Friday, 29 December 2017


The theme: James Bond and some of those who have portrayed him on the screen.

Ian Fleming's image of James Bond; commissioned to aid the Daily Express comic strip artists

Sean CONNERY, David NIVEN, George LAZENBY, Roger MOORE, Timothy DALTON, Pierce BROSNAN and Daniel CRAIG, have all played JAMES BOND in films.

Appeared as Crossword 1815 in the November 2017 edition of 1 Across.

Some feedback from solvers:

Plenty of write-ins once the theme was revealed. Clues were straightforwardly signalled; 22d is neat. 

A good workout with an Azed feel - barred grid and some very obscure words. But very fair and a personal touch on the unglued lights since in one of my roles (director of the Scottish International Education Turst) I can claim that 1d is my ‘boss’. 

Somehow I got 2/3 of this puzzle completed before getting the theme. Once all the Bonds were in only a few were left. I enjoyed islander envy snorer. Very impressed at the grid construction.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Sixes and Sevens

 Kindly featured in Brian Head's Crossword magazine of September 2017, this is essentially an Alphabetical Jigsaw type of puzzle, the preamble says:

Clues are listed in alphabetical order of their solutions.  Solvers must highlight the alternative title that appears in the completed grid, once all answers have been inserted wherever they fit.

Sixes and Sevens solution grid
MINGLE-MANGLE (n. a confused jumble) is the alternative title to the phrase “(at) sixes and sevens” (in disorder)

Solvers' Comments:

 "The secret is: solve all the clues of one length, all the others will follow.  This time all the (7)s cross each other, easy.  Er...
VACUOLE was the catalyst leading to all those parrallel (6)s."

"Clue c didn't seem to work.  Quite a challenging puzzle."

"I thought this erred on the wrong side of too much cold solving - I had nearly 75% solved before I had enough to make a decent guess (which as it happened, was exactly right first time).  The ambiguity of SEAGOD/SEADOG didn't help either"  Still, it snuck through just before boredom took over!"

"A nice idea, cleverly executed.  I found the 7-letter words more elusive so this held me up for a while.  I only saw the alternative title after I had filled the grid.  Very enjoyable."

"Very clever, challenging and enjoyable.  Hard work but worth it!"

"A good test for cold solving.  I do not like the misleading comma in eff is two words."

Difficult but enjoyable.  I couldn't get EELFARE for a long time - needed it to get started on filling in the grid; still don't understand the clue.  Once I started filling in the grid it all fell into place very quickly.  Also don't understand the clue for DOPERS."

"Very hard work.  Usually in these jigsaws there are some long words or some short words to give solvers a start at fitting the answers together after a bit of cold solving.  Here the very title announced that it as going to be a slog with little relief.  However, it came out in the end so: Many thanks."

"As with all jigsaw puzzles, the clues have to be easy enough to give enough answers to start construction, and then becomes rather too easy when the grid fills up.  I'm still not sure about k though."

"Wordplay for c BABIISM seems to have a surplus 'Y' or two?"

"At last realised it wasn't quite as impossible as it looked."

"What a wonderful crossword!  The clues were challenging, the gridfill more so, but once we had a toehold in the SW, the rest slotted in reasonably quickly and we were able to solve the outstanding clues."

"Remarkably difficult to start filling the grid!!"

"Rather a chore, with much cold solving and no easy way (that I could see) to get started on the grid fill."

"Difficult to get started.  Good, fair clues.  An enjoyable challenge.  Thanks."

"Excellent.  I like alphabetical clues and 'jigsaw' answers."

"Quite a novelty and something of a jigsaw.  Some tricky clues made it a difficult tussle."

"I still don't understand the clue to BABIISM (unless your girlfriend's name is Bab).  At least the alternative title was a lot easier to find than some have been recently."

"The position of the clue of 'half turned' means the answer to ff could equally well be SEA DOG; and Chambers gives both SEA GOD and SEA DOG as two words."

"I though this would be impossible, but I chanced to put VACUOLE in the correct position and everything else fell into place quite quickly."

"We found the filling of the grid very difficult."

"What an excellent 'jigsaw' puzzle.  Pity it was let down by some sloppy cluing.  At ff both 'sea god' and 'sea dog' can surely be two separate words (3,3). At c I can find no justification for 'interest' being represented as 'i', which the clue requires to work."

"I could not get started."

"I enjoyed this jigsaw puzzle grid.  Getting started a bit challenging.  Got easier."

"Too hard!"

"I have been unbearably insufferable since completing this which I think is the hardest crossword I have successfully solved.  Despite feeling that I would never be able to enter any answers except by guesswork, I pressed on and got perhaps a third of the clues, by which time I had spotted that there were not many 7-letter answers and that if I had most of all of them, the four central squares might lead to an 'only possible combination'; on the basis of which one could build up the whole, and so it proved.
Favourite clues were y and z but most were good, sound and enjoyable - just a few of those 'convolutes' where it takes longer to work out why an obvious answer is indeed the right one (j, l, aa ... and I never did fully work out d or s).  Took me a while to spot the diagonal and in the quest for an alternative title I did unearth a few plausible candidates, notably WOE! and HELL! in the bottom right corner."