In my wrap-up post for 2021 I mentioned that Abi and I had been systematically working our way back in time through the Guardian’s archive of Quiptic crosswords. At the start of our run I took notes on which ones we’d done, and how hard we found them. That didn’t last, but it’s how I know we started with Quiptic 1129 on 23 July 2021.
Just yesterday we reached a particular milestone with Quiptic 562, from 23 August 2010. This is when crossword puzzling site FifteenSquared started covering the weekly Quiptic. The bloggers at FifteenSquared not only provide solutions, but they also analyze and comment (often sarcastically) on the clues and the parsings. This has been very useful for us in getting better at solving cryptic crosswords. But because we’ve been working our way back in time, this means we’ve now exhausted that assistance. Training wheels are off, and we’re on our own now.
From 23 July 2021 to 26 December 2022 is 521 days. From Quiptic 1129 to 562 is 567 puzzles, so on average we’re doing just over one a day. At this rate we’ll get back to the Quiptic 1 from 23 November 1999 in another 516 days, which would be around 25 May 2024 – another year and a few months.
The time travel aspect of going backwards through the archive is interesting. Although the Quiptic mostly stays away from contemporary cultural references, it does sometimes help to know who was prime minister (PM) in the UK in any given year. For future time travellers, 2022 is going to be a weird one.