Crossword News October 2016

The September Prize Puzzle was The Merchant's Tale by Dysart. The puzzle was based on Bring Up the Bodies, the second part of the trilogy on the life of Thomas Cromwell (23d) by Hilary Mantel. Eight down entries, synonyms for bodies, were reversed in the grid. Highlighting of MANTEL and A BOLEYN (read upwards in the grid) was required. The title is a reference to Cromwell’s dealings in the cloth trade.

Here are some of the comments from solvers.

Really nice idea, well executed. Some difficult words and clues which kept me guessing until the end. Cromwell I got quite early but that still didn't help. A challenge and fun to solve. Congratulations Dysart.

Thanks to Dysart for an interesting puzzle. Even with my knowledge of Thomas Cromwell being based on the TV Wolf Hall series, I didn't know the second Mantel novel was Bringing Up The Bodies, and was slow to realise what all the reversed entries had in common.

I always worry a little about puzzles where you can't enter any answers with confidence initially. I got lucky by solving a few across clues in the bottom right corner and then guessing that CORPSE and RELIC needed to be reversed. I liked that the clues to the 'bodies' had definitions for another sense of the word where possible, rather than having the clues lack definitions.

There were 48 entries, of which 8 were marked incorrect. The lucky winner picked from the electronic hat was Di Living from Chelmsford who will soon be receiving a prize from Chambers.

There is a full solution at

This month you still have lots of time to complete our Round Robin VIII and don't forget to add a vote for your favourite clue.

In November we will be publishing a crossword by a debutant setter. Top Shoe by Yimin will be available at the end of the month.

I would like to remind setters that there is still a need for puzzles for 2016. Submissions would be destined for prompt publication.

Next weekend sees the Times Crossword Championship in London.

There will be a meeting for crossword setters and solvers at The George, Borough High Street, Southwark, London, SE1 1NH, coinciding with the annual Times Crossword Championship.  The meeting will begin at 11:00 am on Saturday 22nd October 2016, which is when The George opens, and continue until late into the evening.

It is hoped that a number of the setters from the national newspapers will put in an appearance.  There should also be a cross-section of bloggers and readers from Big Dave’s Crossword Blog, Times for the Times and Fifteensquared.  And last, but by no means least, competitors in the Times Crossword Championship will be popping in between the semi-finals and finals of the competition – the winner to celebrate and the rest to drown their sorrows.

If you’ve never been before, this is a very friendly function and provides the opportunity to meet other like-minded people.

Applications are now being accepted for contestants on the next series of Only Connect. Only Connect is a fiendish quiz hosted by Victoria Coren Mitchell. They are now casting again for a new series of 'Only Connect' which will be filmed in March and April 2017.

They are looking for new contestants to make up teams of three players who share a common passion, ability or profession, to pool their combined wits and knowledge to tackle the fiendish conundrums and vexing puzzles.

Teams consist of three members so you might like to team up with friends. However, you can apply individually and they will try to find others of similar interests to make up a team. It seems that teams with female members get preference as the majority of applicants are male.

Send your application to before 21st December 2016.

You can find out more about the show at


The new book by crossword blogger Alan Connor will be published on 3rd November. The Joy of Quiz should be a challenging collection by the man who devises the questions on Only Connect and would be an ideal Christmas present.


I have received information on a crossword game which is available to play for free both for iOS on the iTunes App Store and for Android on Google Play.  The game is called Cross Boss and it’s a competitive turn-based word game, which involves actual crossword solving, but with a twist. You can find out more at


This month the Clue Writing Competition is to write a clue to CHOCTAW. You have until 24th October to submit your clue at

Best wishes