Re: Telegraph 25000

On Tue, 23 May 2006 12:19:26 +0100, Colin Blackburn
<colin.blackburn@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Tomorrow the Daily Telegraph will publish crossword number 25000 in a
series that has run for over 80 years. Today there is an article on the
history of crossword along with profiles of three of the compilers---at
least two of them set elsewhere, particularly the Guardian.

From The Daily Telegraph
25,000 tomorrow
(Filed: 23/05/2006)

Three of the brains that leave you baffled
Crosswords down the years

Tomorrow, The Daily Telegraph will publish its 25,000th cryptic
crossword. But can it survive the challenge of the internet and rival
puzzles, such as sudoku? Chloe Rhodes seeks some solutions

Telegraph Crossword Society

Some do it in the comfort of home with a G&T to hand after a hard day
at work. Others prefer it at the breakfast table over coffee; still
more manage to tackle it on the train. But, wherever they are, those
who know the pleasures it brings can be identified by the tell-tale
combination of a furrowed brow, a well-sharpened pencil and a still
sharper look in their eye.

Telegraph compiler Ian Mawby, a former professional racing driver
The Daily Telegraph crossword - of which of course, I speak - has
reached a milestone: tomorrow's will be the 25,000th. And yet, even as
we celebrate its longevity, its future is by no means secure.

Sudoku, which many puzzle pundits thought would pass as quickly as a
summer storm, has stubbornly endured, and with 5,472,730,538 possible
combinations on a classic grid, it could be around for a while. But
will the crossword?

Our crossword editor, Val Gilbert, is uncertain: "The Telegraph
crossword has been going for 81 years and I think it will last a
century. Beyond that, I don't know. If you took a train journey 20
years ago, everybody was reading a paper, now people get their news
from the television or online. Few have time to sit and think about
the crossword."

Our leisure time is undoubtedly spent differently from that of early
cruciverbalists. On the June day in 1925 when the first Daily
Telegraph crossword was published, typical family entertainment might
have included a game of whist or a radio play.

Telegraph compiler Don Manley says it was the perfect environment for
crosswords to flourish. "I got my love of crosswords from my father;
we didn't have a television and we'd sit together all evening solving
them," he recalls. "My one sadness is that I haven't managed to pass
that love on to my son. There are so many rivals for children's
attention now."

And while television and the internet mean that younger people don't
linger long over the back page, their lack of interest could also stem
from a feeling that the clues, especially cryptic ones, require a
depth of knowledge in the classics, literature and history that just
isn't provided by the national curriculum.

"I think the only way we can secure a future for the crossword is to
make sure we appeal to a younger audience, too," says Manley. "We need
to start writing clues that they would be able to solve. Some are just
too obscure."

This might also explain why sudoku - for which the only background
knowledge you need are the numbers one to nine - has such mass appeal.
Hazel Norris, Chambers's senior editor of crosswords games and
puzzles, says: "There's been a lot of consternation in crossword
circles about sudoku. Some fans think it will mean crosswords will die
out, and there's no doubt that it's huge at the moment."

But she says that the new puzzle isn't the threat that crossword
aficionados believe it to be. "What we're finding is that the sudoku
craze is making people realise how gripping puzzles are and leading
them to try crosswords for the first time. Sales of crossword
dictionaries are as good as ever."

And there are other signs that the public is still hungry for the kind
of brain teasers that characterise crosswords. Dan Brown puts his
passion for planting clues down to a childhood spent working out
anagrams and crossword puzzles. If as many of his fans develop a taste
for them as relished his clues in The Da Vinci Code, then compilers
had better get busy.

But Gilbert believes that crosswords have to evolve to survive. "To my
mind, the internet isn't being used to its full potential with
crosswords," she says. "You could have three-dimensional crosswords
that would work on a cube - it would be a great new challenge for
existing fans and might attract a new audience, too."

It's an idea that is beginning to take off; hundreds of online sites
have emerged over the past few years, the Chambers Crossword Solver,
which suggests solutions when you input the letters you know, is now
available online and you can download crosswords for mobile phones and

There has even been an unexpected bit of celebrity endorsement for the
old-fashioned paper variety: Hollywood "bad boy" Colin Farrell has
apparently become hooked on the puzzles after a stint in rehab.

Norris can see why. "Once you've got the hang of the cryptic it is
more addictive than sudoku," she says. "People will never complete a
sudoku grid and say: 'that was a great 1,7,9 today', but they'll go on
quoting their favourite crossword clues for ever."

?Don't miss the Telegraph's 25,000th crossword tomorrow and a chance
to win a luxury weekend break

Three of the brains that leave you baffled

Don Manley

Don Manley was born in 1945 and grew up in rural Devon. He believes he
inherited the crossword "gene'' from his father, who travelled between
farms for work and would do a puzzle while drinking a pint en route.

When he was 17, he created a puzzle for a competition run by the
London Evening News. He won and received a cheque for £2 2s. His first
crossword was published in the Radio Times in 1964, while he was still
a student.

Manley compiled crosswords for the Today newspaper after its launch in
1986. At his home in Oxfordshire, he was a neighbour of Colin Dexter
and several other crossword enthusiasts, who all chivvied each other

In the mid-Eighties, his book, the Chambers Crossword manual, was
published (a new edition is scheduled for October). "Thirty-four years
passed from when I first wrote to the Telegraph to the day one of my
puzzles was finally published,' he says. ''By knocking on the door for
long enough I finally found my way in."

Roger Squires

Roger Squires lives in Shropshire and inherited his love of words from
his poet grandmother and his father. Born in Tettenhall in 1932, he
joined the Royal Navy at 15 and then spent 11 years in the Fleet Air

In 1961, he survived a ditching off Ceylon by escaping from his
aircraft 60ft under the sea. Aircrew played cards for money but he was
barred because he was a member of the Magic Circle, so he began
solving crosswords. He started compiling his own and his first
appeared in the Radio Times in 1963.

In 1978, Squires became the Guinness Book of Records' "World's Most
Prolific Compiler", a title he still holds, with more than 65,000
published crosswords in over 470 publications.

Squires was crossword editor at the Birmingham Post for 22 years, and
began compiling for The Daily Telegraph in 1986. He had stints on many
other national and regional papers and his millionth clue appeared in
The Telegraph in September 1989.

Ian Mawby

Ian Mawby was born in Newcastle in 1942 and now lives in
Cambridgeshire. Aged 30, he became a professional racing driver and
caught the eye of Lotus boss Colin Chapman. In 1973, Ian's brakes
failed at 130 mph and he broke his neck in the crash. Although
paralysed and confined to a wheelchair he still drives his 200 mph

In 2004, Ian sent a sample puzzle to The Daily Telegraph and his first
puzzle was published in February 2005.

He wakes up almost every day with a clue ready-formed in his mind and
jots down anything that strikes him as a good basis for others. He
says his two careers have much in common. "I risked life and limb to
thrill my fans when racing, but I was astonished when I discovered
that the thrill of knowing one of my puzzles was going to be published
was far superior to motor racing."

Crosswords down the years

1 In 1999, Anetta Duel, who had tackled the Telegraph crossword for 56
years, wrote her will on the crossword, just before she died, aged 99.
The will was accepted.

2 The late cinematographer Adrian Biddle, who shot Aliens and the
second Bridget Jones, was such a fan that he had the paper delivered
on set every day, wherever he was.

3 In 1994, a reader wrote in to point out that, four days before the
Estonian ferry disaster, the crossword had included the words Estonia,
Disaster and Master Mariner.

4 Labour rebel Dennis Skinner - ''the beast of Bolsover'', completes
the crossword every day.

5 Two days before the Dieppe raid in 1942, in which 4,500 Allied
soldiers were lost, the word ''Dieppe'' appeared in the crossword.

6 In 1944, five top secret D-day code words appeared and MI5
investigated. Forty years later, it emerged that compiler Leonard
Dawe, headmaster of the Strand School, had filled his grids with words
suggested by his pupils, who socialised with American servicemen. None
of them had known the significance of the words.

7 The Daily Telegraph's annual crossword competition is held in memory
of the legendary compiler Bert Danher, who died in 2002. The trophies
are presented by Sir Paul McCartney, who was Bert's nephew and godson.

8 Colin Dexter, creator of the crossword-loving Inspector Morse,
selected compiler Roger Squire's clue "Bar of soap" (Answer: The
Rover's Return) as a favourite.

9 During World War Two, The Daily Telegraph held its first crossword
competition. Hopefuls had to complete it under exam conditions. The
winner - F H W Hawes of Dagenham - finished in under eight minutes.
MI5 invited the entrants to work as code-breakers at Bletchley Park.

10 When Saturday prize crosswords were introduced in 1928, the
winners' lists included Stanley Baldwin, Sir Austen Chamberlain and
Lord Russel of Killoween. The then Prince of Wales, who was "not very
good at solving crosswords", never appeared, though his private
secretary did.

'80 Years of Cryptic Crosswords' by Val Gilbert is available for £9.99
plus p&p from Telegraph Books on 0870 155 7222


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