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Saturday July 25 2020
Puzzles Test
The Listener Crossword, which appears in The Times every Saturday, is widely recognised as the world's most challenging crossword series. While solving the puzzle is hard enough, setting one is of another order of difficulty entirely. It's thus fully deserved that today's puzzle acknowledges 50 years of Listener setting by Andrew Bremner, better known to fans of the series as Sabre.

Sabre set his first puzzle in 1970 when he was just 19 years old. He has had at least one puzzle published every year since then, for a grand total of 71 solo puzzles and two collaborations. Sabre puzzles are generally met with anticipation and apprehension in equal measure. While the challenge can be stiff to say the least, the payoff is always hugely satisfying. Without doubt he is one of the greatest setters in the 90-year history of the series.

If you're up for the challenge, I would strongly recommend you try today's puzzle, entitled "Selfie" and set by Sabre himself. You can find a link below as well as links to some other recent Sabre puzzles.

Selfie by Sabre (No 4617)

Odd One Out by Sabre (No 4563)

Wiggles by Sabre (No 4505)

Four and a Half ...? by Sabre (No 4460)
David Parfitt
Puzzles Editor
Clues of the week
The Times crossword editor, Richard Rogan, selects his five favourite clues from the past week's Times Crossword puzzles. (Solutions and explanations below)

1 It may fly in endless rage (3)
No 27721, Monday, July 20

2 Threatening apparition swinging moneybag (8)
No 27722, Tuesday, July 21

3 Thief’s a charmer, but less of a dazzler? (9)
No 27723, Wednesday, July 22

4 Record store, busy place on Circle Line (7)
No 27724, Thursday, July 23

5 That which brings stillness on the Dart? (6)
No 27725, Friday, July 24

Enhance your crossword solving by visiting our Crossword Club. It's free to digital subscribers, and offers thousands of Times and Sunday Times crosswords, live leaderboards, solving forums and more.
Questions of the week
Our pick of the past week's questions from Olav Bjortomt's fiendish Daily Quiz. (Answers below)

1 Which English explorer (1827-64) was the first European to reach Lake Victoria in east Africa?

2 In 2000, Rowan Atkinson’s brother Rodney ran for the leadership of which party?

3 What is the closest spiral galaxy to the Milky Way?

4 Which English artist (1903-42) created the woodcut of two cricketers seen on Wisden’s front cover since 1938?

5 Which pictured canid (Otocyon megalotis) is named after its large ears?
Crossword Clue Writing Contest
The latest from the Sunday Times Crossword Clue Writing Contest. Peter Biddlecombe, the Sunday Times crossword editor, applies his critical eye to the entries and reports on the best and most thought-provoking clues.

The winner of £25 for Clue Writing Contest No 1820: PORTAGE
Neil Mondal, London
Clue: Top Gear’s about to move to another channel
[definition = to move to another channel; wordplay = anagram of TOP GEAR]

For a full report on the above contest, visit: sundaytimes.co.uk/cluewriting

Sunday Times Clue Writing Contest No 1823: ROTUNDA

Readers are invited to compose their own clues for the answer above. Clues must be original and cryptic, of a standard similar to those in the Sunday Times Crossword. Email your entry to puzzle.entries@sunday-times.co.uk. The contest closes on Monday, August 3, and the best entry wins £25.
Where Was I?
Where Was I? is a weekly competition that appears in the Travel section of The Sunday Times. If you can pinpoint the mystery location and answer another question thereon, you'll be in with a chance of winning a fabulous holiday.

The winner of tomorrow's prize and a guest will stay for three nights, B&B, at Ellenborough Park, set in 90 acres of parkland between the western edge of the Cotswolds and the gallops of Cheltenham Racecourse. This five-star manor house hotel dates from 1485, and was considerably enlarged by the 1st Earl of Ellenborough in the 19th century.

Facilities include a buzzing country pub, named The Horse Box, a heated outdoor pool, and a beautiful spa with a sauna and steam room. Its gastronomic restaurant, which reopens in autumn, has three AA rosettes. One dinner for two (excluding drinks) is included.

To take part, and for full terms and conditions, visit thesundaytimes.co.uk/wherewasi from Sunday, July 26 to Wednesday, July 29. Last week's Pennyhill Park contest is now closed. The winner was Stephen Binks of Bedfordshire.
Head Scratcher
We have reduced five music acts and songs they recorded to their initials only. Can you work out the full forms? (Solutions below)

1 B recorded HOG
2 RP recorded ATL
3 GK & TP recorded MTTG
4 DS recorded MFN
5 F+TM recorded DDAO
David Akenhead's Crossword Archive
A new website from David Akenhead, son of the former Times Crossword editor, Edmund Akenhead, is now online. David has assiduously collated and digitised a huge archive of historical crosswords earlier published in The Times and The Sunday Times. David's crossword archive begins in 1925 for The Sunday Times and 1930 for The Times - his vintage Times album is complete with the first 100 crosswords published earmarked for his forthcoming App – his vintage Sunday Times crosswords will remain as free items on his website. Apart from these early crosswords (in digital format) his work includes rare publications up to 2000, when our Crossword Club archive takes over.

With people emerging from lockdown worldwide it seems, David is following suit, and accordingly has reinstated the earlier subscription via PayPal of $10 annually to his archive alone. Everything else on his website remains free including his existing crossword games. In the ongoing development of his new commercial app, the preview simulated app, being accessible from his existing website, will feature 1,000 special new concise crossword games; the first puzzle from selected archive items will also be accessible. Click on the play lists to view samples and enjoy. So to summarise: David invites you to sample tasters of his work with special selections from his crossword archive on his preview app, his popular crossword games, Brian Greer's mammoth Times Diamond Jubilee puzzle, David's own comparable 90th Anniversary Times crossword puzzle, as well as his new vintage Times crossword album plus numerous interesting articles. Effectively there will be three venues now: the existing link to his website via this weekly update, the reinstated archive subscription via PayPal, and, when it is released, hopefully sometime now in September; his new App which will be available for a quarterly or annual rental.

Further details, including ongoing projects, can be found by visiting the website, which is entirely independent of The Times and The Sunday Times, via this link: crosswordsakenhead.com
Clues of the week
1 It may fly in endless rage (3)
FUR [definition = It may fly (enhanced by rest of clue); wordplay = FURY (rage) minus end letter]

2 Threatening apparition swinging moneybag (8)
BOGEYMAN [definition = Threatening apparition; wordplay = anagram of MONEYBAG]

3 Thief’s a charmer, but less of a dazzler? (9)
DIPSWITCH [definition = less of a dazzler?; wordplay = DIPS (Thief's) + WITCH (a charmer)]

4 Record store, busy place on Circle Line (7)
ARCHIVE [definition = Record store; wordplay = HIVE (busy place) next to ARC (Circle Line)]

5 That which brings stillness on the Dart? (6)
CURARE [deceptive definition]

Questions of the week
1 John Hanning Speke
3 Andromeda Galaxy
4 Eric Ravilious
5 Bat-eared fox

Head Scratcher
1 Blondie — Heart of Glass
2 Robert Palmer — Addicted to Love
3 Gladys Knight & the Pips — Midnight Train to Georgia
4 Dire Straits — Money for Nothing
5 Florence + the Machine — Dog Days Are Over
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