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, crossword supplier extraordinary to BBC 2 for their pilot colour venture, Crossword on Two starring Panel supremos Frank Muir and Patrick Campbell and other contemporary associated memorable wits and wordsmiths, founder of the annual Times Crossword Championships, and the Times crossword archive 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 my father’s own internationally acclaimed achievements, and that of subsequent crossword editors of The Times with 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 a couple of 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 just myself, (see NEWS for latest update) but until the COVID variant swept India included my brilliant companion from India, Sunil Kumar Mutaka, both of us on equal wavelengths on an ambitious project; 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 no more downloads, and 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 David Akenhead and Sunil Kumar Mutaka :
- 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 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 – Link
- 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.
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.
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 programmer too from India, Sunil Kumar Mutaka, for his 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 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, co-editor with John Grant, former Crossword Editor of The Times on The Times and Sunday Times Crossword Omnibus series by Times Books for The Times and with Barbara Hall, former Crossword Editor of The Sunday Times, 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.
Wednesday 21st July, 2021
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