Thursday, April 25, 2013

Any Which Way?

Cryptic Crosswords
Part Six

It's time to get into the nitty gritty of Cryptic Crosswords by delving into the wondrous world of wordplay. Of course we are not without considerable skill in this area, we've been tackling word puzzles for a long time and our knowledge and skill with word play will stand us in good stead for the two kinds of clues we're going to look at today.

Yes, that's right, two types of clues!

Let's start with the first, and not only does it carry an indicator word, it's also an old friend of ours.

These apples spin China most (9)

So what do we have to work with, like a hidden word clue we have a definition, an indicator word and a source phrase. We should always start by breaking down the clue into its constituant parts. The grammar here should be shouting out 'made out of different segments' as the sentence doesn't quite ring true.

These apples spin China most

Here then we have a link word, definition, indicator and source phrase in that order.

Our indicator word is 'spin' and by now you should have started to crack the code of the cryptic crossworder, and know that 'spin' is an indicator for an anagram.

Don't panic by the way if you hated anagrams the first time round, remember that when you solve a cryptic crossword, you'll have the chance to fill in some of the letters in a clue before you solve it. Often these letters can give away what the source phrase is too.

So we need an anagram of 'china most' that means 'apples' then, and you could probable get the answer from there, except, that link word at the beginning is actually part of the definition in disguise. 'These apples' has a different feel to it than just 'apples' it seems to suggest that this clue is a little on the cryptic side. Otherwise, why not just 'Apples spin China most'.

The word we're looking for is most definitely a type of apple. but it's not a fruit.

The word is Macintosh; from the world of computing rather than fruit.

Here's another.

Bookkeepers found in twisted brains lair. (10)

We need to break this down of course, but where is our indicator word? Here it's 'twisted' telling us that there's an anagram to be found.

As for our definition, either of the two remaining segments could fit the bill, until we look at the number of letters required for the answer, this tells us that 'brains lair' must be the source phrase, and therefore 'Bookkeepers' is our definition.

Of course 'bookkeepers' is trying to make you think of betting shops or accountants, but the answer we want is a much more literal definition. It's someone who keeps books, and that would be a librarian, so the answer, given that we need to use all the letters in the source phrase must be 'librarians'.

Here's a video with some extra examples of Anagram Cryptic Crossword clues.

Right, getting the hang of it? Well hold on because the clue types just keep on coming.  Our second type of clue in this post is another established type of word play loved by cryptic setters and riddlers alike. In this kind of clue a definition is given to two different words, the first word when manipulated in some fashion becomes the second word. Usually the second word has to be written in reverse to give the answer, although variations do exist.

Keep an eye out by the way for situations where the first word is in plain sight, rather than clued with a definition, it can be frustrating to search for a possible word to reverse when the answer is staring you in the face.

When irritated turned to puddings (8)

Grammar, Grammar, Grammar, here's another clue that just screams 'segmented'; of course the best setters will hide their segmented clues perfectly well, but for us this is a great exercise in spotting the different components. Let's break it down.

When irritated turned to puddings

So, in order we have a link word followed by a definition, then an indicator, here a simple 'turn'. There's a second link word and then a second definition. Remember that unlike a double-definition clue, only one of the two definitions gives the answer, the other gives the answer in reverse. The best clue we have as to which is which, is the tense of the indicator.

It's in the past tense, and grammatically, in the sense of the clue, seems to fit with 'irritated'. Let's rewite the clue as it should be read, to help you follow the logic more easily. When irritated is turned - puddings. So a word that means irritated which, when reversed gives a word for puddings. That plural of pudding is probably going to give us an 's' at the start of our un-reversed word; and stressed seems to fit the bill, and that happily reverses to 'desserts'.

Here's another example to get you into the swing of things. 

Misjudgement flip-flops in the eyes. (6)

This concise clue requires some thought, 'flip-flops' is obvious as the indicator and it seems to instruct the reversal on 'misjudgement' leaving 'in the eyes' as a pure definition. The words 'in the' look like they could be link words, but actually in this case they aren't.

Misjudgement flip-flops in the eyes.

So, we're looking for a synonym for 'misjudgement' that, when reversed, also fits the clue 'in the eyes'. You might be fishing around emotions, or trust for a possible solution, but here we want something that is physically in the eyes. It shouldn't take you too long to come across 'pupils' which also gives us our reversed 'misjudgement' as 'slip up'. So, it's time to return to the grid and fill in four more clues.

One Small Step


23. Get bored of confused rituals. (5)


1. Hold crockery up. (4)

6. Exist but turn bad. (4)

20. Reverse pain with loving figure (4)

Good luck with those, and until next time, keep puzzling!

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