Listener Crossword: History

4. Setters

Almost all early puzzles were by Doggerel and Janus. There were regular puzzles in Latin and Greek, mostly set by Janus until he retired with No. 300. He was replaced by two setters, Castor and Pollux, who each contributed Latin and Greek puzzles.

The most significant addition to this small group of setters was the mighty Afrit, with No. 123, followed immediately by No. 124, a mathematical puzzle, which demonstrated his breadth of expertise. He soon embarked on series of puzzles, eg, signs of the Zodiac, months (English and French), “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, …”. In 1937 he introduced “Printer’s Devilry” and the Playfair cipher, both standard in today’s puzzles.

It was from 1938 onwards that several new setters appeared, such as the prolific Proton and Scorpio. The number of individual setters has steadily grown, so that now it is fairly rare for a setter to have two puzzles published in a year.

In the early 1940s the name D S Macnutt [Ximenes] started to grace the lists of prizewinners. He made his debut as a setter—using the pseudonym Tesremos—in 1943. Of his three puzzles that year, the first had three correct entries, and the third only one.

Back to History main page
  1. The first puzzles
  2. Grids and Clue formats
  3. Later developments
  4. Setters
  5. Editors
  6. Prizes
  7. Statistics
  8. Correspondence
  9. Miscellany
  10. Further information