This time the puzzle is from October 2011, and it’s a rather special one – my one thousandth daily cryptic for The Independent. The puzzle had to be solved in the dead-tree edition to get full value – the software for the online version simply could not cope (and, ten years of weekly puzzles on, still cannot, as far as I can tell – happy to be disabused of that opinion, though).
Milestone puzzles like this can be fun, though this one had a particular set of constraints which made clue-writing entertaining. Very recently we had PINK regathering to set Inquisitor 1,700 – I dare say there’s a good chance in two years or so that we will be back for the next century-marker. And I have my three-hundredth BBC Music Magazine puzzle coming up later in the year, and more of that at the time.
The issue for many of these types of puzzle is much the same as for any themed puzzle – it’s important to make the thematic element sufficiently subservient that the puzzle can be solved without ever appreciating that that element is there. Funnily enough (see the fifteensquared discussion – after solving, please), the mismatch between the paper and online versions demonstrated this rather well. Online solvers saw simply an ordinary Across/Down puzzle, and not the paper version (which is presented here). It was a tough puzzle, though I don’t know that the differing presentations had much effect on the level of difficulty.
I suppose the Inquisitor series, being thematic throughout, suffers this rather less – certainly 1700 was part of the theme in that puzzle, and solvers had to work out how it applied.
We are creatures of anniversary and milestone, of course, and these puzzles will continue to occur. As a dedictaed cataloguer of appearances I can also identify things like my 1,000th published puzzle overall (Independent 4,359, since you ask) though these tend to creep up on me, and do not get special treatment.
Bearing all that in mind, I can let you know that for the rest of the month my appearances are solely in The Independent Friday slot, and you may want to give them a whirl. If you nip off promptly and subscribe to One Across magazine, you may well get the June issue (just out) which has a puzzle of mine within.