblegram) on Twitter and I am always impressed by the ingenious texts that David Cohen produces using all of the Scrabble tiles. I was amazed by his crossword clues, which uses all 100 tiles for the clues and another 100 for the answers.
1. Milton epic (8, 4)
2. Japanese “hi” (10)
3. Exonerate? (7, 3, 6)
4. Quicksilver (7)
5. Ahab wife (7)
6. Dug out / saved (8)
7. Our moon sea (11)
8. Blitz ending (7)
9. Two-handy? (12)
10. Golfer rarity (1, 4, 2, 3)
Clue blanks: H, N      Solution blanks: L, R

In his Guardian maths article, Alex Bellos gives an excellent explanation of the Scrabblegram.

David Cohen has published a book of Scrabblegrams.
John Henderson has published the results of the voting for Inquisitor puzzle of the year. The clear winner was Ploy with his Retrospective puzzle. In second place was Gila and eXtent was a close third. You can read all the results here -
The Azed Slip for January is now available on the Crossword Centre.

Ian Simpson won first prize with this neat clue for HEPCAT.

The ace Charlie P. playing might satisfy me

(anag. incl. A, C, & lit.; ref. Charlie Parker).
I shall be attending the Listener Setters Dinner in Lincoln on the 9th of March. In fact, we will be there on the Friday as well. There are still some places available if you would like to attend. You don’t have to be a setter and all crossword enthusiasts are welcome. Contact Jane Teather if you are interested.

I hope to advertise the location of the pub for the Saturday afternoon meeting on the message board.
To celebrate the retirement of Hugh Stephenson as crossword editor of the Guardian, a special puzzle was devised. Clues were by a variety of the Guardian setters and the puzzle refers to his life. Having solved it, I guess that only Hugh will get the references. You can try the Prize Crossword by Hugo here
The comedy writer and actor, John Finnemore, was the first person to solve the republished mystery, Cain’s Jawbone by Torquemada. He has now announced that he has written a similar mystery, in the form of 100 postcards discovered after a body is found in a locked room. He has announced its title on X, The Researcher’s First Murder will be published in August 2024 by Unbound at £25. There will be a prize of £1000 for the first correct solution. You can pre-order a copy here
I was impressed by Listener Crossword 4800. Ready Now by ‘Eck. I gave up on it three times before solving it, 9 days after its publication. I was reminded of the spoof Listener published in the Punch magazine in 1978, The Hardest Crossword in the World!

Best wishes