Update 20 February

The puzzle this week, as promised, is a puzzle in tribute to Sir Jeremy Morse.  It’s up as an image, which I hope is readily printable.

Elsewhere the saga of The Independent crossword rumbles on.  Do please sign the petition, if you haven’t already done so.  Some of the discussion this week seems to have focused on the i (The I? The i?) and whether this is a way to retain a print version.  It’s clear a lot of people retain affection for the feel of pen on newsprint, but I think that may have to be foregone.  You want a really large marketplace for your crosswords?  Then you must look overseas.  Do actual printed newspapers go overseas?  Well, odd things like the Guardian Weekly and the Express Weekly intermittently still make their way to a local coffee shop (the one attached to the NZ National Library, in fact, so perhaps not too typical), but the answer for the broad sweep of papers is No.

So printing off is the only long-term viable option.  And it is neither difficult (I can attach a PDF, for instance) nor costly (the puzzles circulate in PDF form before publication – the proofs I see of Inquisitor puzzles are PDFs, for instance).

I also have noted people suggesting to the i that solvers like new freshly-crafted puzzles – which is true, but it may not carry much strength with a paper that has successfully recycled old puzzles for some years.  Mind you, Marjorie Facebooked someone who was astonished to be told that, in his words, ‘The i crosswords are second-hand’.  (Yes, he did go and sign the petition.)  But these second-hand crosswords already have a solving blog, which references fifteensquared often enough (the i blogger seems also to have signed the petition).  They might be tough to shift.

What we need is to revive memories of the old Telegraph furore.  The story was that the paper was going to establish a database of clues, generate filled grids automagically, and then pair grid entry with the gazillion-and-ninth clue in database.  What followed?  Uproar, backtracking and a fee rise (now there’s a notion…) and now, some years down the track, EVs and Toughies.

Nobody seems to be mentioning the Beelzebub crossword much, so I’ll note that, in the circumstances, Sunday’s may be the other Beelzebub’s last (we’re still pondering how to bow out if need be).  Meanwhile you have a Times from me next Monday, and a Toughie (my 100th – there are ways you can tell) on Wednesday.  The next update is still planned for a fortnight hence, which will coincide with a Phi in the Inquisitor, which I’ll mention now.  After all, if you don’t see the update on the Saturday, you won’t be able to find the puzzle online…  And you won’t be able to find it at all, if I don’t hie off and check the first set of proofs.

One comment

  1. Thanks for this most informative email. I’ve signed the petition and emailed the “i” editor. Re Beelzebub, though, I’d have though there are five to go yet as the last printed issue of the IoS will be on Sunday 20 March. Let’s hope it’s not a final bow out, though.

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