New article about ways of generating messages and instructions from clues in advanced thematic puzzles.
If you wish to send me a puzzle for potential publication, please note that I will NOT publish, or even look at, puzzles themed around coronavirus. Not only could it be seen as insensitive to exploit the situation for entertainment, but I am sure that many people, like me, are utterly fed up with the C-word and don’t wish to be reminded of it!
Welcome to my website. It’s exactly what it
says – free crosswords online to print off so you
can solve them at your leisure. No subscriptions, no pop-up
ads, no nonsense.
I am a professional crossword compiler (or setter, it’s the same thing). I
produce puzzles for the Financial Times as Alberich and the Independent as Klingsor. I have
also contributed a couple of puzzles to
the Times Listener series. The puzzles I have written for this site vary in difficulty. Some are
thematic and/or use a wide range of vocabulary. Solutions to
each puzzle are available via a link at the bottom of the
page. You can find them here. I have also
published several crosswords from guest setters,
many of them relatively new to writing crosswords. You can find those puzzles here. In response to
several requests I have added a beginners’ puzzle which, as the title suggests, is
significantly easier than the rest. There are explanations for
each clue on the solution page and new solvers would do
well to start here. There are yet more free
puzzles on offer – though I should point
out that these are the leftovers from my first job
writing puzzles for a media agency and are therefore pretty basic.
This site has received traffic from all round
the world – and not only from English-speaking countries.
Indeed, some of the guest puzzles are excellent cryptics from
people who have learned English as a second language.
This spurred me on to put my knowledge of the Czech
language to use. The Czech Puzzle
is a simple, definition only crossword – to my shame I
couldn’t manage a cryptic! – so if you speak the language, do
“czech” it out.
Novice crossword setters may find the page on Ximenean clueing helpful.
There is a follow-up article on the
same topic outlining some of my ideas on the ever-continuing
debate on how rigidly clue writing should follow rules. The
article on single letter indicators
examines the various techniques for indicating initial and
final letters of words in a clue. There is also an
article on link words in clues. I’ve written
a piece which deals with cryptic definition
clues and another which discusses &lit clues. Encouraged by an email from a visitor, I added an article about which words can be used in
different puzzles. Related to that is a light-hearted piece about the use of general knowledge in cryptic crosswords. I’ve also done one about Ninas, which are increasingly used
by some setters in crosswords. Good surface readings are an important part of clue writing. I explore this in another article. I hope that the growing collection of general tips for setters will be useful to anyone who seriously wants to write puzzles.
Is using a dictionary to help solve crosswords
cheating? Find out what I think about
this. I have responded to the phenomenon of the
incredibly popular Sudoku
puzzle by writing an article on how I
see crosswords faring in the future in the face of such stiff
competition. Also I have included a piece about that pinnacle
of crosswording achievement, the Listener
If you like this site and would like to find
more crossword sites, please take a look at the Links Page. I am happy to
promote other crossword sites here, but please note
that I prefer to include links to sites that offer some
or all of their puzzles without charge. I would of course
appreciate the favour being returned!