Sunday, 1 December 2019

Periodic Table

Pubished in the November 2019 issue of The Magpie as puzzle 203.6

The preamble reads:  
Clue lengths refer to grid entries. Solvers must highlight the individual responsible for the method of entry and remove the contents of the cell that is inconsistent with the title. 

All entries are made using the first, first, second, third, fifth and eighth letters of the clue answer as far as is possible in accordance with the FIBONACCI sequence (a ‘periodic’ selection).  All letters used in the grid are single-letter chemical symbols with the exception of A, which must be deleted.

Solvers' Comments

I assumed from the title that each cell would contain a symbol of an element, so "obviously" the answers that led to shorter entries would have two letters in some cells and I had no idea how two-letter answers would give three-letter entries. I soon found some answers like OAKEN and SNYE where I didn't know what I was going to do with the E.

When I had solved all but five of the clues I still hadn't worked out how to form any of the entries. I think this is the closest I have come to solving all of the clues in a puzzle without writing anything in the grid, but I suppose I had sometimes had some help from "checking" letters, such as assuming that entries that started in the same cells had answers that started with the same letter.

I had noticed that four- and five-letter answers had entries of the same length so assuming that entries of these lengths should be jumbles of the answers I found that 12a had to be ONAKE and that 15a could be HTUN (I hadn't solved 16d yet) but moving the last letter to second place didn't seem like it would work for other four- and five-letter answers (e.g. 11d would clash with 12a) and I couldn't see how to extend this to entries which didn't have the same length as their answers.

Eventually I noticed that entering the first three letters of the answer in the second, third and fourth cells seemed to work quite well, but to apply this to the answers in the top row and left column seemed to require that the first letter also appear in the first cell. Then I was able to fill enough of the grid to see most of FIBONACCI and all became clear.
I solved literally every clue but couldn't see how this could all fit together. Too good for me, this one. Wouldn''t have got there in a month of Sundays!
This is the one that held me up this month. Only after answering all the clues and playing about with these did I spot the possibility of Fibonacci.


Despite solving all the clues except 16 down (though this might be JENNY) I could not fill in a single entry. All very frustrating, GWIT at an extreme level.


All but 4 clues solved; no idea what to do.
Didn’t find the PDM even after solving all the clues except one, so I guess a D grade is appropriate, and I’ll kick myself when I see the answer.
I have solved all the clues and have no idea what the entry method is, although I'm sure it will be obvious when I see the answer. Congratulations Eclogue.
Definitely a backwards solve, I found Fibonacci in the guessed-at grid before I found him in the clues. Shame the A doesn't fit.
This was extraordinary!
I cold solved all the clues, and although I realised there were a lot of single letter element symbols, I couldn’t see how they should be entered.
Eventually, I realised that the initial letters were repeated, and then that the third letter of the entries were the second letters of the answers, which then revealed FIBONACCI in the diagonal, which made everything clear - even explaining the one cell no longer consistent with the title
Probably my PDM of the year !
This was a really ingenious puzzle from Eclogue, and most enjoyable. Took a long time for the penny finally to drop for the entry method.
Having answered all clues except 26, I cannot for the life of me work out the method of entry.

I've spotted that the letters O, N and I appear much more often than one would expect. And S, K and C are also surprisingly common. But that's about as far as I get.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh !
Extremely infuriating, then extremely satisfying. I was baffled about how the same entry method could apply to all entries, where some got longer, some stayed the same length and some got shorter. It never occurred to me that letters could repeat themselves...

Quite a lot of cold-solving involved, so thank you for the gentler clues. I am, however, left with that all-too-familiar, uneasy feeling of not having understood everything (one letter no longer consistent with the title... Oh wait! Just got it! Single-letter elements. Oh I do feel clever now. I did think the limited variety of letters rather odd...). I'm all the more impressed. Thank you, Eclogue.
The penny took too long to drop, even after seeing the individual. Another great puzzle.
A nice idea, surprisingly difficult to spot given its simplicity, making for a fun and challenging puzzle.
Excellent. Light dawned ever so slowly with this one, but in the end it did. A simple idea nicely done. I don't understand the need for 'in Aberdeen' at 13a.
This was very clever and and very tough. Eventually I felt confident enough to enter the 1st letter twice followed by the 2nd and 3rd letters (some clashes but not many) and found what looked like FIBONACCI in the diagonal which explained all. I assume the one cell that is no longer consistent is A (now Ar). Thank you Eclogue for a hard but enjoyable work-out.


Published in CrOZworld November 2019


The 14 will discover that 1 suggests 11 in the wordplay for 7 answers (including one answer in which such 11 occur twice).  


The 14 (CROSSWORD SOLVER) will discover thematic 11 (INCONSISTENCIES) in the wordplay for 7 answers (including one such occurring twice). 

The wordplay ignores the instances of “three d’s” in seven clues and this is an oblique hint at the connection to 3D Calendar Crosswords.


• Some off-the-beaten-track solutions (notably WIENCKE), doubtless forced by the demanding grid. No walk in the park, even after you've solved 1-across. Ian McKenzie
• Amazing! Thankfully, 9-across quickly gave the theme. Len Colgan
• All those 15 letter clues! Took a while to find WIENCKE Island – took me into some interesting research. Thank you. Ann Millard
• Amazing. Brian Symons
• Very clever. Wiencke Island! Really! At least it didn't have a D in it. Roy Taylor
• An impressive piece of setting. I needed to resort to aids a fair bit and mostly resolved the wordplay of the seven affected clues after identifying the answer. Ian Thompson
• A most interesting grid pattern. Took a while to work out how some of the clues worked but got there in the end. Thanks for a great challenge. Ulla Axelsen
• An interesting concept with all the across clues being 15 letters. I look forward to seeing the explanation for 18-across and 19-down.Lynn Jarman
• Quite tricky and sent with fingers crossed! Robyn McKenzie
• A fairly hard puzzle, but each 15-letter word was a joy when solved. Max Roddick
• I would rate this puzzle as AAA, not DDD. Mike Potts
Just hope I got this right. (you did Robyn and thank you for the card: Joan). Robyn Caine
I was stymied halfway through until I changed 'lovers' to solver' in 14 across. Some very obscure (but not unfair) abbreviations. Kath Harper
•This puzzle had me scratching my head. Some solutions totally eluded me until Ian’s timely deadline reminder. Then mercifully; they appeared!! Many thanks. Julie Crowe
•A very clever puzzle. Tough going until I figured out the consistent inconsistencies! Laurence Kennedy

Monday, 21 October 2019


Published in the  September 2019 issue of 1 Across as:


The puzzle's grid is presented with a number of cells already highlighted and solvers are advised that these may be of some use.

Solution grid


The solution notes reveal that the highlighted cells provide the alphabet in order and that the solution is a double pangram.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Font Feet

Published in theSeptember 2019 issue of The Magpie as puzzle no 201.5.

Six clues lack definitions, the solutions for which indicate the method of entry only. These clues also contain a four-letter word, the contents of which must be replaced to make a new word in a similar manner to the transformation shown in the title.  The replacement letters comprise the first and last letters of an extraneous word occurring either end of the same clue.  When rearranged, the new letters provide a producer and a cast member.  Three other unclued entries and the central square must be filled to complete the theme.  Answer lengths refer to grid entries.  One cell will share entry methods.

The theme is the 1992 film, RESERVOIR DOGS (defined by FONT FEET), the first film of Quentin Tarantino telling the story of a bungled diamond heist.  Six of the characters bear colour pseudonyms, Mr White (Harvey KEITEL), Mr Orange (Tim ROTH), Mr Blonde (Michael MADSEN), Mr Pink (Steve BUSCEMI), Mr Blue (Edward BUNKER), and Mr Brown (Quentin TARANTINO).  Three other key cast members are Chris PENN, Lawrence TIERNEY and Kirk BALTZ.  The replacement letters in four-letter words in clues spell the remaining main cast member Randy BROOKS and the producer, Lawrence BENDER.

Solvers' Comments

I had only solved one of the special clues (31d) when I had filled enough of the grid to see the theme on the diagonal, and then it didn't take long to solve four more of the special clues. I have seen the film, but it was a long time ago and I eventually used the internet to remind myself that the last colour was Blonde.

I understood the title once I knew what the theme was, and I suppose the title was the inspiration for the unusual device used in the clues lacking definition. The process of solving 1d seemed particularly strange to me: the first and last letters of 'badge' replace the middle letters of 'okay', then the middle letters of the resulting word replace the first and last letters of 'club'.
I filled in KEITEL and MADSEN in white (honest guv) [cells blank]


I'm not quite sure about the finale to Font Feet - still, it looks rather pretty the way I've presented it. [no letters, just colours]


Not enough info in Halliwell so needed pub googlers to sort this out. Didn't bother deriving the producer/cast member so hope that doesn't matter.
Well done for fitting so many thematic elements in.
I was really surprised when I searched 'Reservoir Dogs' on xwdb and found that it hadn't been used before, and the way Eclogue managed it has surely got to be the best way.

Really packed a great deal of the film into the puzzle. I only have a minor reservation, which was the gimmick... Was it meant to be Stuck in the middle with you? If so, it could perhaps have been made more explicit... But I think I'm being a bit grumpy there.

Really enjoyed it, thank you Eclogue.
Whilst living in London I was up to date with recent film releases worth seeing but sadly those days are long gone. Haven't even seen RD but I probably enjoyed this puzzle as much as I would have the film.
I may have tackled this had I not been away last week on the storm-girt Isles of Scilly.............
I know I'm going to regret asking this, but is there a significance to the title other than demonstrating the cluing device?
It's difficult to believe this film has has not been used before for a puzzle. Eclogue elegantly implemented the theme, using some very tough clues for the colours. TARANTINO gave me the information I needed to crack the puzzle. Very good debut puzzle; welcome Nerk and thank you.
It may be difficult to read Keitel in white, but it's there.
Just had to write as soon after completing as possible. Superb! Really enjoyed this one, the third completed this month. Saw the possibility of Tarantino and Penn earlyish which suggested Reservoir Dogs but it was quite a while before enlightenment dawned. 1 down saw that flash of realisation and then it filled in quickly.
It took ages for my penny to drop on this one. RESERVOIR DOGS in the diagonal finally got it for me.

The 6 clues lacking definition were so tricky, however, that I had to fill in the answers first (using Google) and work backwards to understand the clues !
Neatly constructed. Took a while to see what was going on but spotting Tarantino emerging made everything fall into place. Some doubt about how to indicate white text and the blue/pink clash but presumably reasonable attempts will be accepted. Overall a nice challenge.
I found this one slightly odd: clueing the characters by their colours was fine, but the gimmick of 'transforming' four-letter words seemed a bit arbitrary. But it was an admirably comprehensive treatment of the theme.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

1ACross Fifth Aniversary Puzzle

A new venture to the Subcontinent with a submission to an Indian crossword group called 1ACross.  Sowmya Ramkumar recently posted on Derk Harrison's Crossword Centre Facebook page announcing the imminent fifth anniversary of their club, occurring on 10th August 2019 and asked for crosswords to be sent to them.  So Eclogue duly obliged.

The crossword became part of their booklet to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the group which comprised 21 puzzles submitted by various compilers from acros the world but primarily India.  So, starting in early August 1ACross began publishing one of these puzzles each days as an interactive competition puzzle, calling it the Gridfest and Eclogue's contribution appeared on the 20th August 2019 as Grid No. 11.

The puzzle's preamble read:
In every clue, the definitions are to the entry, but a thematic letter is ignored in the wordplay wherever it occurs.

1ACross Fifth Anniversary Puzzle solution grid

The puzzle's title held a hint in that the fifth letter of the word "ANNIVERSARY" is "V".
Thus the solution grid's postamble stated:
Every entry begins with (and occasionally contains) a “V” being the Roman Numeral for Five, to celebrate the fifth anniversary of 1ACross.

Some feedback was received from the first solver which stated "My compliments to today’s setter. Fab grid, no small feat of construction. Beautiful clues, all kosher. Spoilt for choice picking top 3. But for the theme letter device (became obvious quickly) would have been more difficult. Could not anno VANESSA".

This puzzle was voted into second spot amongst the solvers' favourites being pipped to the top spot by Sowmya's own puzzle.
It must also be noted that Keith Williams secured joint first place as best solver, returning 21 perfect grids.

After the Gridfest the puzzles were collated in a book and published by Sowmya via Amazon as both a Kindle book and also in paperback.

Sunday, 1 September 2019


SORT was published in the August 2019 issue of Crossword 496, the preamble goes:

Six symmetrically placed across solutions, whose unchecked letters could provide the title, should be read together to indicate how solvers must replace them.  Every clue generates an extra letter in wordplay not used by the solution.  In clue order these extra letters spell out a further instruction.

Solution Grids

Final Grid
Initial Grid

Solvers were required to select six symmetrically placed across entries (with SORT as their only unchecked letters) which provided a coherent instruction.  These were USER, OMAN, NUMB, ERIN, GINS and TEAD.  When concatenated, these provide the instruction, “USE ROMAN NUMBERING INSTEAD”.  Each of the six entries should be replaced by the four letter equivalent of their clue number.  Extra letters in wordplay spell HIGHLIGHT SUM OF REPLACED ENTRIES FOUND IN STRAIGHT LINE.  The sum of the six new entries is 17+22+24+26+29+35 = 153, which can be found (also in roman numerals) in a straight line in the NW corner of the grid (CLIII).