Saturday, March 09, 2013

Defining those Definitions

Cryptic Crosswords
Part Three

So, last time we looked at Cryptic Crosswords, we examined one of the simpler types of clue, the double definition. We learned that the key to solving them is to identify where to split the clue into its constituent definitions and then try to solve for each one.

I left you with five double-definition clues to try and fill in on our crossword 'One Small Step', today we're going to work through them so, if you haven't already read the other posts on Cryptic Crosswords please do so, as unusually I'm giving answers here for puzzles that were set in a different post - and I don't want to take away your chance to have a go at them.

1 Across. Detect smell (5)

So, this at least should have been an easy clue to find the split for, with only two words there cannot be any link-words and therefore each definition must be a single word. Always remember to try not to think of the clue as a whole, but as two separate units.

Detect Smell

It looks like we should be looking for a word for 'a smell' like 'scent' or 'aroma' but here we are actually looking for a word which means 'to smell' this is a common trick of crossword solvers. Don't forget to consider whether a word might change from a noun to a verb or adjective once it's removed from the context of the clue and taken in isolation. 

A word which means 'to detect' is 'sense', and 'to smell' something is to 'sense' it with you nose.

17 Across. North-Western meat stew

The split could fall in several places in this clue, but actually it falls in the logical place here.

North-Western Meat Stew

Now North-Western is crossword language for a few things, but its use here is in place of an actual region. Cumbria, Manchester, Liverpool are your best bets for crossword answers in the North West, the fact that is an adjective means we're looking for an adjective as the answer too. 

Meat Stew is here as a noun and with no trickery at all, it's just a more obscure word you're looking for, especially if you're from the South. The answer you're looking for is 'Scouse' a slang term for Liverpudlian and a meat stew.

5 Down. When the boys are high the girls are low.

A great example of two key concepts in cross-wording, firstly the clue tries to tell a story to hide the fact that it is a double definition. Secondly it's about musical terminology and this is a firm favourite with cryptic crossword setters.

When the boys are high the girls are low

We have link words here too, all that we are interested in is 'boys are high' and 'girls are low' and the gender and musical connotations should lead you to singing voices. 'Alto' is the highest male, and lowest female singing voice.

12 Down. Detective won gold medal for running and jumping.

Here, once again the split should be fairly obvious even if the setter has tried to make this look like a single statement. The interesting thing here is that despite the length of the clue there are no link words.

Detective won gold medal for running and jumping.

Now all you need is a bit of transatlantic trivia to arrive at TV detective Lewis and sprinter and long-jumper Carl Lewis.

15 Down. Aid one who takes a gamble (4)

This is a devilish little clue, one that I'm rather proud of. Again there are no link words but the split is a little harder to spot.

Aid one who takes a gamble 

Once you have the split of course the clue is a little simpler except for a tiny bit of word play. The second definition should actually be split again.

Aid one who takes a gamble 

The 'A' in the clue is presented as is, it isn't clued at all. What we're looking for is a word that, when preceded with 'a' means 'aid one who takes'. 'One who takes' is a thief and to aid a thief is to 'abet' and a bet is a gamble.

So fill in those words on your grid if you haven't already, and join us again next time for more cryptic clues. Until then, keep puzzling.

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