I started with doing the Private Eye prize crossword (every 2 weeks) which gives a single £100 prize for each crossword. I used a couple of the older ones to practice with, then used online crossword tools to help solve the current ones. Even with the online tools it still took me until the 4th one to actually finish a crossword, but to complete my first one without explicit answers was incredible to be honest. I’ve been trying to use the tools less over time.
Since I started solving the Private Eye ones within a few days of them being released I started looking for other ones I could do and found 3D Calendar Puzzles. These are 3D cryptic crosswords— which sounds more difficult but they are actually naturally easier since there are more overlaps of words, but then they make the clues even harder. It’s been so hard honestly! Harder than introductory quantum mechanics. But I found that after doing the 3D ones, the Private Eye ones were refreshingly easier by comparison. And really helpfully they release their solutions and explanations!
3D Calendar Puzzles have one puzzle for each month and you can buy the calendar online or print them out. Their profits go to charities. There’s a small monthly prize and if you get all 12 across a year correct then you qualify for the 3D Crosswords World Championship.
Anyway I have now submitted 5 Private Eye crosswords and 3 3D Calendar Puzzles crosswords (September, October, November). When submitting the 3D ones I get an automated response letting me know if it was correct!
November’s puzzle I ended up screwing up and throwing in the bin when I was 2 answers away from completing it. I was stuck with a few solutions which were 100% correct but just didn’t fit together. It made no sense. Then I went on the website and looked at the first page of the printout again, and noticed an additional instruction I’d forgotten or ignored because I hadn’t known what it meant (about needing to leave a few cells empty) and suddenly a bunch of things clicked into place and I could see it all in my mind how it might fix my problem, and I had to unscrewup the crossword again 😆. The solutions were correct after all. This was the second time I’d given up on this crossword and gone back to it with renewed determination, it was the hardest one so far.
Anyway I actually completed it, I couldn’t believe it.
And then today I got the insane buzz of winning something and being lucky for once!!
AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I can’t believe it AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
What. a. story. What a legend.
And a lesson on not giving up and screwing up the crosswords, or if you do then getting them out of the bin and unfolding them again and carrying on. It’s almost too theatrical and romantic to be true, but it is. Third time lucky. I won.
Lifetime cryptic crossword solutions submitted: 8
Lifetime cryptic crossword prizes won: 1