Comment – Jan-Dec 2019 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog

Comment – Jan-Dec 2019


Archived Comments – Jan-Dec 2019

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Created 1st January 2019

Updated 1st January 2020


51 comments on “Comment – Jan-Dec 2019

  1. Dear Big Dave and team,

    I confess I have been a “lurker” until now, but am replying to your Christmas exhortation to “come out”!

    Firstly, may I say a huge thank you, as a relative novice who is still getting to grips with some of the deeper cryptic conundrums, for providing a much welcome solace to some of the more testing clues.

    Indeed, the DT puzzles are a solace themselves in my professional life, which is testing at the moment (I am an MP and Minister, but I have do desire at all to breach your “no politics” rule). They are a wonderful means of escape and cleansing of the brain.

    May I wish all on this site a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2019.

    Thank you again for a much appreciated on-line community.

    Best wishes,


  2. Hello BD & All

    Happy New Year to you all!

    I recently found a Grauniad crosswords blog article about a 16 year-old girl going by the pseudonym of NAVY, who has had a cryptic crossword published in the DT. (Kudos girl!)

    Does anyone know where I can find this crossword? I have access to the DT via an online library service? I believe that the puzzle ID on the DT puzzles website is 63222!

    The article can be found here:



  3. Hello all,
    From the sidelines I have been learning the craft slowly, yesterday I finished my first cryptic (Snape’s) with only a few morsels of guidance. A beaming smile in result! Hope to carry on, the tortoise to others hare!
    Thank you in advance for invaluable hints that will guide me to that smile 😉

  4. Anyone else find the new Telegraph Puzzles website a bit clunky to use?

    I often get half way through typing in a word and the cursor goes at a right angle and into another row or column. I wish there was an autosave as well.

    By comparison, and not something I often go to, the Guardian site is a much slicker experience although I don’t like the way the answer is just a click away – often too tempting!

  5. WRT prize cryptic crosswords: a few months ago Gazza pointed out to me that I had mistakenly printed a prize cryptic instead of the normal daily puzzle. On investigation I found that there are over 500 of these with a new one issued each Monday.

    These can be accessed on the DT website (which I now think is excellent BTW) via “all puzzles”, “all cryptics”, “prize puzzle” with the latest being no.536.

    They are of a similar nature to a Rufus or a Virgilius & I recommend them highly. Of course you all may be aware of them already & if so then please let me apologise for my ignorance.

    1. I think that the web-site prize cryptics are so Rufus-like that they might even be old puzzles being recycled.

    2. Every Monday on the DT website there are 3 Prize puzzles – Quick, Cryptic and General Knowledge.

      The easiest way to find them is by pressing the “Win Prizes” button.

      I haven’t won yet.

  6. Thanks for the pics in the gallery, you all look well though there are some I don’t recognise. Wish I could have joined you all.

  7. Hi,
    Is there a problem with the Contact form? I’m getting “There was an error trying to send your message. Please try again later.”
    I’m using an iPad.

  8. I’ve just recently discovered your amazing site; I love it, and am in awe of your dedication and brilliance! I’ve been doing cryptic crosswords all my adult life (i.e. since the 60s) and am reasonably OK at them, but always learning. Thank you so much for this wonderful resource.

    1. Welcome to the blog

      I hope you’ll come back and comment on individual crosswords in the future

  9. Puzzle 28894 seems to have some display issues on my Android phone. The answers run together as a single block of text and are not displayed individually. In addition, there doesn’t seem to be a place where I can make a comment specific to this puzzle so I am reduced to making a generic observation.

    You may wonder why I am waiting until now to make this comment. Well, out here in the colonies, the puzzles tend to arrive about six months after they were first published back in mother England.

      1. Cold you let Falcon know. His National Post blog says it is all screwed up

  10. Hi BD – many thanks for the tweaks to the new format which have greatly improved the ‘first edition’. A few points if I may –
    1) the size of layout on last Tuesday’s blog was much better for those of us using laptops
    2) clicking on a post via ‘recent comments’ produces rather random results
    3) the ‘recent comments’ list is not showing on Rookie, NTSPP or MPPs which means that one has to go back to the previous page and then press ‘refresh’ to read a particular comment.
    Hopefully, everything will ‘come good’ in the fullness of time but I do so wish that you could find someone who could get the new software to accept our good old format – nobody ever complained about that one!

    1. 1) Mr K is largely responsible for both changes, I’ll check with him
      2) This has always been a problem, I don’t know how WordPress knows where to go, but I suspect that tinkering with the comment layout has not helped.
      3) Recent Posts and Recet Comments are available in the footer widgets. The problem is that the sidebar stops as soon as the comments start, so as these posts are initially quite short, they weren’t being displayed properly anyway. I added a truncated version of these widgets last week.

      1. Thank you for the answers, BD. In particular, it was the font size of last Tuesday’s review that was so much easier to deal with. If, for instance, I’d been of a mind to print out the review on Chalicea’s NTSPP today, it would have covered at least a couple of sheets of foolscap.

      2. Hi Dave,

        I hope Jane will forgive me for “piggybacking”, but one of the features that I miss most from the old layout was the appearance on the Home Page of the number of comments (in brackets) relating to each puzzle. Now it seems one has to actually go into the item concerned to see how many responses have been received. Is there a possibility to restore this feature?

        1. Great minds… , Silvanus! I was coming here to make that very request!

          In addition, BD, I very much like having the top menu bar static at the top of the page when you scroll down. Would it be possible to add a link to the Search function to this top menu please?

  11. How long is a *** star time?

    My own times are ** xxxxx or so and
    *** star xxxxxx on average

    Just wondering if that’s about right

    1. Welcome to the blog Neil

      There’s no set time – it’s all relative, so your times are about right for you. For others it may be longer or shorter – that’s why the star system is used, we don’t discuss solving times on this blog.

      1. Ah. That explains why I couldn’t find any guidance on that. Thanks. I have seen references to *** star times from some of the solvers but can appreciate now why they don’t give actual times. Many thanks. Neil

  12. Hi Dave, have the setters changed days, or are they still the same as a while ago, sometimes I think they’re not the same at all except for RayT?

  13. Not sure that this is the place to ask this, but sommeone may be able to shed some light.

    I have been a subscriber to Telegraph puzzles for a few years and I renewed my annual subscription in February. After an initial setback with the new Telegraph signing in procedure, all was okay. I’ve had a break from puzzles for a few months but now when I sign on, I’m welcomed with my usual puzzle profile, which also tells me that I am a ‘Puzzles subscriber’ but when I try to open the Cryptic Puzzle, it tells me, repeatedly, that I need to subscribe to get access.

    The Telegraph ‘Puzzles office’ is, of course, closed, presumably until Monday. Am I missing something?

      1. If enter the site using, it comes up with my user name – Welcome P*****n, and to all intents and pruposes I’m logged in. Next to that (on the left) it invites me to ‘subscribe for full access’. However, if I click on my user name, it tells me I’m a puzzles subscriber (which I am!) but won’t give me access without a subscription. I’m confused!

          1. Do you also have a Telegraph account which has been required since the major upgrade to the puzzles site last year? The notification sent out at time said:
            You’ll need a Telegraph account to be able to make the most of the new Puzzles site; don’t worry if you don’t have one: a Telegraph account is easy to create, and is completely free.

            1. Yes, I do have one, and annoyingly, the new set-up worked for a while. It’s only since I had a few weeks lay-off that I’ve now got the problem. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to use two different passwords and if so, where to enter them both, There only seems to be one ‘entry-point’.

                1. Problem solved! It seems that the Telegraph thought my subscription had expired. Must have lost a link somewhere amidst all the changes they’ve been making.

                  18 minutes to get through but worth it in the end. Thank you Sue and Gazza for trying to be of assistance.

    1. Welcome to the blog R John

      Most of us solve using one or other online version, but I’m sure they are there. Just in case I have emailed some puzzles to you.

  14. Hi, I’m stuck on one word. The puzzle is from the New Zealand Herald, which in turn is obviously from an English newspaper. The clue is: “How many increased to unit quantity by removing the top?” 4 letters.
    The obvious answer is NINE, but I can’t see why?
    Can you help?
    Many thanks
    Len Hill
    New Zealand

      1. Thanks you! On further study and fretting, I think the answer to my problem is NONE. If you remove the top, N, it becomes ONE, a unit.

  15. Found this on the LNER site;
    From January 2020
    No trains in or out of London – Do Not Travel to or from London
    There will be no trains running to and from London King’s Cross station on the following weekends:

    Saturday 25 & Sunday 26 January 2020
    Saturday 29 February & Sunday 1 March 2020
    On these dates we are advising customers not to travel to or from London.

    I was just about to book tickets to the big bash but this puts a dent in my plans I will have to see if I can extend my hotel to the Sunday night and travel home on Monday Others planning on attending may need this info.

    1. That’s nothing compared with what is happening here.
      Hardly any trains since 5th of December.
      I’m going up to spend Xmas with my dad and the SNCF just told me I have to get to Marseille to catch my train.

      1. Just want to wish all a great New Year and thank all those who provide clues to cryptics. I love this site as it helps me learn how to solve. Thanks to everyone for sharing your skills!

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