Tom Johnson

Allan Scott, 1946-2024

Allan Scott

Allan Scott, who died in mid-May, was one of the country’s pre-eminent crossword compilers and will be remembered by some of our Spectator solvers as Ascot. Allan was born in Southport in Lancashire in 1946. He married his first wife, Hilda, in 1967 and they had two children, David and Carol. He worked in insurance in London until his retirement in 2000. Soon afterwards he moved from Essex to Llandudno with his partner, Christina, whom he married earlier this year.

His first crossword had been published in the Listener back in 1977 and in the mid-1980s, while working in Manchester, he had collaborated with Harold Massingham (Mass in The Spectator) on four collections of cryptic crosswords for Marks & Spencer. On Mass’s recommendation he joined The Spectator team of compilers in July 1987 and for many years he was one of the quartet of regular setters – Columba, Dumpynose, Ascot and Doc – during which time he compiled a puzzle every ninth week. Over 100 of his crosswords appeared in The Spectator, 26 of which were successive puzzles with girls’ names as their titles running alphabetically from Amy to Zoe. 

From 1994 to 2015, Allan was Everyman of the Observer, and immediately after leaving the Spectator team in November 2008 he began compiling for the Daily Telegraph, eventually inheriting the Monday slot from the great Roger Squires, supplying 633 puzzles in total. With all his other contributions to that newspaper, it is reckoned that he set over 3,500 crosswords – a total which may very well not be equalled. He was also a valued member of the Times compiling team. His other long-time commitment was for the Financial Times for which he set cryptic and Polymath puzzles under the pseudonym Falcon.

Allan enjoyed playing chess, snooker and golf. He was a member of Didsbury Conservative Club in south Manchester and was proud to say that he had played snooker with Jimmy White, Alex Higgins and John Virgo.

His crosswords will be greatly missed.