Crosswords

The crossword puzzle downloads

I now (end March 2013) offer two kinds of document that you can download as a PDF file for access with Adobe Acrobat Reader:

Each puzzle offered here for you to solve is a PDF. This makes pagination control easier (for me and for you) than providing them on HTML web pages. It means that I can be sure that you can easily print each puzzle onto a sheet of A4 paper to work on with a pencil in the traditional way. And to be honest I just do not have the time to convert them, that is, to devise the process that would be necessary so you could solve them on the web page in your browser!

The puzzles are here (below on this page).

Level of difficulty

I offer puzzles from two groups for you to try: extra tricky crosswords set by me for friends and enthusiasts, and
crosswords set by me for Mensa members and published in SEMantics, the Mensa monthly newsletter for Mensans in the south-east region of England (therefore called South East Mensa or SEM — and the newsletter reports on their antics; geddit?)

The crossword puzzles I do for the Mensa newsletter SEMantics are reckoned to be roughly at the same level of difficulty as the main daily crossword in The Times newspaper. This is not my judgement but that of a Mensan crossword expert, Steve Plater, who sets half of the puzzles for SEMantics. (I don’t have the time to read The Times or do its crosswords.)

The other puzzles offered, the “IPH puzzles” (documents named IPHnnn) are more difficult than those used in SEMantics.

The first half dozen, compiled for opera fans, are harder because most people do not know all that much about opera and most of the clues and answers are about either opera or at least some aspect of music (not necessarily classical).

The others are just harder because some clues and answers are quite obscure. They are designed to test to the limit the skills of the most hardened cryptic crossword fanatics. You have been warned.

How to solve cryptic crosswords

Before downloading and tackling one of the crosswords herehand, if you do not yet know how to go about solving a cryptic crossword at all, of if you feel you are still a beginner, or if it is a long time since you tried to solve one, I recommend that you have a look at my introduction page How to solve cryptic crosswords and study some cryptic crossword clue examples (there are lots there). After that, if you want to read still more about this subject, read the Wikipedia article Cryptic crossword, specifically the sections How cryptic clues work and Clues (and here I mean all its subsections about the different types of clue).

Also, I am making available (late March 2013) a few SEMantics puzzles set by me with notes explaining the connexion between the clues and the answers. I don’t offer these on this page so that you don’t get confused. Find them at Some solved SEM crosswords.

For best results, try to solve the puzzles and only then have a look at the explanatory answers.

My crossword setting history

In the 1970s I compiled a few crosswords for the newsletter of the Manchester Opera Company (with which I sang, see story), and in the 1980s I set half a dozen for the newsletter of Opera Omnibus (now Opera South) to entertain company members and friends. Then, while I was Editor (from April 2000 to April 2005) of SEMantics, the south east England regional newsletter for British Mensa, the retirement of one regular & prolific setter of puzzles (Bryan Gabriel) led me to set some puzzles myself for the readers. After I retired as Editor there (after the issue for June 2005), I continued to run the crossword page including the prize draw for members, and, for a while, to set about half of the puzzles myself.