The challenge is to find the way of reading the clue that leads to the solution. A typical clue consists of two parts, the definition and the wordplay. It provides two ways of getting to the answer. The definition, which usually exactly matches the part of speech , tense , and number of the answer, is in essence the same as any 'straight' crossword clue, a synonym for the answer. It usually appears at the start or the end of a clue. The other part the subsidiary indication , or wordplay provides an alternative route to the answer this part would be a second definition in the case of double definition clues.
One of the tasks of the solver is to find the boundary between definition and wordplay and insert a mental pause there when reading the clue cryptically. This wordplay gives the solver some instructions on how to get to the answer another way. Sometimes the two parts are joined with a link word or phrase such as "from", "gives" or "could be".
There are many sorts of wordplay, such as anagrams and double definitions, but they all conform to rules. The crossword setters do their best to stick to these rules when writing their clues, and solvers can use these rules and conventions to help them solve the clues. Noted cryptic setter Derrick Somerset Macnutt who wrote cryptics under the pseudonym of Ximenes discusses the importance and art of fair cluemanship in his seminal book on cryptic crosswords, Ximenes on the Art of the Crossword , reprinted Because a typical cryptic clue describes its answer in detail and often more than once, the solver can usually have a great deal of confidence in the answer once it has been determined.
The clues are 'self-checking'. This is in contrast to non-cryptic crossword clues which often have several possible answers and force the solver to use the crossing letters to distinguish which was intended. Here is an example taken from The Guardian crossword of 6 August , set by "Shed". There are many "code words" or "indicators" that have a special meaning in the cryptic crossword context. In the example above, "about", "unfinished" and "rising" all fall into this category.
Learning these, or being able to spot them, is a useful and necessary part of becoming a skilled cryptic crossword solver. Compilers or setters often use slang terms and abbreviations, generally without indication, so familiarity with these is important for the solver.
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Of these examples, "flower" is an invented meaning by back-formation from the -er suffix, which cannot be confirmed in a standard dictionary. A similar trick is played in the old clue "A wicked thing" for CANDLE, where the -ed suffix must be understood in its "equipped with a Sometimes "compiler", or the name or codename of the compiler if visible by the crossword , codes for some form of the pronoun "I, me, my, mine". Unlike typical American crosswords , in which every square is almost always checked that is, each square provides a letter for both an across and a down answer , only about half of the squares in a cryptic crossword are checked.
In most daily newspaper cryptic crosswords, grid designs are restricted to a set of stock grids. In the past this was because hot metal typesetting meant that new grids were expensive. Some papers have additional grid rules. In The Times , for example, all words have at least half the letters checked, and although words can have two unchecked squares in succession, they cannot be the first two or last two letters of a word.
The grid shown here breaks one Times grid rule: The Independent allows setters to use their own grid designs. Word boundaries are denoted by thick lines called "bars". In these variety puzzles, one or more clues may require modification to fit into the grid, such as dropping or adding a letter, or being anagrammed to fit other, unmodified clues; unclued spaces may spell out a secret message appropriate for the puzzle theme once the puzzle is fully solved.
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The solver also may need to determine where answers fit into the grid. A July "Puzzlecraft" section in Games magazine on cryptic crossword construction noted that for cryptic crosswords to be readily solvable, no fewer than half the letters for every word should be checked by another word for a standard cryptic crossword, while nearly every letter should be checked for a variety cryptic crossword. In most UK "advanced cryptics" 'variety cryptic' , at least three-quarters of the letters in each word are checked.
There are notable differences between British and North American including Canadian cryptics. American cryptics are thought of as holding to a more rigid set of construction rules than British ones. American cryptics usually require all words in a clue to be used in service of the wordplay or definition, whereas British ones allow for more extraneous or supporting words.
In American cryptics, a clue is only allowed to have one subsidiary indication, but in British cryptics the occasional clue may have more than one; e. In Poland similar crosswords are called " Hetman crosswords". In Finnish , this type of crossword puzzle is known as piilosana literally "hidden word" , while krypto refers to a crossword puzzle where the letters have been coded as numbers. In India the Telugu publication Sakshi carries a "Tenglish" Telugu-English, bilingual cryptic crossword;  the Prajavani crossword Kannada also employs cryptic wordplay.
In Chinese something similar is the riddle of Chinese characters, where partial characters instead of substrings are clued and combined. Clues given to the solver are based on various forms of wordplay. Nearly every clue has two non-overlapping parts to it: Most cryptic crosswords provide the number of letters in the answer, or in the case of phrases, a series of numbers to denote the letters in each word: More advanced puzzles may drop this portion of the clue. An anagram is a rearrangement of a certain section of the clue to form the answer. This is usually indicated by words such as "strange", "bizarre", "muddled", "wild", "drunk", or any other term indicating change.
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Anagram clues are characterized by an indicator word adjacent to a phrase that has the same number of letters as the answer. The indicator tells the solver that there is an anagram they need to solve to work out the answer. Indicators come either before or after the letters to be anagrammed.
In an American cryptic, only the words given in the clue may be anagrammed; in some older puzzles, the words to be anagrammed may be clued and then anagrammed. So in this clue:. Chew is the anagram indicator; honeydew clues melon , which is to be anagrammed; and fruit is the definition for the answer, LEMON. This kind of clue is called an indirect anagram , which in the vast majority of cryptic crosswords are not used, ever since they were criticised by 'Ximenes' in his book On the Art of the Crossword.
Anagram indicators, among the thousands possible, include: It is common for the setter to use a juxtaposition of anagram indicator and anagram that form a common phrase to make the clue appear as much like a 'normal' sentence or phrase as possible. Here the answer is formed by joining individually clued words to make a larger word namely, the answer.
The definition is "managing money". With this example, the words appear in the same order in the clue as they do in the answer, and no special words are needed to indicate this. However, the order of the parts is sometimes indicated with words such as "against", "after", "on", "with" or "above" in a down clue. Other container indicators are "inside", "over", "around", "about", "clutching", "enters", and the like. Deletions consist of beheadments , curtailments , and internal deletions. In beheadments, a word loses its first letter. In curtailments, it loses its last letter, and internal deletions remove an inner letter, such as the middle one.
The answer would be TAR , another word for "sailor", which is a "celebrity", or star, without the first letter. The answer is BOO.
If you ignore the punctuation, a book is a "read", and book "endlessly" is boo , a "shout". Note that "sweetheart" could also be simply "wee" or the letter "E", that is, the "heart" middle of "sweet". A clue may, rather than having a definition part and a wordplay part, have two definition parts. Note that since these definitions come from the same root word, an American magazine might not allow this clue. American double definitions tend to require both parts to come from different roots, as in this clue:. This takes advantage of the two very different meanings and pronunciations of POLISH , the one with the long "o" sound meaning "someone from Poland" and the one with the short "o" sound meaning "make shiny".
These clues tend to be short; in particular, two-word clues are almost always double-definition clues. Some British newspapers have an affection for quirky clues of this kind where the two definitions are similar:. When the answer appears in the clue but is contained within one or more words, it is hidden. The word "hides" is used to mean "contains," but in the surface sense suggests "pelts". A complication is that "damaged" often but not in this clue means "rearrange the letters".
Possible indicators of a hidden clue are "in part", "partially", "in", "within", "hides", "conceals", "some", and "held by". Hidden words clues are sometimes called "Embedded words" or "Telescopic clues".
The opposite of a hidden word clue, where letters missing from a sentence have to be found, is known as a Printer's Devilry , and appears in some advanced cryptics. The answer would be APE , which is a type of primate. This is obtained from the first letters of "actor needing new identity emulates". It is possible to have initialisms just for certain parts of the clue. It is also possible to employ the same technique to the end of words.
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Here, we take the first letters of only the words "Head Office" ho and we take the "end" of the word "day" y. The letters of the word "dame", meaning "lady", are then made to go around the letters "ho" to form Dahomey. The word "odd" indicates that we must take every other letter of the rest of the clue, starting with the first: Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings, such as "night" and "knight".
Homophone clues always have an indicator word or phrase that has to do with phonetics, such as "reportedly", "they say", "utterly" here treated as "utter ing -ly" and not with its usual meaning , "vocal", "to the audience", "auditioned", "by the sound of it", "is heard", "in conversation" and "on the radio".
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The homophone is indicated by "we hear". If the two words are the same length, the clue should be phrased in such a way that only one of them can be the answer. This is usually done by having the homophone indicator adjacent to the word that is not the definition; therefore, in the previous example, "we hear" was adjacent to "twins" and the answer was pare rather than pair. The indicator could come between the words if they were of different lengths and the enumeration was given, such as in the case of "right" and "rite".
The letter bank form of cluing consists of a shorter word or words containing no repeated letters an "isogram" , and a longer word or phrase built by using each of these letters but no others at least once but repeating them as often as necessary. This type of clue has been described by American constructors Joshua Kosman and Henry Picciotto, who write the weekly puzzle for The Nation. The shorter word is typically at least three or four letters in length, while the target word or phrase is at least three letters longer than the bank word.
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Typically, the clue contains indicator words such as "use," "take," or "implement" to signal that a letter bank is being employed. In this case, "ingredients" signals that the letters of both "Advil" and "Not" form the bank.
Kosman and Picciotto consider this to be a newer and more complicated form of cluing that offers another way, besides the anagram, of mixing and recombining letters.
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