This is the hint.
This book contains one hundred Sunday Times concise crosswords, originally published in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Apart from one puzzle left out because its clues exploited the publication date, they are the first hundred set by Dean Mayer (who still sets all our concise crosswords), starting with no. 1201 on March 27, 2011. Our previous concise crosswords were set by my predecessor, Barbara Hall. While I was a possible candidate as the next crossword editor, I solved a batch of Sunday Times concise crosswords, which hadn’t been on my (mainly cryptic) solving menu before. I found them rather more difficult than the similar puzzles in The Times, and when I was appointed I decided to retain this aspect. Apart from choosing a new setter, the biggest change made was to expand the set of the grids. Previous puzzles were all on a set of 6, used in puzzles 1-5 and 54 in this book. Taking advantage of current technology, we now have over fifty standard grids, and the option to design new ones. Sharp-eyed solvers may notice that one grid used a couple of times in this book lacks the usual rotation symmetry. One excuse is that it includes answers of every possible length, which is practically impossible in a symmetrical grid.
While the puzzles are meant to be challenging, they are test-solved and I attempt to moderate the difficulty by amending clues or even answers if I think they are too hard. They are intended to be solved without needing a dictionary except for one or two tricky answers in a few of the puzzles. If you need one, Collins English Dictionary should suffice, unless a proper noun answer is not part of its encyclopaedic content. As in all crosswords with mostly definition-based clues, there will be clues for which more than one answer is possible, so it’s best to look for a clearly unique answer or a unique possible combination of crossing answers as the first to write in.
Some of the puzzles in this book include minor themes, but not as often as similar ones in The Times. For example, one completed grid has a Christmas greeting in three columns of unchecked letters. Some puzzles are pangrams, using all the letters of the alphabet somewhere in the grid, and others may be near-pangrams.
I would like to thank Dean Mayer for proofreading the puzzles, but as the editor, responsibility for any mistakes is mine.
Sunday Times Crossword Editor, May 2018