The chain: 26-5-9-16-32-19-36-41-40-37-42-20A-14-1A-33A-26. Each 'link' of the continuous word-chain above, from the beginning to the beginning again, is a synonymous clue to its successor (e.g. LID-COVER-HIDE-PELT-STRIKE, etc.) The fifteen links are to be deduced, with the help of intersecting words. All answers, except one of the proper names, are in Chambers Dictionary. The unchecked letters of the missing links may be arranged as: O! A LOUT'S BAR.
6. Sponge cake I once needed after spirit (7)
11. The Frogs? There's a type of drama with a distinctive character about it (6)
12. Translation of German can make a permanent impression (6)
15. Peak pulled back reveals the nose (3)
18. Adventurous girl, one having to swallow lies - not half! (5)
21. Degenerate, having abandoned Scripture for a number of years (6)
23. River in the South of France running westward (5)
28. Scheme will require a couple of months (6)
30. Generous Scottish lightweight admits former reputation (7)
35. Specially designed boats that will guide things through the bore (5)
38. Riverside bird having to migrate around the start of Easter
39. Look warm and dry in Nairobi (3)
43. Still comes in after the proper time - it's an extremely childish habit (7)
44. Indisposed, perhaps, as the result of a plot (4)
1. Begins showing knife to incite rising (5)
2. Auntie's reforming Oriental Christians (7)
3. The writer without work becomes a listless person (4)
4. Deceitful one, offering Oriental fruit full of seeds (6)
6. Rum-soaked cake upsets a sailor repeatedly (4)
7. Right storm coming up will make soil fit for cotton-growing (5)
8. Turn in, beginning to cross the equator (7)
10. Bully using birch endlessly (4)
13. Timid female, grabbed by the doctor, cried like an animal (5)
17. Jar with no lid is outside (4)
20. Weak and, according to Caesar, ineffectual (3)
22. Mac's drenched, all right - you've a legal claim about that (7)
23. Fish that's lying around dead (3)
24. One who barters as of old, supplied from various sources (7)
25. No longer experiences violent bursts of passion (5)
27. Though able, in need of correction (4)
29. An unenjoyable task leads to a nervous disease (6)
31. Boggy ground sticks to bottom of grizzly bear (5)
33. A fine jet, taken up for single journeys (5)
34. Sly fellow, embracing you, dallied amourously (5)
35. Rigid one that makes you bristle (4)
Alec Robins was first fascinated by crossword puzzles in his schooldays when the very first puzzles were being published. Later, during a long spell in hospital when returning from war service in the Far East, he began to develop a deeper and more academic interest in both solving them. He was to become a major influence in the establishment of the ground rules of the cryptic crossword.
Alexander Robins was born in Manchester in 1917 and was educated at Manchester Grammar School and Manchester University. He worked as a teacher and was Head of Classics at grammar schools in the Manchester area. He was to join three other classicists who were breaking new ground in setting puzzles; Powys Mather (Torquemada), A F Ritchie (Afrit) and Derrick MacNutt (Ximenes). The early puzzles were often unfair; clues were ungrammatical and often unhelpful. Afrit was one of the first to develop the idea of cluemanship with the aim of making cryptic clues fair to the solver. These ideas were further elaborated by Ximenes and Robins collaborated with him in Ximenes on the Art of the Crossword (1966). In 1975 Robins published his own manual Teach Yourself Crosswords (Hodder & Stoughton, later published as The ABC of Crosswords by Corgi).
Robins was a prolific setter. Under the pseudonym of Zander, he composed a whole series of amusing and innovative puzzles for The Listener. Puzzles such as Head-Hunting, Snakes and Ladders, Justyn Print, Hour-Glass, Cook's Tour and Missing Links set new standards of fairness and wit. In the Observer he was Everyman, working alternate months, often with Dorothy Taylor. In the Guardian he was Custos.
Robins was well known as a kindly gentleman, keen to encourage others and always willing to reply sincerely to the letters of his critics and fans. It was he, at a crossword dinner, who introduced Colin Dexter to Jeremy Morse, later Sir Jeremy and chairman of Lloyds Bank, and to Dorothy Taylor, who, when employed by The Observer, entered the Ximenes competitions under the nom de plume of Mrs B Lewis. This was the inspiration for Inspector Morse and Sergeant Lewis and a whole series of detective novels.
Alec Robins born September 7, 1917: died June 28, 1998