Welcome to my website www.crosswordsakenhead.com
My father was Edmund Akenhead, Crossword Editor of The Times from 1965 to 1983 and contributor from 1965 until he died in 1990 just before Christmas. In tribute to his loyal service to The Times, and doubtless in gratitude for his column in Not the Times during the Wapping Dispute (in which he advocated supporting the new proprietor if the journalists valued their jobs!), Mr Rupert Murdoch appointed Sir Edward Pickering, Chief Executive Times Newpapers Ltd, and the deputy Managing Editor of The Times, David Hopkinson, as his representatives at my father’s memorial service at St Andrews church in South Newton near Salisbury on a crisp, early New Year 1991 morn, as a mark of his appreciation and gratitude for EA’s life and loyal long service to The Times.
My father was inventor of the renowned Times Jumbo crossword,
He was principal crossword supplier to BBC 2 for their hugely popular Crossword on Two hosted by Ned Sherrin and starring Panel supremos Frank Muir and Patrick Campbell and other contemporary associated wits and wordsmiths, including our great friend, Denis Norden. 9 solid months twice weekly with BBC Television Centre awash with no shortage of celebs itching to come aboard!
He was founder of the annual Times Crossword Championships, at multiple venues throughout Britain and Northern Ireland culminating in a top Mayfair Hotel.
He produced the Times crossword archive along with his successor, the late John Grant, former Managing Editor of The Times, and encouraged me as his apprentice to carry on where they left off, promoting further his own internationally acclaimed achievements, and that of subsequent crossword editors.
He promoted and contributed to my own late twentieth century invention, The Times Computer crosswords, inspired by the thinking of two great mathematicians and scientists, Srinivasa Ramanujan, and Stephen Hawking.
My original work, an exercise in Gestalt (and Fibonacci) and Leibnitzian calculus with Dr S. Ramdas was duly acknowledged by the National Extension College, Cambridge, for our individual contributions to the new medium, and in 1987, under the recommendation of both Times Books and The Times, under James Bishop, then Managing Editor of The Times, and after him, Peter Roberts, we launched our three prototype digital books of 60 crosswords each at the Acorn User Show for operation on home computers, the Acorn Electron and the BBC Micro.
Father and son’s combined efforts were a first and earned us immediate recognition, confounding our American competitors. True to assurances given to my late father, Peter Roberts, as the new managing editor of The Times and fellow managing editors, Roger Eglin for The Sunday Times, and Bill Newman for The Sun (all three dearly remembered), supported me with every assistance and Peter saw fit to confer on me my father’s honorary title of Crossword Consultant to The Times. I also found a lifetime friend in Alastair Brett, later Legal Manager of The Times, who acted as my mentor.
The Times, Sunday Times and Sun Computer crosswords became byword products, with versions for a whole range of operators including Amstrad, Atari, and Acorn in the 1980s, Microsoft in the 1990s, and with two very successful pre millennium publications, The Sunday Times Crossword Compendium, and The Times Ultimate Crossword Compendium, the former finding its way into the Moscow Computer Games Puzzles top ten forum for an entire year.
As with all inventions, there are inevitably setbacks. The proprietor of The Times rightly observed that the CD-Rom and DVD markets and later downloads themselves, were rife with exploitation and piracy, and called time on our products. Effectively it was back to the drawing board, back to the original program I wrote in BBC Basic with the subsequent blessing of the National Extension College, Cambridge. My efforts with former colleagues had been reduced to naught, my gratitude to them, especially John Martins and Martyn Ranyard, without whom my original Sunday Times Crossword Compendium designed for the new Windows platform at that time would not have been possible, and later James Bunting and David Ellams who helped enhance the program, but sadly these design platforms were not to prevail; in fact the only thing which has is my original program and originally three highly gifted mathematicians from India, with a clear understanding of my aspirations in handling my data and a new cloud vision going forwards.
Today, the team is coordinated through my own efforts here in St John’s Newfoundland, (see News for latest update) all on equal wavelengths on an ambitious projects; result is that progress is rapid! I started on my new designs only in October 2017, after finding inspiration from that wonderful movie with Eddie Redmayne as Professor Stephen Hawking, and that pencil- dropping moment. I could do something like that. Change course, and I have, dramatically! Here, we have something for everyone. With my new crossword program, you have total control on how you wish to approach your challenge, much like Einstein’s ball, and Hawking’s parallel universes!
Here are a few bulleted firsts you will find on this website, courtesy of my team:
- On 6th April 2019 The Times Digital Jumbo crosswords produced on our WordPress platform, replicated from their book counterparts in their entirety and featuring both the original 27×27 and later 23×23 grids, adapted in a totally new format and apps friendly version to appeal to the modern user. Reaction to Edmund Akenhead’s original work was echoed throughout Fleet Street starting with the Observer‘s earlier review entitled THE EXPERT’S EXPERT ● CROSSWORD COMPILERS ● THE LAST WORD with interviews by CARRIE STOKES in the Observer Colour Supplement. The first book, compiled almost in its entirety by my father (one clue from yours truly), was described thus by The Guardian‘s Eric Chalkely (Apex) – ‘Although I am basically an Ximenian, I always enjoy solving the Times crosswords, but as they don’t name the setter I don’t know who to recommend. However, The Times Jumbo Book of Crosswords, by Edmund Akenhead, is a little masterpiece.’
- On 5th June 2019 we achieved a World First with the successful online publishing of Brian Greer’s mammoth Times Diamond Jubilee Puzzle published in The Times on Saturday 3rd February 1990 to commemorate 60 years on from the first Times crossword by Adrian Bell of Saturday 1st February 1930.
- On 1st September 2019 – The Times2 Jumbo, and The Times Jumbo Word Games were compacted to satiate crossword buffs from near and far with our regular practice models. I completed 100 of these in the first 5 months of operation, and adding 5 Times Concise, and 5 Sunday Times Concise crosswords games monthly to increase the overall appeal of the Games.
- On 22nd October 2019 we introduced a new interactive device enabling reader participation in ongoing projects, notably the gradual construction of a House entry to mark the forthcoming 90 year milestone for The Times crossword. This was followed by an invitation for individuals to vie for £2000 in prize money for a £5 outlay to create a 45 x 45 puzzle to rival or better Brian Greer’s earlier magnificent effort.
- On 1st February 2020 we announced 3 winners in celebration of our 90th anniversary of The Times crossword marking exactly 90 Years to the day since the very first Times crossword produced by Adrian Bell for The Times on Saturday 1st February 1930 with a crossword to match Brian Greer’s earlier 60th anniversary crossword achievement.
- On 6th February 2020 saw an interchangeable bar system to the categories heading the website, enabling latitude of movement of appendages from category to category.
- On 10th February, in line with both commercial and individual requests I decided to axe the hint facility from all digital applications.
- On 1st May 2020, Akenhead crosswords announced their new mobile Crossword App in response to the leading crossword app, hosted by The New York Times, initially in the form of a FREE taster of items from David Akenhead’s extensive and up-to-date Crosswords and Crossword Games Digital archive courtesy of The Times and Sunday Times.
- On 12th July 2020 Akenhead Crosswords announced that the projected crossword app is postponed until late August and will feature the first 100 crosswords published in The Times, plus selected titles from the crossword archive, as well as 1,000 adapted Times Concise crossword games as its centrepiece.
- On 24th August 2020 completion by DA of the new Times 1,000 Concise crossword games.
- On 1st September 2020, with interest approaching 50,000 Views – Launch of DA’s NEW Commercial App featuring The Times 1000 Concise Crossword Games, The Times Crosswords 1 to 100, and The Times and Sunday Times Crossword Archive for a rental of US$ 8 quarterly / US$ 25 annually.
- On 1st October 2020, I introduced a new ongoing project, tracing the History of The Times crossword from 1930 onwards, with 10 preferred clues and solutions from each year accompanied by interesting articles and letters from The Times Archive with most crosswords from February of each year with the odd exception, the objective being to have amassed a projected 1,000 clues and solutions of choice as my contribution to the Centenary celebrations of The Times crossword on 1st February 2030 – DA
- On 1st December 2020, I suspended at commercial operations until the New Year as a means of assisting in the Yuletide spirit during lockdown.
- On 5th December 2020, after much interest shown in my historical project, I published in my digital format the crossword from The Times to announce VE day in Europe on, the 8th May 1945. Response was immediate and welcoming. I am now resolved on a project within a project, to emulate for public consumption every single crossword published in The Times between 4th September 1939 and 31st December 1939, and thereafter the contents of every February until 1945, courtesy of The Times Archive and The Times Atlas of The Second World War, with the first and last crosswords already published!
- On 1st January 2021 we resumed the promotion of our Commercial App, and instead of trying to compete with The New York Times with their thoroughly modern On-Line crossword competitions, we, in sharp contrast are setting our sights on the thoroughly ancient, with the very welcome assistance of The Times Archive, and The Times Atlas of The Second World War. My focus now is squarely on exploring the significance of The Times crossword from ancient to modern times. My first goals are towards revealing the crossword’s significance during the War Years, and my second to build a fitting tribute to Adrian Bell’s original creation, and my father’s original Jumbo creation in time for the centenary of the crossword in February 2030.
- On 7th January 2021 The new gifting scheme, mentioned earlier, was extended to $US35.
On 1st February 2021, one year later, it was suggested to me that I might like to submit my own clues (which I hope pass muster) as replacements to the three splendid, 2020 competition entries above, effectively answering the original 45 x 45 challenge mounted on 1st February 1990 by Brian Greer on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of The Times crossword. 45 X 45 brings the mammoth back to life again with the 90th, my own 208 clue entry being the eventual result!
- On 17th February 2021 we announced our successful implementation of my father’s East African crosswords on both Facebook and Linked-in and as a direct link to our Apps site here.
- On 20th February 2021 Darvid Parfitt TOL, Puzzles Editor announced our new programme going forwards concerning my innovations and my gifting scheme. His final article in his weekly Newsletter is retained in my Blog on my Apps Home Page.
- On 26th February 2021 we added our VIP Life subscription for individuals commencing at $US 100 to be followed by a Corporate VIP Life subscription of $US 1,000
- On 27th February 2021 Although my link with TOL is removed as of this day, as a TOL Life Member myself I still receive the Puzzle Editor’s weekly Newsletter. His article today features the success of the Latin Crossword O Tempora, approprately named for The Times. As an avid Classics man myself, I am pleased to announce the imminent arrival of a weekly dose of Nital, which as any chemist or Shorter Oxford will tell you is “an etchant consistent of a few per cent of nitric acid in ethanol or methanol”, more a formula for a good night’s sleep and a worthy anagram or reversal of LATIN! Ours will be a game of letters! – Sic itur ad astra!
- On 24th March 2021 I initiated a brand new ongoing crossword competition complete with Leader Board for aspiring crossword champions, emulating similar conditions inherent in my father’s earlier initiative, his annual, The Times National Crossword Championships for those eager to pit their wits against any crosswords featured in my digital archive, where I have extend his vision including concise crossword fans as well. Participation is conditional on a $25 annual subscription for my services
- On 15th April 2021 the gifting scheme was scrapped and replaced with a flat $25 annual fee.
- On 15th May 2021 the annual fee was reduced to $10.
- On 29th August 2021 new crossword invention: An entire East African cryptic crossword originally from the pens of EA and DA gradually completed by members of the public with ongoing credits for successful analytics courtesy of Facebook and Linked-in.
- On 1st September 2021 subsequent to a complete breakdown of my commercial operation in India on acount of the Delta variant and with the subsequent removal of my operation to St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada all subscriptions were temporarily suspended.
- On 28th September 2021 announced a complete revamp of my website www.crosswordsakenhead.com courtesy of my brilliant new programmer and graphics maestro, Deepak Kumar from Bhubaneswar, India.
- On 15th October 2021 pursuant to internet turbulence courtesy of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, resulting in the loss of my Archive for an entire week, undaunted I began a new enhanced Jumbo compiler program following a principle of oscillating neutrinos shielded by dark matter!
- On 6th November 2021 pursuant to the above and inspired by the Nobel Prizewinners for Physics (2015), Arthur B. McDonald of Canada, and Takaaki Kajita of Japan, proving conclusively the evidence of mass by oscillating neutrinos, revealing their original calculations correct by virtue of the absence of those neutrinos shielded by dark matter, I perfected a crossword model reversing their procedure to reveal a brand new digital crossword compiler which starts with the dark matter and reveals much potential! – the whole thing is entirely flexible. There is something of the spirit of Phileas Fogg in me, I feel! Very proud of my invention, in my quest to keep abreast with all the new crossword publications, giving me a fighting chance of survival as a freelance, yet loyal adherent to the Firm!
- On 15th December 2021 (subject to extensive trials) I evolved a successful system to convert published crosswords direct through my new digital converter with an inbuilt proofer, revealing errors in existing publications, and enabling me single-handedly to keep up with the expanding range of crossword books at Times Books and Harper Collins.
- On 20th December 2021 I added a new Thoughts section to my website to reflect my continuing passion for the Arts.
- On 1st February 2022, on the occasion of the 92nd anniversary of The Times crossword I introduced extensive changes to my set-up, providing a shop window on my main site for samples of published crossword titles in digital format with direct links to HarperCollins, and a fully functional LINK exclusive to revived subscriptions earlier suspended in 2021 in line with my remit to Times Newspapers Limited in the gradual expansion of my extensive digital crossword archive, excluding pro-tem any Sun crossword publications.
- On 3rd February 2022. With all systems fully functional, response was immediate, particularly on account of the crisis in Ukraine. However, we were alerted subsequent to our February 1st announcement that we had overstepped the mark whereupon we swiftly attended to discrepancies with apology for our oversight.
- On 17th February 2022 our Viewership had risen to 100,000
- On 28th March 2022 saw with the renewal of my contract with The Times, and the emergence of my late father’s Times crossword publications in digital format in my weekly crossword challenges courtesy of Facebook and Linked-in as well as a renewed recommendation to my subscriptions from retiring TOL Puzzles Editor, David Parfitt.
- On 1st May 2022 completed the fourth of twenty December editions of The Times crossword entitled The Akenhead Years covering the heydays of the crossword during my father, Edmund Akenhead’s long tenure as editor, and cruciverbalist extraordinary between 1965 and 1983 and 1985 when he handed over his Crossword Championships to his loyal advocate and prodigious contributor, John Grant.
- On 15th June 2022, the new e-commerce gallery, as the new alternative for my products, was postponed until August 1st earliest.
- On 25th June 2022, developed advanced crossword games after successful trials, attracting aficionados of varying ability with a two-tier challenge manifesting itself, complete with a final plaudit and a breakdown of time taken over the exploit before automatically reverting back to base!
- On 10th August 2022 successful launch of my NEW e-commerce gallery via my sub-domain akenheadcrosswords.com. The Times 1000 Concise Crossword Games will be launched on 10th September, broken down into batches of 50. My old subscription model is terminated forthwith. Our new direction was prompted by a clear desire by newspaper readers generally for access to our digital titles for life with a single fee per item. Free samples of every item in our new e-gallery are available prior to registration. We have a special opening half-price Christmas offer on everything, our range to be extended and our present policy to be reviewed in New Year 2023. In the volatile books market at present, we reserve the right to raise or lower prices as market forces dictate. Presently the trend sees a weakening of the Concise crossword prices against steady or slightly increasing Cryptics.
- On 20th December 2022 I was reminded that the licence for my entire operation would close with my demise without any provision for continuity thereafter, and no discernible prospect to benefit from the fruits of my labours. I determined from that moment to do all I could to persuade The Times that sinking Jason and his Argonauts would benefit no-one, least of all The Times! Furthermore, it would do nothing to enhance my father’s legacy too, which met a similar fate when he died, despite earlier assurances from Mr James Bishop that his legacy would continue with his son. New brooms undermined all that.
- On Wednesday 1st February 2023 in honour of my late father, and Adrian Bell, with the 93rd Anniversary of the Times Crossword I adjusted further my previous Mammoth Jumbo crossword compilation in memory of my father’s invention for The Times, and the last crossword he and I put together against all the odds, before her died on 22nd December 1990 with his new book More Jumbo Crosswords from The Times which sold like hot cakes. Response to my latest initiative, sluggish at first, is beginning again to sky-rocket such that my viewership has just surpassed 207,693 courtesy of 2 players, myself and my superb Sikh programmer. Now, I feel we are just beginning to steady the ship, with another announcement that far from wishing to compete with The Times, I wish henceforth instead to gain the Golden Fleece for all of us, by respecting the need to preserve my former colleagues in the crossword book business at Harper Collins who I never let down once during my long tenure as Crosswords Proof Editor for them for The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun Newspapers. If they do not realise that I have become, once again, a huge asset to them, then I will die in the knowledge that at least I gave the Golden Fleece my best shot!
On Friday 18th August, 2023, this extract (edited) from my News Editorial on my website: Our following today stands at 207,408 placing us with 2 employees exactly 67,000 above TOL with 1,317 employees on 140,408.
On Saturday 16th September, 2023, this extract (edited) from my News Editorial on my website: Our following today from 185 countries stands at 212,394 placing us with 2 employees exactly 75,290 above TOL with 1,317 employees on 137,104.
I see my site as an experimental platform for future products and projects and as an opportunity for the world at large to sample some of the beautiful products from our illustrious past from my extensive Archive of The Times and Sunday Times crosswords, as well as explore the future of digital crosswords generally.
Is it beyond the bounds of reason, I asked myself, to suggest that my father’s 27 x 27 crossword was just the beginning of a new trend? Brian Greer seemed to support my notion with his wonderful 45 x 45 crossword. And we achieved just that on 5th June 2019! I have my eyes firmly fixed on a 54×54 in honour of William Shakespeare, in contrast to my earlier 90th Anniversary 45×45 effort based on music Ancient as well as Modern!
Thank you, Mr Murdoch and Times Newspapers Limited for your renewed confidence in my work. Thank you too to my brother, Sir Robert Akenhead, for his limitless patience and for his invaluable support and my new brilliant programmers from India, JS Jodha and Deepak Kumar for their indispensable help as well – (we managed to compress my original program on 3rd June 2019, rendering it lightning fast and efficient and enabling us to blend the old with the new on the most advanced of platforms!)
Sic itur ad astra! Thus we journey to the stars!
If you like what you see, please spread the word and happy puzzling! Below are illustrated examples of my earlier achievements.
Sincerely, David Akenhead, author of The Times Mammoth 45×45 Crossword (February 2023) to rival Brian Greer’s original Times Diamond Jubilee Crossword in 1990, The Times Computer Crosswords, The Sunday Times Computer Crosswords, The Sun Computer Crosswords, editor of The Third Book of The Times Jumbo Crosswords with Brian Greer former Crossword Editor of The Times, proofs editor with John Grant, former Crossword Editor of The Times on The Times Crosswords Omnibus books and all The Times crossword books under John Grant’s editorship by Times Books for The Times and with Barbara Hall MBE, former Crossword Editor of The Sunday Times, The Sunday Times Crosswords Omnibus Book 1 (also under my editorship) co-editor with Mike Laws, former Crossword Editor of The Times, on The Times Jumbo Crossword Collection (first 3 Books) and The Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword Books 4,5 and 6, the latter being the first of the Everest Jumbo series, all in the original 27×27 format and co-editor with Richard Browne, former Crossword Editor of The Times, on 75 Years of The Times Crossword and finally as author and editor of all the digital applications on this website.
Sunday, 20th August 2023
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