Crossword News February 2021

The January Prize Puzzle was Best Mates by Chalicea. WALLACE and GROMIT and the films A CLOSE SHAVE, THE WRONG TROUSERS and A GRAND DAY OUT circled the grid. Solvers were required to SHADE FAVOURITE FOOD OF FIRST CHARACTER (SIXTEEN CELLS) which gives WENSLEYDALE CHEESE.

Results and comments will appear in the March newsletter.

A full solution is available at

You still have time to solve and submit an entry for our February competition, Changing Places by Rebus.

The March challenge will be Cracking! by Soup, A blocked puzzle with a dauntingly long preamble, but don’t let that put you off. It certainly is a crossword with a twist!

Soup is Hamish Symington, now studying for a PhD in pollination at University of Cambridge, by way of a career as a graphic designer and software developer. He has been setting for around six years; you may have seen his puzzles in the Guardian’s ‘Genius’ slot, amongst others. He edits 1 Across magazine (, started by Araucaria three decades ago. He lives in Cambridge with his patient wife, exuberant daughter, and about 150,000 honeybees.
February 16th this year would have been Araucaria’s 100th birthday. There were many tributes to mark this centenary.

A special edition of 1 Across magazine celebrates the centenary of his birth this month.

Tom Johnson wrote a beautiful article on Fifteen squared.

A special themed crossword by Enigmatist and Soup appeared in the Guardian.

A 3D puzzle special is published on 3DCalendar Puzzles with a tribute.


I am reminded of twenty years ago when I was invited to his 80th birthday party at the Guardian offices. That was the first time that I met John Henderson, John Halpern, Paul Bringloe and the unforgettable Bob Smithies. After the official presentations we all met up in the nearest pub for a great party

Next day we went to the London Eye with Tom Johnson and the 1 Across team. The photos that I took can be seen at
Alan Connor, in his latest blog, has included a fantastic photo of the meeting at the Guardian, Araucaria with editor, Alan Rusbridger, all the setters,  and Bunthorne and Enigmatist on either side. He has also found three lost puzzles by Araucaria.
John Henderson and Jane Teather are still planning to have some sort of Listener Crossword event next month. In a recent message they said this.

This is advance notice that we’ll have some sort of online event during the evening of Saturday 20 March. More details to follow.

In addition, we will put together a newsletter covering some of what would normally be part of the proceedings (or just the conversation) at the dinner. If you have any relevant news that you would normally share at the dinner, or anything else you think people would appreciate, please send it for inclusion — text or images are fine.

The newsletter will include obits. One of those will be for Terry Allen (The Tall’n), about whom I know almost nothing, apart from having solved his puzzles on more than one occasion. If any of you knew him, or has particular memories of his puzzles, please get in touch; any contribution will help.
The results of the voting for IQ puzzle of the year are now published. The outright winner was Harribobs for his Tour de France themed puzzle, Tourist Information. In second place was eXternal for Seize Them All. You can read the full results here.

You may be interested in a podcast where Susie Dent and Gyles Brandreth have a humorous chat about crosswords.
A new free website for cryptic crosswords is Hubble Crosswords. You can access it at
The continuing success of the Cracking the Cryptic YouTube channel set up by Mark Goodliffe and Simon Anthony has also proved to have a therapeutic effect in these troubling times. This is the subject of this article.
When I posted a photo of the Listener Crossword Book 1970 it attracted a lot of interest. I bought a copy when I was a student and solved about 1% of the puzzles. The first book was edited by Alan Cash in Penguin and he later published the Second and Third books. In 2002 there was a Times Listener collection edited by Mike Rich and a Chambers collection in 2008 which was edited by Derek Arthur. The sales figures for these books are very low and it is unlikely that future publisher will be willing to take the risk of printing another collection. Needless to say, these early editions are increasingly rare and expensive to buy. You can see the covers of all these books on FaceBook by joining The Crossword Centre group.
On the Clue-Writing Competition, the annual results for 2020 have now been published. In a tight finish between John Tozer and Steve Randall, it was Steve who won the prize. You can see the full result sheet at

Your challenge for February is a STANDARD CRYPTIC clue to WETLANDS(8) by the closing date of MIDNIGHT GMT WEDNESDAY 24th FEBRUARY.
Good news for quizzers is that Channel 4 are about to broadcast a new quiz show, The Answer Trap. With the quiz set up by Frank Paul and Bobby Seagull it looks to be very devious. They are currently looking for contestants, groups of two from the same household. All the details here.
When Nick Hewer steps down as Countdown host, the hot bets are on Anne Robinson taking on the role
There are now 213 members on the Google mailing list.

If you want to receive newsletters and clue-writing information in your in-box you should sign up to the new Crossword Centre group on Google. You can join this group at

Crossword News will, as usual, be available on the Crossword Centre and on the blog

Best wishes