Just finished this week’s Listener puzzle this morning. Very satifying — clever theme that I didn’t figure out until I’d filled most of the grid. The puzzle is titled “Five Dots”, and you actually have to enter dots instead of letters in five squares, and identify what the dots represent. Figuring out the significance of the final dot was a very satisying surprise.
The Listener is a pretty difficult British cryptic crossword that appears every week in the Times of London. Each puzzle has some kind of theme, often literary or historical, and figuring out the theme is part of the puzzle. The cryptic puzzles in Harper’s and the Atlantic are in the same style, but easier. The Listener puzzle is very closely tied to Chamber’s Dictionary and the grid always includes a lot of obscure words — Scottish words, words out of Shakespeare and Spenser, scientific words, words with strange meanings.
I used to do the Listener puzzle in college, back when it actually appeared in the Listener (which is now defunct) — I used to photocopy the puzzle in the campus library. I also did them for a while some years ago when they were freely available online, but that ended a while back. But as a little New Year’s gift to myself, I subscribed to the Times Crossword Club a couple of weeks ago, so I’ve started doing them again. The Listener puzzle is great for doing on my long commutes by BART and Caltrain, especially as I now have Chambers on my iPhone.