The Independent’s Saturday magazine has carried a thematic crossword since 1988, pretty well from the first issue, I believe. The numbering of said puzzle is, however, all set to be a puzzle for future cruciverbal historians, as it has reset several times, generally with a redesign of the magazine or the games page. Its most recent incarnation – the Inquisitor – is numbered ‘correctly’ – that is, the number on the puzzle today (I’m writing this on 3 November 2012) is 1254, and it is indeed the 1254th published in the magazine. But when I get to some of the intervening puzzles you may find that the numbers drop unexpectedly low.
I can’t recall in detail how I got on to the team setting the puzzle. After some years of setting Listener puzzles, and attending the annual dinner, I had got to know a few setters, and was essentially hanging around, hoping for an opportunity. I vaguely recall that the call, when it came, arrived at the reception desk of a hotel where I was attending a conference – Sheffield, I think. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting when the receptionist said there was a message for me to ring a certain number.
In the early days, setters reappeared quite quickly (the first one of mine was No. 5, the second No. 10) but the roster has expanded somewhat, and the turn-round isn’t quite so hectic. I have, however, racked up 160 of these puzzles in the intervening years, so there are plenty to choose from.
Alas, the Independent never put the Inquisitor puzzle up on its website. The puzzle moved to the main Saturday paper itself, sometime in 2013, I think (certainly after I wrote the first paragraph above), where it sat for a while under the weather. (No one got round to using the concept as a puzzle idea in due course.)
It’s worth adding to the foregoing to accommodate more recent history following The Independent’s move to online only publishing – The Inquisitor now appears (still in paper form, still no online presence) in the i.
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