tony_sever (tony_sever) wrote,
tony_sever
tony_sever

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Congratulations, Wadham Sutton

Last Tuesday marked the 40th anniversary of the first crossword Wadham Sutton set for The Times, and was his 1,404th in the series. This is a remarkable achievement and I congratulate him, even though I didn't really enjoy this particular crossword (No. 25,061) all that much: I'm generally not too keen on themed puzzles at the best of times, and this one's theme (events from 1972 - the Miners' Strike, the Cod War, Watergate, the election of Nixon) brought back too many unpleasant memories. The one bright spot was 1ac "Wise, we're told, to wear long suit at crime play (5,5,2)" (answer FORTY YEARS ON), since I'm very fond of Alan Bennett's play; though I'm sorry to say that I made extremely heavy weather of it, failing to realise that the Ys were actually going to be consecutive (it seemed somehow rather implausible at the time), not twigging the "strong suit" until I was checking through the puzzle after I'd finished, and unaware of what was being celebrated (no information was given with the version I solved).

Sadly, as I've mentioned in an earlier blog entry, The Times doesn't name its setters, so I can't say whether I normally enjoy Wadham Sutton's unthemed puzzles rather more than I enjoyed this one. The only other puzzle of his which I can identify (assuming that No. 25,061 was bang on the 40th anniversary) is No. 12,975, the Times crossword published on 17 January, 1972, and I'm pleased to report that (tackling this again 40 years on) I found it a pleasant, easy solve. However, it is perhaps fairly typical of its time, and would not suit all today's solvers. For example, I imagine 27ac "Flung by a lover, faithful in his fashion (5)" (select between the square brackets for the answer [ROSES]) would have some people baffled at first, and then (when it was explained to them) spitting 1dn "They make fast changes of course (5)" (answer [TACKS]). This latter clue would pass muster in a modern Times crossword, but I suspect 14ac "The Cheshire variety slowly disappeared (3)" (answer [CAT]) would be rejected.

So who is Wadham Sutton? I've almost certainly solved every one of his 1,404 Times crosswords (so far). Have I met him at the Times Crossword Championship? (Oh dear! Perhaps I have, and then forgotten all about it.) Have any of his crosswords been used in the Championship; in particular did he set any of the 233 puzzles I've solved (so far) while competing? I assume he's the Wadham Sutton who, if Google has come up trumps, is (or was?) a music journalist with a special interest in choral music - in which case perhaps I've read some of his articles or record sleeve notes. And perhaps he went to some of the concerts I sang in with the LSO Chorus (1966-1971) or London Philharmonic Choir (1969-1980), or at any rate bought some of the records we made. It's interesting that he's yet another example of someone combining a love of music with a love of crosswords.

Anyway, here's wishing him all the best for the next 40 years.
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  • 13 comments

  • No news is ...?

    This is the third incarnation of my RTC3 blog which started here, but for the moment is taking on a new life recording my darling Janet's recovery…

  • A very bumpy ride

    This is the third incarnation of my RTC3 blog which started here, but for the moment is taking on a new life recording my darling Janet's recovery…

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