10 Feb 2011, 11:36 p.m.

Namechecked in the Independent Cryptic Crossword - Thanks, Anax!

I really struggled with today's Independent cryptic crossword by Anax, and didn't come close to completing it, let alone spotting this.

So it's only just now that I've learned that hidden away in the completed grid were the names of virtually all of the Independent bloggers at Fifteensquared.

And there I am at 21 across:

Independent Cryptic Crossword 7,588

A rather humbling turn of events, I must say. It's not every day that one gets mentioned, however cryptically, in a national broadsheet. So many thanks to Anax, and maybe I'll persist in trying to finish one of your puzzles for a change!

Posted by Simon Read more »
9 Jun 2009, 6:26 p.m.

Some Thoughts on Solving Advanced Cryptic Crosswords

I've recently been enjoying - if that's the right word - advanced cryptic crosswords. These are those extra challenging puzzles that crop up in the weekend supplements of the broadsheet newspapers here in the UK.

Advanced cryptics aren't quite like normal crosswords. They tend to be set out on a "barred" grid, as opposed to the more familiar "black and white" version, they typically employ obscure or obsolete vocabulary, and they often feature "special instructions" in the preamble of the puzzle. For example, the solver may be expected insert or remove letters before writing in the grid entry, or resolve clashes between "across" and "down" answers. It can be a bit like solving a puzzle layered on top of a puzzle on top of a puzzle.

Examples of the genre include Inquisitor and Beelzebub in the Independent, Mephisto and The Listener in the Times, Enigmatic Variations in the Sunday Telegraph and, perhaps the father of them all, Azed in the Observer.

I'm not even close to being an expert on these, but I've picked up a few...er...clues over recent months, and I thought it couldn't hurt to share what I've found out so far, and perhaps see if readers have any further advice. So here are my thoughts on solving advanced cryptics.

Posted by Simon Read more »
6 Feb 2009, 4:55 p.m.

Beelzebub Crossword Solutions on Fifteensquared

I've recently been enjoying the Independent on Sunday's "Beelzebub" crossword, so I'm pleased to have today posted Fifteensquared's first Beelzebub solutions for some time - number 989.

I'll continue to blog the Beelzebub solutions each week for the time being, alongside my usual Independent slot. It's a great crossword, but perhaps a little obscure, so I'm secretly hoping this post may help generate a bit of search engine traffic, and a few people will drop by and help me out in the comments!

Posted by Simon Read more »
10 Dec 2008, 4:48 p.m.

My First Contribution to Fifteensquared

I'm pleased to mention that earlier on today, I posted my first contribution to Fifteensquared.net. The post in question is Independent 6,912 by Dac.

For the uninitiated, Fifteensquared is kind of like a blog for cryptic crossword enthusiasts. Several invited bloggers post solutions and explanations for some of the day's main crosswords, and then we all have a bit of a natter about it.

It's gratifyingly nerdy, and is quite high profile within the cryptic crossword world, with many of the setters and editors visiting and commenting regularly.

So I'm pleased that my first post wasn't roundly jeered by the regulars. I'll be posting Independent solutions about once a week from now on, and I'm sure there will be tougher mornings to come!

Posted by Simon Read more »