Puzzles, posts, news and general word-chat.

Diabolically Arcane

Bingo. You’ve reached David Astle dot com, a carnival of words, puzzles and more words. Welcome aboard, and have fun.

Loading tweet...

53 n.o.

28 March, 2011

Oh, the bullets I’ve dodged so far. The murky meanings and opaque wordplays. Not to mention a glut of Pommy references (from CHAV to CHELMSFORD), and the occasional pre-Raphaelite. But the Times challenge is on again, with my bid to solve a century-plus of Times crosswords, six days a week in The Australian.

Ground rules are simple: no outside help; no reference books; no Google; no web full-stop. And you must crack the puzzle 24 hours from the moment you pick up the page.

Currently I’m on 53, with today’s puzzle – Monday, March 28, aka Times Cryptic 8963 – still to be mauled. Hop on board if you like, see how you fare in the next 50, though we can’t help each other on the day. Or you guys can help each other, using these new Times-tagged posts – though I’m planning to visit only in reflective triumph, (At least that’s the plan, he bragged foolhardily.)

To measure if you have the Right Stuff, see how’d you fare with these six curly clues I tamed in the last few weeks, all of them near death experiences:

  1. Blind using pole with spike = S _ E _ R

  2. Workers start to relax in nursing home: it’s another world = S _ T _ R _

  3. An alliance with the French in France = _ N _ T _ L _

  4. Not needing soldiers, discharge military unit = _ E _ T _ O _

  5. A substance is less pleasant to older folks, perhaps = A _ I _ T

  6. Source of report being written about Australian native = _ A _ O _ N

Share your theories & solutions in the Comments. And feel free to use this same post as workshop for this week’s lot of Times puzzles.

comments powered by Disqus

Gargantuan News

Yep, my Gargantuan Book of Words is big & full of words. Not just English but secret codes, Papuan pidgin, Zulu worms, sound FX, funny goldfish, letter origami. You get the drift? It's big. It's fun. And it's out now


Gargantuan Book of Words

Sneeze words. Fake pasta. Viking slang. Gargantuan is a jumbo jumble of puzzles & games, mazes & quizzes, tailor-made for that wordy wonderkid in your life. Or anyone in love with letters, secret codes, puns, rhymes, emoji & all things languagey. More here 

read more +


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. 

read more +


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.

read more +

Recent Comments

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
See Results