Derek Harrison's Crossword Message Board

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Re(1): More pet peeves
IP: 88.109.210.9


As a non-Premier-League solver, I have been railing against this additional-letter practice for the last two or three years, particularly when it leads to an instruction on how entries should be modified ... meaning that you have to solve most, if not all, clues before you can start sensible gridfilling.

My question has always been: WHO WAS THE FIRST SETTER TO COME UP WITH THIS EVIL DEVICE ?

It got to the stage where I was seriously worried that all new setters of all ultra-cryptics would assume that using it was a mandatory requirement.

I think it must have started at least seven or eight years ago, since I used it in the only puzzle of mine ever published, around that time. Like Mountain Ledges' recent fine debut Listener, its theme was real tennis, and my extra letters merely yielded CARAVAGGIO, but no "instruction".

My additional pet peeve is the so-called "Only Connect" syndrome, where the end game depends on making connections between increasingly obscure thematic things or people, that only dedicated Googling can uncover.

I only came to the Listener when the Times took it over, but remember with huge gratitude the brilliantly innovative puzzles back then by the likes of Dimitry, Sabre and Arcturus. They were all a joy to solve, even if hard ... but none of them elicited the first reaction: "OMG, another additional letter assault course before we can make a proper start" !

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