On this special day, February 1st 2020, commemorating 90 Years to the day from the very first Times crossword published in The Times, a reflection on the introduction of a similar feature to her sister newspaper 5 years earlier.
– by David Akenhead
The Sunday Times on the eleventh January 1925 got off to a tricky start with the introduction of Crossword Puzzle – No. 1, a strange 11 x 11 affair, with no apparent rhyme or reason to it in the eyes of the modern reader! They clearly did not have a clue! The clues literally being a pretty indecipherable affair altogether with a matching grid! But as with all great innovations, help was at hand with the second puzzle under the watchful gaze of a hastily installed crossword editor, in the figure of something of an expert in these strange affairs, Ernest Bergholt who restored order to the preceding chaos! And his restored model was to continue until January 2nd 1938 when the new 15 x 15 crossword we all recognise today came into play.
Anyway, I thought it might be nice to share the very first Editorial with readers today!
THE SUNDAY TIMES, JANUARY 11, 1925
‘A “SUNDAY TIMES” PUZZLE
The SUNDAY Times, which has always
made a feature of such popular pastimes
and skilled games as Acrostics, Chess and
Auction Bridge, has fallen a victim to the
universal craze of Cross-Word Puzzles. A
feature of the SUNDAY TIMES Puzzles will
be their instructive nature, and it is hoped
to give tests in different languages.
Prizes of three novels, to be selected
from the publishers’ advertisements in the
SUNDAY TIMES, will be given to each of the
five competitors whose correct solutions are
When you have completed the square,
paste it down on a piece of white paper,
add your name and address in block letters,
and post to “The Editor, The SUNDAY
TIMES, 186, Strand, W.C.2.” with the
words “Cross-Word No. 1” marked
plainly on the top left-hand corner of the
envelope. Solutions must reach the
SUNDAY TIMES by first post on Thursday.
All competitors must accept the Editor’s
decisions as final and legally binding. It
is no use sending incomplete solutions.’
Enjoy my new 1938 Challenge too!
Sincerely, David Akenhead, former Crossword Consultant to The Times