A Knight’s Tale (104: Mordred’s Development And Various Publications)

Some of The Times Listener puzzles periodically appear in published collections.

Times Books published this early one of my partnership with Mike Kindred. The subtitle to the book is ‘The World’s Most Difficult Crossword’.

This is one of mine in a collection published by Chambers in 2008. I will hold the solution over to my next instalment in case any readers care to tackle it.

Solvers may well recognise that a word in a clue should be entered as an abbreviation, but not know the abbreviation. American States or Chemical Elements are frequent examples. The lists in the book offer (1) the full form as possibly presented in a clue; and (2) the abbreviated form(s) which may be entered. This was published in 2005.

Collins published this volume in 2006. The puzzle referred to in the final paragraph hides the names Samson Knight and Pavel Rezvoy in the correct positions for first and second finishers. I gambled on the order when setting the puzzle, thus Sam’s win was a bit of luck.

This is a  copy of the solution to an Independent cryptic crossword I designed to commemorate the event.  Read the highlighted perimeter letters clockwise from top left. I had by then joined the daily newspaper’s team, and always spiced up these puzzles with something hidden in the completed grid. One morning I sat in a tube train opposite a man solving one of mine. It was quite an achievement to resist introducing myself.

Crossword Setters’ Pseudonyms

MorganOn this dull, humid, morning I trudged my circular route to Milford on Sea and back. As I approached a shiny blue motor car parked on the cliff top I instantly recognised it as a Morgan, a classic that I had only ever before seen in magazines. The owner was happy to vacate his vehicle for a photograph. This model, built in the 1960s, kept faithful to the original 1936 design.
This made me think about my friend Georgie Johnson. Georgie, to whom I am indebted for a number of the ideas for my advanced cryptic crosswords, chose the name Morgan for her setter’s pseudonym. Like me, fascinated by Arthurian legend, she thus paid tribute to Morgan le Fay, the mythical king’s evil sister. It is of course traditional for some compilers to select the nomenclature of an evil character by which to be known. The far more famous Torquemada comes to mind. Some would say that Morgan le Fay was the aunt of Mordred, whose name I had chosen. Georgie and I briefly collaborated as Gander, a linking of the end of her nom de plume followed by the beginning of my Christian name. Not as revered as the aforementioned Inquisitor, Mordred did make it into Jonathon Crowther’s 2006 Collins publication ‘A-Z of Crosswords: Insights into the Top Setters and their Puzzles’ (ISBN 0-00-722923-2). My section tells the rather marvellous tale of the publication of a puzzle in honour of Sam’s epic Atlantic Row. The timing of Mark Goodliffe and Simon Anthony, editors of ‘The Magpie’, was perfect.
Speaking to the owner of the Morgan reminded me of another classic car story. This is told in ‘I Can’t Put A Ticket On That’.
Studland Common Nature ReserveHollyIn the Nature Reserve, no doubt following the lead of the supermarkets and garden centres, the hollies were stocking up for Christmas.
It has been our practice in the garden this summer to allow unfamiliar plants to remain in situ until we know what they are. On my return home today, one of these that we had thought Carrotmight be an unknown fern, lay stretched out on the dining table. It was an enormous carrot, so misshapen as never to have reached the supermarket shelves.
Our dinner tonight consisted of pork belly in hoi-sin sauce with savoury rice packed with vegetables and chopped omelette. Ginger sponge and custard was to follow. Jackie drank her customary Hoegaarden, whilst I drank Albai reserva rioja 2010.