Paul's Crosswords Blog

Times Online Clue Challenge compilation puzzle

The Times’ Crossword Club site runs a monthly clue-writing challenge, where competitors submit a cryptic clue for a provided word, and the clue judged as best wins a prize. A few years ago, the then-judge Richard Rogan decided to set a sequence of words that could be put together into a standard crossword grid. The crossword produced by the winning clues was published on 1 October 2014, as Times Crossword 25906.

I was lucky enough to have three winning clues over the relevant period, which therefore appeared in the puzzle. But as a regular competitor I also submitted clues that weren’t picked as winners for all the other words (well, all but one). That means I can construct a sort of egocentric version of Times Crossword 25906, consisting entirely of the clues I submitted to the competition. Two-and-a-half short years after the original puzzle was published, I’ve finally got round to doing that, and it can be played here.

Obviously I didn’t write the clues intending for them to form a single puzzle (apart from 27ac which I added in now as I didn’t enter at the time), so as with the official version it’s not exactly balanced, with a preponderance of the clue types that lend themselves to punchy competition entries (ie anagrams). Also it represents my clue-writing abilities circa 2011-2014, which hopefully have improved at least a little since then. For the sake of accuracy I’ve not edited the clues at all – they’re pasted directly from my outbox – so you might find a few which are a little sketchy. I’ve certainly spotted a couple I wouldn’t have written today (though as far as I’m aware there are no outright errors).