The anatomy of a crossword
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Prior to this year’s Times Crossword Championship Dave and I had never met, but we quickly fell into conversation and I reckon I spent more time talking to Dave than anyone else. At some point the conversation turned to what it is a setter actually does when putting together a puzzle, and I said something – can’t remember exactly what – that must have come as something of a surprise. We both realised that there doesn’t currently seem to be a published in-depth description of the nuts and bolts processes of crossword setting. Yes, there’s plenty of “technical stuff”. And – a thought that just suddenly occurred to me – Tim Moorey gives some page space to it in his “How To Master The Times Crossword”; but that excellent book is primarily a guide to solving and the setting section restricts itself to describing the sorts of wordplay devices a setter looks for.
Dave very kindly invited me to put into words what I now find myself struggling to put into words – perhaps this is a cop-out, but I’m going to describe it as the “feeling” behind the creation of a cryptic crossword.