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Christine on Cryptics


By Christine Lovatt

Now that so many of you have caught the cryptic bug, I will have to work twice as hard to keep you supplied with these crafty clues, because the more you play the more addictive they become!

One of the problems I have in coming up with cryptic clues is that I can no longer see a two-word phrase without trying out a spoonerism. It has become second nature to me. In the supermarket I see brickin’ chests or bare hands; when I’m driving, I’m thinking of lashing flights or keeping in the light rain.

Phonetic clues are creeping into my subconscious as well. At a teacher parent meeting recently, I heard the word ‘microscope’ and found myself thinking my crows cope.

Am I destined to lose my concentration permanently, only able to think in riddles?  Well, as long as I remember to carry a notebook with me, then at least I’ll be able to use them!
Talking of phonetic clues, have you ever thought about how regional accents may affect the way clues are read?  In Australia and the North of England, for instance, the word 'dance' is pronounced to rhyme with ‘ants’, but in the South of England, it is pronounced ‘darnce’. For instance, if the word 'can’t' is pronounced to rhyme with ‘ant’, then the clue can’t anchor us should sound like ‘cantankerous’. But for solvers who pronounce can’t as carn’t, it won’t work. I have to be careful with that.

Another thing - do I upset Kiwis if I clue ‘when’ as win in New Zealand?  Or do Cockneys object to cockney elf as a clue for ‘health’?

Did you know that in USA, the cryptic crossword is known as the British crossword? Although crosswords were invented in New York (by an Englishman), the Americans for many years preferred to take their crosswords straight, while the British developed a taste for the tricky clues.

The first cryptic compiler, Edward Powys Mather, called himself Torquemada after the notorious Spanish inquisitor. He specialised in diabolically difficult clues, and his crosswords were published in the London Times for many years.

Though I may not be as cruel as Torquemada, I’ve got a few fiendish tricks up my sleeve to stretch your cerebral powers, so good luck and…

Happy Cryptic Solving!

Play Christine’s Cryptic Crossword 


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16 Responses to

Christine on Cryptics

donzie said:
August 24, 2011 at 4:40 PM

Words taking over your mind, is not losing your mind - it's further developing it! Which is great news for the solvers, or should I say the 'slavers'.I'm totally addicted.

b0ad1cea said:
August 25, 2011 at 4:08 AM

Addiction satisfied if I have my daily fixtures of obscure angry conversations.(7,10)

Xrosie said:
August 25, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Love them, but not very good at them. Best time for me is if I wake up about 2-3 am, brain works then.

kragzy said:
August 25, 2011 at 9:43 AM

Well said Boadicea. I have been a fan of obscure angry conversations since I was a teenager. A elderly fellow I worked with did the SMH cryptic everyday over lunch and he "showed me the way". I have been hooked ever since (more than 40 years). I enjoy the YP crosswords because they're not too challenging. If I have time, I also have a go at the Times ones, but they can take me a couple of hours and can be VERY frustrating sometimes.

August 25, 2011 at 11:31 AM

I'm in the USA. Besides pronunciation variations, I have to keep spelling differences in mind. Such a word as "honour" doesn't throw me too much, as the number of letters immediately lets me know "honor" won't fit. However, I may fill in "analyze" or "theater", then have to correct myself when the coloring indicating that I've solved the clue fails to appear!

yasdnyl said:
August 25, 2011 at 3:56 PM

Bring emon I do the cryptic every day so the more the merrier Yasdnyl

grantdood said:
August 25, 2011 at 4:15 PM

The most difficult I have seen is the English Daily Telegraph. Solved but 3 out of 200 without computer help. The Australian and SMH are quite difficult. Would like to see a harder classification on YP, something like the Sydney Daily Telegraph's Stickler.

willyum said:
August 27, 2011 at 7:42 PM

I have to put my two bob's worth in! I would be lost without cryptics, got to keep that white (not grey!) matter moving. I do the Tasmanian Advocate daily and it is more difficult than YP jobs. Really got to think laterally. Nice to come back to YP for a more leisurely session! Cheers all, Willyum

bitogum said:
August 30, 2011 at 4:57 PM

A high school teacher introduced me to cryptic crosswords at the age of 12 and I started doing the SMH puzzles by Lindsay Brown. I still recall the example my English teacher used...."Peddle eagle".......and I'm sure you will all have no trouble giving the answer.

September 02, 2011 at 4:43 PM

When I was younger I could never work out the cryptics. Now I find them easier and love the challenges that they bring. I like to go back in the archive section for extra fun.

September 29, 2011 at 7:25 AM

Some are cryptic cryptics, the fiends

lisalife said:
April 19, 2012 at 3:56 PM

I am annoyed that for some unknown reason.....(cheating it seems to me) that someone can do the cryptic in 38 seconds.....bloody impossible! What say you guys? It spoils the fun etc

kragzy said:
April 20, 2012 at 1:04 PM

Hey Lisa, I think we just have to accept that some clever people are able to work their computer/server/link/whatever to their own advantage. I guess it's easier for some than others to not worry about "competition". I barely have a competitive bone in my body so I don't really care. I do the cryptic for my own satisfaction. I confess I do like to see my score, almost always the ubiquitous 19840. But then sometimes it's different and I can never work out why. One of YP's little mysteries!

KevinF said:
April 21, 2012 at 9:17 PM

I was introduced to crosswords and all things wordy by my mum. When we played scrabble with her, we were playing for second place as she would nearly always get at least one 7 letter word, her best being "quizzical" using 2 existing letters and spanning 2 triple word squares. We stood no chance! Been hooked on crosswords ever since and particularly YP cryptics

hoova said:
April 23, 2012 at 9:35 AM

ive never really thought about how regional accents can affect the answers or how the clue is read,being an ex pom i should know about regional accents but as ive been here in Oz for over 50 years where everyone basically speaks the same i never thout about accents,thankz for the reminder

Yobro said:
August 27, 2015 at 10:14 PM

I like the Cryptics. I am not an expert like most of the YP members here seem to be but I enjoy the little rush the AHA! moment brings when I solve a clue. Some clues are obvious and easy, but others make you work a little harder. Then there are sometimes when no amount of lateral or variable logic applied to the clue will have any result at all. When this happens I get up, go away and work on one of the many tasks around the house that are waiting for my attention. After a while the answer to the clue will suddenly pop into my head, seemingly from nowhere. Where does this answer come from? I was not thinking about the clue, I was concentrating on the task at hand! Is your subconscious mind so subtle that it can be furiously working away in the background without your conscious mind even realising that it is doing so? Does this phenomenon happen to everyone? I am hoping this is a common, natural thing and not something I should be worried about!?