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Diabolically Arcane

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Stun Grenades

25 October, 2013

Imagine the shock. Tom Johnson had just created a general knowledge puzzle, back in 1997, where one key entry was SQUIDGYGATE, the nickname for the phone-tap saga involving Princess Diana. You can see the crisis coming can’t you?

That’s right. Overnight the Paris crash made Tom’s answer seem callous in the extreme. With only days till press, the setter had to reset his solution, or fashion a new grid from scratch. Doc (as he’s known) went with Plan A, as Cluetopia reveals in the 1997 chapter. He kept as many cross-letters as he could (the odd quartet of S-U——-A-E), converting them into a clue that almost described the state of the nation, in the aftermath of Diana’s death:

Small bomb which temporarily dazes its victims (4,7) = STUN GRENADE

Read more crossword yarns, strange and stunning, in the 100-year story that is Cluetopia. And meanwhile, let’s ‘rescue’ other names, and no-nos, assuming fate decreed a late change. Try this lot, where I’ve retained a handful of odds, or evens, to spare any scandal:


What other names, places or acts of God can you give a later reprieve?

Welcome to the new forum. Looks scary? It’s not. Feels iffy? It ain’t. The DisQus platform is here to block spam and lend us more chat options. That’s all. Please note, you don’t have to create a DisQus account to make a comment. If you do, however, it will speed your future visits. Be assured no details are abused, misused or reused. Let’s fight spam as one, and get back to the grand conversation. Thanks, DA

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Wordburger Awaits!

Welcome all puzzle-lovers, including any chompers of the Wordburger book or app. (Check them out if you enjoy words & trickery.) And if you still crave more alphabet mischief, click on the burger icon above for a fresh serve.



Packed with games, pickles, codes and cheesy puns, Wordburger is your chance to be a champion puzzler in 20 quick bites. Ideal for wordy kids keen to open a new language door, or grown-ups who want to cut their cryptic teeth. Click here. 

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Riddles in song, in code, in pictures. From Ireland & Wonderland, Einstein & Pompeii. Riddledom reveals 101 wry questions from 50+ languages & shares their secrets. A book to unlock culture via conundrum. Order here.

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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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Riddledom Rave

If you missed my riddle chat with Richard Fidler, then feel free to slurp the podcast at http://ab.co/1I9t1x5

Text-speak is creeping into Scrabble. Where do you sit?
OBVS I'm fine with it
Entrenched stuff - like LOL and OMG - but no more.
Words With Friends, maybe. Scrabble, no
Let the 'real' dictionaries decide first
Just the handy stuff, like FAQ and EUW
I mean, WTF?! No way
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