Crossword News May 2020

The April Prize Puzzle was the twelfth in our series of Round Robin crosswords. The unusual theme was discovered by Scotsman Ian Simpson. Extra letters rendered from wordplay spell ROBERT PATERSON DAVID LLOYD GEORGE SEVEN POUNDS. The two names lead to the Wikipedia entry for THE TURRA COO (the unclued down entry), sold at auction for £7 following a protest over unpaid National Insurance contributions. The answers to eight normal clues had to be entered without NI (National Insurance), and the message LENDRUM TO LEEKS had to be highlighted.

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

I thought this was a remarkable creation which held on to its secrets to the last moment of solving, and prompted a fascinating Wikipedia read about an incident of which I’d never heard before.

Hats off to those involved in the concept and grid design, those were really the hallmarks of this puzzle.  Some nice clues too, with the extra letter allowing for some creative wordplay.  Could identify David Lloyd George early on (even with some intervening blanks) but the father/son combo associated with Robert proved elusive for quite some time, so the theme yielded perhaps at the very end, after which it was mostly plain sailing for the end game.  The thematic adjustment for entries was good fun, it did require some reflection to sink IN!  Thanks for the entertainment.

No single setter-wavelength to tune in to and a theme that was completely unknown to me.  Thank you for the advice on searching.This has kept me enthralled for days and when, at last, the theme became apparent I laughed out loud.  I had been thinking it was linked to DLG and his problems in Ireland. A really good challenge for me and I send my thanks to all setters and everyone else involved in its production.

This was something of a tour de force with so many clueing styles, an unusual theme and a great sense of satisfaction having solved it.  This was a difficult solve. Acquiring knowledge about the theme was worth the effort in itself!

There were 51 entries, of which 3 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner, picked from the electronic hat, was Tony Harker, who will be receiving shortly a copy of Chambers Crossword Dictionary, which was donated by Chambers.

Solvers were asked to vote for their favourite clues. The top three clues were.

2 down - NOSOLOGIST - Steve Bartlett - 12 points

16 down - FREQUENTER - Keith Williams - 12 points

10 down - MATZAH - Rod Bell - 10 points

The results gave a tie for first place but as Steve gained more first place votes we have decided to award him the prize. Many thanks to John Nicholson and Ian Simpson for conceiving tis fascinating puzzle and to all the volunteers who contributed to the clue-writing. A full record of the voting is attached at the end of the newsletter.

A solution is available at

There is still time to complete and enter the May competition, Free Hit by Rebus.

The June Prize Puzzle will be That’s Life by Flowerman.
Congratulations to Azed who has published his 2,500th Observer Crossword. This is a remarkable achievement. Jonathan Crowther took over the post after the death of Ximenes in 1972 and has continued to produce weekly puzzles of the highest standard. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the celebratory lunch in Oxford has had to be cancelled but, provisionally, will now take place on 26 September.

You can read a nice interview with Azed from the Oxford Mail at
Martin Woods, who compiles crosswords for the Big Issue, has produced a guide to solving cryptic crosswords. The guide includes mini-grids to help learners in the solving process. I am sure that it will be helpful to the growing number of new solvers.
The long-running crossword in the New York Times may be due some changes after a mini-revolt from solvers and setters. Hundreds of crossword constructors and enthusiasts co-signed a letter to the man in charge of the New York Times puzzles, voicing concerns about implicit bias in a system that they believe favours old, straight, white men and erases the voices of minority crossword constructors and solvers.
Paul Pridmore has informed me of a rare crossword book which is available to download on-line. Torquemada’s Crosswords in Rhyme for Those of Riper Years was published in 1925.It consisted of twelve puzzles with the clues written in rhyming couplets. The blocks in the grid are arranged to represent a picture; for example, in the puzzle with the title The Bat the blocks are arranged to give the silhouette of a bat. There are some worrying unchecked letters but most of the entries are double checked in the manner of an American crossword grid.

Here are the first two clues in the book.

1. Though not with Pope’s economy defined
I am the proper study of mankind (12)

8. Ben Gunn was one of us: and we exploded
To warn you that the other guns were loaded (7)

You can access this gem at
John Halpern, better known as the setter Paul, has recently celebrated 25 years of setting puzzles for the Guardian. In an interview he reminds us of his famous puzzle where he sneaked a lot of rude words into the grid.
With the increased interest in crosswords, The Magpie have released still more puzzles to the public. You can download issue 18 for free at this link.
Mark Goodliffe and Simon Anthony have continued to have huge success with their Cracking the Cryptic YouTube channel. A recent video had over 3 million views and the site now has over 184.000 subscribers. You can watch that 3 million video at
The success has now meant that there is a YouTube video about them. It is worth watching at
The clue-writing competition is continuing to be the best on-line focus for smart clues. Your challenge for May is a STANDARD CRYPTIC clue to ELDERS (6) by the closing date of MIDNIGHT BST FRIDAY 29th MAY.
You may have noticed that I am using a new blog. It seems to work quite well at The previous one is still available at but I am now unable to edit it.


Best wishes
Stay safe


Answers to the Torquemada clues 1. Anthropology 8. Maroons

All clues receiving points in Round Robin XII

1. 6pts

12. 3pts

13. 6pts

14. 4pts

15. 1pt

17. 7 pts

18. 4pts

19. 5pts

21. 3pts

26. 7pts

28. 6pts

31. 1pt

33. 8pts

35. 2pts

36. 8pts

37. 2pts


1. 3pts

2. 12pts

3. 6pts

7. 3pts

9. 8pts

10. 10pts
11. 8pts

16. 12pts

22. 2pts

23. 3pts

25. 2pts

26. 2pts

32. 6pts