Cross(word) ing the Atlantic with the FT’s first US puzzle
On the forty fifth annual American Crossword Puzzle Event, held in Connecticut earlier this month, the winner accomplished the championship puzzle in a time of 5 minutes 24 seconds.
Oliver Roeder solved it in 16 minutes 30. Out of 774 rivals, he completed 218th – which makes him amply certified to set the Monetary Instances’s first US-style puzzle, revealed as we speak.
Roeder, whose day job is FT senior information journalist primarily based within the US, is that uncommon crossword breed — somebody who loves and appreciates the finer arts of fixing each British cryptic and US crosswords.
In an article for the FT journal in January, he described the distinction between them thus: “Fixing an American puzzle is an thrilling smash-and-grab job. Fixing a cryptic is a classy financial institution heist.”
The US was a pioneer of the crossword, together with Britain. In his e-book, The Historical past of the Crossword, John Halpern (who units for the FT as Mudd) suggests Arthur Wynne, the son of the editor of the Liverpool Mercury, was the daddy of the crossword.
He will get that accolade as a result of, having emigrated to the US as a youngster, he created a sequence of phrase puzzles in a publication referred to as New York World.
Such was the next they obtained that Richard L Simon and Max Schuster in 1924 revealed the primary crossword puzzle e-book, an early output for what was to grow to be the foremost US publishing empire.
Interactive crosswords on the FT app
Subscribers can now clear up the FT’s Each day Cryptic, Polymath and FT Weekend crosswords on the iOS and Android apps and FT Weekend crosswords on the iOS and Android apps
The paths of British and US crosswords diverged over subsequent many years. Within the UK, crossword publishers demanded of setters ever extra mysterious clues. Within the US, the shift was in direction of extra grandiose, sophisticated grids, the clues being largely simple.
In a preface to Halpern’s e-book, New York Instances crossword editor Will Shortz wrote: “Over time, Individuals visiting Britain couldn’t make head or tails of their crosswords, and the British who noticed our puzzles got here to look down their noses at them.”
As Shortz notes, US crossword setters ultimately grew to become extra inventive, utilizing wordplay and themes to tease and madden solvers. On the Connecticut event, rivals confronted puzzles themed on confectionery and synonyms for the phrase fool. In the present day’s crossword by Reorder — Roeder’s pseudonym — is liberally doused together with his mischievous sense of wordplay, amongst my favourites being 19 throughout.
However some issues about US-style crosswords are unlikely to vary. In contrast to British crosswords, there isn’t any quantity format after every clue. 1 throughout may very well be one, two, three, 4 phrases lengthy. It’s as much as the solver to work that out.
Anticipate, too, to seek out loads of abbreviations, colloquialisms and onomatopoeia amongst Roeder’s options — one thing that’s not extraordinary in British crosswords however way more widespread stateside.
The FT will publish a US-style crossword one Sunday every month on ft.com/crosswordapp.