21st December 2013. Can You Solve It?
Some Crossword Clues have gone down in history for their fiendishness. For example: ’g-s-g-e’ (9, 4), and secondly: ‘hijklmno’ (5). Answers at Bottom!
Today in 2013 the Google Page celebrated the centenary of the first Crossword published, by a Briton, Arthur Wynne, a crucifix-shaped, word puzzle or word-cross in the fun section of the New York World.
In Britain we had to wait until November 1924 when the Sunday Express published its Crossword.
The Daily Telegraph’s came out July 30th 1925, compiled by Leonard Dawe. Intended to last for six weeks as a concession to the passing craze, it was the same year as the President of the British Optical Association voiced fears that it would cause headaches arising from eyestrain.
Adrian Bell, father of BBC reporter and later MP, Martin Bell, set the first Times Crossword on February 1st 1930, saying, ‘A strictness of definition of the word sought must be included in the clue as an essential element’.
The crossword with its black and white squares (‘lights’ for the answers), started as a fairly simple puzzle, progressing through a literary phase with classical quotations, to where one needed to crack the code, with general knowledge essential.
In May 1944 a number of key code-words connected with the D-Day landings were answers to certain clues in the Daily Telegraph crossword, with ‘Utah’, ‘Omaha’, ‘Gold’, ‘Sword’ being mentioned, as well as ‘Mulberry’, (the floating dock), and most worrying of all, ’Overlord’ the code name for the entire operation appeared in crosswords up to June 2nd.
MI5 was alerted by a senior officer who was a crossword addict who suspected that Leonard Dawe Headmaster at Strand School evacuated to Surrey, the compiler, was a German spy.
Dawe, who had been staying with his Admiralty employed brother-in-law pleaded innocence and said it was coincidence.
Year later it emerged that he asked pupils to fill in words to which he supplied clues. What he didn’t know was that one of the boys, Ronald French, who told the Telegraph 40 years later, that he had free access to a local army camp and picked up the codes from the soldiers.
When rumbled he was asked to swear on the Bible that he would never tell anyone.
In 1999 there was a legal row over a will and whether it was valid because it had been written on the space set aside for deciphering anagrams.
The will was that of Anetta Duel from Hove who died aged 99 having been addicted to crosswords for 56 years.The crossword was ‘the only piece of paper worth writing on’, she explained.
A University of Buckingham study in 2013 found that expert, cryptic-crossword, puzzlers had a ‘fluid intelligence’ capable of manipulating complex and abstract information.
(1) answer: scrambled eggs: answer water, (or H to O).
Ref: Daily Telegraph.Tuesday 10th September 2013.
Ref: Punch Magazine.1925 cartoon.