Posts Tagged ‘puzzles’
My book about crosswords, Two Girls, One on Each Knee, is out today as a paperback.
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 it‘ Alan 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 . . . Â 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 delight‘ Sandy 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 language‘ Jon 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 guide‘ PD 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
“Others suggest [that] those of us hooked on crosswords might want to justify the time passed by pointing to the large vocabulary we’ve amassed â€“ or, perhaps, to our pleonasm, to our Brobdingnagian prolixity. Well, boo-poo to that. (I admit I enjoyed learning the word ‘pleach’ from last Tuesday’s Times, but it may be many years until I get to use it in a sentence near a hedge.)”
It’ll be a mixture of the week’s best and funniest clues, tips for n00bs and features on awesome stuff like when crosswords feature in programmes like Rubicon and The Hour.
- Topics [ongoing update]: Bletchley Park; Is cheating cheating?; The Ten Commandments of cryptic ethics; Which newspaper is most crossword-friendly?; American vs British crosswords; Where do you solve?;Â Times Crossword Championship;Â Meet Anne R Bradford; the 1920s crossword moral panic; what I’ve learned from cryptics
- Meet the Setter [ditto]: Paul; Enigmatist; Anax; Tramp; Boatman
- For beginners [ditto]: Hidden answers; double definitions; soundalikes
- What does each letter mean?Â [ditto]:Â A
- Best clues [ditto]: Meta, Morse and Arsenal; Lord Sugar, Rupert Murdoch and the flesh lance;Â gamesmanship, ice cream and haiku; Elton John, hidden Damons and Moses; Smiley and Nixon; Ed Balls, Ed Miliband and David Cameron; Blur v Oasis; chess and the Tube; booze clues;Â e-ologisms;Â should themes be announced?;Â loos in clues;Â the ‘scrambled eggs’ chestnut;Â Occupy London Stock Exchange; new words in Chambers; Romeo and Juliet and Ant and Dec; booze and Dylan Thomas; ErdÅ‘s-Bacon numbers; Yule clues; cryptic Dickens
- Photo is of Guardian 25,402 by Puck. The only answer I’ve put in is wrong. “A day in dopey stupor, endlessly like t-h-i-s? (6,3)” should give SPACED OUT, not SPREAD OUT as I thought. This bodes ill.
- In 2009, I explained to foreigners why some British families do a jumbo crossword at Christmas.