Sid is currently working
on this puzzle and, with the help of dictionaries,
thesauruses (thesauri?) and web resources he's pretty
sure he'll have a possible solution soon. The lack
of intersecting across and down lights just adds to the
challenge. From the blog of
another crossword enthusiast.
Helen is diffident about her talents with words, so her
husband (that's me, Sid) has taken over these pages to
describe some of her achievements.
used to do crosswords myself now and then, but when you
live with someone like Helen, it starts to feel like
playing Chopsticks in the presence of Sviatoslav
Richter (see top of page).
Helen consumes cryptic crosswords like Pavarotti
consumes pasta. And because she has to fit her
crossword times around her very busy scientific
schedule, she needs to be fast and accurate.
helps that she has some unusual innate (or maybe
acquired, who knows?) gifts - like, for example, being
instantly (literally) able to tell you how many letters
are in a given word.
The story of her winning the 2006 Times Crossword
Subsequently she was much in demand by the media, both
broadcast and print. She was asked to attempt four Times
cryptic puzzles - from 1936, 1956, 1976 and 1996 - and
write about her experiences
for the Times special games supplement at Christmas
2006. And a few of her reflections on life, Aberystwyth
and crosswords can be
on the Mid-Wales section of the BBC website.
Helen may be quite good at solving cryptic crosswords,
but she doesn't have a very systematic approach to the
process and doesn't devote as much time to this interest
as she'd often like. Others can write more
authoritatively on the subject, and Helen especially
maintained by Peter Biddlecombe, the Times Championship
winner in 2000, which includes a section about the
Championship. He also has blogs where he and others
record their experiences with assorted cryptic puzzles,
lists of crossword-related books and websites, and much
useful info about solving.
those who enjoy really esoteric cryptic crosswords, full
of obscure words and sometimes composed around special -
often topical - themes, try the
Club, which produces a monthly magazine containing
two challenging puzzles, letters, book reviews and other
crossword-related competitions. The website is fairly
rudimentary but the postal and e-mail addresses can be
found there. The magazine itself is normally distributed
by post and e-mail.
toughest puzzles, though (not for beginners or the
faint-hearted), you need to try the Listener crossword,
so-called because until the early 90s it was published
in the now-defunct magazine of that name. The Times
rescued it, and it's now available in the print edition
of the Times and through membership of the
Times crossword club online, which also gives access
to the daily Times cryptic puzzle and a number of
others, including the Times Literary Supplement
crossword, the weekend jumbo and other specials, and a
members-only monthly puzzle. The site is plagued with
not-infrequent technical problems and has an extremely
unsatisfactory bulletin board, but it's still worth the
Times crossword club also provides a feature called
"Race the Clock", which allows solvers to test
themselves against the Times concise (non-cryptic,
definition-only) puzzle for that day. Helen usually does
well at this when it's a fairly tough puzzle but can't
compete with the speed typists on easy ones, being - on
a good day - a two-fingers-and-a-fist kind of keyboard
operator. Tony Sever, who won the Times Championship in
1981, has an entertaining
describing his experiences with Race-the-Clock.
Guardian similarly gives access to its puzzles
online by subscription only. The Telegraph has a
Crossword Society, linked from
here. In each case a range of cryptic and
non-cryptic puzzles and other features is available. You
could end up spending a lot of time and money if you
subscribe to several of these services - on the other
hand, it's harmless, good for the brain muscles, and you
might even win some nice prizes!
has one major remaining crossword ambition: to win the
competition in the fortnightly UK satirical magazine
Private Eye. The puzzle's a good cryptic one. The
prize is £100. And every clue, or answer - sometimes
both - is positively foul-mouthed, obscene and/or
libellous. What more could you want?