At present, crosswords love anniversaries, particularly what you might call the significant ones – 25, 50, 100. This can lead to some hasty work. Here are three examples.
Last year, one outlet turned down a thematic puzzle on the reasonable grounds that they’d recently used that theme. I then noticed that the theme itself was about to celebrate its sesquicentenary. I quickly submitted it somewhere else, and the Independent Saturday Magazine Inquisitor puzzle showed great logistical nimbleness to squeeze it in. All very pleasing, and one chance discovery of an anniversary accommodated. But then the synchronicity kicked in with a vengeance.
Later last year I finally gridded a puzzle based on a favourite book, which I’d been toying with as an idea for several years. Grid done, puzzle put to one side for clueing on a leisurely timescale. Only then did I read that the book in question had a significant anniversary in 2013. So out came the puzzle again, and over the Christmas break I managed to get it clued, and I hope it will appear in due course. If it does, I’ll add a comment here pointing you at some of the commemorative events.
And the third example?
A few weeks ago I was walking home listening to a song on the iPod, and pondering whether a puzzle might be made of it. A title for the puzzle occurred to me. I stopped walking – it was so felicitous a title, that it pretty well demanded the puzzle be set. Last Sunday I gridded the puzzle. Grid done, puzzle put to one side for clueing on a leisurely timescale. And today I checked the news websites, and the theme of the puzzle has a significant anniversary in 2013.
Tomorrow, in fact.
So what do I do? Press on urgently with the puzzle and still look tardy? Defer long enough to be sure everyone has forgotten tomorrow’s anniversary?
Still, extrapolating the trend suggests I should now be coming up with ideas shortly after their optimal dates, which will save a lot of trouble.