October 12, 2009 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog

Actually Setting

Actually Setting

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.

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DT 26057

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26057

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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BD Rating – Difficulty **** Enjoyment ****

Many thanks to Gazza and Libellule for looking after the blog this weekend while I was away in Cheltenham.

I don’t know if it was because I was recovering from the excesses of the weekend, but I found today’s contribution from the Monday Maestro to be a fair bit harder than usual (cue complaints from the usual suspects!). The cryptic definition at 1 across was one of the best in a Monday puzzle for a long time and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge that Rufus has set.

Another minor landmark – this is the 500th post on the blog (and the 5,000th comment was added last week).

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