8 January: I wish Roger Squires a happy retirement... See more.
On 18th December the FT, Guardian and Telegraph announced that Roger Squires, who has set the Monday puzzle for those papers regularly for many years, has decided to retire from setting at the age of 85. Roger is the most prolific setter in the business, though he is probably best known for his work as Rufus for the Guardian. His brief for all three of the aforementioned papers was to set a comparatively easy puzzle to give solvers a gentle start to the working week. It is a brief which he fulfilled with wit, elegance and a charmingly deceptive simplicity.
Rather than convoluted wordplay or obscure themes, Roger’s clues relied on simple techniques which would be accessible to solvers of all levels. He was undoubtedly the master of the cryptic definition clue, many of which appeared in his puzzles over the years. Roger’s puzzles were proof that a puzzle doesn’t have to be tortuously hard to be good – which is why his offerings were appreciated by advanced solvers as well as beginners. Many setters will tell you that it takes a lot of skill to write consistently good easy clues, and it is a testament to Roger’s abilities that he was able to do so in such a prolific manner.
The sheer volume of good wishes which greeted the announcement of Roger’s retirement speaks for itself. There has always been a small, but persistent, minority of posters on sites like Fifteen Squared who apparently were unable to understand that a setter who is asked to write easy puzzles will provide easy puzzles, and therefore wrote rude comments about Rufus puzzles which said more about themselves than the setter. Some of the well-wishers expressed the hope that Roger’s retirement wasn’t hastened by the constant carping from these bores. I think it is highly unlikely that a setter of Roger’s vast experience would be influenced in any way by a few anonymous nobodies.
Roger’s Monday offerings will be much missed, and I wish him all the very best for his retirement.
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Please note: in view of the number of puzzles I get sent, I have had to become rather more choosy about which ones I will publish. See here.
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Welcome to my website. It’s exactly what it
says – free crosswords online to download or print off so you
can solve them at your leisure. No subscriptions, no pop-up
ads, no nonsense.
I am a professional crossword compiler, and I
produce puzzles for the Financial Times and more
recently, the Independent as Klingsor. I have
also contributed a couple of puzzles to
the Times Listener series. The puzzles in this
collection are on the difficult side (I hope!) – several are
thematic and/or use a wide range of vocabulary. Solutions to
each puzzle are available via a link at the bottom of the
You can find my puzzles via an index
page which says a little about each puzzle. I have also
published several crosswords from other setters, and have been
very impressed by the standard of the puzzles I have received,
many of them from new compilers. These are listed on the Guest
Puzzles page. In response to
several requests I have added a beginners’ puzzle which, as the title suggests, is
significantly easier than the rest. There are explanations for
each clue accompanying the solution and new solvers would do
well to start here. There are yet more free
puzzles on offer – though I should point
out that these are the leftovers from my first job
writing puzzles for a media agency and are therefore pretty basic.
Is using a dictionary to help solve crosswords
cheating? Find out what I think about
this. Novice crossword compilers may find the page on Ximenean clueing helpful.
There is a follow-up article on the
same topic outlining some of my ideas on the ever-continuing
debate on how rigidly clue writing should follow rules. The
article on single letter indicators
examines the various techniques for indicating initial and
final letters of words in a clue, and there is also an
article on link words in clues. There’s
an article which deals with cryptic definition
clues and, another which discusses &lit clues. Encouraged by an email from a visitor, I have written a piece about which words can be used in
different puzzles. I’ve also done a piece about Ninas, which are increasingly used
by some setters in crosswords. Good surface readings are an important part of clue writing, and I explore this in another article. I hope that the growing collection of general tips for setters will be useful to anyone who seriously wants to write puzzles.
Poor grid construction can lead to an otherwise decent puzzle being rejected, and so I have written a guide to the basics of this aspect of creating crosswords. I would advise anyone who wants to publish here as a guest setter to read it before submitting a crossword to me.
This site has received traffic from all round
the world – and not only from English speaking countries.
Indeed, some of the guest puzzles are excellent cryptics from
people who have learned English as a second language.
This spurred me on to put my knowledge of the Czech
language to use. The Czech Puzzle
is a simple, definition only crossword – to my shame I
couldn’t manage a cryptic! – so if you speak the language, do
“czech” it out.
I have responded to the phenomenon of the
incredibly popular Sudoku
puzzle by writing an article on how I
see crosswords faring in the future in the face of such stiff
competition. Also I have included a piece about that pinnacle
of crosswording achievement, the Listener
If you like this site and would like to find
more crossword sites, please take a look at the Links Page. I am happy to
promote other crossword sites here, but please note
that I prefer to include links to sites that offer some
or all of their puzzles without charge. I would of course
appreciate the favour being returned!