It would be hard to programme a computer to solve a cryptic crossword, whereas many other types of puzzle can be solved by simple algorithms. Why solve a sudoku by hand, when a computer could do so much more efficiently?
I grew up with my mother and granny doing crosswords, but didn’t understood the process myself, always finding it rather opaque. Some years ago, Kate and I decided to learn how crosswords work, so we bought a crossword dictionary. We spent a couples of months doing the Daily Telegraph crossword each day, checking the answers the following day for clues we failed to get, and making sure that we always understood how the clue got to the answer. Suddenly it clicked, and we could do most of the crossword, most days, without too much bother. (There are always a few clues that stump us, but often Kate can see what I can’t, and vice versa.)
Now, in this post-newsprint age, we subscribe to The Telegraph on our iPads, mainly for the cryptic crossword. This is why I could never want a holiday away from technology and the internet — the first step to enjoying time off work is to download the Daily Telegraph and have a look at the crossword.