Robert applies the same attention to detail to his lifelong interest of compiling crossword puzzles, something he has done from childhood.
He has developed the materials and techniques to produce a crossword puzzle where every answer relates to a particular subject. These use standard grids, of the sort you will find in the national newspapers.
He is the only known compiler of specialist crossword puzzles.
His crosswords have been published in magazines such as Taxation, Laudate (church music) and Payroll World, among others. It is a wonderful item for a magazine, either regularly or on special occasions, such as at Christmas.
The two commonest types of puzzle are the 15 x 15 cryptic puzzle and the 13 x 13 puzzle. The usual cost for compiling these is a mere £150 and £100 respectively (plus VAT).
The puzzles (including grid and solution) can be supplied in Word or PDF format. In addition, the grid can be provided in RTF format which is compatible with most typesetting packages. The solution is provided as both a list of answers and as a completed grid.
Crossword puzzles can be designed to accommodate a particular name or names. These make a wonderful and original birthday present for a keen crossword solver, or as part of the publicity for a product launch.
Puzzles can also be compiled using ordinary English words. Here you would have a choice between basic English, ordinary English or specialist English, depending on how academic you wish the puzzle to be.
While many crosswords relate to tax and music because of Robert’s profession, he has also compiled crosswords on medicine, building, home, law, music, literature and many other topics. Some examples can be found on this website in the Articles section. Have a go!
How is it done?
He has developed the materials and knowledge that allow him to compile specialist crossword puzzles where every answer relates to any particular subject. As a rough guide, the subject matter must support a vocabulary of at least 5,000 terms up to 15 letters long. If a subject does not have sufficient vocabulary, it may be supplemented by vocabulary from an adjacent subject.
The vocabulary list is then used according to a statistical analysis of where the letters fall. It is common knowledge that the most frequently letters used in English are A, E, O and T. Yet none of these is the commonest first letter. These are B, C, P and S. The letter Y is the second commonest final letter, yet is the second least common first letter.
Next there is a topographical analysis of the grid as to where a common letter is needed at a junction between an across and down clue. From this, Robert has compiled not just an analysis of standard grids, but a method of scoring them to see how readily they can match to a vocabulary size.
Some of this work is now performed using specialist software, but he still has all the materials collected when it was done entirely by paper and pencil.