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Diabolically Arcane

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Crosswords emerged 100 years ago. Cluetopia is one mad time-trip from jails to jungles, in search of the best crossword stories.

Clue-Crafting Update

February 16, 2011

images Wonderful news, dabblers. Our Open umpire is now confirmed, a guru dubbed Loroso in the Financial Times, or Anax in The Independent. And when he’s not composing sleek and lethal clues for those two papers, then Dean Mayer [the bloke’s real handle] is a regular thoroughbred in the Times stable.

To sample his elegant cluemanship, visit his blog and plunge into his four sample puzzles. You’ll soon see why I’m thrilled to have his gimlet eye, as well as the reason I rate this part-time bass-guitarist-and-stockcar-racer as among the genre’s elite.

One small catch: our judge is taking a break to Italy all next week, the land of the iffy wifi, and may not be able to return his results with any kind of Protestant haste. I’m not worried, and nor should you be. It’s a buzz to have Dean onboard.

So let’s make life easier for everyone by aiming to send our shortlist (that’s 3 clues per player) across the world by Friday 2pm. This means all of us putting forward our self-chosen best four or five clues on Thurs night, Friday morning, and having others advise and trim into a master list. Can we do it? Naturalmente.


As a PS, separate from the Open, if you wish to hear Richard Fidler and your own blog host discuss double-meanings, puzzledom and synaesthesia, then livestream here, tomorrow at noon I believe, or bookmark the spot for a later podcast.


Bev Dunbar

17 February at 05:40PM

I loved the interview today. You were so funny! It was great to hear how you started off as a Lindsey Browne fan and progressed from there. Are you also a Sudoku fanatic? I love both. I try to complete one cryptic crossword and 5 difficult sudokus each day, nowhere near your attempt at a century!

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This Month's Winner

Well done to Sam for his Emmy makeover in our latest Storm, turning Best Actresses into the best wordplay, and winning a copy of Superstar Crosswords.



Cluetopia roams the planet – and century – to find fresh crossword stories in 30+ languages. From shipwrecks to hoaxes, Cluetopia is a holiday for the head. Buy here.

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A pocketbook packed with 250 word stories – from Aga to Zemblanity – plus 175 new puzzles for all comers, this is a word nerd’s summer necessity.

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Puzzled combines memoir, wordplay history and a how-to guide for solvers. With bizarre crossword stories, example clues plus mini-puzzles to test your skill – and nerve. Buy here.

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Bendigo Blathering


Rug up, roll up. This week I’m chatting at two Bendigo sessions – crosswords on Sat (9/8) & grammar on Sun (10/8). Go here for passes and more info. Breeze by.

Spoiler Alert


Today’s DA crossword [6/6] has a video link showing you a time-lapse of the puzzle’s hatching. Or peek at the story in Tower, the UTS magazine.

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