A crossword king is calling on Argus readers to help him compile a Brighton-inspired puzzle to mark the centenary of the word game.

Top wordsmith John Halpern is calling on his fellow Brighton residents to join him at a live event compiling a city-based puzzle to celebrate 2013 as the year of the crossword.

The professional crossword setter is determined to mark the centenary of the first ever puzzle across the country and wants to use the city as the place to kick-start the party.

The 45-year-old, who is a cryptic crossword setter for several broadsheet papers including The Guardian and The Times, said he would like to do a national tour of crossword events as well as a word-lover’s concert and even host an event across the Atlantic in America during the centenary year.

The first event will be held at Bom-Bane’s in George Street, Brighton, on Sunday between 2pm and 4pm, and crossword fans of all ages and abilities are invited to create a puzzle around the words they most associate with the city.

Mr Halpern, who was born in Cuckfield and now lives in East Brighton, says he has had a lifelong fascination with words and first began solving crossword puzzles when he was 20.


After becoming disillusioned with a maths and music degree, he dedicated a year of his life creating an “elegant” and “funny” crossword which was accepted by the Guardian.

He writes his Guardian crosswords under the pseudonym Paul in memory of his brother who died in a car crash aged 27.

He said: “I’ve just always loved wordplay and started seeing unusual things in words.

“I remember chatting with my granny as a 12-year-old boy and thinking that the word ‘panther’ was really funny as it had the words ‘pant’ and ‘her’ in it.

“When I met my wife Taline I remember thinking ‘your name is an anagram of entail’ but I couldn’t tell her this straight away because she would never speak to me again.

“Next year is a great opportunity to have fun with words throughout the year but I wanted Brighton to be the start of it because it’s the town I love.”

To take part in the free event send an email titled Crossword Event to janebombane@yahoo.co.uk or call 01273 616400.

The Brighton crossword will be printed in The Argus early in the New Year.

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