One of the things I do in my spare time is compile crosswords. In the Saturday edition of The Times there is a special place for what is called The Listener Crossword. The puzzles that appear there are supposed to be the world’s most difficult crosswords. Compilers always have pseudonyms – mine is Waterloo.

Listener puzzles are never straightforward. They always have a particular theme which may be described in a preamble or left to be discovered by the solvers. The titles can be helpful too. The titles of some of mine are Cordial Entente which is half in English and half in French, Dyslexics Rule KO, in which a word in either the clue or the answer has two letters transposed, so TORUS might have to be read as TOURS, and Inflation, or Now We Are Twelve, in which any numbers that appear in answers have to be doubled before entry, so, for example, RANINE would be entered as RAEIGHTEEN.

You can find my Ways of Entering in The Times Listener Crossword Book, and Not Playing Fair and A Different Convention in The Times Listener Crosswords, by Derek Arthur. Both are available from Amazon.

Or you can join The Times Crossword Club ( where past puzzles are available online.

There is a list of all my Listener puzzles at


One Sample Waterloo Puzzle

My Cousin's Bungle is an example of one of my crosswords.

This puzzle was originally published in The Listener magazine on November 12, 1977. By modern standards the diagram is poor, with no symmetry of any kind and many answers having two consecutive letters unchecked. The puzzle also has one or two very easy clues, and although there are fewer obscure words than in most modern puzzles, one entry is so uncommon that it has been dropped from modern editions of the Chambers dictionary.

In spite of all this it is remembered with affection by many of the solvers who tackled it so many years ago.

My Cousin’s Bungle by Waterloo

A cousin of mine made up this diagram for me. He was not used to printing conventions and used lower-case for B, D. P and Q, but capitals for all other letters; he also crossed his Is extravagantly. If he couldn’t fit a word in one way he would turn the diagram round and try again. Clues are normal, but punctuation may be misleading.

1. Success to have taken part before so many lights go here (10)
9. Type of hybrid cattle found in La Paz homestead (3)
12. Puck’s friend – animals have no association (3)
13. Distinctive practice makes the belief in God (3)
15. African language has no variation (5)
16. Individually right out of hand (4)
17. Gives up about love game (6)
18. Male notice – one mark for bouncing female (7)
19. What a plane does far away or too close (6)
24. More get about away from shelter (4)
25. Modern bluebottles get hair cut short with comic snoring sound (4)
27. O brother come back (3)
29. Deficiencies which sound as though they have no deficiency (5)
32. Good sounds like a supporter (6)
33. Wide dealing with a succession of jerks inside (4)
34. Few dons can become like mountain streams (7)
36. In favour of Indian style of greeting, despise old English style (6)
39. A poor score in most sports, but sounds to have done well (3)
40. Like some music, undesirable water, or curry (3)
41. Blunder with nothing omitted to make it befool (3)
43. Used to be harnessed together ready for a drive about noon (5)
44. Part of family is born before station (6)
45. First lady has second in touch (5)
46. Scotsman’s exclamation after record time (5)
47. Splashing about signalling distress? (7)

2. Get on the covered side of beach right away (10)
3. Monkey takes one in sporting equipment (4)
4. In a certain direction, or in the highest degree (5)
5. Naughty kid takes wander from progress (3)
6. Upset public receptacle (8)
7. A split among such as Marxists (5)
8. Questioning look (4)
9. Not an expert about backward early time (8)
10. Old letter might be called in question (5)
11. An isolated source of dates, perhaps round at present (5)
12. Not strong enough about places for sailing – working at the wrong time (12)
14. Tricked any number out of control (3)
20. Departing spectators turned heir to open country (3)
21. Scottish town without loch is back in action – state of being 1 across (9)
22. Benefactor of man six shun in confusion (6)
23. Afternoon tea item passed round – one needs stays to support it (7)
26. Tenants remark very loudly about enemy coming back (8)
28. Tell very quietly in stand (7)
30. Weight and an allotropic form of oxygen (5)
31. Is about proportion of right bodies with marked chemical similarities (7)
35. Noted foolishness, keeping apart what is said cannot meet (5)
37. Snake – nothing for a voodoo priestess (5)
38. Calls back as well in quiet (5)
39. I used to frighten children about witchcraft and poisoning (3)
42. Doctor leaves little elephant – it’s work for two. (3)
43. Move stealthily back for bait gently dropped (3)

Click here for the solution and explanations of the clues.