Interesting cryptic fact #1

'Legendary cryptic crossword compilers …’

This interesting cryptic fact #1 gives you an insight into what the early cryptic crossword compilers considered fair. For more cryptic facts, see the links below …

Cryptic crossword compilers often use pseudonyms to identify their work (perhaps to avoid being accosted by solvers who've been quietly tortured by some of their clues!).

Edward Powys Mathers (England 1892-1939) aka Torquemada took the name of a Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. He was the first crossword setter to use cryptic clues exclusively and is therefore known as the inventor of the cryptic crossword.

His clues were often obscure, unfair and difficult to solve. This led later compilers to develop standards or principles for the construction of clues.

Continuing the Spanish torturer trend was Torquemada's successor at The Observer Derrick Somerset Macnutt (England 1902-1971) who styled himself Ximenes.

In 1966 his book Ximenes on the Art of the Crossword Puzzle was published (Methuen). It outlined a series of guidelines for setting fair clues which are known today as Ximenes principles.

They were summed up by his successor Jonathan Crowther (England 1942-), aka Azed (self-named after another Spanish Inquisitor, Deza - but this time spelt backwards):

Good cryptic clues contain three elements:
1. a precise definition
2. a fair subsidiary indication
3. nothing else.


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