One century ago the first proto-crossword made an appearance in the New York World paper. Since there have been an incredible number of chewed pens and scratched minds then. A newspaper editor once told me the secret of keeping readers happy. You can shift a paper’s politics, apparently, and you will get your facts wrong, but don’t ever mess about with the crossword.
The Guardian’s 1997 redesign, for example, place the quick crossword on a single page as the cryptic. Hugh Stephenson, “far outnumbered all those on other aspects of the redesign come up with.” Households with more than one solver “found themselves fighting turf wars over the same section or, worse, tearing it in two”.
Alan Connor can be an author, screenwriter, Guardian columnist, and puzzle compiler. His new reserve, Two Girls, One Knee (7), traces the history of the crossword. So when the Daily Telegraph experimented with featuring its puzzles assembled by computer, utilizing a database of pre-written clues, its setters became an underlying cause celebre, dubbed the Telegraph Six.
- Juice Bar
- Share knowledge with the wider engineering community
- System Availability
- Attempting to free materials from the rollers
- Is there probation from Philippine Immigration on one-way fares
Deputy editor Boris Johnson hastily changed tack. One setter responded silently with the idea “Submit to pressure and return to foundation (9)” – CLIMBDOWN – and normal business was resumed. For readers, the crossword is a genuine point of balance, baffling any individual puzzle or clue might prove however. Solvers form relationships with setters which go on for many years.
Araucaria, month, and who experienced set for the Guardian and the Financial Times who died last, had been explained by the celebrity Prunella Scales as “my continuous bedtime companion”. And to screenwriter Alan Plater composed that whenever he and his wife encountered Araucaria, “it was like achieving a semi-deity”. Media captionHow will a crossword setter compile a quiz? Indeed, some solvers are recognized to convert right to the crossword, throw the rest of the paper away unread then.
In her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking Joan Didion referred to the same habit of turning straight to the puzzle page as “the way I had come to read, or even more to the point not to read, the paper”. And the affection in which Plater’s semi-deity Araucaria was held was clarified in January when he used a puzzle to impart some unhappy news. Most setters start to see the inside of a newsroom never, preferring to create their signs in offices lined with reference books or while walking.