Crossword News September 2015

Last month our Prize Puzzle was Star Turns by Wan. Twelve answers have to be modified before entry on a theme of performing arts: four anagrams making performers, four words which when associated with the clued word make performers, and four which need forms of ARTS* removing. Solvers are expected to highlight PERFORMING ARTS in the grid. This was a highly regarded puzzle from one of the best setters around at the moment.

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

A wonderful puzzle from Wan, who seems to be an impressive artist him/herself: not so much wordplay as precision engineering, especially for 26 across and 23 down.  

What an excellent puzzle. The clues were tough and the variations of Star Turns were extremely clever. Thanks to Wan for one of my favourite puzzles in ages.

Just a quick note to say that I very much enjoyed the Wan puzzle so please forward my thanks.  It was probably the most testing of those I have completed this year, and not too easy to penetrate the three ways (the third one anyway!). Nevertheless I was very pleased to have finally cracked it, and much enjoyed the customary set of excellent clues from one of the best cluesmiths around.


There were 48 entries of which 9 had errors. First out of the electronic hat was John Doylend, who will soon be receiving a prize donated by Chambers. There is a full solution with notes at


Our Summer Special was Organic Matter by Flowerman. This blocked grid puzzle caused some problems. For 24 hours it was published without the preamble and I was impressed that quite a few solvers completed it without that help. The theme was the organs of the mammalian body; the noun was clued but the corresponding adjective was entered.


Here are some of the comments from solvers.


Initially down the garden path, once two organics were spotted things were well on  track, and not too difficult thereafter.  I really enjoyed unravelling the clues which had many clever touches, especially those to the (undefined) organs. 

If Flowerman isn’t a medic he/she certainly had medicine on the brain composing this one:  we had breastfed, extravasate, ulcer, stroke, cure, acne, lanced, grit, spa, ions and maybe even unclad and error, as well as all the organs.  Must be a Crossword Centre record for medical terms.   It may have helped being a medic myself (e.g. with ‘cystic’)  though I was surprised not to find spleen / lienal included.  An enjoyable jaunt, many thanks Flowerman. 

 I found it to be quite a tricky puzzle to get into with some of the ‘special’ clues being difficult to get. The substitutions needed became quite obvious so the final grid was pretty quick to complete.  I thought the clues were good overall - with ‘BREASTFED’ being my favourite for it’s clever definition.


Thanks to Flowerman for a not too tricky puzzle, with a neat thematic device. In fact at least two of the clue solutions I got by working back from what the entry had to be. I particularly liked 11 across. Not sure however about PROTONS = IONS.

There were 52 entries of which 7 were marked incorrect. The winner from the electronic hat was Neill Simpson who will soon be receiving a copy of Armchair Crosswords by Afrit.

This month our Prize Puzzle is Treasure Hunt by Harribobs and you still have a couple of weeks left to send in your solution.

For October we are delighted to have Substitution by Nutmeg, whose very first puzzle was published here ten years ago.
This month sees the publication of the 4th edition of the Chambers Crossword Dictionary. This aid to solving has improved with each new edition and I particularly like it as entries are always listed alphabetically by length. I have made it our Book of the Month for October and there is a handy link on the Crossword Centre.

What makes The Chambers Crossword Dictionary different? Comprehensive, reliable and easy-to-use, this major new  edition ha s been thoroughly revised and updated by a team of crossword experts, and is specially tailored to the needs of crossword solvers. With more than 500,000 solutions to cryptic and quick clues, plus explanations of cryptic clue types and the use of anagram and other indicators, and insights into the world of crossword setting and memorable clues, it is truly the ultimate  crossword bible.
This new edition features:
- Over 500,000 solutions for every kind of crossword.
- More  than 2,500 crossword code words alerting you to cryptic ploys.
- Over 19,500 'one-stop' entries, with both synonyms and encyclopaedic material, for extra guidance in finding the right answer.
- A wealth of recent synonyms to give  you up-to-the-minute answers.
- New  topic lists to help you solve general-knowledge clues.
- Word lists sorted by length and then alphabetically to make finding solutions easy.
- Includes words, phrases, abbreviations, symbols, codes and other cryptic 'building blocks'.
- Packed with crossword jargon, anagram and other indicators and essential cryptic
- Draws on the latest Chambers Dictionary 13th Edition and the authoritative Chambers reference range.

Tom Johnson's crossword breaks at the Buddock Vean spa hotel are becoming more and more popular. This year the event is planned from the 1st to the 3rd November. You can get more information and reservation at this link.


Best wishes