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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 1. 28 February 1972

Cryptic Crosswords

Cryptic Crosswords

[unclear: his] short and by no means extensive survey is designed to be of [unclear: ssistance] to the novice wishing to attempt the solution of cryptic [unclear: rosswords,] whether they be found in the Evening Post on Wednes-ays and Saturdays, the Dominion on Saturdays, the Christchurch [unclear: reas] every morning, assorted magazines weekly or monthly, or the [unclear: aper] in which this appears.

[unclear: he] difficulties perceived in initial contacts with this type of cross-[unclear: ord] can seem almost insurmountable. This is due primarily to the [unclear: ability] of the beginner to decode the clues, which resemble [unclear: eroglyphic] spells whose aim is to hypnotise the reader into a state [unclear: f] incredulous immobility. Some knowledge of the structure [unclear: f] cryptic clues and the conventions employed in their making is [unclear: ssential] to dispel this glassy-eyed incomprehension. It is a peculiar [unclear: act], however, that those who are au fait with cryptic crosswords [unclear: re] often reluctant to part with their secrets, such Information that [unclear: hey] possess being regarded as sacred and not to be imparted to the [unclear: ninltiated]. Here follows, then, a brief outline of the main points to [unclear: he] cabbala.

[unclear: General]

[unclear: a] genuine synonym-type clue is nearly always present, ranging from [unclear: he] explicit to the very broad (eg 'on which people put their shirt' [unclear: as] been seen as part of a clue for 'derby favourites'). Accom-[unclear: anying] the synonym may be other words which describe how the [unclear: lue] is to be made up. One of the first difficulties encountered will [unclear: e] that of working out exactly what part of the clue is the 'real' [unclear: lue]. For example:

[unclear: ining] is giving out outside a minor star' (5,7) (Bangsoon)

[unclear: he] answer might be two words meaning any of the following: [unclear: ning], lining is. lining is giving out, a minor star, minor star, star.

[unclear: he] other words present may be components of the actual word [unclear: at] is the answer. These can be In strict succession, reversed, inter[unclear: wined], or otherwise convoluted eg-

[unclear: Turn] the handle just for fun, (5) (The Times)

[unclear: Revel] - lever backwards)

[unclear: 'In] being embraced by renown, there's nothing for man's inner [unclear: eeds]. (6) (Daily Telegraph)

Famine - in 'embraced' by Fame)

'(So auburn is his hair the journalist is very upset. (4,10) The Guardian.)

Sore Distressed - so red is tress ed.)

'Beer returned by the King. (5) (Bangsoon)

[unclear: ager] - regal backwards)

[unclear: acluded] in, or in place of, this structure may be found abbrevia-[unclear: tions], anagrams, homophones, homonyms, pun, and various other [unclear: evices] for word manipulation.

[unclear: Abreviations]

[unclear: ny] of the abbreviations used in, say the Concise Oxford Diction-[unclear: ry] might be used in relating an answer to a clue. Some frequently [unclear: sed] examples of conventions and abbreviations are given below, [unclear: e] left column being answer components and the right column [unclear: lue] components.

.S.E.W. point(s), quarter(s), eardinal(s), dixection(s). ALT, TAR,AB sailor, seaman etc A one I nothing, love, ring. E. LA.UN 'the French' 'a French' E about, engineers (though note that 'about', in a clue may merely refer to the placement of one word about another) A artist, painter etc. AN. THE article(s) G horse, nag etc B,C,D,E,F.G. note(s) R.R royal, queen etc V V V X,L four, five, six, ten, fifty etc PP.F.FF soft, quiet/loud etc R, MO,MB, doctor etc. A, MA fellow degree etc. ns is only a partial list

[unclear: Anagrams]

[unclear: sually] an indication is given that an anagram is present, though [unclear: his] is not always the case. Watch for words like 'bad', 'strange' [unclear: pset]', etc. eg: 'Feeling ill, the strange nurse left' (9) (The Times). [unclear: esentful] - anagram of 'nurse left')

[unclear: Homophones]

adicated by 'we hear', 'sounds like, etc, for example:

'Erect sound beams' (5) (The Times).


'Sound string to tie up a bundle of notes, (5) (Bangsoon)


[unclear: Homonyms]

[unclear: g] "A alight case of more notes than syllables' (4) (Bangsoon) Slur)

'Cultivates fields - there's money in them' (5) (The Observer)

[unclear: ills])

[unclear: Conclusion]

[unclear: It] would be false comfort to say that cryptic clues can be so [unclear: easily] analysed into the above categories. Many constructions are [unclear: complex] mixture of two or more different styles of word manip-[unclear: ulation], and only constant practice with crosswords from different [unclear: sources] can transform the state of incomprehension to one that [unclear: resembles] competence. Than there are the Joke clues or puna, app-[unclear: earing] about as frequently as anagrams in some crosswords. The [unclear: ability] to do these often depends on how twisted is the solver's [unclear: use] of humour. Bangsoon has a Very twisted sense of humour.