Viking was one of my favourite setters on the Financial Times, one whose puzzles I blogged often about on fifteensquared. When he passed away in October 2010, I dearly wished that he had left behind a repository of crosswords that we could enjoy in future, through which he could live on as long as possible.
That was not to be. After only two Viking puzzles published soon after his demise, the paper carried the message "This is Viking’s final crossword". Both his posthumous puzzles were reminders of his impeccable craftsmanship and of the great loss to the crossword community.
Some setters no longer with us have indeed left behind a stock of their crosswords in the pipeline. Puzzles set by Rover (1932 - 2010) and Quantum (1926-2008) continue to be published till date. Their fan bases can have solace in that. But can they really? To our dismay, we find that posthumous puzzles don't match up to the setter's usual high standards. In some cases the drop in quality in so marked it's hard to be believe the puzzles are by the same setter.
Why is it that posthumous puzzles don't enthuse solvers? A comment by Anax shed some light on the matter – the crossword we see in the paper is a collaboration between editor and setter. If the setter is no longer with us, only one of two things can happen: the puzzle appears 'in the raw' (unedited) or the editor makes whatever changes he sees fit - in neither case does the setter hone the crossword in his/her own style.
This makes me wonder: if the final few puzzles of the setter are raw, should they be published at all? Wouldn't solvers want to remember the setters by their finest, finished work than their not-so-good, unfinished work?
What would the setter want? If I were a setter, would I like to have my raw puzzles edited and put in print when I'm not around? I think not.
There are no easy answers to this I suppose, but I'm interested to know what you all think. Should such puzzles get published?
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