Absque labore nihil
by Uma and Brian

1. Fringe novel edges around East Las Vegas (8)
2. Giant Jobs Company’s east-coast location (8, two words)
3. I, accompanied by Tritons, played music for the masses to begin with (8)
4. Remarkable guide all but gave us Burns’ address finally (8, two words)
5. A frog, perhaps René, returned first, in a hurry (8)
6. Seize stoned sailor (8)
7. In Rome I strip away bouts of self-indulgent activity (8, two words)
8. Couple on board she described earlier for a fellow traveller (8)

a. Cry at model’s appearance (5)
b.  Donald loses heart for love crush (5)
c.  Pirate’s revolutionary tales (5)
d.  Some chieftain that Cain’s entertaining could be a fence supplier (5)
e.  Dreadful Lagos porridge is served here (5)
f.  It’s vanilla, honest! (5)
g.  Academic lot had concealed this material (5)
h.  Dance around old Etonian soldier (5, two words)
I.  Boorish Ozzie topped back knee joint with little hesitation (5)
j. Congress meeting in the pipeline (5)
k.  A scholar’s unlimited preposterous slip-ups (5)
l.  Do sit! Sadly her address could take a while to deliver (5)
m.  Short reptile (argot, maybe) (5)
n.  Mates – that’s an unusual break in Oz (5)
o.  Panegyric a chap in Spain referred to with revolutionary self-confidence (5)
p.  Nick lived up to his name! (5)

Once you have solved all of the clues the magenta coloured lights in the earlier illustration could reveal your setters’ advice for life in general … as well as solving this crossword. (4,3,2,6). You should add this below your solution.

Please submit the answers with annotations to us by email at on or before Midnight IST Saturday 2nd December 2017. – EXTENDED to Tuesday, 5th December 2017)

The puzzle will be put up for group solving and discussions at the 1ACross facebook group on Wednesday, 6th December 2017


This grid is an unusual one, based on an original idea by Quinapalus, who runs the superb cruciverbalist and mathematical website However, it is far more compact in scale and less complex than his outstanding 15 x 10 puzzle, which is out of print and sadly not available on the web.

Our puzzle consists of just 8 numbered across clues, the solutions to all of which have eight letters. When you start, you can ignore the magenta colour of some of the squares.

In addition there are 16 unnumbered clues, the solutions to all of which have five letters. These are in 4-letter groups of lights that make the very rough shape of a letter T, O, I or L. Each of these four-light shapes may be rotated to any position that enables it to ‘fall’ and fit into the grid with others, without making any light unfillable.

This merely shows the appearance of the four-letter shapes, using a wider grid than the puzzle itself.

The fifth letter required for the five-letter solution is given by the shape itself: every solution has an unentered I, O, L or T in addition to the four letters within the shape to be entered into the grid. Moreover, the four letters of the solution that are entered may be placed in any sequence within the four-light letter shape. Obviously, this means that you should attempt to solve the across clues first.

You should clearly mark the four-light group shape of each of these 16 lettered a-to-p clue solutions, using thickened bars. Unless it is a horizontal ‘I’ – it will span 2-4 horizontal lines.

The 16 clues for these five-letter / 4-light words are given in the following sequence:

For the bottom row: bottom left to bottom right. For all others: in a way the pieces could fall, left to right leaving no gaps in a line before moving to the next higher row, which by now will have some letters forming part of answers to clues in a lower row.

To identify them, the sixteen clues for the five-letter words are given below using the letters ‘a’ to ‘p’.

Once you have solved all of the clues the magenta coloured lights in the puzzle could reveal your setters’ advice for life in general … as well as solving this crossword. (4,3,2,6). You should add this below your solution.

Smashing Plates – Solutions, Annotations & Stats

Stats -The puzzle was well received and 22 people managed to submit the completed grid for this puzzle. Of those who submitted, 17 got the full score of 33. Further, 18 people could CORRECTLY & fully answer the Bonus question.

Here’s the Solution grid

The description of this puzzle had a cryptic message that read “14 may 10 and leave no 5 to 21. Must be 25, or else, 26!”. Solvers were also required to decipher this message, along with their solutions.

The message, substituting  the words for the (clue) numbers is “Earthquake may overpower, and leave no leeway to evacuate. Must be on guard or else adieu”

Here are the Annotations.

9  Finally abridged a book (5) AT LAS(-T)
10  Crush / romantic partner loses head — heartless psycho wife about to return! (9) (-L)OVER P(-sych)O W RE<<
11  Ask to compete in a season in which the leader has slipped to the last spot (9) (-W)INTER W<<VIE
12  Easy to return from Kaycee via Nebraska (5) Rev T
13  Cover gold table (7) PLATE AU
15  “Yesterday, I was this confused guy” — Nero (7) NEROGUY*
17  Instruction for derelict members? (5) T
18  Have the intelligentsia lost, at last? (3) Last letter acrostic
20  Find details oddly lacking in dream (5) (-f) I (-n) D (-d) E (-t) A (-i) L (-s)
22  Cook consuming excellent, sizzling hot luscious starters — with sauce! (7) FRY <<(E S H L)
25  Working girl (Uma) ends hollow red alert (2,5) ON G UA RD
26  Commercial that is unrestrained but so long! (5) AD IE (-B)U(-T)
27  Technique to get around impotence (9) PROCURE<<ED,
30  Couple of beds in the U.S. bearing the first lady and second (9) TWIN K(L)ING
31  Bury the first five of eleven (5) first five letters of 11A (INTERVIEW)

1  One under obligation to go slowly (4) TAX I
2  Fifty boring bulky shades of lacklustre action naively described in a novel lacking depth (8) L>>FAT L A N D – Alluding o 1884 novel by Edwin Abbott Abbott
3  One who might trip round emotional sentences usually starts over (4) Rev Acrostic
4  Crumpled, soiled clothes! You in Spain? Your “you time”!? (8) SOILED*<<TU
5  Room in Spooner’s tiny place? (6) Spooner – WEE LAY
6  First to embrace rising eccentric for a special strings arrangement? (4,6) OPENING <<NUT<
7  Right Wing: an extension with shady functionality (6) WINGAN*
8  Beg Russia to hold back press (4) Rev T
13  “Say, if there is a largest prime, then the product of all primes plus one leads us to a contradiction” — teacher, in short, receiving a zero! (5) PROF<<O
14  At 4 or 5, one of these may really shake things up (10) CD
16  Upset eviction of top two nationalists in Ireland shuffle (5) IRELAND-NA*
19  While mopping up or sweeping… (8) THOUGH<<OR
21  … leave even half a tea cup nearly brewed (8) EV + A TEA CU*
23  Obelix irresponsibly smuggled potion (6) T
24  Indeed, pizza for a millennial working in San Francisco, perhaps? (6) YUP PIE
26  Cats fragments? (4) &Lit Anag
28  Excellent dramatic short piece (4) PIEC(-E)*
29  Get an education, lose a bit of laziness, make money (4) (-L) EARN

Here is the scorecard (sorted by score and then in the order of submissions received)

Congrats to all of you.

10 people rated the puzzle as “Excellent”, 11 rated it “Good” and 1 rated it as “Average”. Overall, a very good rating. 28 clues in the grid got picked atleast once, in the top 3 favorites voted by the solvers. Twinkling, Plateau, Procedure and Taxi got 5 votes each or more.

Thanks a lot to Gussalufz (Viresh) for a challenging grid. Great going. I am sure that, along with us, our readers also look forward to more puzzles from you.

Did you enjoy the puzzle? Do you have any feedback for us or for the setter. Do comment in the blog and let us know.

Boo – Solutions, Annotations & Stats

Stats -25 people managed to submit the completed grid for this puzzle. Of those who submitted, 17 managed to get  the full score of 47. The following 14 people managed to get full scores as well as the answers to the questions asked correctly.

1. Aashwina Mouli
2. Akshay
3. Aneerooth Thathachari
4. Col Deepak Gopinath
5. Dr S Venkatesh
6. Himanshu
7. Mona Sogal
8. Neelima Rai
9. R. Narayanan
10. Ramki Krishnan
11. Ranjani Srikanth
12. Supriya Mithal
13. Vinayak Ekbote
14. Wayne Jones

Congrats to all of you.

Here’s the Solutions grid

Questions asked at the end of the puzzle included

  1. Name the theme and list three theme words
  2. List three Kangaroo and Joey words

As you “boo”d have spotted it, the theme is Halloween. It also runs across as a “NINA” highlighted in “Green” in the grid above. The Theme words have been highlighted in “Yellow”.

Here are the Annotations..


1 Illusion, perhaps, of finding silver in microphone (5) M(AG)IC
5 National matter (7) DD
9 Smith’s block found in Indian village (5) T
10 Cad’s torch, for example (8) (5) bLIGHTer
11 Ten returned carrying masculine person from a Middle Eastern country (5) 10< around MAN
12 Many like this one, … or others (5) CD
13 Tree has a mark of approval on the outside (3) O(A)K
15 Rowdy yachtsmen left man at sea for the Reaper (6) (YACHTSMEN-MAN*)*
17 Bring that thing! Understand? (3,2) DD
19 Lug spectator regularly (3) spEctAtoR
20 Right assistance for attack (4) R AID
22 A couple of students get everything (3) A LL
23 Small portion of Sunapee waters flows back (3) Rev T
24 Habit developed in absence of right (4) GrOWN
25 Oddly, Sikkim hosts runner (3) SiKkIm
26 Destroys abilities (8) (5) sKILLSet
28 Bird nibbled at tasty morsel (6) TIT BIT
31 Consumed fruits (5) (3) dATEs
33 Butcher’s giggle (9) (5) sLAUGHter
35 Tightly pack 3 consecutive letters by a couple of females (5) STU FF
37 Meeting venue’s cleaning equipment (9) (5) cluBROOMs
38 Strange’s in a better mood (8) (5) chEERIEr
39 Male badly taunts genetically modified creatures (7) M TAUNTS*
40 Sultana’s tyranny is, to some extent, unpleasant (5) T


1 Wildly roams about lake, grinding teeth (6) ROAMS* about L
2 Soldier’s with a couple of girls – extremely leggy and inclined to titter (6) GI GG LY
3 Tame animal (11) (3) domestiCATe
4 Wicked variety entertainment (10) (4) vaudEVILle
5 Elves danced around European jacket (6) ELVES* around E
6 Scary sound in galley (7) (3) caBOOse
7 Muse: English love catching an animal (5) E RAT O
8 Harmed illusion (8) (5) sTRICKen
12 Cold river creature in fish-basket (5) C R EEL
14 Like Larkin … without hands (4) lArKIN-LR
16 Container has haggis in the beginning? Express your gratitude (5) T(H)ANK
17 Obese explorer has gingerbread at first (5) G ROSS
18 Goes back with good stuff (8) (5) reTREATs
21 One who treats spirits (6) (4) gHOSTs
23 Sticks used for whipping a black magic woman (8) (5) sWITCHes
27 Ditches plant parts and goes (6) MD
29 Some wander into budget shops – initially for housekeeping implements (6) SOME* in B S
30 Attempt to ingest icy malt liquor, for starters – with elegance (6) TRY around IML
31 State: “A lot of matter is returned” (5) A MASS
32 Brew pure tea and pour out (5) PURE* T
34 Horrible figurative representation (8) (4) alleGORY
36 Joy of getting some money back from the taxman (6) (3) reFUNd
37 Scottish mountain tree (3) DD

The Kangaroo / Joey Words are bLIGHTer, sKILLSet, dATEs, sLAUGHter, cluBROOMs, chEERIEr, domestiCATe, vaudEVILle, caBOOse, sTRICKen, reTREATs. gHOSTs, sWITCHes, alleGORY, reFUNd

24 out of the 25 people who participated rated the puzzle. 15 people rated the puzzle as “Excellent” and 8 rated it “Good”. Overall an excellent rating.

Thanks a lot to The Oracle, who keeps entertaining us with such an amazing variety of puzzles. Thank you readers and hope you enjoyed it. From me to you, here’s a Boo:)

Holiday Medley – Solutions, Annotations & Stats

Stats -A whopping 29 people managed to submit the completed grid for this puzzle. Of those who submitted, 27 managed to get  the full score of 32 and only two people did not. Also 21 people managed to spot the NINA while the remaining 8 did not. Here is the list of those who got BOTH – full scores and the NINA correct.

1. Aashwina
2. AK
3. Amruta Vasudevan
4. Anee
5. Bhalchandra Pasupathy
6. Chatur Vasi
7. Col Deepak Gopinath
8. Ganesh Nayak
9. Kishore
11. Neelima Rai
12. Ramani
13. Ramki Krishnan
14. Rengaswamy N.
15. Seshadri R’
16. SSv Avtaar
17. Supriya Mithal
18. Dr S Venkatesh
19. Vinayak Ekbote
20. Viresh Ratnakar

Congrats to all of you.

Here’s the Solution grid

Questions asked at the end of the puzzle included one on the NINA and its location

The NINA is under Clues 11/12 and above 13/14 and reads “HAPPY DIWALI”

Here are the Annotations..


1 Reak- share of bad-money? (4-3) – Reverse anagram
5 Fictional namekian, irrational-cool otherwise, acknowledges a bit of cowardice (7) PI COOL*< C
9 True-blue noble switches sides (5) ROYAL-R+L
10 Claim Master’s butt (9) owner’s hip charade
11 Old-man-in-the-spring ogled nurse, perhaps endlessly (9) OGLED NURSE*-E
12 Peacekeeper’s endless fight is too much! (5) UN DUE(-L)
13 Regular theory? most partner with conditions (5) T (-h)E(-o)R(-y)M(-o)S(-t)
15 Bird of Burden? (9) CD
18 Reverend declared, “sentimentality dear, is a bribe!” (4,5) Spoonerism/ mush honey/hush money
19 Finally retire from a resort, still a city- one of the regions within Crimea (5) Last letter Acrostic
21 Glad, Ephraim refused to hide a bicycle part (5) Rev tel
23 Traveling in train, for a change with time and energy (9) INTRAIN T E*
25 It’s ok? Model’s nude- bad tempered! (4-5) FINE- T NUDE*
26 To, Barbie’s beau- a keepsake (5) TOKEN
27 Malicious mail managed to bounce back in sheet form (7) MAIL*RAN
28 Element of animal force (7) WOLF RAM


1 Fair to capture Chapo, say, to strike another match (7) RIGHT << EL
2 New York based blacks and whites? (9) YORKBASED*
3 Kind of material, for long kept wrapped (5) T
4 Frown! Gasp! Jumping tadpoles in the making? (9) FROWNGASP*
5 Strip jury (5) DD
6 Portly cur butchered crookedly (9) PORTLY CUR*
7 Leaders of Ogilvy&Ogilvy hosted excellent dinner and expressed pleasure (5) Acrostic
8 Harmless hawks, so positioned heard to invoke a bit of sunshine (7) SO* PREY hp S
14 Spoilt specimens ground spices with this halfwit (9) CA SPOILT SPECIMENS- SPICES*
16 Two in Baroda, say get marriage settlement, missing line to the oriel (3,6) bay hp of be in gujarati win dowry-ry
17 Knit a lore about a Liberian vessel? (3,6) KNITALORE*
18 That man accepts work, almost sated and bullish (7) HE around OP FUL(-L)
20 All and none, examples of not many in other words (7) NOTMANY*
22 Extracted from the east, it’s sometimes sold ripped (5) MINED<<
23 Cherished dinnerware, essentially (5) T
24 Rave about late payment reduced towards the end (5) EX TOL(-L).

10 people rated the puzzle as “Excellent”, 16 rated it “Good”, 1 rated it as “Average” and two people forgot to rate it. Overall a very good rating. 21 clues in the grid got picked atleast once in the top 3 favorites voted by the solvers. The three clues that got picked most were Albatross, Antonym and Hush Money.

Thanks a lot to Pixie Dust (aka Mona Sogal) for an entertaining grid that kept us busy over the holidays.