skip to content

Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry

Three travel mugs

University of Cambridge travel mugs courtesy Caroline Reid ©University of Cambridge

Try your hand at our chemistry cryptic crossword, check your answers, and congratulations to Evert Ditzel who won the prize draw.

Evert Ditzel won our Chem@Cam cryptic crossword competition, and has won a Chemistry Department travel cup.

Evert, who came to Cambridge on a Royal Commission for the exhibition of 1851 scholarship from New Zealand, did his PhD in 1981 to 1984. He was supervised by Professor Lord Lewis for his PhD inorganic chemistry studying Osmium Carbonyl Clusters. Since then, he spent many years researching for BP chemicals and is now happily retired.

Dr Mary Wood, who wrote the crossword, was a Human Frontiers Fellow working in the Zhang group at the time and is now at the University of Copenhagen. The crossword appeared in the Winter 2023 Chem@Cam (Issue 67). It is reprinted here if you want to try and the solution is at the end of this article. Additional thanks goes to Dr Becky Welbourn, an alumna who was part of the Clarke group.


1. Sparkly frippery: titanium is not French salt. (6)
6. Professor with expertise in extracellular matrices is owed, right? (4)
8. DNA expert is a ban, a mural ban, muddled up. (15)
10. Dye slits mangled and made unrealistic. (8)
12. A lone, backwards molecule (4)
13. Sounds like 2 down without the oxen—wait, don’t go! (4)
14. Morning phosphorus is very current. (3)
16. Sounds like star that arrived at Christmas. (3)
17. Teaching assistant has head of iron—rather cheesy. (4)
18. Catalyst sounds like many good massages. (6)
20. Fruit for a Christmas drink—misheard, it isn’t nippy. (4)
22. Solvent containers found in road of woes. (6)
23. Politician on coach comes up with quirky rowing competition. (5)
25. Shiny aircraft? XIX has two. (10,5)
27. Party essential—prison guard from South-West Ireland? (9)
28. Vacuum flask sounds like 6 across. (5)


1. Dagger thrust a non-starter, for a new web-page. (3)
2. Ancient maternity ward seems pretty sturdy (6)
3. “Sounds like the home of cricket!” she praises. (5)
4. Woman’s optical density reveals grumpy king. (5)
5. Mr Simpson scores a century at Cambridge college. (8)
6. Clue following academic finds transport fit for a mother and her king. (6)
7. Most of chemistry workspace between two English—seems rather complicated. (9)
9. DNA sample in French sea following appropriate article. (7)
11. Endlessly level on the night before Christmas. (3)
15. See Mr Lamb confused, making chemical preservers. (9)
16. Sounds like comfort hides the road to extreme days. (8)
17. Pretentious supper revealed by extreme rhythm in baby horse. (6)
18. Phase’s knightless stratagem of the stomach? (7)
19. E.g. joule, angstrom endlessly reveals abbreviated institution. (3)
21. English precedes French half-sweet and yttrium in dense material. (5)
24. Bug in South Africa? What a creepy old guy! (5)
26. Christmas tree found in reef iridescence. (3)

The answers