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On 11th September, 2018, one of the best crossword setters of our time, Dean Mayer (Anax, Loroso etc.) treated us to a live broadcast of him setting a complete crossword. Before you watch the video, you may want to solve the resulting puzzle, which you can find here. There is a link to a PDF printable version on the crossword page.

Crossword setting is not exactly most peopleís idea of a spectator event. Even as a setter myself, I feared that a 5Ĺ hour broadcast of someone sitting down to write a crossword puzzle would be slightly less fascinating than watching trees grow, and only just more exciting than televised golf. I was very wrong! Iíd originally intended to watch the broadcast in one-hour segments, but was so engrossed that I only broke off once, and that was because I was called away to deal with something.

If you have any interest in cryptic crosswords, whether as a solver or a setter, this broadcast is absolutely compelling viewing. Thatís partly a result of Deanís informative, interesting and amusing commentary, but also because you really get to see how the setterís mind works. You realise how much hard work and care goes into producing the puzzles that we often take for granted. Perhaps this should be an object lesson for those who write airily dismissive comments on crossword blogsÖ

From a personal point of view, I found it very encouraging that many of the ideas for the clues which Dean came up with were the ones Iíd have chosen myself. Itís always nice to know Iím doing something right!

There is a slight issue with the sound up to just past the three hour point: thereís a kind of echo with a few secondsí delay. Itís not a problem with your computer or Internet connection.

I hope you enjoy watching a master at work as much as I did!