Crossword News December 2016


Our Prize Puzzle for November was Top Shoe by Yimin. This puzzle had the theme of Oscar winning ladies.
“Mildred Pierce”, “Blue Jasmine”, “Street Angel” and “Black Swan” are all films for which the leading lady won the Oscar for Best Actress. The fifth instance is indicated by “JULIANNE MOORE” appearing in the leading diagonal. She won the Best Actress Oscar for “Still Alice”. Thus, STILL at 13 Across must be replaced by ALICE. The title is a cryptic form of “Leading Lady takes Oscar”


Here are some of the comments.


Top Shoe (best woman receiving Oscar?) by Yimin (welcome newcomer, to me) gave a very enjoyable challenge. I particularly liked the clue to 'Laster'! Many thanks, Yimin.


Many thanks to Yimin - not a setter I have come across before. I found some of the word play quite difficult to unravel, even when I was sure what the entry was. Perhaps one or two more thematic entries could have been fitted into the grid, but looking at the list of Oscar winning/ best actress films, there are not too many to choose from which have two word titles.


The theme was films starring Academy Award winning Best Actresses from the years 1928 (Janet Gaynor, STREET ANGEL), 1945 (Joan Crawford, MILDRED PIERCE), 2010 (Natalie Portman, BLACK SWAN), 2013 (Cate Blanchett, BLUE JASMINE) and 2015 (Julianne Moore, STILL ALICE). In fact it was Julianne Moore’s appearance in the leading diagonal which confirmed the theme and allowed me to complete the SW corner of the grid.  Many thanks to Yimin for the challenge !


Yimin has written a very helpful blog on his puzzle, which, along with a full solution is available at


There were 55 entries, of which 10 were marked incorrect. The lucky winners picked from the electronic hat were Brian and Ros Rougvie who will soon be receiving a prize supplied by Chambers.


You still have time to send in your entries to our December puzzles, Seasons Greetings VIII and the maths special Christmas Puzzle by MatriX.


We start 2017 with a welcome return for a CWC favourite and Sad by Chalicea. This will be published early as I shall be setting off to spend New Year's Eve in Portugal.


We still are looking for puzzles for the 2017 season. Any submissions will be tested and edited sympathetically.

As usual at Christmas I encourage you to order your 3D Calendar Puzzles ready for the new year..


The BBC CiNA (Children in Need Appeal)
3D Crosswords World Championship 2017

The BBC CiNA 3D Crosswords World Championship consists of 12 three-dimensional crosswords with clues set by some of the best UK compilers, on the frame of a calendar. Each day has a clue. Each month has a grid to complete in 12 prize competitions. The World Champion will solve all 12 puzzles and win a tie-break requiring skill and imagination.

Entry to the World Championship or just to have some fun is secured by paying £12.99
I was urged to look at the Logical blocked puzzle sequence of US-based  John Nolan (and his cartoonist wife, Stephanie Piro) and to see that our December Prize Puzzle had been announced.

"Also, congratulations to Eddie Looby and Keith Williams, who will have their eighth Seasons Greetings puzzle published on Dec. 1 on the prestigious site, where they are jointly known as Eclogue. Have a look, and if you find it tough, you are not alone."


I loved that 'prestigious'!


I tried the current puzzle and enjoyed it a lot. It reminded me of the style of Araucaria (bending the Ximenean rules). John Nolan is originally from Coldstream but now resides in Farmington NH. You can try his puzzles at


If you are looking for a good quiz for Christmas I can recommend the Goodworth Clatford Christmas Quiz 2016. Created by Araucaria's family the quiz is sent to you when you donate to their chosen charity - Parkinsons UK.

You will be interested to know that Nick Smith is publishing a novel on December 30th. It's called Drowned Hogg Day. It's set in the present day but is largely about the events of December 30th 1816 (when Shelley married Mary Godwin, author of Frankenstein) and Dec 30th 1916 (when Rasputin was murdered). One of the unique aspects of the novel is that every chapter starts with a crossword clue (the answer is hidden in that chapter) and nearly all those clues go together at the end of the book to make up a single crossword. He is publishing the novel in blog form, chapter by chapter between Nov 10 (just gone) and Dec 30.

It looks absolutely fascinating.The book is published on 30 DEc and is available on Amazon.
There is a crossword workshop for subscribers to Times Plus next month. These are some details:

Join the workshop on Saturday, January 28 for a day of crossword tips and tricks with Tim Moorey, crossword setter for The Times and The Sunday Times.

During the session you will discover the basics of solving cryptic clues and crosswords, as well as a little bit about the history of crosswords and the different types of puzzles. Tim will also reveal his recommended apps, software and top puzzle websites.

The workshop will especially suit those who solve the Times Quick non-cryptic crossword and wish to step up to its bigger cryptic brother.

Complete beginners are welcome. No prior knowledge will be assumed and you will enjoy learning in an embarrassment-free and fun atmosphere.

The day will also include coffee and tea on arrival, a light lunch and you'll receive handy tips and literature to take away with you.

You will also receive a copy of the tutor's book How to Crack Cryptic Crosswords and have the chance to get it signed by Tim.

To book tickets, click on 'book online' in the information box.

Please note, you will need to be logged in to see the booking link.
The book of the month on the Crossword Centre is Boatman: The First 50, a collection of crosswords by fiendish Guardian setter in which Boatman gives an insight into how the puzzles were composed.

I am looking forward to tackling the Christmas specials, many of which are out this weekend as there are no newspapers on Christmas day. I wish everyone a very happy Christmas and I shall be back in the new year.


Best wishes