About that bloke   10 comments

Anax is a setter for The Independent; he is Loroso in the FT, Elkamere in the Telegraph Toughie series, and sets anonymously for The Times. He also sets (as of June 2011) the Sunday Times Concise Crossword and, under his real name, sets one in three of the Sunday Times cryptic crosswords (as of September 2011).

He began to construct his first rudimentary crosswords at about 5 years of age after watching a relative solving a puzzle. At roughly 10 years old he received, at Christmas, a stamp album which was entirely useless save for the fact that its pages had a matrix of ideally-sized squares (for lining up the stamps, you see) and this quickly filled up with crosswords. Among them was his first published puzzle, a heavily cross-checked 9×9 grid which appeared on the children’s page of the Manchester Evening News.

In his mid teens he was introduced to cryptic crosswords by Frank Dart, his form master at grammar school, and promptly bought the de rigueur Teach Yourself Crosswords by Alec Robbins. Several years of study followed until, in his mid 20s, he sent a sample puzzle to Roger Squires who at the time headed the team setting for the Birmingham Post. After some editing the puzzle was published and he gained a monthly Friday slot, quickly garnering a reputation as “the tough one”. Sadly his maturity in terms of balancing difficulty with accessibility was yet to develop, so he dropped out of the team and spent around 20 years slowly honing his technique.

By this time the Internet had become the prime method of getting out there and becoming known, so he set up his own website which featured several newly composed puzzles. He also submitted puzzles for use on other websites and one of these was noticed by Roger Squires – at the same time Times Crossword Championship winner Peter Biddlecombe had been tackling Anax’s own website puzzles; both recommended that he should contact The Times at the earliest opportunity. As a result he joined the Times team in 2007.

Anax was still working full-time so puzzle compiling opportunities were limited. However, he knew his position within the struggling company was at risk so he approached the Independent, again with success. The Financial Times followed soon after. Crossword compiling is now Anax’s full-time job.

When he’s not setting crosswords he’s playing bass guitar with his band LeFunk! www.lefunk.co.uk or playing golf – but not real golf. In the unlikely event that you have Everybody’s Golf World Tour on PS3 you may catch him online as anaximperator. But be careful; he’s bloody good. In the even more unlikely event that you use your PS3 to thrash around in a car destroying things then you’ll also find anaximperator driving like a **** in Burnout Paradise. He does it to calm down after a long day struggling with clues.

Email: anaxcrosswords@yahoo.co.uk


Posted October 15, 2009 by Anax

10 responses to “About that bloke

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  1. Despite the online moans about 4449 I thought it was OK by STimes standards ie usually containing at least a bit of dodgy clueing just to keep us honest. I still can’t see the reference to HIP in 1A though and you can’t have shadows without light so 22D left a bit to be desired

    • Hi Sean
      Not sure why your message appears on this page, but at least it appears!
      1a uses the rather chestnutty device of HIP = IN (as in ‘trendy’) which is the last word in the clue. We’re possibly getting to the stage where HIP=IN needs to be pensioned off – yes, it’s been rattling around crosswordland for that long – but in some instances it’s still a very useful get-out.
      The def at 22d wasn’t ideal but I thought got the meaning across in a ‘logical’ if perhaps not directly thesaurusical (I’m making my own words up now) way. Surely we can’t deny that if something is in shadow it isn’t lit? I imagine a shadowy presence as something/someone in some recess of a room, away from the reach of light. There’s a sense in which, for any definition to be absolutely 100% bang on, it would have to be just a repeat of the original word! Setters need just a little bit of creative licence here and there.

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