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Roy Dean's Mainly in Fun - RTC3
Random Thoughts on Crosswords Cryptic and Concise + Recherché Times Crossword Clues Considered
tony_sever
tony_sever
Roy Dean's Mainly in Fun
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an entry Memories in which I quoted the punch-line from the speech Roy Dean gave at the final of the 1983 Times Crossword Championship in tribute to Edmund Akenhead, who was retiring as Times crossword editor. It turns out that you can find the complete speech in Roy Dean's book Mainly in Fun, published in 2002 by The Book Guild Ltd. I'd have bought it at the time if I'd known about it. (Or did I put off doing so for some reason and then forget all about it? Memory not what it was. Sigh!) Whatever! When Peter Biddlecombe (whose ear is far closer to the ground than mine when it comes to anything to do with crosswords) put me onto it, I found a copy at AbeBooks and had it delivered just in time for me to take it on holiday last week.

The tribute to Edmund Akenhead comes in the CROSSWORDS section of Mainly for Fun, which includes articles that Roy had written on crosswords, as well as his tribute to John Sykes at the final of the Times Crossword Championship in 1993 shortly after John's death, and a selection of choice clues. The other sections range over some of his other areas of expertise: WORDPLAY (more puzzles to be solved here), PARODIES, SPOOFS, TRANSLATIONS (mainly from the French), BALLADES, LIGHT VERSE, LYRIC-WRITERS, SONGS and finally (in case you're stumped) CROSSWORD AND QUIZ ANSWERS. They could perhaps have done with rather firmer editing - to remove some of the juvenilia, for example - but overall the good far outweighs the bad.

Roy is well-known in the world of crosswords for being the winner of the first Times Crossword Championship in 1970 and for appearing in the Guinness Book of Records as the holder of the record for solving the Times crossword, in a magnificent authenticated 3 minutes 45 seconds. The first article in the CROSSWORDS section of Mainly for Fun recounts his experiences at that first Championship and when he broke the record, and his accounts of how this latter feat opened doors for him in his career as a diplomat make fascinating reading. Perhaps he was lucky that the Championship then was organised very differently from the way it is nowadays, since he made his one mistake in the third puzzle, which would almost certainly have been enough to eliminate him under the present rules, to the benefit of less able solvers like me (I solved the first three puzzles correctly but then went rapidly downhill and eventually finished 67th).

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