Introduction

Introduction

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The purpose of this blog is to help anyone, and I know there are quite a few of you out there, who is struggling with the Daily & Sunday Telegraph cryptic crosswords.

While setters are welcome to visit the site, and to leave appropriate comments, they should respect the fact that our primary purpose is to assist solvers and any abuse of this privilege will result in the deletion, without prior notice, of the offending comments.

I started by providing hints as ad hoc comments on the “Crossword Ends in Violence” site, run by James Cary, which, at the time, was doing a blog for the Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword.   For entirely unrelated reasons, I needed to acquire a WordPress logon, and during this process I was asked if I would like a blog as well.  In a moment of inexplicable weakness I ticked “Yes” – and that’s how “Big Dave’s Blog” was born on Jan 28, 2009, with the first post being published the following day.

Having acquired the blog, I then had to think what I was going to do with it, and hit on the idea of doing for The Toughie what James was doing for the regular cryptic puzzle.  I did this for a whole week, adding the Gallery as an item of interest for friends and family before I received an email from James asking if I would take over the awesome responsibility of doing the regular cryptic as well. Libellule and Gazza joined to help with the increased workload.

Within a couple of days, mentions on the “Times for the Times” and “Fifteensquared” websites created unexpected interest.  It was suggested that a change to “Big Dave’s Telegraph Crossword Blog” would make referrals from other sites easier, so that gave me the title that was used for the first year.  The tag line evolved from the rather ambitious “Putting the world to rights” to the more appropriate “Putting the words to lights” over several months.

Peter Biddlecombe, the mentor of the “Times for the Times” website, suggested that the Saturday crossword should be given the full treatment, but only to be published after the deadline for submissions had passed; he made this offer even more attractive by offering to do it himself!  Mini-biographies for present and past bloggers can be seen here.

Seventeen of the Toughie setters and twelve of the Daily/Sunday setters (some days are shared by more than one setter) have left encouraging comments, and maybe others have looked in anonymously.

May 27, 2009 – The new-look variable width theme was launched.  This allows the increasing number of those of you with wide-screen displays to utilise the full width.  From novice blogger to novice CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) designer!

Feb 13th 2010 – The Not The Saturday Prize Puzzle (NTSPP) was introduced – many of the setters who cut their cryptic teeth in this series have gone on to be published in the National Press.

Feb 20, 2010 – the title of the site was changed to “Big Dave’s Crossword Blog” to reflect the emphasis on crosswords from many different sources.

Jan 28th 2012 – The blog celebrated its 3rd birthday with a party in London at which the highlight was a cake baked by Crypticsue.  This has now become an annual event.

May 2nd 2012 – The site was transferred from WordPress.com to shared hosting on Evohosting, a UK-based hosting company.  Among other benefits, this enabled the introduction of Java-based interactive NTSPP crosswords.

June 2nd 2012 – Our very own Monthly Prize Puzzle was introduced.

April 12th 2014 – CrypticCrosswords.net was launched, followed two days later by:

April 14th 2014 – Rookie Corner was launched and rapidly became the favourite way for new setters to submit their puzzles.

February 28th 2016 – Having outgrown the shared hosting on Evohosting, the site was transferred to a Virtual Private Server (VPS) on Smart Hosting.

The view count has crept up to over 15,000 per day; each daily cryptic crossword is viewed over 5,000 times and each Toughie over 500.   Some of the statistics and milestones can be seen here.

Who would have thought it back in January 2009!!

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