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 opponents, he completed 218th – which makes him amply certified to set the Monetary Instances’s first US-style puzzle, printed at this time.

Roeder, whose day job is FT senior knowledge 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.”

A Washington Publish crossword from 2011 © AFP by way of Getty Photos

The US was a pioneer of the crossword, together with Britain. In his guide, 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 teen, he created a collection 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 printed the primary crossword puzzle guide, an early output for what was to turn out to be the foremost US publishing empire.

Interactive crosswords on the FT app

Subscribers can now resolve the FT’s Day by 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 easy.

In a preface to Halpern’s guide, New York Instances crossword editor Will Shortz wrote: “Over time, People 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 finally turned extra artistic, utilizing wordplay and themes to tease and madden solvers. On the Connecticut match, opponents confronted puzzles themed on confectionery and synonyms for the phrase fool. At the moment’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 alter. Not like British crosswords, there is no such thing as a 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 frequent stateside.

The FT will publish a US-style crossword one Sunday every month on

Back To Top