Never knowingly undersolved.

General Discussion

Posted by Admin on December 26th, 2010


This page is for the discussion of general crossword related matters and other topics of interest.

This post is now closed. New comments can be posted here.

427 Responses to “General Discussion”

  1. scchua says:

    Re today’s Indy crossword 7558-Phi, on-liners like me with no access to the dead-tree version, are at a disadvantage because there’s no enumeration for 12/28/4/1A/22, merely “(17 words)”. Could someone kindly post in the Independent category, the enumeration, to put us out of our difficulty. Thank you!

  2. Sylvia says:

    Waited since October for Monkey Puzzles No.2 (Araucaria) and now told it is out of stock. Anyone know where I can get it from?

  3. Carrots says:

    Hi Sylvia….Monkey Puzzles v 2 is available from Amazon for £6.99 with free delivery.

    It will probably be even cheaper if you have an Amazon Kindle e-book to download it to, but I`ve only just got my Kindle gizmo and I don`t know if it is interactive for puzzlers.

    Cheers, CARROTS

  4. Sylvia says:

    Many thanks Carrots. Disappointed that the Guardian couldn’t produce one!

  5. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi tupu (again),
    …… As I’ve noticed the word ‘fens’ in one of your posts [the one re KD’s Derby Party], I’d even thought of finding a construction to go there together – that is, if you were indeed from this part of the country.
    I decided, though, nót to go: by train it will take about 3 hrs from (my) door to (their) door. Times two, a bit too much.
    And trains aren’t that cheap [approx 50 pounds for a cheap (?) day return to Derby]. And taking the car isn’t an option either. It will take just as much time & I can’t have a beer (or two).

    Anyway, as you might know, I have your email address, so it’s not that hard to arrange a Saturday (or Sunday) coffee in beautiful Cambridge.
    If you want to contact me, please use [email protected].
    It will be the same address that will be open to ‘shooting at me’ when my next Dalibor crossword will see the Light of Day [at the website of Alberich, end of January]. :)

  6. scchua says:

    Suspected something was up when today’s (8 jan) online Indy was an old Nimrod-6101, which I duly tackled. Surprisingly (or rather, unsurprisingly), today’s Indy blog was for Phi-7554 which appeared on 1 jan, and normally would be online today. Haven’t read the blog, but suspect something different about it that it couldn’t be put online? Any clarification from a kind soul? Thank you!

  7. Gaufrid says:

    Hi scchua
    Last Saturday’s Phi had a theme that is out of date today so Eimi decided to use a Nimrod from the pre-online days instead. I found it very interesting to compare the style and degree of difficulty of this old puzzle with his more recent ones.

  8. scchua says:

    Thanks Gaufrid. I guess no chance of having 7554-Phi online at some point in time? Yes, I noticed the difference between the old and later Nimrod. I could finish this one quite easily, ie. the Nimrod now has got tougher…far from mellowing there!

  9. tupu says:

    Hi Sil
    I sent an email and wonder if it perhaps got into your spam. No need to reply in any detail, but it would be useful to know it’s arrived. If not, I’ll use an alternative address.

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    I wonder how many of you know the meaning of the following words and phrases, without consulting a dictionary or other tool:

    pons asinorum

    Ever seen them before?

  11. Sylvia says:

    Eyas (wolf?) and Maecenas foxed me, but the others are familiar, apart from Hawarden, which is a Welsh town where I briefly attended grammar school, and don’t know of another connection?

  12. nmsindy says:

    I think Hawarden is specially associated with Gladstone, C19 PM. I was wondering why the question was asked, was it because all these answers appeared in a crossword?

  13. Dave Ellison says:

    Well done Sylvia. Yes, they were all in 4 crosswords by Pasquale, Araucaria and Enigmatist about a year ago (29/30 Dec 2009, 12 Jan 2010 and 2 Feb 2010). They were all of the variety “I learned something today” and I was just wondering if solvers had remembered them! Personally, I can’t recall a single one of them, and certainly not their meanings! I am not sure what that says.

  14. Scarpia says:

    Thought todays prize puzzle in the Guardian seemed familiar – it is one of Paul’s from a couple of weeks ago.
    At least the right one is available on line.

  15. Sil van den Hoek says:

    For anyone interested in my latest Dalibor crossword, feel free to give it a go:

    The puzzle can be printed off by doing: File, Print Preview, Resize to 80%, Print.

    Any kind of feedback will be much appreciated at [email protected].
    I won’t say more as Alberich’s introduction to the crossword left me speechless.

  16. tupu says:

    Hi Carrots

    Re Great Wen etc. It is a C19 sarcastic name for London. Classics don’t come into it. My dad went to art school and was a better man for it than I am! :) I wear my classics lightly – there’s not enough left to do otherwise!
    Re art: The wen remark followed my saying that (after so much trouble over ‘Edinburgh’) I was going to see the Glasgow Boys exhibition in London. We also went to the Modern British Sculpture one as well. Both were for the most part enjoyable despite the Evening Standard slating of the latter. I’m going to watch a TV programme on the Boys tomorrow. I’ve got a hunch there must have been broader links to Scandy art as well as France. My wife suggests it may be something about northern light and water.

    Hope to meet in Derby!


  17. stiofain says:

    Great puzzle Sil I had to cheat on a few but i agree with Alberich it is worthy of a broadsheet publication and a professional fee.
    I liked 5dn and 12ac and 20ac and at first glance I thought it was a music theme or a Huxley one with the Palestine opener somehow related to “Eyeless in Gaza” I wondered for a while about an anagram of Paul Gascoinge without the i just shows how off message a solver can be.
    26ac is a bit obscure sounds like a place Don ( 8ac )Pasquale might have had a high tea sometime.

    Admin: Comment edited to remove spoilers.

  18. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Admin: Comment removed at author’s request.

  19. Carrots says:

    Hey Tupu! Thanks for this. If you`re prepared to foresake your cosy riverbank to oggle at a few Glasgie daubers, you can`t be all fur coat and no knickers. But at least your wife, I think, gets the star prize…I`ve noticed a distinctive quality in some Danish 19th C. painters who seem to stick the sun close to the horizon and include a reflection of it in water which seems to be on the point of freezing over. Gawd, wot a boring place.

    I did my final thesis on Contemporary British Sculpture and I`ll be going to the RA show in a few weeks time. The Evenin` Starndad wouldn`t know a work of art from a Jersey Cow.

    Good to hear that you`ve changed your mind about The Derby Do: I`m sure it will be great fun and well worth the trip. Is Sil coming?

  20. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, Iam!

  21. tupu says:

    Thanks Carrots
    We can talk about it when we meet.

  22. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Stiofain (#17), once more many thanks for your comments on my Dalibor crossword. As your post initially contained solutions to the puzzle, I have asked Gaufrid to “delete” these. My own post (#18) is an empty one now as it not relevant anymore [although it also thanked you for your feedback, which was much appreciated].

    If anyone feels the need to say something about the crossword, then please do so through the email address given in #15.
    When using this section of fifteensquared for it, please do not mention things that could spoil the fun [I hope] for others.

  23. paul8hours says:

    Dalibor, excellent puzzle thanks, well worthy of publication! I was in bed trying to keep a cold at bay and it helped pass a very pleasant hour or so. More comments to come by email.

  24. stiofain says:

    hi sil
    sorry about that i was just going by the usual 15sqed rule that if the solution is available online then it is ok to mention solutions but sorry for any inconvenience to yourself or Gaufrid.

  25. Ishan says:


    I am a final year Computer Science student at Glasgow University, and as part of my Honours project I am developing an application to help solve Rufus crosswords by detecting the category(or potential categories) a clue may belong to. As part of this I’ve conducted a basic analysis of the frequency of each category appearing in Rufus crosswords from the solutions being posted on this site. Here’s the basic stats(there were some clues whose categories were not stated in the 2000 solutions I looked at, I’ve marked them as “NONE”):

    ANAGRAMS: 19.72%
    HIDDEN WORDS: 15.37%
    CONTAINER: 10.28%
    REVERSALS: 3.35%
    CHARADE: 2.69%
    HOMOPHONES: 0.64%
    & LIT: 0.094%
    NONE: 12.33%

    For those interested, the code and documentation for my project’s fully open source and the so-far completed bits are available at
    I was also wondering if anyone here would be interested in helping me evaluate the application once it is complete sometime in early March, it would involve downloading the app to your system, completing some defined tasks and filling an online questionnaire and shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.


    Ishan Sardana
    ([email protected])

  26. PeeDee says:

    Hi Ishan,

    I would be happy to help you with your application. Mail me at [email protected] when you are ready.

    I tried to get the source but got this message when I try to open the svn repository:

    Import C:\DATA\PAUL\Temp\crossword to
    Server sent unexpected return value (503 Service Temporarily Unavailable) in
    response to MKACTIVITY request for ‘/svn/!svn/act/37818c03-5e85-8e41-8ff9-095ee3e40c54′


  27. Gaufrid says:

    I have moved your comment into Site Feedback and replied there.

  28. David says:

    Going bonkers over 7d and 8d in last Saturday’s Independent, number 7572.

    Can anyone put me out of my misery before the solution comes tomorrow???

  29. Eileen says:

    Hi David

    I’ll give you hints, rather than the solutions. 7dn is an anagram and so is 8dn, with PO [‘work up’] in it.

    Come back if you really want the answers. :-)

  30. Admin says:

    Comments 28 and 29 contravene the Site Policy. Please do not discuss prize puzzles until after the appropriate blog has been published.

  31. Eileen says:

    Sincere apologies. I thought that, since the closing date had passed, and since the blog used to appear on Fridays, it was OK but see now that Site Policy does specify “until the appropriate post has been published after the closing date for entries.”

  32. David says:

    Thanks for trying Eileen. All will be revealed tomorrow morning.

  33. Carrots says:

    A message for Tupu, Eileen, Sil, Mike C & J&JH…and new acquaintances too numerous to mention:

    It was great fun to meet you all at last at K`s Dad`s “Do” in Derby yesterday. I do wish I could have stayed a bit longer, but I had a dinner party to attend and the trains were not exactly convenient. It is, perhaps, as well, because if I had returned to the Brunswick with “good stayers”, some poor blighter would probably have had to deliiver me to the station in a Tesco Trolley.

    I`ve already mentioned to K`s D that I managed to survive dinner without falling asleep with my head in the soup. (This was a favourite trick of Jeffery Bernard). I eventually did fall asleep (in bed) clutching John`s Nimrod puzzle, which I was utterly convinced by that time I could do in my head. Today I awoke still grasping it…and my head.

    But it was worth it. I`ve told Carrots he had better behave himself in future when addressing such auspicious company, but with him it`s bit like throwing snowballs at the moon.

    Roll on the next one!

  34. Ishan Sardana says:

    Hi Paul

    Thanks for your reply. I am currently working on the application, it should be complete by 20 Feb. The SVN repository is working now should you wish to access the code.



  35. Sylvia says:

    Loved the pics of the Derby do but so jealous that I couldn’t be there to meet everyone, particularly those with whom I feel some affinity. Don’t suppose there’s any chance of a northern get-together in the future? Manchester’s a great place!

  36. Richard says:

    Hope you dont mind me popping in to leave this message. We’ve got a ‘Secrets of the Setters- evening with the Guardian’s Paul on 24 March in Manchester.

    Full details

  37. sidey says:

    If I see Araucaria described as The Master one more time I think I’ll vomit. Give it up people. He’s a pretty mediocre setter.

  38. Gaufrid says:

    You are entitled to your opinion, as is everyone else. John Graham has given a lot of enjoyment to a great number of people over many, many years and if some wish to consider him a, or the, Master then who are you to criticise.

    The solution to your problem is to stop reading the blogs.

  39. Robi says:

    Well said, Gaufrid. I am a relative newcomer to crosswordland but recognise that Araucaria has a special place in people’s hearts for his long-standing contribution to this genre. He set a standard for others to follow.

    BTW, sidey, if you want a mind-blowing experience, try today’s FT crossword and blog. I am just amazed at the talent of the setter.

  40. Eileen says:


    I’d like to refer you to comment 55 on today’s Guardian blog by Paul B [Neo / Tees], in which, after paying his tribute to Araucaria’s puzzles, he says,

    ‘ But could it be that the most important thing about Araucaria is his ability to inspire the rest of us? I wonder what the panels today would be like had budding compilers not fallen under his influence.’

    Today, in the three crosswords blogged on this site, five of our top setters have paid their own tributes to Araucaria. One of them, John Halpern [Paul], on his Cryptica website, speaks of ‘my favourite setter and crossword legend’ who set him on the cryptic road, and says, ‘ My hero is now my friend.’.

    I’m curious as to which setters you regard as better than ‘mediocre’. Perhaps they might never have made it without inspiration and encouragement from Rev John.

  41. sidey says:

    I am trying to be polite about this, I have not tried to derail today’s thread. But, after many years of solving the good gentleman’s puzzles, many of his clues are so transparent they may as well clue the Quick puzzle. He obviously provides much enjoyment, to me included, but the pseudo deification is rather wearing.

    I could point out the clue in the recent Genius puzzle that no one was able to parse, it is not unique.

    Anyway, I shall continue to enjoy his puzzles and continue to read the blogs.

  42. Michael Gwinnell says:

    Can anyone post a scan of the blank printed version of the Indy 7593 Araucaria tribute by Eimi, please? The online version omits the alphajig aspect which was the main point of the puzzle! (So I’ve been careful not to look at it.)
    Many thanks

  43. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Michael @42,
    send me an email at [email protected] and I will send you asap a scan of the eimi puzzle.

  44. John H (Not the Enigmatist JH) says:

    Sat here in amazement that I managed a prize Paul in less than an hour and only two cups of Darjeeling.
    However, if anyone can explain 15A to me I will be eternally grateful.
    Or am I nine days too early with this query. If so then apologies and I will get my coat.

  45. Gaufrid says:

    Hi John H
    Only seven days too early. We do not discuss prize puzzles on this site until after the closing date for entries and then only in the appropriate blog which will appear next Saturday.

  46. Sil van den Hoek says:

    John H, if you really want to know, then send an email to the same address as in #43.

    But only (yes, only) if you promise us not to send in posts like #44 anymore!! :)

    Gaufrid is quite right.

  47. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I think Eileen @ 40 said the right things.
    It is all about inspiration.

    My first ever UK crossword was an Araucaria.
    OK, boys and girls, I should have started with a Sun puzzle or one in the Cambridge Evening News, I know. But I didn’t.
    I clearly remember trying to solve it with my PinC in an English country garden, The Orchard Grantchester – source of one of the greatest anagrams ever.
    “Pretty Girl In Crimson Rose” was in that puzzle, and a few days later I bought this great Sandy Balfour book for her.
    A new universe opened up right in front of me.
    As I said, it is all about inspiration.

    Three years on, I do agree that Araucaria is not the setter that I would like to be, but I also have to say that there’s never a dull moment when tackling one of his puzzles.
    He’s not Ximenean, he’s not even just Libertarian. He’s Araucarian.
    Araucaria was my gateway to Crosswordland and surely his flexible way of clueing helped me find out what I like and what I don’t like. So, inspiration.

    In the meantime, other setters became more on my wavelength (Alberich, Boatman, Crucible, Dac (yes ABCD), Orlando, Neo/Tees, Crux, Falcon/Everyman and Paul (who boosted my self-confidence enormously in healthier Cryptica days)), but I wouldn’t have been the one I am now without Araucaria.

    I have met three out of four Biggles so far, but how nice it would be to have a high tea on a Sunday afternoon somewhere in Cambridgeshire with the man that made it all happen for me.
    I guess, it will never happen.
    But without him, there would never have been a Dalibor crossword.

    sidey, I agree with you about deification, but …………..

  48. Paul8hours says:

    Sil (if I may call you that), are you the Dutchman who came up with the the follow-up clue after Archer had been convicted – “Where shaken Archer’s ‘I’m noble!’ palls (1,8,6,4)”. The answer: A Belmarsh prison cell” ??

  49. Sil van den Hoek says:

    No, Paul8hours, I’m not.
    This is the first time I see this (fine) clue.
    Was it really a Dutchman who came up with it?
    Hard to believe.
    Anyway, it wasn’t me (I wasn’t even in the UK yet when all this Archer business happened).

  50. Jan says:

    I had a follow-up from the Buckingham University survey. To cut a long story short it was suggested that there were not many female solvers of cryptic crosswords.

    Are they right – there were very few of us ladies at the Derby meet? In 50 years of solving my only mentors were female.

  51. Eileen says:

    Hi Jan

    I haven’t received a feedback from the survey: maybe I didn’t request one – but I thought I did!

    It was lovely to meet you in Derby, along with the handful [literally!] of other females, including Sue, the self-confessed ‘crossword widow’.

    Why so few? I don’t have an answer. I have no conception of myself, as a cryptic crossword solver of fifty years’ standing, as intruding on what might / ought to be called a ‘man’s world’. And yet, on the 15² site, there are a very few regular female commenters [again, practically able to be counted on one hand] – unless there are are many with equivocal pseudonyms.

    And how many female setters can you name? For my money, Arachne and Audreus [Shed’s mother] can hold their own with all comers but who else is there [I fondly remember Crispa] – unless they are lurking under pseudonyms? And why would they? Surely the days of the Brontes and Mary Ann Evans are long gone?

    What do others think?

  52. nmsindy says:

    There are maybe a few more lady setters than that, Eileen, but still spectacularly outnumbered. Joyce Cansfield (Machiavelli in the Listener) is, or certainly was till recently, a Times cryptic crossword setter. In the early days of the Indy Marcy (aka Crispa) and Portia appeared on alternate Mondays. Portia was very tough and really good. In the themed puzzle area, I think we have Nutmeg, Psyche, Gioconda – there may be others. Why are they so outnumbered, difficult question? The pattern is evident also in Azed clue-writing competitions. Surveys in more recent times suggest a much higher proportion of cryptic crossword solvers (and setters) than in the general population have a maths/computer background. I fall into that category myself. This may have something to do with use of computer programs for setting. I think it’s also true that there is a huge male/female disparity in the general maths/computer area. I’m sure all crossword editors publish on merit. More questions than answers perhaps but it’s certainly a strange fact. I don’t think that lurking or using misleading pseudonyms that you mention is a major issue (on these crossword boards anyway).

  53. nmsindy says:

    Further to the above, quite a few crossword editors have been female, not least Louise Levene in the Indy for many years, from about 1987. A lady I forget to mention above is Warbler from the Tel Toughie if memory serves (also a Listener setter).

  54. hughr says:

    I read the site a lot but hardly ever post. I just wanted to say what a valuable resource it is for anyone that is still in the early days of trying to get to grips with cryptic crosswords. The time that the bloggers must put in is really admirable and some of the discussion is really interesting and educational.

    I have to say that I am frustrated that I still don’t seem to be able to make much progress with most cryptic crosswords! Sometimes I will get a decent amount of an Everyman done but never finished. Most of the Guardian ones (the paper I have delivered), I only get a handful at best.

    I used to think that my voabulary was reasonably good but there are so many words that I just don’t know and even when I can see (and usually understand) the working in the blog, I know that I would never have teased out the answer if I’d sat there pondering the clue all day! I think a big part of my problem is clues where one has to think of an alternative term for one of the words given and then use that word or part of that word as the basis for part of the clue, usually along with other bits. My brain just doesn’t seem to work at coming up with the alternative words or assembling the answer from various bits of the clue, or bits of the clue that have been substituted for other words!

    I can sometimes get other types of clues really easily and am pleased when they seem to come to me straight away e.g. easy street and room temperature from a Guardian crossword the other day.

    I’m not sure whether to keep looking at all the different Guardian crosswords and cross referencing them with the blogs as a way of trying to improve or whether it’s only by me having the actual thought process myself that I’ll improve. I’m suspecting the latter, so maybe I should just do more, “easier” crosswords myself (as far as I can at least).

    As with everything, time and practise is also a factor but I’m starting to doubt whether my brain is wired up to be able to do cryptics in any substantial way. If so, it would be a shame as I do enjoy them, when not frustrated at my inability to actually do them!


  55. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hugh, if you haven’t done so already, look at sections 5 and 6 of

    Also, get your local library to dig out “Ximenes on the Art of Crosswords”. It is the original bible, although many setters nowadays go beyond what is defined there, it still covers most clue types that you will meet.

  56. PeeDee says:

    Hugh, stick at it! You certainly can re-wire your brain to do cryptics, it just takes time and practice.

    My advice would be to keep at each crossword until you run out of time or are are absolutely stuck, then look at the blog to learn about the ones you didn’t get. It takes years to be a really proficient solver (for most of us anyway!).

  57. PeeDee says:

    @Eileen @51. I always thought Arachne must be a woman from her crosswords. I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is that gives it away, but there is something different about her style. Nice to have my suspicion confirmed though!

  58. Eileen says:

    Hi PeeDee

    Arachne has often been called ‘The Spider Woman’ on this site and, of course, she takes her name from the Lydian woman in Greco / Roman mythology, who boasted that she was better at weaving than Athena [always a dangerous thing to do!] and was turned into a spider.

    One recent instance you may be thinking of was in Arachne’s puzzle a couple of weeks ago, where she clued MOTORIST as ‘Doctor is wrong about woman in Austin, perhaps’, which Andrew commented on as ‘a trademark Arachne-ism’.

    I’m sure you know that you can find out [almost] all you want to know about the setters through the link to the excellent ‘Crossword Who’s Who’ at the top of this page under ‘Setters’.

  59. Andrew says:

    Eileen, another female setter you haven’t mentioned (and another A to add to Arachne and Audreus) is Auster. There’s also Moley, who sometimes sets the Guardian Quiptic.

  60. Eileen says:

    Quite right, Andrew. I don’t know how I forgot Auster.

    I don’t know much about Moley, because I’ve only looked at the Quiptics since they’ve been blogged here – and then not always. I must admit that, when I first saw the name, I thought these Quiptics might be a legacy from the very much lamented Taupi.

    But, I think you’ll admit, we are really scratching around in our search for female setters!

  61. Gaufrid says:

    You can always add Adamant (FT), Hectence and Nutmeg (both Quiptic) to your list.

  62. Derek Lazenby says:

    So then Eileen, what’s stopping you? Grin.

  63. Jan says:

    I submitted half a dozen puzzles to the Guardian, back in the nineties. Although being, quote, “considerably better than some we receive … we don’t need any more setters at the moment” … ! Orense told me that was a fairly standard response to first submissions. One must try, try and try again. I don’t have that sort of dedication or perseverance.

    Hi Eileen, I did ask to hear about any follow-up from Buckingham. Being relatively near, I was invited to take part in a timed solve. It would be filmed. That did it! Under those conditions my brain would freeze, so I declined. That’s when the comment was made about the dearth of female solvers.

  64. Derek Lazenby says:

    Under the guise of “other topics of interest” (??), did I say that since I got back from hospital, I’ve been putting my dozen or so Windows and Windows Mobile proggies on my web site for all to use. Most are probably too much of my odd ball interests, but ya never know, some of it may be useful to you! (Especially if you take lots of pills)

    For anyone who doesn’t know, you can click on coloured poster’s names to get to their web site.

  65. grandpuzzler says:

    I have viewed the great pictures of the bloggers and setters gatherings. My chance of attending one of those meetings is slim. However, I can drive to Portland – 180 miles south of my home. I have read that Brendan lives there and I would love to visit him and perhaps take him out to lunch. I couldn’t find a phone listing for him so I am asking that you forward this email to him and possibly he will agree to meet me. I am providing my full particulars and I don’t mind if they are printed in the General Discussion. Thank you for any assistance you may provide.

    Paul Grandstrom: grandpuzzler at yahoo dot com. Phone: 425-256-1538

  66. Gaufrid says:

    Hi grandpuzzler
    I’m sorry but I do not have an email address for Brendan and so cannot forward anything to him. Hopefully someone who does have his address will read your comment and draw his attention to it. Alternatively you could ask the Guardian’s crossword editor to forward an email. His email address is on the Guardian’s crossword webpage.

  67. Roger Fellows says:


    I’ve been keeping records of my attempts at the Guarian Cryptic every day since 1984. On three ocasions, however,the paper failed to print the pseudonym of the setter (good old Grauniad!), so my records are incomplete.

    The dates were 7.5.94, 2.7.94 and 25.7.95. Can anybody supply me with this information?

    Thanks for a great site, btw.

  68. grandpuzzler says:

    Hi Gaufrid:
    Thanks for your help. I really did know that you are not the Crossword Editor – you’re more important! Mr. Stephenson did forward my request to Brendan and he has already replied. I am going to visit him next week in Portland.


  69. Sil van den Hoek says:

    …. I am more than happy to say that – in the aftermath of last Saturday’s blog of the Guardian’s Oscar puzzle – there has been an amicable exchange between Brendan and me, us being “friends again”. No hard feelings anymore. To paraphrase Joni Mitchell, we looked at “life from both sides now”. As it should be.
    Moreover, Brendan would also like to make molonglo part of what he calls “pax cruciverba” [isn’t this a beautiful expression, Eileen?] too.
    Much better than ‘poppycock’.
    I think we all agree, don’t we?

  70. Geoff Chapman says:

    I don’t know Sil. I’m still chuckling at the etymology of ‘poppycock’.

  71. Brendan says:

    Thanks to Sil for being friends again, in the course of which we discovered a common link to Utrecht, and likewise to molonglo.

    As I wrote to molonglo, crosswords should be an island of sanity in an insane world. I made the mistake of allowing my frustration with that insanity to invade the sane space.

    And thanks to everyone else who has helped (Eileen and Gaufrid, in particular) or put up with this episode.

  72. Ishan Sardana says:


    I am a final year Computer Science student at Glasgow University, and as part of my Honours project I am developing an application to help solve Rufus crosswords by detecting the category(or potential categories) a clue may belong to, and I was wondering if, as crossword enthusiasts, anyone here would be interested in helping me evaluate my application by running it and completing a questionnaire. The application, a ReadMe and the questionnaire can be downloaded from Please feel free to contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions or queries.


    Ishan Sardana

  73. flashling says:

    Just a thought, do the the setters/bloggers care about the comment count? Who does it reflect on, the blogger or the setter or the puzzle? Are the zero comment blogs worth continuing? Is it just snobbery that 15sq doesn’t cover the other papers that weren’t broadsheets? Is the Daily Fail’s crossword unsuitable? Just asking to see some opinions.

  74. Derek Lazenby says:

    Further to my comment above, if any of you played Nap in your mis-spent youths you may have thought that no-one has programmed it yet. Well they have now, as usual, just click on my name.

  75. Geoff says:

    After being prompted to do so, I reluctantly submitted a few of my own puzzles to Alberich and he has just displayed one on his site, which can be found here:

    Any comments please, positive or negative, to [email protected]

  76. Eileen says:

    Recommended! :-)

    It’s really good to see 15² commenters turning up as setters on Alberich’s excellent site – Radler, Sil [Dalibor] and now Geoff [Gervase] and his generosity in promoting them.

    smutchin – if you’re there – are you doing any setting these days?

  77. Sil van den Hoek says:

    And ali [Gila]!

    Will surely give it a go, Geoff.
    Wonder why you were reluctant to submit some crosswords.
    I probably come back to you by email.

  78. Eileen says:

    Very sorry, Ali – and anyone else whose alter ego I may have missed! 😉

  79. Derek Lazenby says:

    I’ve occassionaly referenced health problems. No doubt some have wondered just what I was talking about. Well, I finally got around to adding a page to my web site on the subject, but you’ll have to scroll to the bottom of my homepage to find a link to it.

  80. Robi says:

    Is there an archive for previous Independent crosswords? If so, could someone please send me the link.

  81. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Robi
    Unfortunately not. If it is a specific puzzle you are after and it is relatively recent then I might still have a copy, just let me know which date or puzzle number.

  82. Robi says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid; I was looking for last Friday’s (April 1st) Nimrod No. 7631, although it might be a bit tricky for my grade.

  83. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Robi
    It will be on its way to you shortly.

  84. flashling says:

    So how well would the setters do as bloggers? Vice versa is somewhat less likely! (OK ignore NMS sorry Niall)

  85. Bryan says:

    Admin: Moved from Guardian 24,304.

    Tupu @ 14

    Crime Lake and Daisy Nook would be ‘right up my street’ as we say in Oldham or – to give it its proper pronunciation – Owdam. We have no use for aitches which we consider an unecessary luxury.

    My Grandad, who loved walking, used to take me regularly to both these places and also to Hartshead Pike and Park Bridge. The Daisy Nook Fair was a must at Easter following a walk along the Bardsley Canal.

    Thanks for the memories!

  86. tupu says:

    Admin: Moved from Guardian 24,304.

    Hi Bryan
    I grew up in Moston (hence my reference to Boggart Hole Clough some time ago) so they were within easy pedalling distance.

  87. Bryan says:

    Admin: Moved from Guardian 24,304.

    Hi Tupu

    Small world!

    I’ve also been to Boggart Hole Clough which is hardly surprising since my surname is Clough!

  88. Ian says:

    Admin: Moved from Guardian 24,304.

    I too have some vague memories of Boggart Hole Clough (esp. The boating lake) Crime Lake and Daisy Nook as a young boy in the late 1950’s when I lived on the Manchester/Chadderton
    boundary. Happy days.

  89. Bryan says:

    Admin: Moved from Guardian 24,304.

    Ian @ 20

    Wow: I have swum at Chaddy Baths many a time!

  90. tupu says:

    Admin: Moved from Guardian 24,304.

    Hi Bryan, Ian
    Chadderton Baths opens another ‘flood’ of memories. Tempted to search on the net, I find that they were closed not long back. I also find that Middleton Baths have been demolished. Less sadly, the magnificent tiled frontage of Harpurhey Baths is being restored. :) I can easily imagine a Wallace Arnold bus tour to the ‘heritage’ swimming baths of the north Manchester and neighbouring boroughs area! We were truly well served by these places as youngsters.

    And then of course there were the architectural wonders of the great white cinema buildings as well!!

  91. Bryan says:

    Admin: Moved from Guardian 24,304.

    Hi Tupu & Ian

    Ah yes … the cinemas.

    There were 10 in and around Oldham when I was a kid but I now understand that they’ve all gone!

    Gaumont, Odeon, Electraceum, Victory, Grosvenor, Lyric, Roxy, Queens, etc.

    I forget the names of the other two.

  92. Ian says:

    Admin: Moved from Guardian 24,304.

    Hi Bryan and tupu,

    Talking of cinemas, I remember one. I visited a fair amount in Moston. I’m pretty sure it was called the Fourways cinema.

    From there I graduated to the Manchester Film Theatre and the Cinephone in the city centre.

  93. Bryan says:

    Hi Ian & Tupu

    I’ve remembered another: The Cosy.

    I’ve also remembered that it was anything but cosy. More of a bug house.

  94. tupu says:

    Hi Bryan and Ian

    Yes there was the Fourways – at the top of Charlestown Road and Moston Lane.

    There were two others in Moston – the Adelphi in Kenyon Lane and the MIP. This last was a small unassuming place apart from its name which stood for MOSTON IMPERIAL PALACE! In those days one could (safely enough it seemed) pop over there and ask a friendly looking adult in the queue to take you in if you were too young on your own. It became an indoor market eventually.

  95. Bryan says:

    There was also a Casino cinema in Oldham.

  96. Pat O'Brien says:

    Help needed! The Brisbane(Oz) “Courier Mail” has today published a Guardian Crossword set by Quantum and I cannot find the solutions anywhere either on the Guardian website or on Fifteen_squared. The number is no help as they use a different numbering system to the Guardian. 1 down clue is “Frill lacking finish by the sound of it.” for which I have RUFF (homophone of ROUGH). Can someone please point me in the right direction.

  97. beermagnet says:

    That is a puzzle that pre-dates
    Cryptic crossword No 22,549 Tuesday 18 June 2002
    Link below should give you abilities to find answers:

    (Found by using google advanced search including )

  98. mikeS says:

    Hi Pat O B

    Try this link

  99. Pat O'Brien says:

    Many thanks beermagnet and mikeS. Being so old might explain why I thought it was one of his better efforts. Shame he is no longer with us.

  100. mike04 says:

    Roger Fellows @67

    Roger, you say that “the paper failed to print the pseudonym of the setter” on the dates in question.
    Quite a few libraries around the UK hold past copies of The Guardian on microfilm.

    It’s rather unlikely perhaps, but the microfilm version might be different.
    Would there be any point in consulting this archive? I could do this if it would help.

  101. Carrots says:

    Re: The “Spoiler” debate apropos bloggers preambles.

    Although I think, in general, that bloggers should be dissuaded from revealing themes and specific answers in their preambles, I would not wish to constrain the obvious enhancement they provide for cross-word solving. Indeed, I would welcome an opportunity for bloggers to provide a robust “digest”, perhaps after, rather than before, their list of annotated solutions.

    I`m sure that solvers use 15sqd. in many different ways (I know I do!) so getting a format that suits everyone is extremely difficult.

  102. Carrots says:

    Does anyone know how to get a decent hard copy of The Independent`s daily cryptic puzzle? When I try to print it out all I get is a postage-stamp grid and only half the clues.

  103. Gaufrid says:

    Download and install Crossword Solver from here:

    This program provides the facility to download and print the current day’s Indy.

  104. Carrots says:

    Sorry to be a pain, but I`ve now downloaded crosswordsolver, but can`t find the INDY link….any suggestions?

    Will you be with us in Brummieland next Saturday?

  105. Gaufrid says:

    Try File > Download Puzzle.

  106. Jan says:

    Thanks for that, Gaufrid – I must try it – and thanks Carrots for asking the question.

    Now – is it me?

    After 6 years of joining in on internet forums (one of which discussed whether they are forums or fora!), I’m beginning to doubt my use of English.

    Its and ones for possessives – yes? It’s and one’s being contractions – I’m feeling the pain!

    Its noise may disturb ones rest.
    It’s good that one’s doing that.

    In Monday’s Rufus (Guardian 25353) there was 2d: ‘Encounter reserve in one’s social network’. And in two recent FT puzzles ‘one’s’ appeared incorrectly.

    I keep expecting the grammarians amongst us to comment but nothing has been said. So, can it possibly be me who’s (whose ;)) wrong.

  107. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Jan
    You’re (or as my younger daughter would spell it ‘your’ even though she is nearing 40) not wrong.

  108. Jan says:

    Hi, Gaufrid,

    Thank you – I was beginning to think it was me. How do you suppose the editors excuse ‘one’s’ appearing in clues incorrectly?

    I still wonder why nobody has commented about this on the threads. I will do, next time.

    Golly-gosh, you’re/your is the other bugbear of the forums I read. What have English teachers been teaching for the last 50 years?

    Is 40 the cut-off age? My daughter has just reached 40 and knows that I will notice if she uses our language incorrectly.

  109. Eileen says:

    Hi Jan and Gaufrid

    I think I may well regret joining in this but I can’t resist it!

    Having taught English Language for a number of years and battled endlessly with the superfluous use of the apostrophe, particularly in ‘it’s’ and various other instances, including straightforward plurals and even verbs, I have to say that I have never, ever, come across any discussion regarding its use in the personal pronoun ‘one’s’ to indicate possession, which I would never have dreamed of omitting!

    Jan’s comment sent me to ‘Fowler’s Modern English Usage’ where the only discussion of the possessive ‘one’s’ [sic] was about whether one would say e.g. ‘One doesn’t like to have one’s word doubted’ or ‘One doesn’t like to have his word doubted’.

    I have found the following on-line sources, all of which confirm the apostrophe in the possessive pronoun ‘one’s’, ‘anyone’s’, ‘someone’s’, ‘everyone’s’. – not to be confused with the incorrect use in ‘her’s’, ‘their’s’ etc.

    Needless to say, I’m right behind both of you regarding your / you’re! :-)

    [I’m really sorry you’re not coming to Birmingham after all, Jan.}

  110. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Eileen
    You are of course absolutely correct. I didn’t read Jan’s original comment carefully enough before replying and only the its/it’s in her example actually registered.

    One (or at least I) must be more careful in future to mind one’s p’s and q’s (Chambers or Ps & Qs COED), in the Chambers sense (to be watchfully accurate and punctilious) rather than the COED sense (be careful to be polite and avoid giving offence). Now I wonder which is the correct definition? Brewer seems to confirm both but it has ‘P’s and ‘Q’s.

    I think that’s enough apostrophes for one comment.

  111. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid 😉

    Regarding your query: there was one grammar book where I taught that gave p’s and q’s but I think, as you suggest, the jury’s out on this. I prefer Ps and Qs – straightforward plurals: the meaning is perfectly clear [unlike with ps and qs – or PS and QS] without any need for apostrophes, of which, as you say, we’ve now had quite enough!

  112. Jan says:

    Hi, Eileen,

    I thought this might bring you out from behind the arras! :)

    Thanks for the links. It really was me, then. No wonder nobody commented about the use of ‘one’s’ in the clues. It still looks wrong, though. I will continue to omit the apostrophe in my writing.

    I’ll be thinking of you all on Saturday. I’ll be having ‘Lunch on the Green’ – better venue but not such good company.

  113. Derek Lazenby says:

    Poor old apostrophe eh? Quite agree it should be done properly. But, um, why does no one seem to care about vanishing hyphens? Last time I mentioned it there was little response.

  114. C. G. Rishikesh says:

    I just can’t accept the use of “do’s and don’ts”. My reasoning is that the apostrophe in the first word has a different function from the apostrophe in the second word.

    If “do’s” takes an apostrophe (as in the expression “mind your p’s and q’s” ), shouldn’t we have “don’t’s” for the sake of consistency?

    “Dos and don’ts” too may be right. One might argue that this is consistent. But I am a little uncomfortable with this because the first word seems to be from the computer world. And I have a feeling that I proceeded to write the term for the South Indian delicacy dosa and I stopped short.

    How about DOs and DON’Ts? I prefer this. (We can use small capitals.)

    What do others think?

    Derek: I have as much concern as you about the vanishing hyphen.

  115. Scarpia says:

    Just to let everyone know that the castaway on next week’s desert Island Discs will be Araucaria.

  116. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Scarpia – that’s one not to be missed!

  117. Jan says:

    I had to chuckle when I saw 11a in Paul’s Guardian 25,369 this week.

    “Dinosaur and ferret – one’s one’s one”

    Thanks, Scarpia, I’ve written myself a note to remember to switch on.

  118. Richard Cleaver says:

    Gaufrid has kindly agreed that I can place a little ad here…

    I have compiled a Summer Quiz to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Care. It consists of 140 cryptic clues to British placenames, and the prize is a magnum of Champagne. The closing date for entries is 26th August.

    It is available via
    by sending £2 and sae to “The QuizMaster” c/o The King’s Head, 19 Maiden Lane, STAMFORD, Lincolnshire, PE9 2AZ

    Thank you in anticipation,


  119. Pat O'Brien says:

    Some sad news I’m afraid. Shirley O’Brien (no relation) known to Guardian solvers as Auster, passed away at her home in Stafford Heights, Brisbane on Tuesday. Her funeral is to be held tomorrow (Friday).

  120. Jake says:

    General enquiry. As no-one answered on the Gozo blog.

    I have a question regarding setters:

    I know a few have passed in the last couple of years, but where is HIGHLANDER a FT setter and MOODIM also FT too?

    I do always liked both of them, and unless they have passed, they seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth.

    Any enlightenment. Thank you.


  121. Jake says:

    Excuse my grammar.

  122. Giovanni says:

    Does anyone have any news of Orlando? No puzzles in July – most unusual!

  123. John H says:

    For the bloggers/solvers of:

    Guardian Prize by Biggles/FT Prize by Cinephile, Dogberry and Io (both July 30); and
    Sunday Indy by Anax; Sunday Mephisto by Paul McKenna; Sunday Telegraph Prize by Brian Greer;

    I hope I’m not breaking any rules about live puzzles, but they’ve something in common…

  124. Scarpia says:

    Recently had this in an e mail from a young friend.I thought it might be of interest as,I think most posters here are,like me,quite fussy about speliing.
    Perhaps we make too much of it?

    “I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.”

  125. Rishi says:

    Of course I read 124 completely in one go and I made perfect sense of it all.

    I am wondering why I did Eng. Lit. in college, why I pored over grammar and usage books, why I took exams at all, why I had to be so careful in preparing my résumé when applying for work.

  126. David Baker says:

    I came across the clue: 1-.6666 1000m volcano (5) which apparently has the answer NEVIS. Can anyone explain why??

  127. Jake says:

    David Baker @126.

    the 6666 part is VIS, as in roman numbers VI=6 + the S=in plural form could equal 66,666, or in this case 6666(six’s).

    Not sure about the NE part. May-be another form of calculation for 1000m as equals 3,280.84 feet ???

  128. nmsindy says:

    Unless 1- One minus is ONE less something ie O leaving NE. Can’t promise it is right… Nor would I see the clue getting past Azed.

  129. Jake says:


    Yes that is most probably right. And agree not seeing it pass Azed. Although, I have seen a similar clue used the ONE part – O=zero so then left with NE. I cannot remember where I’ve seen it.

    David Baker – where did you see this clue?

  130. Pelham Barton says:

    Further to 126-129:

    I think we have to take the dot as being zero (=O).

    This clue must be regarded as seriously objectionable: the third and fourth 6s are redundant.

  131. Derek Lazenby says:

    Off topic comment re 1a in today’s Gordius: Googleing DECUS by itself does of course lead to sites that make us old time programmers go all dewy eyed and nostalgic!

  132. Derek Lazenby says:

    ‘cos if one say works around a rectangle one has directions up/down (top to bottom) left/right (side to side), and I don’t know whether you noticed it, but a grid is a rectangle, not a body. Anyway, everybody and their dog moans about which words should only be used in which direction of clue, so it’s my turn!

  133. Jaybee says:

    Re discussion on the Nevis clue, 129. It’s one of Araucaria’s

    The Guardian, Thursday 16 October 2003

    Seen also this…

  134. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Jaybee @133 for the source. Note that the published form is

    1 – 0 66666, 1000m volcano (5)

    This gives us the O to remove from 1, so my suggestion of interpreting the dot as a zero (@130) is unneceesary. However, this form of the clue has three redundant 6s.

  135. David Baker says:

    Many thanks for all the discussions. I was away so I missed the request for the source, but it is of course as stated Araucaria back in the day. I would never have got this however long I tried, and I’m not even sure I understand it fully now. As for the best clue ever, I think not!! My vote for that is, String from the thound of muthic (5). Any other all time greats??

  136. Pelham Barton says:

    David @135:

    1 – 0 -> ONE minus O -> NE

    66666 -> sixes -> VIs -> VIS

    1000m volcano is the definition of (Ben) NEVIS

    Hope that helps, putting it all in one place. Not the sort of clue I like at all.

    My favourite is the one apparently submitted when Ximenes (X for short) set CLARIONET as the competition word but defined it as “stringed instrument”. One solver submitted the clue

    Blow me, I carol riotously, X has slipped up

    (“Blow me” defines a wind instrument, then anagram of I CAROL plus reversal of TEN – in a down clue, one hopes.)

    As I read the story, this clue won second prize, perhaps because X was not too happy at the dig.

  137. bracoman says:

    I don’t know if this has been raised before, but is there any demand for a blog on the “i” crossword. As far as I can see. it uses the same stable of compilers as the Indie although each day the 2 crosswords are different. I appreciate that there are restraints on how many crosswords this site can cover, but the crosswords here are of a standard equivalent to the Indie.

  138. Rishi says:

    Re 9d in Azed 2048.

    When I, as a setter, use this N word or (more usually) its male form, there are protests from solvers asking me how I can use what is considered an offensive word.

    These are usually from young students who have undergone an orientation course at the US Consulate in India before going to the States for higher studies.

    My question is: what is the take in the UK?

    Also, can a word that cannot fly in a country pass in another country?

    In India I would never put in PARIAH in the grid.

    Generally, can words that are marked ‘vulgar slang’ in the dictionary be used as a component in wordplay (or subsidiary indication), even if we don’t put them into the grid?

    For example, I have the clue

    Practises sheer trickery to go over Butt (9)

    The last word uses false capitalisation and it’s a Kashmiri name.

    Can I dare use this clue in a national newspaper in India?

  139. Gaufrid says:

    Hi bracoman @137
    Sorry for the delay in replying. Adding the ‘i’ to our portfolio has been considered on a couple of occasions but for various reasons we decided against doing so.

  140. Jan says:

    Hi, Rishi @138, these are interesting questions.

    9d in AZED 2048 surprised me but I wouldn’t regard it as offensive unlike the other, appalling, ‘N’ word.

    On a US forum I once mentioned that my butt (meaning my water butt) was empty after a long spell without rain. I was mercilessly teased! As for my mention of Cornish pasties – how am I to know what other pasties there are. :(

    “Also, can a word that cannot fly in a country pass in another country?

    The answer must be yes but can you ever be sure what is acceptable and what isn’t?

  141. Pelham Barton says:

    Rishi @138 (and following Jan’s helpful comments @140):

    I offer the following without claiming any special authority but intended as constructive. (Indeed, that goes for everything I say on this website.)

    If it is not too late, I would advise trying to find an alternative clue. To me, the risk of causing offence and possibly losing regular solvers outweighs any special merits in the clue itself.

    As Jan has said, things vary between countries. I would add that they also vary within countries. I would expect the Guardian and Independent to be more accepting of “rude words”, but less tolerant of anything that smacks of racism, compared to the Telegraph and Times. And, of course, your clue would be perfect for Private Eye.

  142. Pelham Barton says:

    Further to the discussion started by Rishi @138: I originally included this in a single reply together with the remarks made at 141, but it got lost when I tried to submit the whole thing in one go (I had not filled in my name) so I am playing safe by putting this bit in a separate reply.

    This relates to the way that views on words change over time. The actual word used by Azed was marked “sometimes derog.” in Chambers 1988 (p. 961). By 1998 (p. 1083) it had become “usu considered to be offensive or derog“. The masculine form was not marked as special at all in 1988, but had become “sometimes considered to be derog or offensive” by 1998. I do not have my 2008 edition to hand as I am typing this, but I checked it yesterday, and from memory “sometimes” had become “usu“, even for the masculine form.

  143. Rishi says:

    Thanks for the responses.

    On the day prior to publication, I changed the clue so that my reputation among my solvers would remain intact.

  144. Jan says:

    Very sensible, Rishi.

    Practises sheer trickery to go over Butt (9)

    I can’t solve it! I hate it when that happens.

    Hopefully someone will enlighten me.

  145. Chris says:

    @Jan: Practises sheer trickery to go over Butt (9)


  146. Rishi says:

    To refine it further:

    REHE(ARSE)S* (trickery being the AInd).

  147. RichardC says:

    Indicating Cockney rhyming slang in a clue

    I’d be interested to hear whether people feel that the words ‘Cockney’ or ‘East-ender’ are the only acceptable indicator of the use of rhyming slang in a cryptic clue, e.g. ‘Cockney plates’ for ‘MEAT’. Do you think ‘Londoner’, ‘Capital man’, or any similar reference to London as a whole would be fair to use?


  148. nmsindy says:

    Maybe someone from London can put us right, but I think ‘Londoner’ is not sufficient because the rhyming slang, dropping aitches etc, is not associated with London as a whole – just with certain parts of it.

  149. max says:

    Can anybody help? A crossword-loving colleague is about to retire, and I’d dearly like to put a suitable cryptic clue/comment in his leaving card…

    Any suggestions from your combined wealth of knowledge and experience?


  150. Jan says:

    Hi, Max, make an anagram of his name and then write a clue around it with a suitable anagram indicator. Use his job description or his plans for retirement.

    Angelfire’s anagram maker is a fun way of turning names into phrases.

    Age burns jest – that’s just one of the zillions for my name! :)

  151. Allan_C says:

    Re bracoman @ 137. When the i started I was under the impression that its cryptics were re-used from past indy issues. But having recently started taking the i regularly I haven’t recognised any of them and there are very few if any indy crosswords that I’ve missed. So yes, I for one would appreciate being blogs for the i – it’s probably a question of finding bloggers.

  152. Allan_C says:

    “….would appreciate being blogs….” should read “….would appreciate there being blogs….”
    And sorry, Gaufrid, I didn’t spot your reply. But if you do reconsider….

  153. Derek Lazenby says:

    Just a thought, but that familiar gadget of “first lady” (or similar phrase) to clue EVE, shouldn’t it actually be “second lady”?

  154. Pelham Barton says:

    Picking up a question from Duncan Shiell on the blog for Independent 7823. Duncan asked:

    However, it was clear what was required, so does purism in cluing matter if there is no doubt what the setter intends? It would be interesting to hear other peoples’ views.

    Taking this out of the context of anagram leads, here is a variation on an example I have used elsewhere:

    Manchester-based football team damaging to nerve (7)

    Checked letters E-E-T-N

    It is (I hope) obvious what the setter intends, but the clue is just plain wrong.

  155. duncanshiell says:


    My point was simply that the setter, using ‘more liberal’ anagram indicators, intended the solver to realise that an anagram was involved. I was definitely not suggesting that solvers should turn a blind eye to factual errors, as is the case of your example using Manchester instead of Liverpool.

    My remark in Independent 7823 was not only stimulated by Radian’s use of ragtag, guide and misled, but also by Araucaria’s liberal cluing in today’s Guardian 25477.

    I have no issue with liberal cluing as against purist cluing. There is a place for both. It would be very boring if all the newspapers had one setter who stuck entirely to purist or liberal lines. The joy of the puzzles in the national dailies and weekend magazines is provided by the range of puzzles and clues that are presented. Long may it continue.

    You will note that I was chided in the comments on Guardian 25477 for suggesting that Araucaria was splendidly outrageous in his clues for 8 and 20 today.

  156. nmsindy says:

    Re PB’s example at 154, I think that is just a (very amazing not-to-be-spotted!) mistake and not a crossword issue at such.

    Even if they were ever to make a move (like Wimbledon to Milton Keynes), that would seem just about the least likely destination…

  157. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks to Duncan and nms who have responded to 154. I should clarify that I was going beyond Duncan’s original question, and that my contrived example of a clue is not one that I have seen anywhere.

    I have seen the view expressed that any clue which allows the solver to deduce the setter’s intended answer is acceptable. I have no quarrel with anyone who enjoys crosswords which take such principles to extremes, but prefer not to solve such crosswords myself.

    The type of crosswords I prefer are those where the clues are both witty and stick close to purist principles. There are enough of these around to satisfy my appetite for crosswords. I make no claim that these are any better than other crosswords.

    In relation to the specific issue, I am satisfied with an anagram lead if:

    1. It conveys a meaning that relates to changing the order of letters.

    2. It is used in a way that fits with current English grammar.

    For an example of point 1, we have the word “perhaps” which I queried in Independent 7820. The setter Anax himself said that “it isn’t ideal, but it’s one of those indicators that has been a squatter in the anagram household for, it seems, a lifetime”.

    In relation to point 2, I find violation of grammar in all subsidiary indications as unsatisfying as a factual error. Again, I have no quarrel with those who feel differently.

  158. Alberich says:

    In answer to Pelham’s question, here’s my take on liberal vs purist clueing, for what it’s worth. Apologies in advance for length.

    I tend not to think of clueing in terms of Ximenean/purist vs libertarian these days. I think that terms like “Ximenean” have actually taken on a slightly negative tone, much in the way that mentioning Health and Safety often elicits a groan. We often see things like “that was a nice clue but the Ximeneans will grumble” for instance, suggesting that there are two types of setter, those who prefer to have fun and those who are hidebound by some sort of strict arcane rules which stifle originality and inventiveness. Of course this is unfair and inaccurate – most of the time.

    I say most of the time because I don’t think it helps when a small minority of pedants dig up classic clues from the past and find obscure technical reasons why they aren’t very good after all. For example the clue “Bust down reason?” for BRAINWASH is regarded by many to be one of the finest of its type, but in a message board discussion a while ago someone pointed out that the clue doesn’t work because “bust” when read as a verb doesn’t have an object, and there was some support for this. The point is correct, technically, but is it important enough to invalidate the clue? The many people who either didn’t notice the “fault” or were happy to overlook it would say no, and I agree.

    A few pedants aside, though, I think that most of us setters would agree that clues either work or they don’t work, in other words they are fair or they are not fair. The Times gets it just right here, in that some of the clues may be “un-Ximenean” (nounal anagram indicators, “deputy leader” to indicate D) but you never feel cheated. The same can be said for most setters from other dailies too.

    I see an unfair clue as one which leaves the solver thinking “the clue says X, but if I assume that what the setter really means is Y, then it is solvable.” Really bad examples are fortunately rare and usually involve sloppy/inaccurate word order, vague first /last letter indications or unhelpful definitions. I’m sure I’ve written a few myself! Such clues certainly aren’t Ximenean but they aren’t libertarian either, they are just unfair.

    Obviously there have to be some rules to follow when writing clues, but they should be followed because they relate to fairness and accuracy, and not followed just for the sake of following them. If a rule can be broken with no harm done, it obviously isn’t a very good one.

    I will be interested to see what others say, assuming anyone managed to get this far without falling asleep. Finally, I agree with NMSIndy that the football clue Pelham quotes is a mistake plain and simple, one I could easily have made myself, given my scant knowledge of the game!

  159. Pelham Barton says:

    Alberich @158: Many thanks for your contribution. I do not remember seeing the clue for BRAINWASH before, but I read it as a perfectly constructed “& lit”.

  160. Alberich says:

    You’re welcome – I see from rereading your post at 154 that you were actually quoting the purist/libertarian question from Duncan, so you may not actually have wanted to invite my long screed! I’m glad it was of some interest anyway.

  161. Pelham Barton says:

    Alberich @160: Your response was very much the sort of thing I am interested to read. I failed to make clear at 154 that I was giving thoughts prompted by Duncan’s question rather than a direct answer to him.

  162. Alberich says:

    That’s good – I hope others will have something to say too.

  163. Allan_C says:

    Alberich @158 says, “Obviously there have to be some rules to follow when writing clues, but they should be followed because they relate to fairness and accuracy, and not followed just for the sake of following them. If a rule can be broken with no harm done, it obviously isn’t a very good one.”

    Which puts me in mind of the dictum that rules are made for the guidance of the wise and the obedience of fools.

  164. Pelham Barton says:

    From today’s Independent, I was asked to explain the interpretation of Chomsky’s “Colourless green ideas sleep furiously” as a crossword clue. This came up when I was a regular contributor to the Guardian crossword comments pages, and I concocted the word EPIRENEGADELESS as an anagram (“furiously”) of “green ideas sleep” and pretended to be shocked that Chambers did not include it. For the definition (“Colourless”), epirenegadeless obviously(!) means “being without an epirenegade”, where an epirenegade holds the authority over an ordinary renegade equivalent to that of a colour sergeant over an ordinary soldier. Fortunately, it does not matter whether UK or US spelling of “colo(u)rless” is used.

  165. sidey says:

    Having just suffered a major catastrophe, or actually being rather forgetful, I have lost the address of the program that allows solving the Indy, Solver possibly, together with the url to use to get it to work with archived puzzles. Would someone mind posting a link and the url please?

  166. Gaufrid says:

    Hi sidey
    I think you want:


  167. sidey says:

    Indeed Gaufrid, exactly what was needed, thank you.

  168. Pelham Barton says:

    I have just bought the new Chambers and see that it includes a “Wordgame Companion” with seven and a half pages of anagram indicators. Among the ones I have questioned recently, it allows “another” and “perhaps”. Of course, we must now apply the principle that if Chambers allows it, we cannot reasonably complain if setters use it.

  169. Dave Ellison says:

    Just testing

  170. Dave Ellison says:

    I recall a discussion some time ago on leaving aside a Xword when stuck and then the answers popping out when you return to it later (a length of time known as the incubation period). I had a quick search for this discussion but couldn’t find it just now. Some of the questions asked were: had any investigation been done on this and how long should one lay the crossword aside.

  171. Dave Ellison says:

    I see New Scientist had an article on this recently which included a reference to a scientific study in the Psychological Bulletin. The NS says: “Studies back up our everyday experience that a period of incubation can lead you to the eventual “aha” moment. Don’t switch off entirely, though. For verbal problems, a break from the clue seems to be more fruitful if you occupy yourself with another task, such as drawing a picture or reading”, and the PB gives enormous details around this area, though not specifically to Xwords. The incubation periods are often very short (1 minute or two) which surprised me. And success is better if you spend longer on preparation time (thinking about the problem in the first place)

  172. Dave Ellison says:

    Sorry about this piecemeal comment: my links won’t work for some reason. They are fine in the preview, but the whole message is not accepted. Here they are (hopefully):

    New Scientist:

    Psychological Bulletin:

  173. Derek Lazenby says:

    Dave, that ties in with my previous life of software developer. Intractable problems would solve themselves, sometimes as soon as driving away from work, sometimes after a night’s sleep. The key was just doing something else and trusting your subconcious to do the job. Concious thinking was never productive in such cases.

  174. Dave Ellison says:

    My previous life was also heavily into software, and laterally teaching Enterprise Java. Even so, I can never remember how to do a link properly, so this time I decided to prepare my message in Word (where creating a link is reasonably straightforward) and then hopefully copy and paste to here. It didn’t work, of course, so the piecemeal approach was really debugging the problem. Still don’t know what was wrong, though.

  175. Erebus says:

    Does anyone else think that the AZED 1st prize winning clue to ROBUST, namely “Tough as old boots from crate in cobblers” (bus in rot), should have an apostrophe in cobblers for it to read correctly in the plain reading? That would then render the cryptic indication unsound, wouldn’t it?

  176. Dave Ellison says:

    I think you are probably right. But perhaps it should be ‘COBBLERS, as I don’t see ROT (for TOMMY-ROT) as a synonym for COBBLERS, either!

  177. Erebus says:

    Chambers includes definitions of both COBBLERS and ROT as NONSENSE (informal), and Chambers Crossword Dictionary has ROT and COBBLERS as synonyms of RUBBISH, so I don’t see a problem with that.

    On the question of putting a Xword aside when you think you can’t do anymore, I invariably find that leaving it overnight works wonders. I wish the same were true for clue writing; I invariably get an ‘idee fixe’ and leave it too late to work out an alternative!

  178. sidey says:

    I am not going to look at today’s Graun blog due to the surfeit of tour-de-forces that will sully it.

    If I mistakenly happen on it I will hunt down every user and nail their eyeballs to a block of lard. Them fry them.

  179. Sil van den Hoek says:

    [redirected from Guardian 25,573 Orlando]

    When, about a year ago, RCWhiting started posting comments, I was – just like you, Davy – very annoyed about the way he dismissed crosswords. And if I were a setter, well …..
    But to be fair to RCW, at a later stage he made clear what solving crosswords means to him. While his view on cryptics is not mine, I have accepted that we are all different and that RCW is just like everyone else entitled to give his opinion on a crossword purely based on what he thinks a cryptic should be all about. RCW only likes crosswords that are extremely challenging, crosswords that are not just a fill-in exercises but real brainteasers. As he is a 50+ years solver and I am not, I can see where he is coming from. Personally, I find it a pity that after so many years RCW does not really appreciate good and stylish clue-writing but that is how it is and I accept that, as others should, in my opinion.
    What I do not like in RCW’s posts – and at that point I am completely with you, Davy – is the extra remark in which he makes clear that it isn’t worth paying the price for a daily newspaper if the crossword is ‘too easy’. But, having said that, after initially being irritated by it, I have now accepted that it is RCW’s way to say that a crossword isn’t up to his standards.
    The Orlandos and Rufuses of this world will most certainly not make that much of an issue of it either. Perhaps, Davy, you should not take offence by RCW’s bylines anymore. Eventually, that’s what I did a few months ago.
    And again, despite everything that is not you or me, he makes genuinely interesting contributions to this site based on his perceptions of a crossword.
    A long time ago, Paul B said that my legs are so long that I can stretch them in order to touch the ground on both sides of the wall (or something similar).
    Well, I am certainly not a person who likes compromises that much (blame it on my late father), but I also think that life’s too short for spending too much energy on things that cannot be changed.

  180. Davy says:


    You are, of course, entirely right in your summation of the RCW situation. Life is indeed too short and I must try as the old song goes to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.
    I do tend to get upset by comments which I don’t consider fair and most of them are by the same person who is certainly infuriating. However, there is no point in constantly going over the same ground to no effect whatsoever so I’ve decided to put him in a metaphorical box where he can no longer annoy me. He’s in the box now and I can’t hear a word he’s saying. From now on, I will not rise to the bait.

    At the other end of the spectrum, I really admire tupu whose comments are always thoughtful and constructive.

    Thanks for your sound advice.

  181. RCWhiting says:

    Sil @ 179
    If I want stylishness (ie smooth surfaces) I read a quality novel,if I want a laugh I turn to Eddie Izzard (singe in last week’s Azed!) or Spike Milligan.
    What I want here is a puzzle,it is what it is called. If it doesn’t puzzle me it has failed.
    After a long struggle with a clue,when the solution finally comes I mentally give a bow to the compiler with a “well done chum, you had me there”.
    That’s my admiration for setters. It’s what they are intended to do – puzzle me.

  182. Davy says:


    I know you will read this so firstly let me apologise if you found any of my comments rude. I never intended to offend but I get rattled too easily and it must stop. You will be pleased to know that you can now say whatever you like and I won’t say a dicky bird. As a famous singer used to articulate “It’s Over”.

    We seem to have more in common as Spike Milligna (the well-known spelling mistake), is one of my heroes. Did you know that the first thing he used to do every day was feed the birds from his balcony and they used to feed out of his hand. Isn’t that wonderful !. It’s such a shame that his wonderful Q series has never been repeated. David Lodge was a Cockleshell Hero you know !.

    So it’s time to move on. What are we going to do now ?. What are we going to do now ?.

    All hail, Sil the mediator.

  183. Tallboss says:

    As someone just starting out , would someone be kind enough to tell me the easier – harder setters of the Indy and Guardian, then I could keep an eye out for the easier ones, and not be too downhearted when not doing very well with the harder ones!

    Thank you

  184. Rorschach says:


    I work as a cryptic crossword setter for a student newspaper and am currently working on an Alphabet Jigsaw which is going into one of next term’s issues. It’s the first Alphabet Jigsaw I’ve done so I’m keen to see if it’s do-able and wondered if anyone here would be kind enough to give it a go?

    If yes, please email me at: jrm94 (at) cam (dot) ac (dot) uk

    Thanks for your time

  185. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Tallboss @183
    Sorry you’ve not had a reply before now. I was hoping that one or two other people would offer their opinions but yours is not an easy question to answer since a puzzle some people find easy others find hard and also the degree of difficulty of puzzles from the same setter can vary from one to another.

    In my experience, puzzles in the FT are generally easier than those in the Guardian and Indy. Monday puzzles tend to be the easiest of the week in all the papers.

    As a beginner, it is possibly better to concentrate initially on setters who have accurate clues and who don’t take many, if any, liberties. Some that come to mind are Don Manley (Bradman/Pasquale/Quixote), Michael Curl (Cincinnus/Orlando), Roger Squires (Dante/Rufus) and David Crossland (Dac).

    For a bit more fun there’s Arachne/Anarche, Mudd/Paul/Punk and Cinephile/Araucaria.

    Definitely at the harder end of the spectrum come John Henderson (Io/Enigmatist/Nimrod), Dean Mayer (Loroso/Anax), Monk and Bannsider.

    For Indy setters you can find more information here:

  186. Stef Savanah says:

    Cryptic solvers – I need your help. I want to collect all the ‘double-barrel’ clues ever constructed. Here’s my own example:
    Reconstruct: foster natural landscape (6)
    Reconstruct: foster natural landscape (9)
    In other words, the exact same clue but two legitimate different solutions. I only know of one other example so far but I keep getting told it’s an old device(!)
    Please send me your examples or post them here:

    Sorry for the intrusion and thanks in advance for your help!


  187. Tallboss says:

    Thanks Gaufrid, very helpful

  188. Tallboss says:


    I sent before I finished writing!!

    I didn’t realise that the FT is considered easier than the Guardian/Indy, I expectd it to be harder, and the fact tht they make it free on the website makes everything great!

    Thanks again, though if anyone else would like to comment, I’d be very interested

  189. Thomas99 says:

    I’ve been wondering if the site managers would consider a possible new convention for the blogs. Some bloggers give the clues as well as the answers and personally I always appreciate this, but I can see that they are left to do their blog own style. But would it be possible to encourage them always to give the clues for the Independent puzzles, since unlike the Guardian and FT ones they disappear from the newspaper’s site each day and are hard (impossible?) for most of us to retrieve afterwards. Today, for instance, I noticed a comment on Anax’s puzzle from yesterday which I think misrepresents a clue, but I can’t be sure and can’t respond because I can no longer see it! What do people think?

    I also like to have more detailed blogs, including the clues, for the “advanced cryptics” (Azed etc.) but that’s another matter.

  190. Pierre says:

    Hi Thomas

    It’s an interesting point you make; not sure I have the answer to it, but I blog the Quiptic, the Everyman, and the Monday Indy crosswords. For a while now, I’ve been adding the clues to my blogs, because I think it helps – as you say – if people don’t have the puzzle in front of them when they come to the blog to catch up, or if they are coming back to the blog the next day.

    The problem is that with the Everyman and the Quiptic, as a blogger you can cut and paste the clues and then just write your blog around them; you can’t do that with the Indy, so while I’m happy to copy type the clues, I understand that not all the other Indy bloggers have the enthusiasm to do that. And as you say, the Indy puzzle disappears from cyberspace the day after it’s been published.

    So I’m not sure there’s an easy answer to your question, since all the bloggers freely give of their time to try to explain all this cruciverbal stuff, and if it were to become obligatory to include the clues, then there might be fewer people willing to blog. Anyway, other bloggers may have different views.

  191. Sylvia says:

    Problems seem to be mounting with the Guardian crossword site, the latest being Friday’s puzzle printed instead of Saturday’s prize. For some time the list of monthly puzzles has included an extra day of Sunday (when of course no Guardian is issued) which then throws the list of following puzzles out of date. I wrote in about this long ago but it is still not fixed.

  192. JollySwagman says:

    Am I alone in thinking that, whilst it’s great to have setters dropping in to answer comments about their own puzzles, it’s an unhealthy thing to have people who are themselves regular setters commenting on the work of others.

    The things I worry about take two forms. One is what appears to be a conspiracy by ximenean setters to criticise the work of non-ximeneans according to ximenean criteria and in doing so to push the line that ximeneanism should be the orthodox and only acceptable style.

    The other is the opposite extreme where some setters’ work spawns a love-in from a bunch of other setters – which has a bit of a cliquey ring to it.

  193. rrc says:

    Recently Ive bought a copy of the i (ie the 20p) and I was wondering if there is blog on that crossword. The reason is that the rate of difficulty various considerably, some days I can complete without any real problem, other days its a stuggle to get started

  194. Gaufrid says:

    Hi rrc
    I have considered the possibility of including the i in the 15² portfolio on several occasions but came to the conclusion that it probably wasn’t practical.

    When the i first appeared, the puzzle was a recycled Indy one and the crossword editor indicated to me that it wouldn’t be long before he was re-using puzzles that we have already blogged and it seemed a bit pointless to spend time preparing a repeat.

    Then for a short period earlier this year the i and the Indy had the same puzzle each day so there was no need for a separate blog. We are now back to recycling with the same proviso as above.

    The main problem I foresee is being able to get an adequate team together. The i puzzle is not available on-line so team members would have to be people who buy the paper.I’m not sure that I could find five or six who do so and who are also willing/able to give up the time needed to prepare and post a blog each week.

  195. JollySwagman says:

    @Gaufrid #194. Many expats may be able to see that paper through The general (but not immutable) rule there seems to be that a paper is displayed if it is not available in hardcopy in your own area.

    I have access through my local library – that seems to be an increasingly commonplace thing.

  196. Mr A Writinghawk says:

    Hi rrc,

    Your suggestion coincided with an offer of mine to be part of a blogging team for the i, but for the reasons Gaufrid mentions he declined the offer for 15^2. So just for fun I’ve set up a WordPress blog here:

    where I will blog the i crossword when I get round to it. I’ll try to do it at least on Fridays – who knows how long I’ll keep it up …

  197. Mr A Writinghawk says:

    Today’s i is up at

    I’m blogging Fridays but if anyone would like to take on other days, please let me know! I did happen to do another one this week.

    Gaufrid, would you be up for adding a link on the links page?

  198. andrew wilson says:

    Is it time to consider a fifteensquared entry for the “i” daily crossword ??

  199. andrew wilson says:

    SORRY, delete that last entry…. yes I know I should read all the above before starting, sorry again

  200. Mr A Writinghawk says:

    An update on the i: at least at present, it seems that it’s recycling old Independent crosswords (from within the memory of 15^2) for Monday-Thursday, with new ones on Friday and Saturday.

    I’m still blogging the Friday crosswords over at, while another regular has now taken on the task of digging up the original blog for recycled crosswords and linking to them. So all weekdays from the i will now normally be covered. (Saturdays still up for grabs if anyone cares to take them on!)

  201. Derek Lazenby says:

    ny one know what’s happening to the Chamber’s gadget at I keep getting told the page can’t be found. Has it moved or died or is it just down for maintenance?

  202. Derek Lazenby says:

    Belay that. They have revamped the site in the most unfriendly way. You start at You hover over Puzzles on the menu bar which appears to give you a drop down menu, except that if you move your pointer towards it, it disappears! Oh wonderful. So you try clicking on Puzzles. This changes the page to look like it is a separate page with links, one of which is to the word wizard. Except it isn’t a separate page, the URL hasn’t changed, so you can’t bookmark that display! Then you take the word wizard link. Same thing, the page appearance changes, but not the URL, so you can’t bookmark that display either. Result, there is no way of getting directly to the word wizard, you can only bookmark the initial display and manually go through all the links each and every time you go to the site.

    Oh dear. Chambers eh?

  203. Paul B says:

    Hi Derek. I’ve changed to this:

    which is fine. I still get the dictionary, thesaurus and bio exactly as before, though there is a certain dexterity to the (upper-right hand side) menu when you first start using it. I think the old page has finally died.


  204. tupu says:

    Comment on RCW’s thoughts in Picaroon blog.

    I think that one can only hope. I still do a little undergraduate teaching and never cease to be astonished by the combination of startling intelligence and :)(to me) ‘abysmal ignorance’ that students may display. Things dear to me – westerns and especially Shane, Fitzgerald’s Rubayat of Omar Kayyam, Sam Johnson’s sayings reported by Boswell etc (everyone will have their own list) are quite unknown to almost all of them. Yet I also listen in amazement to the astonishing knowledge some youngsters display in University Challenge etc. I suspect you are right that the electronic world is bound to figure more prominently in the future leaving the likes of you and me quite out of it – if here at all.

    However I must confess that some compilers already leave me grasping at straws – my knowledge of popular music of the last four or more decades is pretty negligible. The best compilers (for me) are those that make the answer gettable from the wordplay rather than from happening to know something, and one can hope this will continue when our grandchildren are solving and our adult children feel left behind by them.

    I suspect there has always been a generation gap, even though we do live now in a ‘runaway world’. One of my favourite New Yorker cartoons shows a ‘caveman’ father berating his cave-boy son who is gazing enrapt into the fire. ‘When I was your age, we had to make our own amusements’ .

  205. Derek Lazenby says:

    I tried that. The word wizard wsan’t there directly but at least the Puzzles drop down menu stayed on the screen long enough to use! That got me to which I’ve now bookmarked.

    Thanks for the assist PB!

  206. Paul B says:

    And thank you Dalziel (as it were): I’ve bookmarked it too!

  207. RCWhiting says:

    I think there are two categories of GK here.
    I am basing this largely on my grandaughter (a wonderful young woman who even shares her grandfather’s political views!).
    One category will always be present because the past is inevitably linked to the present. For example,if she reads a novelshe is likely to read earlier books by the same author and influences on that author.
    The same would apply to visual art and music.
    The second category would have no recent start points to initiate an interest in precursors.An example would be the bible. My grandaughter has,fortunately, had no exposure to this and is unlikely to experience any. The same restrictions would apply to ancient mythologies.
    Of course, Gove could be about to change all that!

  208. William says:

    RCW @207 & Tupu @204

    I find this whole topic interesting. If I’m not careful I find myself in the “more geese than swans now live” camp and then get accused of snobbery which is not what I want. I just find that our young folk seem to have no time for background reading, or simply following a interesting thread as RCW’s daughter might. The emphasis is so heavily upon attaining high grades in exams that there is no time left for anything but the exam topics.

    It’s made worse (IMHO) by the pressure that is now felt by teachers to achieve high marks vicariously through their students. My wife (ex school librarian) tells me she regularly saw teachers return coursework to students unmarked as it was not good enough for an A. In some cases it was returned so often with suggestions for improvement that the teacher had essentially written it himself. Only when an A was awardable was the piece finally marked. No wonder mean grades continue to climb.

  209. Sylvia says:

    I generally print a few Guardian cryptics at once using the Archive list from the Guardian crossword page. Since at least March it has included Sundays as one of the published days, and all crosswords are therefore wrongly described (e.g. Rufus on a Sunday instead of Monday, and all the week following with the wrong day’s heading). I wrote in about this in March and was thanked and told the team were looking into it. But it is still the same and very irritating. Am I the only one to notice?

  210. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Hi Robi.

    Claire’s link is the right one. If you open up crossword solver (it’s if you haven’t got it already) and then go file>download puzzle, you’ll be invited to enter an URL. If you put Claire’s URL in there, but modify the ddmmyy to the date you’re looking for, it should open the puzzle up for you. Just be careful to include the underscore before the date.

    Hope that works for you.

  211. Robi says:

    Hi KD

    Thanks; it works! The problem was that I didn’t have the crossword solver application, so thanks for the info. What else can you use the application for?

  212. ClaireS says:

    Hi Robi,

    You should also be able to use Crossword Solver for downloading Private Eye crosswords. In this case use the URL:, replacing xxx with the number of the puzzle you want. The latest currently available is 475. Hope this helps.

  213. Derek Lazenby says:

    Just tried Crossword Solver. Is it just me or does it look like a superset of Across Lite?

  214. Ian SW3 says:

    As “Claire’s link” mentioned by KD @210 refers to a post in the Guardian thread one day last week, I take the liberty of reposting it here for convenience:, replacing ddmmyy with the date you want.

    I am grateful to Claire for posting it again, as I’d lost track of it for over a year. I wish I knew of a way to make it easier to find.

  215. Huw Powell says:

    It just occurred to me, apropos of nothing, wouldn’t it be nice if the blogs included a link to the puzzle, for the papers that put them on their websites for free, at least?

  216. Ben Roberts says:

    Hi, I just had a crack at setting my first crossword. Please have a go and both constructive and unconstructive criticisms are welcome 😉

  217. Derek Lazenby says:

    If you think the Grauniad is bad for typos try 12a in this one

  218. scchua says:

    Hi to all.
    I’m using Java 7 to access the Indy crossword site, and lately I’ve got the words “Wrong size” instead of the grid and the Across clues (and the Down clues don’t work properly either). There’s another crossword site where I have the same problem. Does anyone have a solution, please? (I’ve had to resort to the slightly more inconvenient crossword solver, but still would like to know what the problem is.) Thanks.

  219. tellmee says:

    Re Eileen’s blog on yesterday’s Brendan, can someone please enlighten an old quy what is a nina? I guess it’s an acronym – but what for? I never came across it before.

  220. Gaufrid says:

    Hi tellmee
    See the FAQ page or comment #36 in yesterday’s Brendan post ( ).

  221. tellmee says:

    Thanks Gaufrid. These things can be confusing when you’re knocking on a bit. The crossword fraternity can always be relied upon for enlightenment. Much appreciated.

  222. Huw Powell says:

    Can anyone tell me if it is possible to get automated emails when there is a further comment on a thread I have commented on? I am usually quite late to the discussions, and it rather baffles me to figure out how to check the ones I have participated in at a later date. Email me at [email protected] if you have an answer… Thanks!

  223. Derek Lazenby says:

    See the RSS link for Comments near the top of the page on the right. That will do what you want. Personally I use an RSS reader which I tell the URL to, it’s more convenient for me. I use Great News. Do some Googling, you’ll soon find it all.

  224. Trademark says:

    Dear 225,

    I am a relatively new compiler and am keen to get some of my crosswords out into the public domain and get some feedback. I have a growing portfolio (so far 5 grids ready for public consumption – I’m aiming to have 10 in the full portfolio), but I don’t yet have a website.

    Would it be acceptable to distribute my work via fifteen squared in order to get feedback? And if so, what is the best medium to do it (for example, could I forward the pdfs to a site admin who could put it up for members to download or something like that)?

    Thanks in advance for your help!


  225. Bryan says:

    Today the FT has out-Grauniaded the Grauniad!

    The Crossword shown on today’s FT menu is reported as No 14,133 but, in fact, it is No 14,131 which previously appeared on 10 October.

    I wonder … Will Cinephile get paid twice? I do hope so.

  226. Paul B says:

    Is it me, or is 15^2 quite often either very slow or impossible to load these days?

  227. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Paul @226
    Every so often the site’s hosting company has problems with other users which cause its servers to slow down. Usually this is rectified within a few days. I too have noticed the recent slowing down and if it gets too excessive, without any action being taken, I will contact the hosting company.

  228. Paul B says:

    Many thanks chef.

  229. Huw Powell says:

    Derek @ 223, thanks, I’ll try it out!

  230. Huw Powell says:

    Trademark @ 224, can’t you do it with a blog? Though I guess wouldn’t get you a big audience. You could do it as a blog then use that url as your website when you comment here, perhaps?

  231. Huw Powell says:

    OK, Derek, I clicked on both of those RSS links, neither seems to offer what I am looking for. I know the bloggers themselves are emailed when people post to the threads they started; I also see that I have to post my email address when I post. All I want is a way to get an email when anyone adds to a thread I posted on. Perhaps the software does not/cannot (funny how one is two words and the other is one…) facilitate this?

  232. Huw Powell says:

    Derek @ 217, that’s not a typo. That’s just a definition that is a little too clear?

  233. Dave Ellison says:

    Dvo?ák Dvo?ák Just testing

  234. Eileen says:

    Hi togo

    The Drop-in Centre is run by Leicester City of Sactuary

    at St Martin’s House [or, as we’re supposed to say, though it hurts, St Martins House], Peacock Lane.Anyone is welcome to drop in between 1.00pm and 4.00pm on Thursdays, to see what we do.

  235. togo says:

    Thanks Eileen

    I may well get along one Thursday. A prolific solver, blogger, commenter, family woman with a productive life too. I’m exhausted!

    Best wishes


  236. togo says:

    Eileen. Just realised how ambiguous my last post is. I meant, of course, you, in my exhausting list…… I think da yoot would say (or ‘go’) duuuhh!

  237. pennes says:

    Bit frustrated with this clue from Times crossword book 10. My answer “shingle” to a clue “Here one comes close to the main form of English” seemed spot on as an anagram of English, but it gave me dodgy crossing letters. Looked to check answer which turned out to be “Estuary”. I actually think shingle is the more ingenious solution.

  238. Pelham Barton says:

    pennes @237: I think you are right that SHINGLE fits the clue as well as the intended answer. On occasions when I have pointed out ambiguities in clues, people have responded that we are solving crosswords as a whole. My view has always been that it is reasonable to expect setters of weekday non-prize cryptics to aim for completely unambiguous clues, but we can forgive an occasional failing. I think the setter here would not be expected to see the alternative, given that his mind was firmly on a different construction of the clue.

  239. Raich says:

    #237 – I’d say, pennes, you may have been the first to spot that – not sure if the puzzle was published in the blogging era – if so it might have been commented on. While, yes, I think SHINGLE just about fits, I think the definition “Here one comes close to the main” might be just a little vague for SHINGLE esp the ‘here’ rather than having a noun more clearly indicated. I’d agree with PB at #238 that the setter almost certainly did not see the alternative. I’d also agree answers should be unambiguous but, in an imperfect world, things can slip thro. I think I remember R in BILL or TOLL causing problems as both fitted the definition giving either BRILL and TROLL.

  240. Robi says:

    I have recently compiled a tribute crossword for Araucaria. Does anyone have the time to test-solve it? (I can include answers and parsing in a separate file.)

    If so, could you please email Gaufrid/Admin who I hope will not mind forwarding the message on to me.

  241. Otherstuff says:

    Is there any chance of someone doing the Araucaria Newsnight crossword that is on the BBC website. There is one I cannot parse even though most of it is straightforward. There is a name at 13 across and my supposed Baronet does not fit there. Also the good folks who do such a sterling job here always add somethings that
    I didn’t spot.

  242. Otherstuff says:

    Here is the link btw in case it s needed

  243. Pelham Barton says:

    Otherstuff @241/242:

    Letters 1237 are defined by “Titled man”. Letters 456 are defined by “to go slow”. The answer is the name of a rugby union player whose preferred position is centre (I had to use Bing to get the last bit.)

    (I have used indirect referencing to avoid this being too much of a spoiler.)

  244. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Otherstuff @241
    Consider it done. A blog should appear by early evening.

  245. Otherstuff says:

    Thank you Pelham Barton – I know nothing of modern rugby, only playing it at school which put me me off for life.

    Thank you Gaufrid,it is a most excellent blog too, I do find Eileen one of the best for her thoroughness and for also including the clue
    which means one doesn’t have to keep looking back and forth.

  246. Derek Lazenby says:

    Here’s one for all you contributors who are, like me, “of a certain age”.

    Do you remember that old saying they drummed into us at school, “I before E except after C”? Well it so happens that I was watching an old QI on Dave the other night and Mr Fry said that this is no longer taught in schools for the simple reason that there are actually many more words that are “exceptions” than there are words that support the saying! Then my memory of that program was jogged by today’s Gordius which included Zeitgeist, which goes against that saying twice all on it’s ownsome. Which brings me to the questions….

    1) who on earth created that nonsensical saying and when?
    2) why did nobody think to check it out until recently?

    Any ideas people?


  247. dunsscotus says:

    Hi Coltrane. I’ve done a lot of choral pieces over nearly 50 years, including stretchers like the Bach B Minor Mass (hard) and Beethoven’s Ninth (not actually that difficult). I’m not actually a big fan of the Verdi Requiem; the Dies Irae is fun if a bit vulgar. The best all round training for someone wishing to get into choral singing remains Handel’s Messiah; in any given year there’s almost certain to be a local gig. At the moment I’m doing Britten’s St Nicholas with a local group. I’ve done it before and it’s wonderful. There’s also a local War Requiem coming up (it is, of course, Britten’s centenary) but I don’t think I can fit it all in.

    You mentioned the Faure: such a wonderful piece. I’ve been privileged to take the bass solo a few times over the years. Choral singing is such a great hobby and well worth the effort.

  248. coltrane says:

    Hi dunsScotus, Thanks for directing me here and for your interesting reply. I can imagine Bach’s B minor Mass being hard, but to me if I had to choose it would get my vote for the greatest music ever written. The Agnus Die always gets the tears going. I was at a Prom for a very early performance of Ben Brittens War requiem, I know I would not be up to that but it is such wonderful music.

    I’m also no spring chicken, but have enjoyed singing all my life, in a very amateur way. Currently I live in a small rural village in southern Spain and am a member of our local choir. Although I’m not religious (my wife is), we sing Mass at least once a month in the local church and get invited to preform at bigger venues for important religious occasions. We also sing a “concierto de populares” twice a year. These are obviously spanish language songs but from all parts of the spanish speaking world. As one grows older, certain activities such as sport become more difficult although I still enjoy a game of cricket. So I find music is an ideal way to avoid becoming just a voyeur at other’s events. My own musical tastes are wide, but my Desert Island discs would be loaded with Bach, Mahler, Brahms and John Coltrane. Oh I forgot to mention that I play the alto saxophone excruciatingly badly, but with great enjoyment. I am just about old enough to have heard Coltrane and my other musical idol. Kathleen Ferrier, live. I never did and rather hope I might have that pleasure in the hereafter.

    I know I should not, but I have to admit solving the Guardian crossword, while listening to Mahler or Schoenberg is a wonderful way to enjoy an hour of precious time.

    All the very best,


  249. coltrane says:

    Derek Lazenby @ 246

    Derek it was ‘drummed” into us slightly differently, that is, “when the sound is a cee, I before e except after c”. So receive and believe both fit the rule. Zeitgeist is not part of the rule because neither sound is a cee. I’m not saying that the wonderful Qi has got it wrong, only that your example is fallacious!!

  250. dunsscotus says:

    Hi David. I think I’d like being in your choir! So much of the choral tradition is sacred music that the agnostic or atheist singer just has to get on with it; rather like a Jewish chef preparing ham for a Gentile wedding. I agree about the B minor; it is sublime in a way that little else is (perhaps the late Beethoven quartets?)

    Coltrane and Ferrier both resonate: I came to jazz very late, via the Ken Burns documentary series (I still have the VHS somewhere – must get round to getting the DVDs). ‘Blow the Wind Southerly’ is one of my earliest musical memories; my Mum – a fine soprano – used to sing it. What you say is so right: long after the body votes against rugby or soccer tackles, it still loves to play and sing.

    All the best, John the Scot.

  251. coltrane says:

    Hi John,

    Music can bring people together in a marvelous way. Here in Galera, a pretty “white village” in the Altiplano de Granada, my wife’s beautiful soprano and my adequate bass, has made us friends throughout the place. Our choir does not sing Flamenco as such, but we do sing popular songs by revered poets such as Federico Garcia Lorca, whose works are used in some of the best Flamenco. So music and poetry come together here as so often in art!!

    Yes, Klever Kath as she referred to herself sometimes, can wow you with popular songs like Blow the Winds Southerly and the Keel Row , but for me her singing in Das Lied Von Der Erde, especially in the Abshied is unsurpassed.

    I’m also a lover of modern classical music as well, with Webern and Schoenberg along with Britten who we have already mentioned to the fore.

    My popular musical blind spots: Country and Western and Rap, but you can’t win them all!!

    All the best,


  252. george says:

    Hi Eileen over from your latest Araucaria blog,

    I was a pupil at the Wyggy until 1971 under the incredibly scary Miss Pedley. I expect some of my teachers were still there in ’74. You may have taught my younger sister (by seven years), although we were like chalk and cheese. When my parents moved she had to move schools to do her A Levels and wishes she had not; it was not a success. Going from a strict girls’ grammar to a decidedly ‘modern’ mixed sex comprehensive did not bring out the best in her academically. She has done well since and is now Head of a school for complex learning difficulties (mainly autistic students). I taught Biology in a rural comprehensive in Cheshire for many years until taking early retirement last summer. I now have time to do the crosswords, but today have popped in to the local Primary school to volunteer my help. I do miss the teaching, but none of the rest of the job.

    I do miss Leicester too and always enjoy going back. Last time I saw the Clock Tower I couldn’t believe it had blue faces!

    Feel free to contact me directly via my email address if you fancy reminiscing about Wyggy Girls and finding out if you taught my sister.

    All the best,

  253. Eileen says:

    Hi George

    I’ll do that – but I’d just like to say here how very thrilled and proud I feel just now to belong to Leicester. I’ve always been a closet Richard III apologist – never having joined the Society, but very familiar with Middleham Castle, where he grew up – and I was totally engrossed in Channel 4’s ‘King in the Car Park’ and its follow-up yesterday evening. It’s a truly amazing [and, I found, very moving] story! I mentioned @234 the Drop-in that I go to on Thursday afternoons, which is literally just yards from The Site and it was great to see a considerable little queue for the exhibition today.

  254. Huw Powell says:

    A quick note regarding some comments that came up at Guardian 25,886 yesterday. Some concern was expressed about R C Whiting’s absence for a week.

    As I understand it, the bloggers can email posters. Would it be possible to drop him a brief note mentioning that he is in people’s thoughts?

    All the best,


  255. Gaufrid says:

    Huw @254
    Duly done.

  256. michelle says:

    In reference to Guardian Prize #25885 by Puck, clue for 26a ‘orang’ = ‘ape’.

    Any English-language speaker who is sufficiently fluent in Indonesian to read an Indonesian newspaper or understand televised news is well aware that the latter language contains numerous loan words from English.

    The number of Malay loan words in English language is much smaller by far but there are enough to indicate a long history of intermingling between the English-speaking world and the Malay archipelago—proof positive that “culture” and “cultural influence” is not just a one-way street.

    While it is impossible to believe that lice were not thriving on Western sailors’ bodies before the arrival of Western ships to these shores, the common English word for lice, “cooties”, comes from the Malay word “kutu”. The name of the tomato-based goo that Americans slather on almost any kind of edible item, and which they call “ketchup”, is derived from the Malay “kecap”, a soy-based sauce. (One wonders where the tomatoes come from!)

    What English language speaker doesn’t know the meaning of “to run amuck”? But does he also know that the term comes from the Malay word “amuk”? The name for paddy fields in English comes from padi, one of the Indonesian words for rice. “Bamboo” comes from “bambu” and “batik” is “batik” but imagine referring to Dorothy Lamour, popular film actress of the 1940s and 50s, as the “Wrap-around Girl” instead of the more inviting sounding “Sarong Girl”!

    And what about that most common of English-language phrases, “so long”, expressed when saying farewell or good-bye? That phrase entered the English language through British soldiers who had served in Malay-speaking countries. When their Malay interlocutors said “Salam” (from the Arabic word for “peace”) the British soldiers heard it as “Sa-lang”, the pronunciation of which was further mashed when spoken by the civilian populace in Britain.

    Orangutan (orang hutan), rattan (rotan), cockatoo (kakatua), gong, tuak, compound (kampong), sago, durian, agar, rambutan, keris, pantun, cassowary (kasuari), gingham (ginggam), caddy (kati), camphor (kapur), guttha-percha (getah perca), dammar (damar), gambir, lahar…. The list of Malay loan words in English goes on but one of my favorite loan words is “godown”, for warehouse (gudang).

    * These notes courtesy of John McGlynn of the Lontar Foundation in Jakarta, Indonesia.

  257. Paul B says:

    Collins thinks amok/ amuck comes from Malay amoq, rather than amuk. I expect John McGlynn (which name, until recently, was loaned out to a Scottish football club) will sort them out.

    I hate orang for orang-utan: by the Saints, it’s only two extra syllables!

  258. michelle says:

    hi PaulB b @ 257
    Collins can think what it likes. [After all, Collins thinks that ‘koala bear’ is fine!]

    In Malay, there is very little (or no) use of the letter ‘q’. So, amok = amoq (a la Collins).

    I also hate ‘orang’ for orangutan. Pure laziness to call an ‘orangutan’ an ‘orang’.

  259. Derek Lazenby says:

    Two things….

    1. Me and my wife are ex-Richard III Society members, for those that might want to know, see above

    2. OK Let’s see who reads the same books as me, the correct equivalence for orangutan is of course The Librarian! (just don’t use the M word!)

  260. Paul B says:

    Well ‘Michelle’, to be fair to Collins, they are likely to be a bunch of supremely-talented lexicographers, whilst you, by your own admission, didn’t know until Everyman helped you out today what BEANO, SOFT SOAP, or E-BOAT are.

    So, intricacies of Indonesian-English loan-words no problem, common English words a mystery. I don’t know whether or not you are a real beginner, or just pulling the collective 15^2 leg for some silly reason, but there are for me some curious anomalies in your (very well-written, jargon-laden) posts.

  261. michelle says:

    Paul B @ 260

    I started doing the Guardian crosswords in January 2013, and started reading the fifteensquared posts at the same time in order to understand how to solve and parse cryptic crosswords.

    Yes, there are huge gaps in my English vocabulary including such common words as you mention above.

    Luckily I can learn a few new words each week through doing the puzzles, as well as learning other new things as well.

    I majored in Indonesian studies at university, and lived in Indonesia for about 20 years, so that may explain why I am familiar with Bahasa Indonesia.

  262. Rishi says:

    Re the topic started by michelle above.

    Take ‘godown’. It is said the word comes from Malay ‘gudang’. The Tamil word is ‘gidangu’.

    ‘Camphor’ from the Malay ‘kapur’? The Tamil word is ‘karpuram’.

    We know that in early centuries Tamils from southern India went to Malaya for work and business. Could some words used by them passed into the Malay language and thence to English?

  263. michelle says:

    good point regarding gudang / gidangu. I think it highly likely there is interchange between Tamil/Malay vocabulary.

    Regarding ‘camphor’, ‘kapur’ in Malay/Indonesian = ‘chalk’.

    Collins definition is: camphor, noun

    a whitish crystalline aromatic terpene ketone obtained from the wood of the camphor tree or made from pinene: used in the manufacture of celluloid and in medicine as a liniment and treatment for colds. Formula: C10H16O

    word origin = C15: from Old French camphre, from Medieval Latin camphora, from Arabic k?f?r, from Malay k?p?r chalk; related to Khmer k?p?r camphor.

    Yes, the Malay word ‘kapur’ could be derived from ‘karpuram’, but this is beyond my sphere of knowledge.

  264. michelle says:

    re my post above, I copied and pasted from Collins. The parts that do not read well are:

    from Arabic kafur, from Malay kapur / chalk; related to Khmer kapor / camphor

    (sorry, I cannot replicate the accents in this post)

  265. pennes says:

    Just done a crossword from the Times Book 10 and couldn’t work out this clue. Despite having Thatcherite in the clue it is obviously an old crossword so that is just coincidence.
    “Girl initially expressing Thatcherite principle” Answer Tina
    Thanks anybody

  266. eimi says:

    Tina is an acronym for there is no alternative, a slogan used by Meg the arch Tartar

  267. PJ says:

    Coltrane at 249, that’s the rule I recall hearing too.

    Er, weird….

  268. PJ says:

    I apologise if this has previously been asked. I’ve tried to skim through the thread but am having to do so on a phone so I may have missed any prior discussion.

    I don’t see puzzles from The Times being blogged here. Is there a particular reason for this: etiquette? Tradition? I don’t get the Times but a friend does and it seems this site, an otherwise outstanding resource, would not be of help to him on the occasions he becomes stuck.

    I hope I’m not breaking any taboos by asking but apologise unreservedly if you are all not staring fixedly at your shoes and shifting uncomfortably in your seats.


  269. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Phil
    The Times is blogged elsewhere (as is the Telegraph). Go to the ‘Links’ page on the menu bar towards the top of the screen and you will find links to both sites.

  270. Brominicks says:

    Hello all

    I’m a budding compiler. If you’re in need of a quick cryptic fix my puzzles aren’t too difficult and your feedback would be most welcome.



  271. PJ says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid, for the helpful and prompt advice! Sorry not have worked this out for myself.

    Genius, me.


  272. Robi says:

    This is posted on Big Dave’s site – will it be advertised here as well?

    Sloggers and Betters 10

    May 23, 2013 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm


    6 Hours

    A Sloggers and Betters meeting for crossword setters and blog contributors and readers will take place in London, following the annual Times Setters’ Lunch.

  273. Robi says:

    P.S. It’s at:

    The Town of Ramsgate 62 Wapping High Street, LondonE1W 2PN

  274. Eileen says:


    I help at our local City of Sanctuary Drop-in for asylum seekers and, along with the other volunteers, was shocked at the weekend to hear that one of our clients, one of the most delightful young men I have met, had been arrested, detained in Morton Hall, Lincolnshire, and faced with imminent deportation [at 00.10 next Wednesday, 22nd.] A petition to the Home Secretary to stop this was immediately put together and every effort made to publicise it as widely as possible. You can read Abdul’s story and sign the petition here:

  275. Arachne says:

    Shocking case. Managed to get a wireless signal long enough to sign, and to share on Twitter & Facebook (I’m near Cape Wrath). Will try to do more when I get home next Sunday.

  276. Eileen says:

    Thanks a million, Arachne.

    I don’t do Twitter or Facebook and, apart from my email address book, this is the widest forum I could think of. [Over a thousand signatures now.]

    [I hope the weather is being kind to you. x]

  277. Robi says:

    Done; all the best for the petition

  278. Mitz says:

    Hi Eileen.

    Signed and shared on FaceBook. Hope it makes a difference.

  279. Eileen says:

    I am so grateful to those of you who took the trouble to follow the links and sign the petition. There has been at least a 50% increase in the number of signatories during the day and I know that a fair number of them have come from here. If you google Abdul’s name, you’ll now find a pageful of links, which demonstrates the power of the internet. Apparently, if you can spare the time, individual letters to the Home Secretary add considerable impact.

    I gave a lot of thought overnight as to whether this was an appropriate thing for me to do here but, having met a number of you on social occasions, I thought it was worth the risk: it’s not very often that we can honestly describe a situation, such as this, as a matter of life and death and I was anxious to contact as many of my friends and acquaintances as possible.
    I really can’t commend this young man too highly. I have known him for months now but, because of his unassuming and generally [amazingly] cheerful attitude, and, such is the nature of what we try to do, I wasn’t aware of all the appalling details of his story until this weekend, when the petition was issued.

    There is just one week to go, so please publicise this as widely as you can. The volunteer who has had the closest association with Abdul, and who organised the petition, told us, at our emotional City of Sanctuary AGM yesterday evening, that she’d been involved in a case where a stay of deportation was granted just ten minutes before the due departure time, so, as she said, ‘It’s never over till it’s over.’

    Many thanks again – I’ll keep you posted.

  280. Rorschach says:

    Signed. Thanks for bringing to my attention Eileen!

  281. sidey says:

    Also signed.

    And I feel a bit guilty about returning to a site matter now.

    Some blogs are appearing in a different format, full page rather than the usual three columns. Is it me? Or is there some way to set one view rather than the apparent randomness at the moment? Thanks.

  282. Gaufrid says:

    Hi sidey
    I’m sorry to hear that you are having display problems. This is the second report during the last few days (see the site feedback page). The only recent software change has been the addition of a plug-in to cache the site’s content. This has been necessary due to the large number of unwanted bots crawling the site and creating excess demands on server resources.

    Would you please let me have a little more detail of what you are experiencing and which browser you are using as I have been unable to replicate the issue in IE10 (by email if you prefer).

  283. sidey says:

    I’ll email you a screen capture next time it happens Gaufrid. I’m using Pale Moon (Firefox in disguise).

    Last time I saw it I noticed a button at the bottom of the page, something like ‘Toggle Mobile Mode’. It didn’t do anything.

  284. Gaufrid says:

    Hi sidey
    Thanks for the feedback. The other visitor who was experiencing problems was also using Firefox, something I will not do as when it was installed on my last machine it was responsible for frequent crashes. I am therefore unable (or rather unwilling) to see if I can replicate the problem.

    Your reference to the ‘Toggle Mobile Mode’ supports the suspicion I have that the cache plug-in is not compatible with the plug-in that generates a mobile friendly display (WPtouch).

  285. Kristi says:

    (Until now silent lurker)
    The blog has been displaying inconsistently for me too – I assumed changes were afoot and things would normalize soon. I use Google Chrome on Ubuntu, not Firefox – which is why I’m mentioning it.
    For me, so far this week, Rufus’s (Monday) and Paul’s (today) were normal, while Philistine’s yesterday was the newfangled version. At the bottom of the new one it says “mobile theme” and there is an on/off toggle, which doesn’t seem to do anything. I thought it might be some option the blogger had.
    Really enjoy the site by the way. (I also signed the petition and posted it on Facebook.)

  286. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Kristi
    Welcome, as you are a newcomer. Please see my post and subsequent comments here:

  287. paul8hours says:

    I signed. A worthwhile initiative, Eileen. Keep us informed of developments.

  288. Sylvia says:

    Thanks, Eileen, for alerting us to this dreadful situation. You also have my support and I look forward to news of the petition’s success.

  289. jford says:

    Hi to all–I’m a very occasional contributor, a year out as a solver, and this is a very general set of queries (and remarks) to General Discussion.

    1. First, my thanks to those setters who tune in–thanks for setting–and to all those here who solve and parse for those of us who can’t. (Regrets for having no relevance to the petition.) Thanks to Eileen especially as the Guardian is where I’m cutting my teeth,
    2. Is this where we come to chat?
    3. Is it okay to Google on a prize? I’m from NY, and to do so on a NYT puzzle would be as good as not solving at all. I whipped through Crucible’s latest–in an hour, if that’s whipping–and, in spite of very affectionate familiarity with the less well-known of the subjects, I couldn’t have done it without Googling.
    4. Are prize puzzles easier than late weekdays, or more tightly clued? I asked Hugh, but for some reason, can’t imagine, he didn’t get back. I find they are, but that may be because I’m willing to give them more time. Still, I tend to get through, and I can’t say the same for puzzles where I can guess and check. (Hello Arachne? I’m still unhappy about Split Personality, a beautiful surface but no amount of Googling….)
    5. Following that: I think surfaces are part of the art (by which I mean phrases, clauses, or sentences that could stand perfectly well on their own in some context.) Am I alone in this? I see a whole lot of gibberish out there.
    5. Can anyone get Crossword Compiler to work on a Mac without downloading Windows?
    6. Is it me or does this wing of 225 run upside-down–last to first?

  290. coltrane says:

    Dear Eileen,
    I guess the week has past, and I would be interested to know what is the situation with regard to Abdul. I hope he got at least a hold on his expulsion.
    The Home Office and its agencies, can be extremely stubborn and I hope there was sufficient interest raised for them to think twice before carrying out their sentence, with all its finality!
    All the best,

  291. Eileen says:

    Hi David @290

    I’ve been very aware that I promised to keep everyone informed but the news about Abdul has been both fast-moving and sensitive. Coincidentally, this is the very day on which I am able to update you.

    We heard a week last Sunday that Abdul had been moved to Gatwick in preparation for deportation early on Wednesday 22nd. The deportation didn’t happen then, as the plane had broken down, and Abdul continued to be detained at Gatwick. Late yesterday afternoon, the message came that he had been released from Gatwick. I’m just back from the weekly Drop-in, where, along with his other friends, I was overjoyed to see Abdul! – looking remarkably well after his harrowing three-week ordeal.

    He’s by no means out of the woods yet. He has a fresh application in and his case is pending but he has no ‘leave to remain’ and he is still subject to detention, so things are being kept at a low profile for the moment.

    Thank you to everyone for your continuing concern. I promise to keep you updated.

  292. Eileen says:


    From our local paper today:

  293. Sylvia says:

    For those who don’t watch Pointless, yesterday’s edition contained this gem of a wrong answer: Q: Which famous person was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas? Contestant: JR :-)

  294. The Trafites says:


    Check out the book[s] from the Private Eye ‘dumb Britain’ series… they are a right laugh.

    My favourite was a contestant on ‘family fortunes':

    Q. Name something red?
    A. My jumper

    Nick :)

  295. Anne says:

    I have just purchased a ticket for TEDxAlbertopolis on Sept 23rd as John Halpern will be speaking. Was wondering if there might be plans for a Sloggers and Betters meeting at the same time.

  296. Derek Lazenby says:

    Imagine you are child and you have just come across a word for the first time. Let’s say you have the misfortune to have the mobile version of Pocket Dictionary with “English Oxford” dictionary loaded.

    Suppose the word is STUCCO. Here’s the first two definitions that you’ll see…

    = (n.) Work made of stucco; stuccowork
    = (pl.) of Stucco

    this would have helped you at all?

    I mean, “recursive: see recursive” is all well and good, but surely not for stucco!

    Wonderful things dictionaries! lol!

  297. Derek Lazenby says:


    Does anybody have any idea why the web sites XSOLVER and XSOLVER2 have suddenly dissappeared?

  298. Derek Lazenby says:

    Belay that. It took a few days, but they are now both back online.

  299. George Clements says:

    I am so sad that the blog site has become contaminated by intemperate language and personal rancour. I confess to being rather a prude when it comes to expletives, though I have on one occasion resorted to asterisks when submitting a comment, hopefully to render a very mild , though less than gentlemanly, term innocuous.
    The infection is not limited to Fifteensquared: a recent posting on Times for the Times included the ‘textspeak’ abbreviation ‘ffs’ which, if I understand correctly, expresses exasperation in very immoderate terms.
    I was also very sorry when a contributor made a pejorative and gratuitively offensive remark about women demonstrators at Greenham Common. I have no problem with people having their personal views on political or social issues, but think that they should be confined to appropriate forums, and a crossword blog is not one of them.
    I realise the difficulty in policing submitted comments, and accept that pre-editing of contributions is probably impractical. It is, therefore, incumbent on contributors to consider their offerings carefully, and to hesitate before pressing the ‘send’ button, just as one should before responding to an email.
    I am relatively new to the world of crossword blogging, but have found the help in parsing difficult solutions very valuable, and most of the banter good natured and enjoyable, so long as it does not stray too far from the shared interest in crossword puzzles. It would be sad to feel obliged to withdraw from participation if a minority of site users rendered them distasteful.

  300. Keeper says:

    (Apologies in advance if this question has been addressed already on this site. If so, I’d appreciate being directly to the appropriate thread/post.)

    Some background: My introduction to cryptic crosswords began with the FT a couple of years ago. Soon thereafter, I started working the weekly Guardian Prize and monthly Genius puzzles. With some extra time on my hands this week, I did my first daily Guardian Cryptic and Everyman, as well as PE/Cyclops.

    There probably are as many opinions as there are people on this site, but I was wondering if an experienced solver (or solvers) could share views on the characteristics (difficulty, “quality” (however you define it), etc.) of the various puzzles blogged here. I realize, of course, that such characteristics vary with setter, but I welcome any and all views, to include gross generalizations, provided they are consistent with the Site Policy. Thanks! (*Crossing fingers that I didn’t just spark a firestorm.*)

  301. nmsindy says:

    There was a detailed survey of solving difficulty in the various crosswords series under the heading “Which cryptic is the hardest?” on this website on 22 May 2012 – which would be findable using the calendar.

  302. Keeper says:

    Thanks for the tip, nmsindy, and, more notably, for starting an interesting discussion with your post of 22 May 2012. In my own (comparatively limited) experience, I also have found the FT, on average, easier than the Guardian (though the one Everyman I did was on par with the FT, if not easier). PE/Cyclops appears to be, as Monty Python might say, something completely different (in terms of cheekiness). I have yet to try the Indy (doesn’t seem printable) or the Telegraph (requires a subscription). Again, thank you.

  303. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Keeper
    The Indy can be printed. Download and install Crossword Solver from here:

    You will then be able to download the daily puzzle and print it.

  304. Robi says:

    Hi Gaufrid; whenever I try to print the Indy it just prints a single page with only some of the clues and most of the grid missing [it’s too large for the page.] I can’t see any way of printing the whole puzzle. Any ideas?

  305. Robi says:

    I am extremely grateful to the bloggers for their time and effort in producing the blogs for 225. It is always nice to have the clues in the blog, especially if one does a site search for a clue or answer. It seems that there is a readily available piece of software potentially available to bloggers, so it would be good if they were encouraged to use it. I know that Andrew raised some objection to including the clues, but I did not really understand it. Is it reasonable to ask bloggers to add the clues or should we just leave it to their discretion? It is rather frustrating when using the excellent site search to find that the clue is missing and to have to find the original source to check the clue. Any comments?

  306. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Robi @ 304
    I assume you are trying to print from Crossword Solver and that you have ticked the ‘fit on page’ box. I have not had any problems with printing from this program but I know someone who has and who has been unable to find a solution.

    If you have the latest appropriate printer driver installed on your machine I can only suggest that you download and install a virtual printer driver (I use Cute PDF Writer) and when ‘printing’ from Crossword Solver select this instead of your default printer to create a PDF file which can then be saved, opened and printed. A little more effort but once you get used to the routine it should only take a minute or so to obtain the print.

  307. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Robi @305
    This question has been raised before and I hope my reply will be the same as the one I gave previously. I do not wish to impose a particular style on bloggers because I would prefer them to have pretty much a free hand when it comes to content and presentation (within certain bounds of course). Then comes the time constraints due to work and other commitments that some bloggers have which dictates how they prepare a blog and how much goes into it.

    If my memory serves me correctly, last time this was discussed at least one person said that they would prefer not to have the available software used for every blog because the ensuing lack of variety would soon become monotonous. I tend to agree with this but I also agree that, when delving back into the archives, I have found that having the clues included would have been helpful.

  308. Robi says:

    Gaufrid, thanks very much for your replies, which are extremely helpful.

  309. Robi says:

    Thanks Gaufrid; I got the CutePDF to work, also can use Microsoft XPS Document Writer which is another option on my Print menu.

  310. Brominicks says:

    Hi all

    I’ve recently updated my blog with my latest cryptic creation.
    If you’d like to take a butchers – any feedback would be warmly



  311. Robi says:

    Re. my 304 above, there is a very easy way of printing the Indy and many back copies at:

  312. The Trafites says:

    It was me that introduced including the clues, and the feedback at the time was positive:

    So it’s all MY fault 😉


  313. Robi says:

    Hi Robi @8
    “P.S. Gaufrid, I can’t seem to get the ‘Preview Comment’ to work these days – is this a general problem?”

    It works fine for me (using IE10) and no one else has mentioned having a similar problem.

    Hi Gaufrid; I reset everything to default on IE10 and it seems to be working again. :)

  314. Tony Walker says:

    Is there likely to be a solver’s blog for EV1083: Identification?

    The solution was published last Sunday 1st September.

  315. Keeper says:

    Is anyone else having trouble accessing the FT crossword online (here:

    The last puzzle I was able to download was 14,427 on 25 September (and I can still download it and all earlier puzzles). When I try to access every subsequent puzzle, I get the following message:


    The page you are trying to access is temporarily unavailable. Please wait a moment and try again.

    If you continue to experience issues or require further assistance please contact customer services or go to the homepage.

    We apologise for any inconvenience.]

    Any ideas? (I’ve tried using different computers, different browsers, even cleared my cache and cookies.)

  316. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Keeper
    I have had no difficulty accessing the FT pdf files using IE10. I have just checked again and they still download without any problems. I have no idea what your problem may be so, sorry, I cannot provide any help.

  317. George Clements says:

    Hello Mitz,
    It was good to meet you in Sheffield on Saturday. As I mentioned, it was the first event of the kind that I had attended, and my wife and I could not have had a warmer welcome. I certainly took no offence at all at the good natured teasing, and if you look at the Times for the Times blog today you will find me beating myself up again over an error. In fact, I find it quite funny that we sometimes go to great lengths to try to justify an error, and some contributors who made the same mistake as me have suggested ways of varying plausibility so to do. I prefer to give credit to the setter for a clever misdirection that has led me right down the garden path and left me to talk to the fairies. After all, what fun would it be to get all the answers right every day?
    Since posting earlier today, I have made some further progress with the ‘Freedom Pass’ puzzle, though the grid is still about half empty, or, to be more optimistic, is now about half full.
    At Sheffield, I also spoke to Dave Howell, who I first met about 20 years’ ago at the Leeds Regional round of the Times Championship. He finished fourth in this year’s competition, but feels that he has slowed over the intervening period. Conversely, I am sure that I am both quicker and complete a higher proportion of puzzles, so, logically, if I manage to live to be 120 I should be a real contender.
    All best wishes, and continue to enjoy your solving

  318. Mitz says:

    Thanks very much George – all sentiments reciprocated!


  319. Sil van den Hoek says:

    [reply to post #18, Rufus 26,090]

    Brendan (not that one), I am indeed from the Netherlands but live and work in the UK since 2007. About a year after my arrival I started doing crosswords (although I had a history in similar and other Dutch puzzles).

    The reason I post late is that, being a teacher, there is usually no time for me to look at a crossword during the day.
    I do the Guardian after work, most of the time together with Beth (my PinC) with a nice cup of coffee at hand. After that I’ll have to do something about the inner man.
    So, once I am ready for some comments it is 8pm plus, long after everything’s already been said.

    I used to comment a lot more in the past.
    Nowadays, I am only there when I think I really have to say something about a puzzle that might be of interest to someone.
    On the other hand, I do not like all these sometimes ongoing discussions and try to keep far from them.
    I like to ask questions that make people think but often it is too late for an audience.
    At times, I feel the need to analyse crosswords, especially when I think a crossword is rather special.
    Also, over the years I have learnt quite a lot more about crosswords through this unbeatable website but also through contacts with other solvers, bloggers and setters.
    Knowing more led to asking less.

    I hope this answers your question.

  320. The Trafites says:

    Sil, I have always wondered this (not being able to speak any language, as I am from Pompey):

    When you do a crossword in English, (or even ‘hear’ English words) does your mind translate into your natural language and then back again?


  321. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Thanks for satisfying my curiosity Sil.

    I always suspected that you must be in the UK as your English is so good and that you are able to do the Guardian cryptic. Although, as you are aware, English is usually spoken very well by most people in the Netherlands. (I also spent quite a lot of time in Amsterdam, Den Haag and Scheveningen when I worked for Shell.)

  322. Sil van den Hoek says:

    My decision to leave my native country was in the eyes of many a rather abrupt one. But for me it wasn’t – well, it was perhaps, however I just switched the button after things were lurking in the back of my mind for quite some time.

    When I left, one of my colleagues who had lived in England for more than 20 years said: it’ll take you at least 3 years to think in English.
    It wasn’t like that.
    As I have a job in which I have to talk a lot and also because I am someone who picks up things quite quickly, I felt like a fish in the sea after only a few months.

    Actually, nowadays there are occasions on which I find it hard to find the Dutch equivalent for terms that are familiar to me in English.
    Of course, I still make mistakes. but.

    I started solving and compiling (well, not professionally, just for friends) when I was 9 or 10 years old. No cryptics , just all kinds of other word puzzles.
    By the time I went to university I got interested in the Dutch variant of cryptic crosswords. In those days I compiled a number of puzzles for a student magazine.
    In the 20 years or so that followed I wrote down loads of ideas (for Dutch cryptics) on little pieces of paper.

    After I moved to the UK, Beth (who is a very good solver, much better than I am) introduced me to the world of English cryptics.
    I treasure the moments of us sitting in The Orchard in Grantchester tackling Araucaria, the Summer of 2008 – my way into crosswords ….

    Purely by accident, I discovered Paul’s Cryptica website which had a clue competition for which I submitted over a 100 clues. Apparently, Paul liked many of these because about 60% got a mention. Another frequent ‘visitor’ at that time was someone called Neil Walker who we all know and like as Tramp (or Jambazi) nowadays.
    Next, I discovered Fifteensquared and Crossword Compiler (main aim: to do something with my hundreds of Dutch clues).
    Once again, purely by accident.

    I really learned a lot over the years.
    Rufus is not always well appreciated by solvers but for me he was important as he made me familiar with a lot of idiomatic expressions that I hadn’t heard of before.

    My take on cryptic clues is mainly based on constructions.
    I am quite good at breaking down a clue in pieces. Perhaps, being someone from abroad (not hindered by surfaces) was even something of an advantage.

    For me, the construction, the technical bit should be right, should come first.
    A great surface is a real bonus.
    Setters who combine the two (eg Picaroon, Arachne, Orlando, Redshank and Bradman) come top of the list closely followed by the likes of Paul, Monk and Alberich (and Donk, Rorschach, Qaos and eXternal – to name some new kids on the broadsheet block).

    At S&B meetings I am perhaps the only one from outside the UK/Ireland/US but I feel completely at ease.
    I do about 15 crosswords a week and I like it!

    So, to answer your question: no, I do not think in terms of “from English to Dutch and back” anymore.
    [bit of a long way to get to that answer, isn’t it? :) ]

  323. Mitz says:

    Afternoon all,

    The last thing I want is for anyone to be annoyed regarding any contravention of site policy on account of me, and out of respect for the professional setters whose puzzles are up for discussion on a daily basis I quite take Rhotician’s point on today’s Pasquale blog. Having said that, I am naturally keen for a) my puzzles to have as wide an audience as possible (and hopefully for people to enjoy them) and b) to improve through hearing the thoughts of people who have tried them, whether they thought my efforts good, bad or indifferent. My email address is freely given on the website – my archive is accessible via the link in my name here. If anyone has a comment but would prefer to remain anonymous and not enter into email correspondence with me then I will almost certainly pick up any comments left on the daily Guardian blog as Rhotician suggests.

  324. Paul B says:

    I can’t see what the fuss is about.

  325. rhotician says:

    The fuss is about me, me. The Sheffield Mitz is #22. When George commented on #1 I panicked. I foresaw a host of interleaved references to puzzles I hadn’t got round to. Followed by solicitations for feedback from the other DIYers. Anax kindly found me an Indy with his tribute to JH and I want to tackle that before the blog comes out. I can’t cope. And I don’t make enough use of my bus pass as it is.

    Mitz, you’re a gentleman and a scholar and I wish you luck. I’ve never been very good at constructive criticism, though. The other sort is much easier.

  326. Wallace says:

    Hiya – A little while ago I used some computer geek magic to grab all of the freely available cryptic puzzles from the Guardian web-site, and convert them into .puz format so I could do them on my smartphone – in total I’ve got over 3500 of them.

    Assuming the moderators here are happy about it (and I’m assuming there’s no legal issue here, all I’ve done is to reformat some freely available stuff) – then I’m happy to share this archive if anyone is interested.

  327. Duke says:

    Hi does anyone use the iPad to do the Guardian cryptic online? When I try this just in Safari, I have to click into each cell to type in one letter. Then the keypad disappears and I have to click in the next cell to enter one more letter. How do I set up to just type in letters and the cursor moves to the next cell?

    Or is there an app I need to install?

    Many thanks if anyone can help.

  328. Rishi says:

    @Wallace 326

    As your email ID is not visible on this board, please write to me
    so I may communicate with you.

  329. George Clements says:

    Having read Alan Connor’s article in today’s Guardian2, I am disappointed with his assertion:
    ‘This isn’t to say it would be impossible to construct a cryptic culture without a hint of the salacious. But it wouldn’t be as much fun’.
    I may be in a minority, but I disagree with this attitude, and I find what the article heading describes as schoolboy humour profoundly annoying in its prevalence. Once in a while would be o.k. but some setters have made sexual innuendo and scatological references their ‘trademark’, and their characteristic puzzles appear with (for me) depressing frequency. I have also noticed that, in recent times, the setters seem to be pushing the boundaries of taste further and further, as if trying to see just how far they can go.
    I also cannot agree that this type of humour makes the puzzles more fun, and the enormous number of crosswords that appear without such clues or solutions yet provide exceptionally good entertainment and challenges testifies that the ‘sniggering schoolboy’ approach is not necessary.
    Those who take a different view from me may well say ‘If you don’t like the style of particular setters, why do their puzzles?’ The answer to this is ‘Because the puzzles often contain some very good clues as well, and I don’t like to be beaten. It’s not that (in general) I can’t solve the clues I don’t like, it’s simply that I don’t enjoy them.’ The other important factor is that I can get them free. If The Guardian started charging for access to the puzzles, I would certainly avoid the offerings of certain setters
    Newspapers only include crosswords as an attraction to buyers, and I presume that crossword editors who accept the puzzles with ‘nudge nudge, wink wink’ elements are satisfied that most solvers are happy with them. Though I loathe the Murdoch empire, I buy The Times largely because I prefer the crossword. It will be interesting to see whether the new crossword editor maintains The Times’ traditional values: if not, they will lose another reader.

  330. Rishi says:

    I agree with the Comments made by George Clements.

    As you say, some setters, having probably received some initial encouragement from solvers in these days of blogging, seem to feel elated and are making crude humour a regular affair in their crosswords. This, in my opinion, is unfortunate.

    Not only the crossword editor (if there is one) but also the Editor of any mainstream paper must draw the line somewhere.

    There is a Tamil proverb (???????? ???????? ?????????? ?????) which, translated, goes like this: In excess, even nectar turns into poison.

    PS: I have no problem with any magazine or newspaper that admittedly publishes a sexy crossword. You either take it or avoid it.

  331. JollySwagman says:

    Sorry George (#329) but I can’t agree with a word of that.

    Surely the days when one would ask “Is this the sort of puzzle one would want one’s wife or servants to solve?” are long gone and “No sex please we’re British” also depends on an outdated image of our national squeamishness about sex (or at least about the mention of it) compared with our European neighbours.

    Scatalogical humour, I agree, is best avoided in puzzles most likely to be tackled as one is devouring one’s breakfast sausage but in practice I see very little of it. Sexual innuendo likewise. Normally we are talking about straightforward frank and explicit use of terms related to our sexual bits and pieces and their use – but it can still raise a smile.

    Let’s not be coy. If you’re referring to Paul’s Guardian puzzles why not say so? There’s an average there of barely more than one “smutty” clue per puzzle and they are well calculated to amuse rather than offend. We say “smutty” but we don’t really mean that literally. There are still boundaries and he seems to stay well within them; even the most prim and proper maiden aunt would be unlikely to be shocked.

    In fact in general I probably hold the opposite view. I find the Cyclops puzzles in Private Eye tiresome – that joke wore thin after the second one.

    Neither am I an Azed solver myself, disliking as I do the high frequency of obscurities, archaisms, Lowland Scots and other “dictionary words” found therein, but, if I were one, I think that finding the unexpected appearance of the vernacular term used in the clue quoted by Alan Connor would have had me (if you’ll forgive the use of a modern internetism) ROTFLMSO.

    S for socks there – to spare blushes.

  332. George Clements says:

    Thanks to airship and JollySwagman for responding to my posting.
    There is certainly no need for JS to apologise for disagreeing with me; I fully accept the right of other people to hold views different from mine, and I acknowledge that most contributors to the blog appear to agree with JS rather than me, but the General Discussion area of the site is intended for the airing of opinions about crosswords, provided they are expressed in inoffensive terms, and I simply wanted to express my personal attitude.
    While Paul’s puzzles do spring to mind as examples of ones that regularly contain clues, or solutions, I would rather see avoided, they are not the only ones, and I would be the first to accept that his puzzles often contain very good and challenging clues.
    JS says that there are boundaries, and that Paul’s puzzles generally stay well within them. Many would doubtless agree, but the matter of establishing boundaries (in this context) is subjective and, in my view, recent implied and explicit references in Guardian puzzles to coitus interruptus and allusions to oral sex go beyond limits I would expect to be observed by ‘serious’ newspaper. As JS may infer, there is a clue in today’s puzzle that does not impress me favourably, and it is not Paul’s.
    Linked by enjoyment of crosswords, I’m sure we can hold different views amicably, and I wish JS as well as Rishi a healthy and happy New Year.

  333. George Clements says:

    Sorry Rishi, predictive texting seems to have changed you to ‘airship’ and I failed to notice. I also apologise for missing the ‘a’ before ‘serious’.

  334. JollySwagman says:

    @GC above. Thanks for coming back.

    That’s prolly a good way to wind up the discourse, which I fully agree is a valid one. I’m sure few of either persuasion would want either of the extreme positions to prevail.

    All the best to you for 2014 and beyond.

  335. Lawtonesque says:

    Hi Everyone at 15^2,

    Firstly want to thank the hosts and bloggers of this site. I was introduced properly to cryptics on NYE and haven’t been able to stop since. Ploughing through attempted Rufuses, and of course I’ve found your site an invaluable source for all the clues I had no idea how to parse. (Have also attemped some non-Rufuses, and some Tuesdays, but they seem a huge step up. I think I will wait until I can zip through a Rufus before moving on.)

    But my question is: Why do setters use pseudonyms? I’ve looked around a bit online at the history, but is there a reason other than Torquemada did it? Was he the first?

    Thanks all,


  336. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hey Lawtonesque, welcome aboard! Afraid I can’t answer your question, but if you have only just started then you should try the Guardian’s online crossword the Quiptic, also a Monday crossword. It is supposed to be easier tha a Rufus, but it doesn’t always work out that way. There are also loads of them in the archive.

  337. maggie says:

    I’m sorry to see you still have Araucaria (John Graham) listed in your Setters column.
    Sadly he died in November last year.
    Thank you.

  338. Pelham Barton says:

    Maggie@337: The Setters list shows all setters of puzzles in the three daily newspapers covered on this site and whose puzzles have appeared in either the current or previous calendar year. Thus currently it covers all puzzles appearing in 2013 or 2014. In my view, it is entirely appropriate that Araucaria/Cinephile appears in the list.

  339. Robi says:

    @335 & 336; people often recommend beginners to start with the Quiptic. As Derek says it is not always the easiest. I think the best crossword for beginners is the Everyman (on the Guardian site). As it is a Prize Puzzle you have to wait a week for the answers and parsing on 225. The surface of the clues is usually faultless and it is very enjoyable to solve.

  340. Lawtonesque says:

    Thanks Derek@336 and Robi@339, For some reason, I’m not getting the hang of the Quiptics just yet (usually just half a puzzle filled-in), so I’ll try the Everymen [sic].

    (Took me a few seconds to get 225).


  341. JollySwagman says:


    For a while now quite a few Quiptics have been far from easy – at least from a beginner’s point of view. Likewise Rufus puzzles, although they generally avoid complex wordplays, are not necessarily always easy to solve – more easy clues for sure, but also the chance of coming to a grinding halt.

    You may find it easier to start with books written with the express aim of getting beginners moving or getting quick crosswords addicts to share our version of the vice.

    Probably the two best are:

    How to Solve Cryptic Crosswords by Kevin Skinner


    How to Master the Times Crossword by Tim Moorey

    I think they’re both still in print but you can pick copies up for a song on ebay or S/H internet bookseller sites. People give crossword books for Christmas to folk who don’t really want them so there’ a healthy market in mint unused titles like those.

    The former has been out for a long while and has a bit of old-fashioned “cryptic licence” (ie occasionally you need to mentally ignore definite articles) but it’s probably the best source of graded and well-explained examples – like a good school maths textbook would be – BTW that’s supposed to be a recommendation.

    The latter is good too – more discursive – and the title is misleading – it’s equally applicable to cryptic puzzles generally – not just those from The Times.

    Where pseudonyms originate it’s hard to say. As far as UK dailies go The Guardian started it under John Perkin (previously setters were completely unbylined) but whether the idea came from elsewhere who knows. The Sunday Times barred grid puzzle is called (and has been as far back as I can remember) Mephisto, but there the pseudonym attaches to the series, rather than the individual setter. There was once an individual setter who set them all but his PR doesn’t seem to have been as good as that of his rival on The Observer.

  342. Derek Lazenby says:


    Whilst you are looking for books, you can get a reasonable intro in good ‘ole Wiki at

    Searching for “cryptic crosswords” (with the quotes) should find several sites some of which have similar introductory text.

    I found just reading the blogs here explained quite a bit too!

  343. JollySwagman says:

    Another thought – I did this when I needed easy puzzles for U3A course I once ran for cryptic beginners. Google this site using formulae such as: everyman easy

    in Google.

    replacing “easy” sometimes with other similar words etc.

    That’ll take you (with a few false hits) to blogs where the blogger said it was an easy puzzle – you can then dig the puzzle out from the Guardian archive using its number. There’s no great virtue in restricting yourself to very recent puzzles. This site and the G archive both go back a fair way.

  344. Robi says:

    With previous encouragement from the late Araucaria, a new website has been set up by his previous “webmaster” to provide a service for anyone wishing to commission a custom/bespoke crossword. It has a panel of professional and amateur compilers and can be found at: If you know of anyone interested in this, perhaps you could point them towards the website.

  345. Eileen says:

    Re my blog of Puck’s puzzle on Friday. I didn’t have the time or the inclination to contribute further then and, in any case, I thought it had gone on long enough on that thread.

    This is a constantly recurring theme – and, of course, will continue to be. Some puzzles will always be ‘easier’ for some than others – either because their ‘general knowledge’ comes from different backgrounds or because they are more happy on some setters’ wavelengths than others or, simply, that they’re new[ish] to cryptics and haven’t quite learned all the ‘language’ – a language that is expanding all the time and so we’re all on a learning curve! Thank goodness for all those new setters who are forever extending the boundaries!

    And aren’t we so very fortunate to have such a range of puzzles? – surely enough to satisfy everyone! I happen to be a Guardian reader and so have these puzzles delivered to my door – but I gather that some of you get these treasures absolutely free!

    Derek said on Friday, “One thing we can always be sure of is that when all the experts agree that a puzzle is wonderful then the less talented majority will have really struggled.”

    I did imply, I think, that it was a wonderful puzzle but I did also say that I found some of the clues ‘tricky’. But what I really want to take issue with is his use of the word ‘expert’. I have not kept a record, so I can’t remember the number of times I have attempted to rebuff the idea that bloggers are ‘experts’. As I have said so many times, we are simply people who have dared to stick our neck out far enough to be in the chair for the day – because that’s actually all it amounts to. I would never have dreamed of volunteering without encouragement from an existing blogger – and I know that’s true of more than one other. Even now, I’ m full of nerves as I click the ‘Publish’ button.

    I am in almost daily contact with several other contributors about the day’s puzzles and will ask for help in solving / parsing when I’m stuck. However, I would never do that when it’s my blog – then I’m on my own and it’s over to you lot when I have a problem. And thanks for the many times you have helped me out!

    So, Derek, you old rogue – you’ve admitted to ‘winding things up’, bless you, but, as far as I remember, you started contributing here at about the same time as I did. I’ve been solving cryptic crosswords since I was at University and I’m now very old – but I’ve still learned a lot since I [bless the day!] found this wonderful site. How about you? 😉

  346. eileen says:

    I should have added on Friday that my most favourite Requiem of all doesn’t have a Krie.

  347. Eileen says:

    Or even a Kyrie.

  348. The Trafites says:

    Umm. Eileen, what on earth is this about?


  349. JollySwagman says:


    It’s a musical setting of the Requiem Mass but Brahms (being a Lutheran – and a doubter to boot) doesn’t follow the traditional RC format – hence no Kyrie.

    It’s over an hour. The most popular part is only 6 minutes.

  350. Lebon says:

    Hi all,

    Can anyone explain Phi’s Nina in Independent 8129 as reproduced on page 153 of Alan Connor’s TWO GIRLS, ONE ON EACH KNEE (7). I know where it starts but cant get it. Will someone please put me out of my misery.

  351. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Lebon
    Comment #9 here tells all:

    As a further hint, the Nina begins IT’S NOT IN …

  352. Lebon says:

    Ah, the penny drops.
    Thanks Gaufrid.

  353. Lebon says:

    Is there a blog site that you can send your own cryptic clues for consideration of other like minded people ?

  354. beery hiker says:

    In the discussion of last week’s Guardian prize (Philistine 26172), Brendan (not that one) asked whether anyone had a full list of the setters of the Guardian crosswords since the start of their archive in June 1999. This is something I have already tried to assemble (using both this site and the Guardian)- what follows is a summary of the stats. There are a few gaps in the list, and a few that appear as “None” in the archive – this is the full list of setters, with total, number in 2014 so far, first and last dates:

    43,Enigmatist, Paul & Shed,2,0,16/02/2011,29/11/2013
    45,Enigmatist & Paul,1,0,19/08/2009,19/08/2009

    If anybody wants more detail, I may consider trying to find a way of posting the full spreadsheet.

  355. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Thanks for that BH.

    It looks like Imogen takes time with her crossword compiling. That’s probably why I didn’t remember her.

    Before I saw your reply I’d already started on my spreadsheet. I’ve got a little program mining away at the Guardian archive as we speak. (It’s a slow job)

    I’ve already noticed that quite a few puzzles appear to be missing and yes I’ve seen the compiler None too. I guess a lot of the “missing” puzzles could just be typos when the url file was created although you wouldn’t expect that to happen if the system was automated. (It is the Grauniad though!)

    I’ll continue with this just out of interest. Hopefully the results will look similar to your summary.

  356. beery hiker says:

    The summary here is already out of date (so far just the line for Chifonie), and since completing the list I’ve only been updating my version once a month or so. I used Google searches for the pre-15^2 period because I found it quicker than the rather clunky Guardian search. The gaps are mostly in the early years i.e. pre-2002. The only recent one that may be contentious is the Araucaria tribute (29/11/13) that appeared with no setter’s name, but had a clue which fairly clearly attributed it to Enigmatist, Paul & Shed, so I credited them.

  357. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Mine’s almost finished now. I didn’t use the online search but went straight to the archive via url address. I accessed the html source directly from some php code which tried to read every puzzle.

    I still have 30 puzzle numbers to search by hand for which the url wasn’t found. A quick glance shows that a few of these, if not all, are prize puzzles with “funny” url names.

    Looks like these are some of the Bank Holiday Specials. I can sort them by hand hopefully.

    My Arachne figures agrees with yours so all looks good. Guess she’s never done an “special” prize puzzle :-)

  358. beery hiker says:

    You’re doing better than me – I did the whole thing by hand!

    The only four I failed to find any trace of at all were: 21742 (13 Nov 1999), 21676 (28 Aug 1999), 21646 (24 Jul 1999) and 21626 (1 Jul 1999). I gave 21676 to Araucaria since the date suggests it was a Bank Holiday prize – the other 3 are excluded from the list.

    5 of the Nones were also in 1999 so I suspect the Guardian software had more bugs in it then.

  359. Brendan (not that one) says:

    By hand!!!!! I salute your patience. How many years did that take? 😉

    I’m still missing


    Obviously I know the dates but just have no setter. It’s interesting that there are 2 kinds of failure on the Guardian archive. One which is a 404 error where the archive knows about the number but can’t seem to find the file it thinks it’s in. The other, which is rarer, where the archive doesn’t even know about the puzzle number!!! Of your 4 only 21626 is of the former variety. So the Guardian appear to have lost the other 3 as well.

  360. beery hiker says:

    I did it a couple of years ago, and it took about 3 months, an hour or two at a time, helped quite a lot by Excel’s autocomplete. I think some of these may have gone missing since I found them a couple of years ago, but in some cases I tried searching for the missing dates instead of the numbers, for example the first one appears in the archive as 21465 and the third as 21381 (so in a brute force search it might be worth trying earlier numbers). I may just have assumed that 21777 was an Araucaria Christmas special.

    I have the following: 21645 – Rover, 21777 – Araucaria, 21831 – Fawley, 21951 – Bunthorne, 22032 – Quantum
    22189 – Enigmatist, 22375 – Araucaria, 22557 – Gordius, 22574 – Pasquale, 22725 – Araucaria,
    22920 – Bunthorne, 23735 – Paul, 23741 – Araucaria.
    The last two probably came from the fifteensquared list, which I used for all of the more recent ones except for a few for which I couldn’t find blogs, since that way I found more per search.

  361. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Thanks for that BH. I never thought to look for the missing entries in the Archive By Date section. As you say there are entries for some of them with the compiler name but the link doesn’t actually work. Enough info for us though.

    I’m almost there now. Just some tweeking, checking and development of the spreadsheet. Unfortunately I’m away for 2 days now so no time.

    Thanks for your help. I’ll post here when it’s complete with a possible link to share it.

  362. Rishi says:

    I have several files of Guardian crosswords but I can’t open them! To be able to do that I must buy an app but I am not too keen on the latter.
    These files have been procured by automation to be imported into the app.
    I find that 21626 is missing in this collection as well.

  363. Brendan (not that one) says:

    I have completed the spreadsheet of all the cryptic puzzles from the Guardian since 24th June 1999 until 7th February 2014.

    Click Here for Guardian Cryptic Archive

    I take no responsibility for accuracy or any problems with the download. However it should be safe.

    No need to sign up just click on “To Download” and double click the Excel Document. The Summary Tab is probably the most useful.

    I will try and update this to the present on a monthly basis.

  364. Mitz says:

    Great effort, Brendan (nto) and Beery Hiker.

    I wonder if the Guardian have archives going back further into the depths of time…

  365. beery hiker says:


    Well done! I’ve downloaded your list and compared it with mine, which has revealed 16 probable errors in my list – 6 of them in the same week, which I must have typed in the wrong order. I think your automated method has missed a couple that were joint efforts and credited them to Enigmatist. 25247 was credited to Enigmatist, Paul & Shed, 24782 to Enigmatist & Paul (I’ve just checked both). Apart from that your list agrees with mine apart from the ones I noted in earlier comments, so I think we’re getting close!

    Mitz, I’d love to know if anyone has lists from earlier than 1999 too, but I suspect compiling that list would involve spending years in newspaper libraries. Maybe one day OCR scans will appear online…

    I’ve just corrected the errors, and updated my list to include the last few, and the totals are now as follows:

    43,Enigmatist, Paul & Shed,2,0,16/02/2011,29/11/2013
    45,Enigmatist & Paul,1,0,19/08/2009,19/08/2009

  366. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Thanks BH.

    I’ll correct the missed joint puzzles and go through your earlier posts for anything else I’ve missed.

    I’ll only update the downloadable version when I run the update at the end of this month.

  367. Brendan (not that one) says:

    New name for the archive!

    Click here for latest Guardian Cryptic Puzzle Archive Spreadsheet

    See earlier for instructions

  368. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Oooops. Error in previous post

    New name for the archive!

    Click here for latest Guardian Cryptic Puzzle Archive Spreadsheet

    See earlier for instructions

  369. Sylvia says:

    I keep wondering where the ‘check button’ can be found, which many people seem to use but I don’t appear to have one?

  370. Limeni says:

    Hello Sylvia, which crossword are you working on?

  371. Dave Ellison says:

    When I try to access the Independent Cryptic crossword, I have problems with Java, I believe. Does anyone know a way around this?

  372. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Dave E. @371
    You can avoid the Java problems by downloading and installing Crossword Solver from here:

    You will then be able to download the Indy puzzle and print a copy or solve it on-screen (with the reveal letter/word options still available).

  373. Sylvia says:

    Limeni: Thanks for your response. Guardian cryptics.

  374. AdamH says:

    Haven’t finished it yet, but in Maskarade’s Guardian Easter cryptic, the solution to one of the undefined clues appears to be misspelled in the grid. . .

  375. Karl says:


    You can send crosswords to Brummie/Cyclops to have a look at.

  376. Karl says:

    Would anyone have any interest in a (free) script for downloading Guardian crosswords into binary Across Lite format (for completion on iPad/PC/Mac)?

  377. Jonny says:

    Is anyone else having trouble downloading past Independent puzzles using crossword solver? I’ve been successfully using the URL for the longest time. But now I get the error message “Connection refused”.

    Wondered whether the link has changed. But today’s puzzle loads ok so that doesn’t make sense…

    Any help greatly appreciated!

  378. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Jonny
    Yours is not the first report of a problem that I’ve seen during the last few days. I have just tried and have loaded a puzzle from last week and last month with no problems.

    From past experience, the Indy has a regular clear out of old puzzles but if you were trying to download one that has been removed then I would have expected an error message from Crossword Solver rather than ‘Connection refused’.

    I haven’t visited the webpage for a few weeks but when I did so yesterday there appeared to have been a site facelift and if this was done during the last few days it could perhaps account for the problems people have experienced.

    My difficulty is that the on-line version no longer displays in IE11 or Chrome. I thought this might be due to the latest Java release and its higher security levels but I still cannot get the grid/clues to display even after adding the page URL to the ‘exclude’ list.

  379. Jonny says:

    Thanks Gaufrid.

    I have just tried again and got HTTP error 503 the 1st time and then the same error as before when I tried again. Today’s puzzle still downloads when selected, but not when using URL

    Perhaps it’s related to the Java issue you mentioned. I’m using IE8 – but also get the same problem on my Mac using Safari.


  380. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Jonny
    I’ve checked again and I have no problems downloading in Crossword Solver. However, I have just noticed something that I missed in your original comment (sorry :( ). Your URL is wrong, it should be:

    You have www. missing.

  381. sidey says:

    I really wouldn’t try to use the Indy site for the crossword atm as you have to set Java’s security to the lowest available to get it to work (if you have enabled Java in the browser) and that leaves your browser dreadfully insecure.

    One solution is to use a portable version of eg Chrome and disable the Java plug-in in your usual browser.

  382. Gaufrid says:

    Hi sidey
    Wise advice. An alternative should be to leave the Java security setting at high and then add the Indy webpage to the exception site list.

    However, so far this week I have been unable to display the puzzle in either IE11 or Chrome, even if the Java security is set to its lowest setting and/or the Indy page is added to the exception list.

  383. Jonny says:

    Hi Gaufrid,

    It is now working for me with and without the www so it remains a mystery… But at least I now have the last week’s worth of puzzles printed out for this week’s commute.

    Thanks again,


  384. Robi says:

    Hi Gaufrid

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who can’t get the Indy site to work in either IE11 or Chrome. I also can’t get the Genius grid to load in IE11 although it does in Chrome if you allow it too. Such are the vagaries of Java, I assume. I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled a number of times but it doesn’t seem to make any difference.

  385. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Robi
    I’ve had no problems viewing the Genius in IE11 using the latest version of Java (with the security set to very high) once I had added the full Guardian URL ( to the Exception Site List.

    However, adding the full Indy URL makes no difference. The relevant page appears but with no Java, hence no grid and clues. This doesn’t cause me any problems as I always use Crossword Solver to print the puzzles (I don’t like doing them on-screen).

  386. Robi says:

    Hi Gaufrid, I think the Guardian URL needs a www. i.e.

    There seems to be a Java/IE11 compatibility issue. Have you updated Java to the latest version? When I test it on the site it doesn’t seem to be working. I’ve removed the caches from the browser and the Java control panel but I can’t get it to work. I would just use Chrome all the time but unfortunately it doesn’t display the daily grid properly! Such is life………..

  387. Robi says:

    Update: it was a Java problem. I’m not exactly sure what I did but I emptied the Java cache via the Java Control Panel and maybe something else I did kicked it into life. I can now display not only the Genius grid but also the Indy daily crossword.

  388. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Robi
    “I think the Guardian URL needs a www.”

    You are probably right. Several URLs for the Guardian (with/without www. and are automatically redirected to the URL you have quoted. I just copied my bookmark (it was easiest to access) but have in the Java exclusion list.

    I have the latest Java (version 7 update 55) and it tests fine on (I’ve just checked again) when accessed via IE11 (64bit version). I’ve also just checked that the Genius still loads, which it does, and it would appear that the problems with the Indy site have eventually been resolved because that now loads as well after the usual Java warning (it hasn’t done for a couple of weeks now despite my having the Indy URL in the Java exclusion list).

    My advice would be to uninstall Java using the Windows control panel and then to download and install a new copy from This worked for me when I had problems with a Java update a couple of years ago.

  389. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Robi
    You posted again whilst I was composing my reply. I’m glad to hear that you have resolved the problem.

  390. Robi says:

    Oh dear, I spoke too soon! I’ve reinstalled IE11 (64-bit), Chrome and Java. Everything works fine in Chrome but not in IE11 where the test on the Java site doesn’t work. I would use Chrome now but it doesn’t display the daily cryptic grid properly (!?) So I’ll just have to use IE11 for everyday and Chrome when I need the Genius or Indy crosswords. By the way, are you running both 64 and 32-bit versions of Java or just the latter? It didn’t seem to help if I had both versions downloaded.

  391. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Robi
    I’m running 64-bit for both IE11 and Java. Why not use Crossword Solver for viewing the Indy as this will avoid any Java problems? You can still solve on-screen (with the reveal functions) if that is your preference or you can print the puzzle. That would mean only having to resort to Chrome once a month for the Genius.

  392. Robi says:

    Thanks Gaufrid, I have got the Crossword Solver option. Although I purportedly downloaded a 64-bit version of IE, it is apparently the 32-bit version.

  393. Robi says:

    …… OK, just in case anyone else has this problem with IE11. I found on the web that if you go to the program application, iexplore, and right click and ‘run as administrator’ the problem is then fixed! I can see both the Genius and Indy grids now…………

  394. Hughr says:

    Possibly a bit of a strange request, but I wonder if anyone would like to help me come up with some crossword clues? We go to a music festival every year. There’s a fancy dress theme on the Sunday and this year the theme is “black & white”. I’m thinking of going as a walking crossword, with answers based on some of the acts at the festival. I’ve posted a few of the more well known acts that are playing below. I’d be really grateful if anyone fancied having a crack at a few clues. I’d say they would need to be fairly easy, as people will probably only have a brief look as I’m standing in the bar or watching a band etc. A bit cryptic perhaps but certainly nothing of the usual cryptic nature of clues that are in the newspapers.
    Thanks for any contributions


  395. The Trafites says:

    Hughr, mail me at [email protected] – this sounds a good idea. And perhaps rather than convention type crosswords clues, it would maybe work better with pun types – ref:

    BTW the last one: Mad God?


  396. Gordon says:

    Hi Gaufrid
    I posted an off topic question about this month’s Genius on today’s Guardian blog. I had hoped somebody might see it and respond sooner than posting it here. However no one has responded so far so I wonder if you know why the Guardian posted an annotated solution a week ago when the date for entries does not expire until this coming Saturday.

  397. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Gordon
    Sorry, I’m not privy to the foibles of the Guardian webpage publishing team. I assume it is an(other) error on their part.

  398. Gordon says:

    Thanks Gaufrid

    I had assumed that, but had wondered whether some other issue had caused them to suspend any prize for this month, and therefore print the solution early. I was asking to see if anyone knew that and therefore whether it was still worth my while inputting my solution – which I did anyhow. Nice to know in advance that I got the answers correct! I never did get many of the cockney rhyming slang letters though, although it did not stop me getting the correct answers, which were fairly obvious.

  399. Alan says:

    Sorry if this is not the place to ask my question.

    I noticed that several posters mentioned the “crossword solver” app to be able to print out the Independent cryptic. I found the link and downloaded the app but try as I might I cannot get it to print the whole thing on one page. I just get part of the clues in a rather large font and about a sixth of the grid with pretty huge squares. Obviously I’m doing something wrong, despite trying all I can think of. I just wondered if anyone else had encountered that problem and managed to sort it out.

    Many thanks

  400. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Alan @399
    I’ve not had any problems myself printing from Crossword Solver but I know of one other person who has and who has been unable to resolve the problem.

    This may seem rather obvious, please excuse me if it does, but have you selected the ‘Fit on page’ option in the ‘Page layout’ box prior to clicking on one of the layout options?

  401. Alan says:

    Thanks Gaufrid,

    Kind of you to reply so quickly. Please don’t feel bad about mentioning what might be obvious but in fact I had made sure that option was ticked (and I also tried it without but it made no difference). Strangely, I had the app some time ago on a previous computer and had no problem then, which was why I was all the more surprised when I had these printing problems. It is at least a little comforting to realise that I’m not the only one (although clearly in a very small minority!)

  402. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Alan, I get this too. I think it’s something to with your printer driver.

    If you’ve not already solved this here’s how I get round it.

    Solution 1 (not so good)

    My printer is an HP Deskjet 3070 which is OK but pretty basic. If I go to Properties on the Print window where I choose the printer I can choose an “Advanced” button. Here are various default options.

    One is Borderless Printing which seems to default to “Print with Border”. Printing with this option gives what you describe. If I change this to “Print Borderless” the print is all on the page but the last bit of the page is in Blue!

    Solution 2 (Better)

    If you’re using Windows 7 or Vista print your crossword to the “Microsdoft XPS Document Writer”. This writes the print to an XPS file for which you have to choose a name and location.

    Double click on this file afterwards and it will open in the “XPS Viewer”. It should look OK and printing from here will also be OK.

  403. sidey says:

    Has anyone else encountered the Beta version of the crossword page at the Graun yet? Click the Beta link at the top of the page while on the page.

    I feel it needs as many people as possible to view it and send feedback as soon as possible. There is a link at the bottom of the Beta page to a Feedback survey.

  404. Hughr says:

    Please can anyone recommend a crossword designer that is free to use and accessible via the web? I can see that a few come up when searching but I wondered if people here could recommend a good one to use.

  405. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hughr: Go here
    You have to use the contact link to send an e-mail saying you want that app. He will reply with instructions as to how to obtain it. Nice chap, I helped beta test the latest version(s), so had lots of interaction to form that opinion. The software is seriously good. I’ve paid money for much worse apps than this excellent freebie.

  406. Brendan (not that one) says:

    sidey @403

    I wouldn’t advise anybody to visit the beta version of the Guardian Crossword page yet.

    The page is absolutely not in any fit state for evaluation as almost nothing is there and what is there is atrocious.

    You may also find difficulty returning your browser to the non-beta version for the whole Guardian site.

    As an IT professional of 40 years I feel that this “beta test” is the most ill thought out plan I have ever seen! No surprise there from the Guardian IT team 😉

  407. Paul8hours says:

    I have got myself into the Guardian Beta site. The functionality is not user friendly. My big problem is that there is no link to the new Genius no 134. Can anyone provide this link please ?

  408. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Paul8hours

  409. sidey says:

    Brendan @406

    I don’t know if you were around the last time the Graun played silly b’s with the crossword pages but there was no consultation beforehand.

    The whole point of visiting the beta is to fill in the feedback survey and tell them why it’s atrocious. Paul @407 illustrates one, no links to a lot of the content. They won’t get it right unless they are told what’s wrong.

    To get out of the beta for certain requires deleting any Guardian cookies.

  410. paul8hours says:

    Many thanks Gaufrid!

  411. Paul8hours says:

    By the way, l see there is a ‘current version’ link bottom right of the Beta version which gets you back to the original site.

  412. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Sidey @409

    I know what you are saying but I honestly believe that the Guardian IT goons haven’t even started designing the new crossword page yet. All that’s happened is some rough “placeholding” stuff and this is nothing like the final offering.

    The link to Beta is probably there on all pages and shouldn’t be on the Crossword page yet.

    Any comments will probably be ignored at the moment :-(

  413. Derek Lazenby says:

    For the last few days one of the online word list gadgets seems to have dissappeared, to whit xsolver (also xsolver2). Anybody heard anything about what has happened?

  414. Derek Lazenby says:

    Belay that. Depending on the browser, xsolver2 seems to redirect to xsolver. xsolver works, but not on the older version of IE that I normally use. Please don’t say, well update IE because there are reasons why I prefer the version I use.

  415. Brendan (not that one) says:

    I’ve moved the Archive of all Guardiab Puzzles since 24th June 1999.

    It’s on Box which is a much more user-friendly site.

    The link will give you a preview of the Summary sheet. You can also download the whole Excel xls file if you prefer.

    I assume the data is the intellectual property of The Guardian though it is all available in the public domain.

    It is up to date until 2nd September and I will try to update it every month or so.

    If anybody can fill in any of the missing 5 puzzles I would be grateful.

    Archive of Guardian Cryptic Puzzles

  416. newmarketsausage says:

    Does anyone know how to get a decent-size print version of the FT puzzles?

    Whatever I do with the zoom options on the FT crossword page seems to make no difference to the size of the print out: tiny grid, very small type size, acres of white space.

    If anyone can help, I’d be grateful.

  417. Gaufrid says:

    Hi newmarketsausage
    I use the latest version of the Adobe Reader and the FT puzzle fills an A4 sheet, so none of your problems. Just make sure that, when the ‘Print Dialogue’ box appears, the ‘Page Sizing & Handling’ section has both the ‘Fit’ and ‘Auto portrait/landscape’ options selected.

  418. newmarketsausage says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid.

    I don’t get those options from the print dialogue box, although I have the Adobe Reader installed.

    Is it possible the page is not loading in that program? Or could the problem be due to the printer I have?

    I’m at a bit of a loss.

  419. Gaufrid says:

    Hi newmarketsausage
    I’ll reply via email because it would probably help if I include a screenshot or two.

  420. JollySwagman says:

    Did this (#416 onwards) get sorted out?

    It’ll most likely be down to the endless Adobe updates which come through. Up until a while back my gf and I both used FireFox with Adobe claiming to be up to date – somehow the set-ups looked completely different but they both gave good full-page printouts of FT puzzles.

    Now I have to increase the scaling to 150% for the FT – 160% is better but 150 is on the list and near enough – also set the orientation to Landscape. Trouble is it holds that when I go back to the Guardian so I have to change it back again there.

    The setting is made in Print-Preview which is accessed through the File menu.

    Latest default Firefox doesn’t show that but it can be got by clicking the top right logo which looks like a pile of sliced bread and going Customise. Then at the bottom of that screen Show/Hide Toolbars has the necessary options. I have both checked.

    If anyone knows how I can get back to having it all work automatically I’d love to hear – but it’s not (as they say in the trade) a showstopper.

    Funny phrase that since in entertainment showstoppers are good things.

  421. newmarketsausage says:

    Hello, JS.

    Yes, it did get sorted. I should really have reported back here to say so.

    The problem was with Firefox. It was loading the FT crossword page in its built-in PDF reader. You have to stop it doing that by specifying the use of Adobe Reader instead.

    I can’t remember now exactly how I did this but it was a known issue resulting from one of the Firefox updates (quite a while ago). If you look on the Firefox support forums you’ll get pointed to the solution very quickly.

    From (unreliable) memory it was as you say via the customise option right at the bottom of the page you get when clicking on the three-slice toaster icon. Once you’ve done the necessary you get the right print dialogue box on Adobe Reader and don’t have to do anything further.

    As Gaufrid says, what you then get is a nice full A4 size page print out.

  422. sidey says:

    Adobe Reader is a ghastly bit of software, if you are fed up with it you could try Foxit Reader. There is one problem with that too in that the installer from Foxit will try to con you into downloading some cr@pware, the solution is to use the Ninite Installer from

    Scroll down, under Documents tick the box by Foxit Reader, click the Get Installer button. Run the download and it will install Foxit without “extras”.

    During Installation select Make Foxit my default PDF Viewer.

    Keep the Installer, it is the quickest way to update Foxit when it tells you updates are available.

    You can also use Foxit to fill forms, create pdfs or as a software printer to convert any printable file to pdf.

    Sorry for longwindedness

  423. Brendan (not that one) says:

    sidey @422

    Thanks for your longwindedness 😉

    What a brilliant piece of software!

    I am currently away from home on a canal boat with “limited but good” internet access. I was doing some work which required a very large Word doc I had created converting to PDF so others could view it correctly. (They’re too tight to buy Word and Libre/OpenOffice doesn’t render “complicated” Word docs particularly well!)

    My laptop is XP (for various software licensing reasons) and it’s version of Word can’t produce PDFs!

    I was thinking of installing one of the “free” PDF/Print solutions but couldn’t face removing all the cr@p that these products install.

    Foxit is “brilliant” and is going on everything at home as soon as I get back!

  424. Peter says:

    Hello, all. My first time posting on this site, but a fairly regular visitor albeit that I am a bit of a newbie to this game. I was reading Alan’s blog on the Guardian website about the Times Championship and I was intrigued by the first of the two clues he mentioned in the piece:

    Which involves getting a round in but hoping not to buy it? (7,8)


    I just can’t seem to come up with a satisfactory parsing and the comments on the blog had closed by the time I read it. Can anyone out there help? It’s been bugging me all day!

  425. JollySwagman says:


    I think it’s just a cryptic definition.

    Reading ROUND as BULLET and “buy it” (sometimes given as “buy the farm” – US military slang) as “lose your life” you get a possible description of Russian Roulette.

  426. Peter says:


    I wasn’t aware of the US military military slang: many thanks for enlightening me. Quite a neat clue. I had considered several possibilities to do with Russian as in white Russian and roule/roulette for round.


  427. Cyborg says:

    Hi folks,

    I’ve recently been trying my hand at setting and was hoping someone here might have a bit of free time to give some puzzles a test drive. I didn’t have any luck finding an actively maintained website to submit them to, so I’ve put in a bit of extra time and created a new crossword site at I’d appreciate any feedback with regards to both the cluing and the website.

    Also, if there are any other beginner setters here looking for a website on which to post their efforts, I’d be happy to host them. Feel free to drop me an email at cyborg [at] threepins [dot] org.