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The art of the crossword: How to solve clues and create your own puzzles

Guardian Masterclasses

Sunday, January 26, 2020 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM (GMT)

The art of the crossword: How to solve clues and...

Ticket Information

Ticket Type Sales End Price * Fee Quantity
The art of the crossword: How to solve clues and create your own puzzles   more info 2d 9h 12m £129.00 £6.48
* Prices include VAT

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Event Details

Discover the secrets of wordplay wizardry by seeing John Halpern, aka Paul, the Guardian’s most published setter, in action as we create together a real-life Guardian-style cryptic crossword  - a perfect present for a puzzle lover.

Watch the Guardian cryptic crossword being created in front of your very eyes from start to finish. Whether you are an experienced solver or a complete beginner, leading crossword setter John Halpern AKA Paul will show you how cryptic clues work and how they are written.

Understanding the mind of a crossword setter will help you become a better solver, as well as encourage you to try your hand at setting your own clues.

There will be plenty of time to ask Paul any questions you may have about crosswords. You will leave the day with a better understanding of the setting process, with handouts to help you continue to develop your crossword solving and setting skills after the course.


You’re encouraged to bring along any words and phrases you would particularly like to see in a crossword. You will be producing a Guardian-style puzzle which you can then share with your friends!


  • A brief history of the crossword

  • The process of creating a cryptic crossword puzzle from scratch

  • The rules of solving and setting cryptic crosswords – and when they can be broken

  • How to create clues, anagrams, hidden words, double definitions, reversals, containers, sound-alikes etc

  • Write your own clues and contribute to the live creation of a crossword

  • The editing process

  • Practical exercises and group work, commenting on Paul’s cryptic crossword as he creates it

  • Your chance to ask any questions

Tutor profile


John Halpern (aka Paul) is the Guardian’s and the UK’s most published cryptic crossword setter. His crosswords also appear in the Financial Times, the Independent and the Times, among other publications. John lives in Brighton and is married to a woman whose name is an anagram of “entail”. They have a son whose name is hidden in the word “taramasalata”. John is the author of The Centenary of the Crossword and tweets @crosswordpaul.

All Guardian Masterclasses are fully accessible but please contact us at if you have any queries or concerns.

Full course and returns information on the Masterclasses website

Have questions about The art of the crossword: How to solve clues and create your own puzzles? Contact Guardian Masterclasses

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When & Where

The Guardian
Kings Place
90 York Way
N1 9GU London
United Kingdom

Sunday, January 26, 2020 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM (GMT)

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Guardian Masterclasses

Welcome to Guardian masterclasses – a unique programme of learning embedded within one of the world's most forward-thinking media organisations.

Masterclasses offer a broad range of short and long courses across a variety of disciplines from creative writing, journalism, photography and design, film and digital media, music and cultural appreciation.

Harnessing the expertise and specialisms within the organisation, our courses are led by first class and award winning guardian professionals whilst also drawing on the skills and expertise of other leading figures at the forefront of the creative and digital industries.

The programme is aimed at anyone interested in personal or professional development whether that be refining your skills, focusing your ambition or simply broadening your mind and gaining inspiration.

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