In the sample clues below, the links take you to explainers from our beginners series. The setter’s name often links to an interview with him or her, in case you feel like getting to know these people better.
The news in clues
We’re eschewing the news again in favour of pointing at a puzzle created by Brendan and published on International Women’s Day. This setter’s puzzles sometimes combine so many themes that you can mention them without fearing spoilers, as the solver is never sure which theme a given clue relates to: in this case, we have the Brontë sisters, the Little Women, Lear’s daughters, various great mythological women and others I have almost certainly missed. And here’s a very pleasing device …
18d Names of two girls sharing mother in this part of France (8)
[ wordplay: two girls’ names, overlapping with a synonym for “mother” ]
[ NORMA and MANDY with the MA overlapping ]
[ definition: part of France ]
… giving us NORMANDY.
Crosswords about crosswords
Now is as good a time as any to celebrate the recent 90th birthday of the indefatigable Rufus, which you can do by solving a tribute puzzle in this paper by Vulcan.
Or you could turn to the puzzle from the same day’s Telegraph, set by that paper’s editor (whose entertaining writing you should follow), which takes a lower-key approach:
Or for a full-on celebration, you could solve the same day’s Financial Times by the setter known locally as Enigmatist, which includes this clue …
16d/19a A Cap for Anna and a Cap for Tamsin? Cryptic book title (3,5,3,2,4,4)
… for TWO GIRLS, ONE ON EACH KNEE. If you put a “(7)” at the end of this, you get another clue, for PATELLA, which they say was Rufus’s two millionth, and modesty almost precludes me from mentioning that Io clues it the way he does because of a book by me.
Here’s a clue from Anto in the Guardian’s beginner cryptic, the quiptic:
9a Country home on a Scottish mountain (5)
[ wordplay: synonym for “home”, after (“on”) Scottish word for a mountain such as Nevis ]
[ IN after BEN ]
[ definition: country ]
Often, a newly decolonised country’s new name is a big improvement on the previous one: not so with Benin, once the perfectly OK Dahomey, but now with a name that, the Oxford dictionary of place names tells us, may well mean The Land of Arguments. Let’s use for our next challenge a name that was definitely an upgrade.
Once assigned the ghastly territorial name Upper Volta, it is now The Land of Honest Men: reader, how would you clue BURKINA FASO?
Many thanks for your clues for GRINCH. I enjoyed the mind games accompanying Smallboat01’s “Who starts getting really irritable near Christmas holidays?” and the audacity award goes to Newlaplandes for the cryptic definition “Discontent of winter?”
In a crowded field, the runners-up are Jdthndr’s evocative “Disheartened gambler in church is a fantastically miserable creature” and Lizard’s sly “Me, smile and cheer? Not ever!”; the winner is Albery’s to-the-point “Present day thief?”
Kludos again to Albery. Please leave entries for this fortnight’s competition – as well as your non-print finds and picks from the broadsheet cryptics – below.
Clue of the Fortnight
With reference to a GRINCH clue from IanBrad, TonyCollman reminded us of this cheeky clue from Paul …
5d Horse with bigger heart? (3-3)
[ wordplay: another way of rendering the middle letters (“heart”) of BIGGER ]
[ definition: horse ]
… for, as the annotated solution tells us, GEE-GEE. Stay safe, and giddy-up.
Find a collection of explainers, interviews and other helpful bits and bobs at alanconnor.com
The Shipping Forecast Puzzle Book by Alan Connor, which is partly but not predominantly cryptic, can be ordered from the Guardian Bookshop