A Display of Lights (9): The Lives and Puzzles of the Telegraph's Six Greatest Cryptic Crossword Setters Paperback – 2 Jan 2014
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A Display of Lights (9)* is not just a collection of classic puzzles, it is also a history of the crossword itself and a joint biography of six of its most talented practitioners. Far from the closeted intellectuals you might expect, these puzzlers have had extraordinary lives, some tragic, some awe-inspiring; all are fascinating (one was arrested under suspicion of supplying secrets to the Nazis through his clues). Val Gilbert tells the life story of each alongside an explanation of what makes their clues so fiendishly rewarding, and ends each chapter with a selection of the greatest puzzles from across their career. A Display of Lights (9) is two books in one - a great read in its own right, and a collection of some of the greatest crosswords of all time. It's the perfect gift for lovers of cryptic crosswords everywhere. *Answer: Crossword (a 'light' is a word for 'clue' in crossword parlance, so: a display of lights/display of clues/crossword) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Val Gilbert has been Crossword Editor at the Telegraph since 1977. Away from the newspaper, Val is the compiler of The Daily Telegraph quick and cryptic crossword books, The Sunday Telegraph quick and cryptic titles, and The Sunday Telegraph General Knowledge Crossword series, all published by Pan Macmillan. Her expertise and inside knowledge was passed on to crossword addicts in How to Crack a Cryptic Crossword, published in 2001.
Top customer reviews
For each of the siz setters, you get a short biography (roughly 8 pages on average), and twelve puzzles, often including the setter's first and last Telegraph puzzle. The six setters, with periods of setting for the DT, are:
Leonard Sidney Dawes 1925-63
Douglas Barnard 1958-92
Alan Cash 1963-88
Bert Danher 1978-2002
Ruth Crisp 1985-2005
Roger Squires c. 1985- (start date not clear from book)
Val Gilbert has done a good job on the biographies. The puzzles by the last three should be solvable by anyone solving current Telegraph puzzles, and the ones by Barnard and Cash won't be much harder, based on the two I've tackled so far by each setter - though you'll start to see some different expectations about your knowledge. The Dawes puzzles will be much harder - these are from the days when there were no accepted rules about cryptic clues, so you'll see some clues that wouldn't be allowed by any crossword editor today. But by the time you get to the 12th puzzle, No. 10,000 in the series, you'll be doing much better, admittedly with the help of some very easy long answers.
Like the earlier book for the Telegraph crossword's 80th anniversary, the hard covers make it convenient for idle solving on the sofa.
A minor correction of the impression given by the back flap blurb, quoted in the product description above: Val Gilbert retired from editing the Telegraph crossword in 2006, as her introduction indicates perfectly clearly.
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