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.

423 Responses to “General Discussion”

Pages: « 13 4 [5] 6 79 »

  1. 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?

  2. 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?

  3. 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.


  4. 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’ .

  5. 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!

  6. 206
    Paul B Says:

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

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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?

  12. 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.

  13. 213
    Derek Lazenby Says:

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. 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 ;)

  17. 217
    Derek Lazenby Says:

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 220
    Gaufrid Says:

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

  21. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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.

  24. 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!


  25. 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.

  26. 226
    Paul B Says:

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

  27. 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.

  28. 228
    Paul B Says:

    Many thanks chef.

  29. 229
    Huw Powell Says:

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

  30. 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?

  31. 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?

  32. 232
    Huw Powell Says:

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

  33. 233
    Dave Ellison Says:

    Dvo?ák Dvo?ák Just testing

  34. 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.

  35. 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


  36. 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!

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 242
    Otherstuff Says:

    Here is the link btw in case it s needed

  43. 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.)

  44. 244
    Gaufrid Says:

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

  45. 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.

  46. 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?


  47. 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.

  48. 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,


  49. 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!!

  50. 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.

Pages: « 13 4 [5] 6 79 »

Leave a Reply

7 − four =