From David Parfitt – Puzzles Editor, Times On-Line, Saturday, February 20th

David Akenhead’s Crossword Archive
David Akenhead, the son of the former Times Crossword editor, Edmund Akenhead, has assiduously collated and digitised his huge archive of historical crosswords published in The Times and The Sunday Times. His work begins in 1925 for The Sunday Times and 1930 for The Times and includes rare publications including his father’s original Jumbo crosswords up to 2000, when our Crossword Club archive takes over.

David now has a new commercial app, containing nearly 1,500 Times and Sunday Times crossword games and rare vintage crossword publications from his extensive archive. There is an annual fee for this work, which as of 15th May 2021 stands at US $10.

The remainder of his work may be found on his website, free for all comers and includes many features and developments from crossword history, and interesting articles accompanying his and his father’s industry and other devotees over many years, including Brian Greer’s mammoth Times Diamond Jubilee puzzle, David’s own comparable 208-clue 90th Anniversary of the Times Crossword, and some vintage Times and Sunday Times crosswords.

Further details, including ongoing projects, and methods of payment/subscription can be found by visiting his website, which is entirely independent of The Times and The Sunday Times, via this link: crosswordsakenhead.com

The Times 1,000 Concise Crossword Games Video

These games are a marvellous mental workout against the clock! A solution pattern has been extracted from an original 13 x 13 Times Concise Crossword. Your job is to fill in all the solutions in any order you choose in the fastest possible time.

The letters contained therein are arranged in a stack of tiles alphabetically placed above the grid. Each letter is accompanied by a number tag indicating the number of tiles available. Play commences with the activation of the clock by clicking on anywhere in the solution pattern before you. Play may be paused or reactivated at any time. Remember you are testing yourself on this one and some may like the challenge of completing the game without pause, at least until the very last letter has been acknowledged! Guide your cursor anywhere on the grid. Clicking in a square starts your challenge and the clock. The relevant clue appears above the grid. Your task is to ‘complete’ your puzzle by filling in all the squares in the fastest time possible, by selecting the letters you need from the alphabetical stack. Clicking on a letter notifies the program that you wish to place that letter. The tile tally is automatically reduced. Clicking again on the grid allows that letter to appear in your designated spot. If you believe you’ve made an error, touching the letter again blanks it out, and you can either return it to the stack, which will augment accordingly or place it elsewhere on the grid. Meanwhile the time will continue to your disadvantage! Letters are revealed on the grid against a blue background. Enjoy the ride!

David Akenhead, CEO Akenhead Crosswords

The Times Crossword Video

My father recommended the simple equation of an ounce of practice being equal to a pound of theory, and rather than a long exposé on the myriad of conventions and devices used in cryptic crossword solving, I have decided instead simply to take you for a spin! And between us we will endeavour to complete a rather special Times crossword, one of my father’s simpler ones, but no less entertaining for a’ that! with his famous E (for Edmund) Grid, which I helped ink in as his young apprentice many moons ago, for the Tanganyika Standard before he joined The Times, though later it managed to creep in to their armoury as well! This one appears as Crossword 21 from his Sixth Book of The Times Crosswords. In the course of my guiding hand, I shall alert you to the little devices I have built into my program, which hopefully will enable you to get the best out of it, such that you may learn after a little practice to take the wheel yourself and adapt the same to all my new crossword models! In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the drive! John Grant’s simple road map below may also assist!

Sincerely, David Akenhead, CEO Akenhead Crosswords

Beginners’ Guide to The Times crossword
by John Grant (adapted)

Build-ups

These are the staple types of clue in cryptic puzzles, in which the answer is broken down into its component parts and reassembled, sometimes in a different order. For example:

Tea left to cool in a cup (7) – CHALICE
CHA, tea + L(eft) + ICE, cool (verb).
Definition: a cup

Component parts may also be anagrams, or reversals, or otherwise disguised, and bits may be added or subtracted (sometimes referred to as “surgery”), but the clue will always contain a definition of the answer.

Double meanings

Many words in English have several meanings, which the compiler can exploit by using contrasting or even contradictory meanings of the same word, for example:

Tiresome speech – finish on the floor (6) – SCREED
More than one spoke lines from the heart (5) – RADII (where ‘spoke’ looks like a verb but is a noun).

Anagrams

The letters in the answer are jumbled to make another word or words. Anagrams are indicated by words that suggest movement, change, novelty, strangeness, deterioration, and the like. For example:

Literary lady’s luck begins to change (4,8) – BLUE STOCKING
(anag. of ‘luck begins to’).

Virtuous rogue? This must be erroneous! (9) – RIGHTEOUS
(by starting with an apparent contradiction, the artful compiler diverts attention from the anagram in “rogue this”)

Hidden

The answer is hidden by being submerged in the clue, indicated by words such as “some”, “in”, “part of”, etc. For example:

Respectable type Gladys is at heart (4) – LADY
(an early example from D.S. Macnutt, otherwise known as Ximenes in crossword circles).

Homophones

Many words with different spellings are pronounced the same – eg, bough and bow. They are indicated by phrases such as “we hear”, “they say”, “by the sound of it” etc. For example:

Trace crime by ploughman, say (9) SCINTILLA
(where “trace” is the definition, and “sin tiller” the homophone).

Cryptic definition

The compiler describes the answer as misleadingly as possible, for example:

Home cooking, Chinese style (5,4,4) – BIRDS NEST SOUP
Suitable performance to Water Music (3,5) – TAP DANCE

Reversals and Envelopes

Words may be spelt backwards, and contained for example:

Dress is worn by artist in retirement – SARI
(RA – Royal Academy = ‘artist’ (reversed = AR) inside (= ‘in’) IS (‘in retirement’ indicating reversal to reveal SI externally.

Reversals in across clues are indicated by words like “back”, return”, “replace” etc., and from top to bottom, and reversals in down clues are said to “climb”, “mount”, “go up” etc.