The puzzle this time is the annual appearance of the APEX puzzle from the previous year. The group of regular solvers has been through the solving and the ensuing clueing contest, so I can now present the puzzle and the winning clues. It was not, shall we say, the most popular word I’ve handed out for people to clue (and if you want to know what it is, you’ll have to solve the puzzle*).
(a) I don’t glance at Facebook as often as I should, but
(b) I was wasting time reading Facebook when
[Insert (a) or (b)] I noticed a fellow-setter’s post marking a significant anniversary of their first puzzle in a particular outlet. Which of course set me checking my own calendar (while feeling reassured that there are others who maintain such a calendar across decades). And I found that I’d sailed straight past the twenty-fifth anniversary of my first Independent daily puzzle back in February this year. Prompted by this, I moved on to find that the twentieth anniversary of my first Beelzebub puzzle was last month (so do try the 20.07th anniversary puzzle in today’s Independent on Sunday). It has been great fun (though that requires a very specific definition of ‘fun’, you realise) producing these puzzles over the years, and I intend to continue so that I can actually celebrate the next few anniversaries!
I can point you at Kcit’s 50th Enigmatic Variations puzzle, though, which is coming up in a fortnight (that’s Sunday Telegraph, 17th May). I had noticed this one, and had intended to devise something special – and then forgot about it (see preceding paragraph…). Unwittingly to the rescue came the EV editor, who decided to publish my submissions out of order (Contest from last year postdates the new one in terms of completion date), and thus slotted into the coveted 50th spot a puzzle I do feel rather pleased with. In fact, I doubt whether deliberately trying to come up with a special would have produced so delectable an idea. The ensuing blog (early June, after the closing date) will even have pictures!
*OK, you can just look straight at the answers, but it’s you that has to live with yourself subsequently