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October 26 2019
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Joyce Cansfield after becoming British Scrabble champion, at the Connaught Rooms, London, 1980.

After 30 years of compiling crosswords for The Times, the answer to 13 across in the final puzzle that Joyce Cansfield set was “egghead”.

The puzzle — her 1,265th for the paper — appeared on November 15, 2011, and although she would have gently demurred at the description, “egghead” was not a bad way to sum up her prodigious cerebral power. Her ability to solve the knottiest conundrum led to her becoming Britain’s national Scrabble champion, the first series winner of the television quiz show Countdown and the 1983 Brain of Mensa.

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