Crossword News May 2018

The Prize Puzzle for April was our tenth Round Robin, Dynasty. Words removed from answers could be arranged in groups to give a hint to a film. MINA, DOVE, QUAIL for The Birds; DRAB, PRO, QUAIL for Working Girl; DRAB, ASH, DOVE for 50 Shades of Grey. The films were to be written beneath the grid. By altering the initial letter of each film in the grid the names of a remarkable family dynasty could be highlighted, (Tippi) HEDREN, (Melanie) GRIFFITH and (Dakota) JOHNSON.

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

Probably the best Round Robin puzzle to date!  Such an outstanding assortment of clues, it was hard to choose the best.

Thanks to all who set the clues, and particularly to eXternal for the theme and grid. I had no idea these actresses were from the same family. Actually Tippi Hedren is the only one I am really familiar with, showing my age no doubt. I felt some of the clue setters had tried a little too hard, and I favoured shorter simpler, not necessarily easier, clues.

I had found two of the hints (DRAB and MINA) when I noticed that changing two letters could make GRIFFITH and JOHNSON appear in the grid. Then I learnt that Melanie Griffith is Dakota Johnson's mother and Tippi Hedren's daughter and guessed that two of the films were The Birds and Fifty Shades of Grey, so I only had to look for a Melanie Griffith film that starts with W. This seemed to be much easier than it would have been to find all of the hints and use them to identify the films.  I thought it was a neat trick to have three hints that each hint at two of the films. I found a few of the hints pretty quickly, but 21a, 25d and 29d were pretty much the last clues I solved. I suppose the writers of these clues didn't know that the full answers wouldn't appear in the grid.

There were 32 entries, of which 3 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner, picked from the electronic hat was Gerry Murtagh, from Glasgow, who will be getting a prize awarded by Chambers.

Solvers were asked to vote for their favourite clues and the clue-writer who won the most votes was Mark Oshin for his clue to NULLITY.

Not being something you'll think about when out of hospital and OK

Here are the results of the voting.

Top Clues 

1st - NULLITY - Mark Oshin - 16pts

2nd - TOAD - Steve Randall - 12pts

3rd - ICE CUBES - Ed Powles - 11pts

Other clues that received points:

BUSTED - 3pts

ONER - 5pts

LIEDER - 1pt

MASHONA - 6pts


AGUISE - 2pts



SEA EGG - 9pts

REROOF - 1pt

ABEAR - 2ptS

EDGIEST - 10pts


MIKADO - 7pts

TAILOR - 7pts

PEEWEE (or WEEWEE!) - 10pts


There is a full solution at

You still have time to complete our May Prize Puzzle, Old Titles by Curmudgeon  The June Puzzle will be 20/8 by Wan, which I can thoroughly recommend.

Our pipe-line is looking very healthy now and I can promise you some superb puzzles for the summer months.
On the 26 April a memorial service for Colin Dexter was held in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. Chris Sullivan has written a marvellous account of the day with some great photos, music and a fascinating video of Dexter’s cameo appearances in the TV programmes.
The Listener crossword has reached the round number 4500 and, in my opinion, is going from strength to strength. This milestone made me remember Listener 2500, almost 40 years ago, and I have written a short personal account. You can read it here -
Our Book of the Month is the Cryptic Pub Quiz written by Frank Paul. Frank has recently gained fame as a member of the Escapologists team that were champions of this year’s Only Connect. He was the one who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of mountweazels.

I have been skimming through this book for a month and it is lots of fun, a variety of original quizzes, puzzles and word games.
When lots of newspapers were talking about the “World’s Hardest Crossword” I thought I would give it a try. Marc Breman, who composes crosswords for the Daily Mirror, had created a jumbo blocked puzzle and offered prizes to the first ten correct entries. I sent my entry and won a prize of a copy of his novel, The Foggiest Notion. In retrospect, I realise that the puzzle was not that hard, but the fact that it was mentioned in so many newspapers gave his novel a lot of free advertising.

First to finish was Simon Anthony who is mentioned in this Telegraph article.

A faulty link on our Crossword Links page has meant that Henry Casson’s Crossword Utility has been unavailable. I have now fixed it and the Utility is downloadable. The software is free and allows you to create blocked or barred crosswords. It is very easy to get used to creating grids which can be copied into a word document or email. Fairly basic but well worth a try.

For a more complex crossword designer which is also free I can recommend Qxw, the very powerful crossword software created by Quinapalus.
And finally, do you get a lot of pleasure in solving crosswords? Do you enjoy the penny-drop-moment? Well, a Daily Mail article claims that solving a crossword is “better than sex” because of the release of dopamine!

Best wishes