Monkey puzzler extraordinary

This is not about IT. But I just have to post a short note, one among very many, responding to the news this morning that the Guardian’s Araucaria, doyen of crossword setters, has died. Maybe it is about IT: John Graham always kept up to date and was as likely to choose technology as classical literature or mediaeval music as the theme for one of his specials. Who else could cause the solver to laugh with delight when the idea behind a complex-seeming clue turned out to be simple, elegant and esoteric? Like many of his legions of followers I shall miss him.

One small bone to pick though with the Guardian’s several obituaries and tributes. Araucaria’s alphabetical jigsaws were indeed one of his most distinctive contributions to the genre. But they had more than 26 clues; the starting point was almost always the one, or two, points in the grid where both an across and a down answer started with the same letter.


• Rev John Graham, aka crossword setter Araucaria, dies aged 92: The Guardian, 27 Nov 2013 (online on the 26th). Search for other tributes, and read the responses too.
Araucaria Crosswords (the home page now announces his death)