Armchair Crosswords by Afrit
A F Ritchie was working as the energetic headmaster of the Wells
Cathedral School he was also making a name for himself compiling
crosswords. He loved solving and the puzzles that he set for The
Listener were extremely difficult. However, he also compiled some
easier puzzles for The Sketch under his pseudonym of Afrit. In 1949 he
published 40 of these in a collection that he called Armchair
the first crossword only appearing in the UK in 1922 with definition
clues and it was only in later years that the first attempts were made
to write cryptic clues. Afrit revelled in the cryptic clue and was
among the first to develop the sort of clue that we accept today.
made Afrit’s little book an important step in the history of the
crossword was the introduction. For the first time ever, someone had
written down some ideas about the rules of writing clues. Here we have
the first explanation of the types of clues that we still recognize
today. Afrit’s emphasis was on fairness and his ideas were later
enlarged by Ximenes in his Art of the Crossword, which was published
almost twenty years later.
book became extremely rare. Most crossword books are discarded once the
grids have been filled. In 1975, in his book The ABC of Crosswords,
Alec Robins said, “(Armchair Crosswords) is unfortunately out of
print and virtually unobtainable. In that book’s introduction he
laid down rigid standards of fairness and accuracy for setters; and it
was his very scrupulousness in applying them to himself that set so
many of his successors on the twin paths of idealism and
self-discipline.” I think that there may be less than a dozen of
the original books remaining. The book is now republished and hopefully
the wit and ingenuity of A F Ritchie will reach a wider audience.
To order a copy of Armchair Crosswords by Afrit for £8 (plus £3 postage and package) email me or use Paypal.
Make cheques payable to D Harrison
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