Crosswords and history

Crosswords in England during the 19th century were of an elementary kind, apparently derived from the word square, a group of words arranged so the letters read-alike vertically and horizontally, and printed in children’s puzzle books and various periodicals.

According to Guinness World Records, the most prolific crossword compiler is Roger Squires of Ironbridge, Shropshire, UK. On May 14, 2007, he published his 66,666th crossword, equivalent to 2 million clues. He is one of only four setters to have provided cryptic puzzles to The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, the Financial Times and The Independent. He also holds the record for the longest word ever used in a published crossword – the 58-letter Welsh town Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch clued as an anagram.

crossword compiler

Enthusiasts have compiled a number of record-setting achievements for the New York Times crossword, the most prestigious American-style crossword.

  1. The lowest word count in a published weekday-size 15×15 puzzle is January 21, 2005, New York Times crossword by Frank Longo, with just 52 words as the crossword puzzle answers and is believed to be the world record for this kind of puzzles.
  2. The fewest shaded squares in a 15×15 American crossword is 17 (leaving 208 white spaces), set by the July 27, 2012, Times crossword.
  3. The record for most crosswords published in The New York Times is held by Manny Nosowsky, who has had 241 puzzles in that outlet.
  4. A. N. Prahlada Rao, based in Bangalore, has composed/ constructed some 35,000 crossword puzzles in the language Kannada, including 7,500 crossword quiz answers based on films made in Kannada, with a total of 10lakh clues. His name has recorded in LIMCA BOOK OF Records from 2015 to 2017 for creating highest crosswords in the Indian Regional Languages.

Women editors were influential in the first few decades of puzzle-making and have contributed hundreds of puzzles to various newspapers and journals. However, in recent years the number of women constructors has declined. Several reasons have been given for the decline in women constructors. One explanation is that the gender imbalance in crossword construction is similar to that in related fields, such as journalism, and that more freelance male constructors than females submit puzzles on spec. Some have argued that the relative absence of women constructors and editors has had an influence on the content of the puzzles themselves and that clues and entries can be insensitive regarding language related to gender and race. Several approaches have been suggested to develop more women in the field, including mentoring novice women constructors and encouraging women constructors to publish their puzzles independently.

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