Posts Tagged ‘crosswords’

American-style crosswords | The Guardian

16 October 2017
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I’m writing some American-style puzzles at the Guardian [feed].

For British solvers, the main differences are that abbreviations and fragments of phrases are allowed. All squares are part of an across as well as a down, so there’s more ambiguity.

The puzzles are presented as printable PDFs, but are better approached as .puz files using Across Lite or better still Crossword Solver.

  1. And We’re Off! [ medium: .puz / .pdf / solution .pdf ]
  2. Cheers! [ medium: .puz / .pdf / solution .pdf ]
  3. PO… [ tougher: .puz / .pdf / solution .pdf ]
  4. Store’s In What? [ gentler: .puz / .pdf / solution .pdf ]
  5. Cryptic Currencies [ gentler: .puz / .pdf / solution .pdf ]
  6. (miscellaneous) [ gentler: .puz / .pdf / solution .pdf ]
  7. Money Talks [ tougher: .puz / .pdf / solution .pdf ]
  8. Shoot! [ gentler: .puz / .pdf / solution .pdf ]

See also:

Inside No 9 | BBC2

28 February 2017

I am proud to have performed the minor role of “crossword consultant” for this excellent episode of Inside No 9, The Riddle of the Sphinx:

inside_no_9_riddle_sphinx

I’m further proud to have filled the role of some kind of muse:

two_girls_one_on_each_knee_inside_no_9

The One Show | BBC1

15 March 2016

I’m on The One Show this evening, discussing spying and crosswords with Gyles Brandreth.

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Two Girls One on Each Knee

How to Win at Quizzes, and Solve Cryptic Crosswords | The Guardian

13 September 2014

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Two pieces in today’s Do Something supplement: How to win quizzes – from pub contests to Mastermind and How to solve a cryptic crossword.

Also, I will be signing Two Girls, One on Each Knee (7) at the reception for the keynote of the Chiswick Book Festival this evening.

  • 6.00pm, Sat 13 Sept: Festival Drinks Reception
  • St Michael & All Angels Parish Hall, Bath Road, London W4 1TT
  • Tickets

The Crossword Century: 100 Years of Witty Wordplay, Ingenious Puzzles, and Linguistic Mischief for Gotham

3 July 2014

Amusing and informative
— Pultizer-winner Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post

such a fun read
— Dinesh Ramde, Washington Times

the_crossword_century_alan_connorMy book about the fun of crosswords, The Crossword Century: 100 Years of Witty Wordplay, Ingenious Puzzles, and Linguistic Mischief, has been published by Gotham.

A couple of responses…

“Alan Connor’s Crossword Century is a fun and fascinating tale of language, commerce, culture and play. Before reading this book, I didn’t have a clue about the crossword’s checkered past. Now I can see its extraordinary future, too.”

— John Pollack, author of The Pun Also Rises and Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation and Sell Your Greatest Ideas

“If you love language and history and marvel at the genius of puzzles, codes, and game design, Alan Connor’s deep dive into the crossword will keep you smiling and eagerly turning pages. Connor playfully explores the history of the beloved, gamified fever dream of sentences, definitions, letters, and words that is the modern crossword and reveals the dance that strange invention has enjoyed with its caretakers across history. If you adore words and wordplay, if you see language as an endless mutating jungle of puzzles and experimentation, you need this book in your life.”

— David McRaney, author of You Are Not so Smart and You Are Now Less Dumb

…some press…

…and the reviews of the British edition as a word cloud:

two_girls_connor_reviews

It is available at your local bookshop, or at IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, Books-A-Million, The Book Depository, iTunes, and so on.

And… it contains a puzzle by Brendan Emmett Quigley.

Listen: Think, from KERA

A Talk at the York Festival of Ideas

16 June 2014
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I’m giving a talk about crosswords at the York Festival of Ideas:

Update 20 June: Thank you to everyone at the festival and the university. The slides are here:

Two Girls, One on Each Knee: The Puzzling, Playful World of the Crossword | Penguin

5 June 2014

My book about crosswords, Two Girls, One on Each Knee, is out today as a paperback.

Two Girls One on Each Knee

It costs no more than £8.99, and I have removed an error, one concerning the PG Wodehouse story with the strawberries. It now begins with some commendations:

‘Connor’s wry, good-natured tone and his commitment to the serious business of play make him the perfect guide to a great pastime’ John Gallagher, Telegraph

‘Alan Connor’s charming, fascinating history of how the crossword went from a space filler in the back section of an American newspaper to one of the world’s most ubiquitous and addictive habits – he estimates that in Britain some 14.7m people do a crossword at least once a week – is the guide you have been waiting for. In a single, gloriously decipherable chapter he lays out with perfect clarity the entire range of rules and devices through which cryptic clues work their magic’ Robert Collins, Sunday Times

‘Connor’s scholarly knowledge doesn’t stop him extolling the vocabulary of The Simpsons. The solution to the title, by the way, is ‘patella’.’ Ben Felsenburg, Metro

No crossword addict, be they a compiler or a solver, can ignore itAlan Taylor, Herald

‘Connor’s book is cleverly constructed around an initial cryptic crossword in which each clue provides the title of a chapter. And each chapter can be read independently of the others. There is something to entertain even the most infrequent dabbler, from a primer on how to actually do a cryptic crossword to the puzzle’s famous fans – the Queen, Sepp Blatter and Frank Sinatra among them – and its connections with the trains (one line in the US used to carry dictionaries)’ Carl Wilkinson, Financial Times

‘The brilliant new book on crosswords . . .  Delivers fun galore whether you’re a doer or a duffer . . . Two Girls, One on Each Knee consists of a series of short, sparky chapters on topics as various as ‘Crosswords and detective fiction’, ‘Can machines do crosswords?’ and ‘The many ways of being rude in a crossword’. . . And this is also the guiding principle of his book — it favours the byway over the highway, and can never say no to a red herring’ Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

‘This book shows you, among other things, how speaking aloud unpromising phrases such as ‘Tooting Carmen’ and ‘Servants Tease’ can yield obvious answers, and how sociable the crossword is. Of course, it can be tackled alone, and in Brief Encounter, it represents the antithesis of the longed-for romance, but it’s also perhaps fun to tackle with two or more heads rather than one’ Michael Caines, The Times Literary Supplement

‘Connor writes with great flair . . . it is nice to dip in and out of his entertaining essays’ Don Manley, Church Times

‘It is the relationship between setter and solver, between words and fun which provides the narrative thrust for Two Girls, One on Each Knee … ‘The experience of reading this book’, Connor says in the preamble, ‘should be equivalent to that of solving a cryptic puzzle…’ In fact it is rather better; it does not demand as much of the reader as a good puzzle does of the solver, but it delivers far more of its own accord. It is witty, charming, encyclopaedic and highly readable – and it can be read in any order. Take a chapter or a paragraph, a puzzle or a clue. In each the reader will find something to intrigue and delightSandy Balfour, Spectator

‘A wonderful little book that looks at the fascinating, often baffling world of the cryptic crossword. What connects Bletchley Park and the Daily Telegraph? And why should you always start in the bottom right-hand corner? Most of all, it’s a celebration of languageJon Stock, Daily Telegraph

Delightful . . .
Verdict: Top rating for odd number of celebrities (4,5)’ Brandon Robshaw, Independent on Sunday

A joyous paean to the history of puzzlement and an essential guidePD Smith, The Guardian

Delightful celebration of crosswords’ The Observer

‘A glorious guide that explains the history and universal appeal of the crossword’ Sunday Times, 100 Best Books for the Beach

You can buy it from your local bookshop, or from Penguin, Waterstones, Amazon, on Kindle, via Google etc…