Trivia Teaser

In which country is "Yedioth Ahronoth" a leading newspaper?


Cryptic Tips #1


By Jessie

Some people avoid them like the plague, yet others can’t wait to get stuck in whenever they can. What on earth could possibly create so much division, I hear you ask?

Cryptic crosswords of course!

Up until now, I’ve always been firmly in the first category. Every time I gathered up the courage to look at a cryptic, I’d always end up unsure as to whether I was even reading English anymore! So I’ve decided to take serious action. No longer will I be intimidated by anagrams, reversals, spoonerisms and other cryptic clue essentials, I’ve swallowed my pride and enlisted some professional help.

My colleague Christine Lovatt is a world expert in puzzles and cryptics are her speciality. I spoke with her earlier this week and she kindly gave me some top tips – which I’m going to share with you (I can’t be the only one struggling)!

The first piece of advice is to work out what type of cryptic clue you are trying to solve. The most common categories include anagrams, phonetics, double meanings, verbal gymnastics, spoonerisms, hidden words and initial letters. A good cryptic clue always contains the definition of the word, as well as a second, more devious way of describing it. Compilers skilfully incorporate both to throw you off the track!

Christine’s Top Tip: Anagrams

An anagram clue always contains a trigger word which indicates the letters have been shuffled around. Examples include strange, about, disorderly, convulsed, etc.

EXAMPLE: Rage and ruin in the Caribbean (7)

The word ruin tells you it’s an anagram, or letter-jumble. You can scramble ‘rage and’ into a 7-letter place name in the Caribbean. GRENADA

When solving anagrams, some people find it helpful to write the letters around in a circle. It’s easier to detect the anagram.

Post a comment about your cryptic experiences, and stay tuned for more tips!

1 Response to

Cryptic Tips #1

July 02, 2007 at 12:36 PM

Thank you for explaining how to do cryptic crosswords. I do appreciate it on behalf of those people who are beginners. I have been doing cryptic crosswords (they are my favourites AFTER codecrackers) for about 40 years or more. I, too, needed some of the types of clues explained to me when I began. Once again, thank you.