This is something of an oddity so a few words of warning (or at least preparation) may be in order.

I saw that Charybdis unveiled a puzzle in 2014 which he noted had had the most difficult trek to publication of any of his.  So here’s mine.  When sent to The Listener, one vetter chose to accept it (noting it would ‘delight the few die-hards’ but that there would be a ‘much larger number of regulars who will finish the grid, but feel belittled for not being able to make sense of the final step?  Phi is one of the very few setters I’d be prepared to indulge with a puzzle like this’).  The other vetter’s comments included: ‘this is NOT what the Listener crossword is about!’ and the final paragraph may be worth quoting more or less in full:

As I have made abundantly clear…this goes beyond the purpose and spirit of the Listener crossword.  It is, however, such a fine construction that you may try to get it past me with a radically altered preamble which gives the rank and file of solvers a reasonable chance of getting the final element.  As you know, I am very much against puzzles where the mensa test outweighs the value of the crossword.

So there you have it.  As it happens, the preamble has been altered since then, though that didn’t get it past the Magpie’s vetters (who pointed out, if memory serves, that real die-hards might actually find alternative solutions), and I’ve tweaked it again for publishing here as I noted it broke its own constraints.  (You’ll note I’m carefully keeping away from the word ‘radically’ here…)  These days the preamble might not get past editors on length grounds (and the solution note – which is about the same length – would have an even rougher ride).

This is not a terribly recent puzzle.  I’m obscuring the exact date by not giving an edition for Chambers but I don’t think any of the words involved have fallen by the wayside.  Indeed one word that originally required a reference to Collins  has since made it into the Big Red Book.  Because it’s from so long ago I can’t remember too much about the setting.  I do recall that the concept was one which just leapt into my mind more-or-less complete, and begged to be set.  It was, as solving will reveal, not something that lent itself to computer setting (which I had started doing at the time), but I do remember sitting on a sofa with a sheaf of pages scattered around me and being surprisingly pleased at how readily something so densely packed came together.  Even the carping Listener vetter admitted its fine construction and, yes, I’m still rather pleased with it, and I wouldn’t want it to be permanently lost to view.

So here goes.  I would be fascinated to hear how people get on with it – do please comment.


The will included this statement:

“My dear nephew, to inherit my fortune you must solve this puzzle by Phi, and give my lawyer two unconnected words.  To get them, note that each group of nine squares centred on a completely barred letter may be anagrammed into a nine-letter word (like you, they are shifty).  Ten (yes, ten) more-than-usually pleonastic definitions (of any number of words) have been inserted into clues to words passing through two or more squares adjacent to the relevant completely barred square.  These should help (if that’s the word) pinpoint the correct anagram.  Once you have the nine correct anagrams you will notice that the nine completely barred letters are equally shifty, and may also be anagrammed.  There is a hint to this word in the clues to the puzzle, though it is also misleading.  Arrange the nine anagrams by the order of their completely barred letters in this new word, and you will see two more nine-letter words in a double acrostic.  You should now be able to identify the two words I require – write them under the diagram, and return it to my lawyer.  If by mischance you misunderstand the mechanics of the puzzle, then the money goes to the cat.

“Our relationship has been uncordial (under a raincloud, even) so let me make amends by offering assistance: all words used (that includes the two abbreviations) are in Chambers or are forms of words therein, except for two proper nouns.”


1          Carp, with tail amputated,  left resting (7)

6          Joe, a fellow clutching both ends of cloak (6)

11        Article among items for sale? Also suggest Indian pots (5)

12        Greek money heartless man’s given to god (4)

13        Lecturer resident in one town in Norfolk (4)

14        Tins knocked over and so forth in old place (7)

15        Points around East revealing principles of Muslim religion (6)

16        Bart piece in Prince’s Theatre (4)

18        Rungs or step, mostly, around entrance to yard (5)

20        High singer ignoring bass line’s place, say (4)

21        Humorous writer placed part of eye on term in Government (8)

23        State – that’s ‘statue’ with an extra vowel (5)

27        Sounds like a school fad (5)

28        Four in Rome interrupting sensual emperor’s follower in festivity (8)

31        Board, ousting leader, may be competent (4)

33        Slew countryman with end of it (5)

35        Source of water in internal areas (4)

36        Dislike reduction in advance given to article (6)

38        Expect absolute time to be kept by the German (7)

41        50% commemorate old soldiers (4)

42        Dread one’s going to hell (4)

43        Sound of approval for quartz coins in Argentina (5)

44        Plant genus providing good health? Not half, without mistake (6)

45        Says UK air staff despatched first of squadron (7)


1          Decals arranged in related groups (6)

2          Individual’s after run getter (4)

3          May this possibly also appear in parts of Eire? (6)

4          Fogs the name of one example in misleading (4)

5          Goodwill always enveloping US college organisation of students (5)

6          One drubs boy taking in only half of Greek (8)

7          Less enthusiastic about seal life? (4)

8          Chap turning round in headwear and underwear for lads (7)

9          In travel, I tentatively tip workers (5)

10        Refuse attention after sun, being liable to crack with the heat (7)

17        Exalted person, showing male tendencies, setting up a farm (4)

18        Conner’s end to seafaring before storm (5)

19        Drum stick’s end? It could be applied to drum (5)

22        Nasty ache is restricting me – poor blood flow? (8)

24        Deceased’s easily carried up with other things (4, 2 words)

25        Goffer: make crimps round most of seam (7)

26        Look, the sailor’s last one bailing (7)

29        Guarantee that is including note on French (6)

30        Heads of long arrows really gore everyone’s shoulders in forerunners to quivers (6)

32        Australian tree: source of water, equine food and energy (5)

34        Head of cameramen’s a fool, carrying a support for camera housing (5)

37        Indiana? Skip capital of Indiana (4)

39        Pommies: British Australian perhaps found gutless (4)

40        Attacker beheaded smallest bridge player (4)

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