The history of cryptic and amusing usa crosswords part 2
The cryptic crossword puzzles printed in England travelled beyond Judge’s ”ambidextrous and
witty” style. Through the early 1940s, British puzzle writers, particularly disciples of A. W. Ritchie, had
Created a “square-dealing” design of definitions, about which we’ll have a bit to point out later.
Ritchie’s apt alias was Afrit, a devil of Arabian fantasy as well as an incorporation of his
Initials and a portion of his surname.
Because of the deviousness of the puzzles, and simply because people are normally drawn to
competition, British puzzle fans had taken to writing letters to the usa newspapers conngratulating
themselves upon the pace with which they could resolve the puzzles. According to the “Guinness
Book of World Records”, Roy Dean solved a particular puzzle in much less than four minutes. His accomplishment
was amazing in that it occurred under extreme pressure as a London Times contest had been conducted in the BBC studios on December 19, 1970.
A lady in Fiji demonstrated a perverse record when she informed the London Times in May 1966 that she had simply completed puzzle number 673, published in April 1932, 31 years later!
British puzzle enthusiasts tried to consider the identity of the compilers (their term for puzzlemakers)
based on repeating clues, themes, and specialized or literary references. The first puzzle
Compiler for the London Times was a Suffolk farmer called Adrian Bell. A relative
suggested him to the newspapers. He had never actually solved a puzzle prior to being hired.
The Daily Telegraph grew to become the target of a spy investigation simply because a number of puzzles
published in the spring of 1944 comprised of answers that happened to match code names used
to specify military operations, as it wasn’t part of your average town usa crossword .
On June 2, for example, the word “overlord” made an appearance; it was the
code term of the “D day invasion. The puzzles author, who were located in the south of England,
where teaching was going on, convinced investigators that he had noticed the words in
conversation in town (evidently a case of chinese whispers) and discovered them fascinating just as words,
but that he had not known their significance when he used them in crosswords. In the end,
however, no charges were filed.
The first American puzzle composer to popularize such cryptic crosswords for an American
audience was most likely Stephen Sondheim, in New York magazine in the late 1960s. When
Broadway possibilities and demands had started to take up his time, he switched the feature over to
Richard Maltby, a Broadway close friend and infrequent guest writer of cryptic usa puzzles.
Today, ardent American enthusiasts of cryptic crosswords can discover them in such publications
as GAMES, Dell Champion Crosswords, Atlantic Monthly (wheresoever Emily Cox and Henry
Rathvon currently have a significant gathering of fans), The New York Times, New York reprints of the London
Times puzzles-they unfortunately discontinued Maltby’s feature in the mid-1970s, and Harper’s in which
Maltby resurfaced, and where by he and Ed Galli currently have a passionate audience.