Crossword News September 2019

The August Prize Puzzle was Food Chain by Chalicea. This lovely puzzle was based on the lyrics of the Yorkshire anthem, On Ilkley Moor Bar T’at, and a number of unclued hats had to be entered to complete the grid.

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

The vast majority of entries came quite easily. The hats were obvious after those entries, though Tam took a while to realise. It was the then a hard slog, a vague remembering of On Ilkely Moor as a phrase (after much head scratching about what could fit into the entry for 38A), some reading of the source of it, and corrections to 23 down and 33 across that finally allowed me to complete the grid. The penny finally clunked its way down. Satisfyingly so!  This had everything a grid should for me - some easy parts, some tough ones, and some points of learning. Many thanks as always for these great puzzles. Much appreciated.

It was good to get back after a break, and this proved to be a most interesting puzzle for that.  Very neat and interesting grid.  Not entirely smooth sailing while solving, but all yielded without too much difficulty (just requiring frequent trips to Chambers for checking out those delightful Scottish words).  But even after completely solving including the 'headers', and taking a random (yet inspired) stab at 28d, still didn't have the foggiest idea of what 38a could represent.  How do you search for something when you don't know what to search for? Not quite sure how I stumbled upon it via Google, having never come across this apparently unofficial Yorkshire anthem earlier.  After that everything clicked all at once, so it was more of a jackpot than a PDM.  All those themed entries became meaningful, so many nicely slotted in.  Thanks Chalicea and organisers.

Gave me an earworm, singing it all day long!

A reet gud puzzle.  Tha’ canna beat t’ridings for romance, tha knows.

There were 50 entries, of which 6 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner picked from the electronic hat was  Michael Crapper from Whitchurch, who will soon be receiving a prize of Chambers Complete Crossword Lists, which was donated by the publishers.

A full solution and notes is available at

This month you still have time to complete Fish Boxes by Urchin before the closing date of 8 October. It has been noted that there are alternative solutions to this puzzle and all of the right alternatives will be marked correct.

For October the Prize Puzzle will be Couples by Hoot. I have been amazed by the loyalty and generosity of those setters who have kept the monthly puzzles going for 20 years and who have ensured that there is an outlet for free crosswords on the internet. We are short of puzzles for 2021 and welcome submissions. Remember that many of the top setters started their careers by having their debut works published on the Crossword Centre. We always test and edit sympathetically.
The York S & B event is planned for the weekend of the 25 to 27 October. This is great event organised by John Henderson and Jane Teather and I have always enjoyed it. They suggest that anyone hoping to go makes arrangements before the end of September as accommodation in York is limited. You can get all the information at
Congratulations to Paul Henderson, better known as the crossword setter Phi, who has recently celebrated 40 years of compiling. In fact, he reckons he has set 3458 crosswords since his first in 1979. You can read more on his blog at
Last month I mentioned Sandwich Sudoku which has become very popular. The Android version of the app is now available.
The September challenge from the Clue Writing Competition is to compose a Printer’s Devilry clue to ASTER. A Printer's Devilry clue is a passage from which the printer has removed a hidden answer, closing the gap and sometimes taking liberties with the punctuation and spacing, but not disturbing the order of the remaining letters. There is no need to include a definition of ASTER in your clue, but there is nothing to stop you if you so wish. However, from past experience, few judges give any extra merit for this unnecessary hard work!

Congratulations to Kathy Martin for a brilliant clue to NEVER SAY DIE.

New Year's Eve din? Grin and bear it!
On 12 September the Guardian published the cryptic crossword by Philistine which contained a hidden message or Nina with a very political message. It’s worth trying to solve it at
I thought that it might have slipped past the editor but, in fact, he let it be published fully aware of the message.

Best wishes