Thursday, 21 March 2013

Cryptic Guide 1 "Back to Basics"

Hello everyone,

This is the first of a series of blog posts I shall be doing about solving cryptic crosswords. I envisage the guide being in about ten parts, each bite sized and easy to digest (or at least that's the plan).

The first part is about the basics of a crossword clue.

The first thing everyone should know about crossword clues is that they (nearly) always include a literal definition of the answer, this will be either at the beginning or the end of the clue. The rest of the clue will give you another way of getting to the answer, generally through some kind of wordplay (I will deal with the different types of wordplay in more detail in future posts).

There will generally also be some kind of 'surface reading', an image or a story that you get from taking the clue as a whole. These can be entertaining, but are often distracting, as the setter may try and make you think of something unrelated to the actual answer.

The trick with any crossword clue is breaking it down in the right way that leads you to the answer.

For Example, if we take the clue:

Note's clue leading to sweet (4,4)

We can break it down as follows:

Note's clue leading to sweet (4,4)

1)  There is the surface reading which brings to mind some kind of treasure hunt (We should ignore this).

2)  There is the wordplay "Note's clue" which gives a way of getting the answer.

3)  We have the definition "sweet".

4)  We have the words "leading to", these link the two parts of the clue.

Breaking down the clue in the appropriate way we can see that we are looking for a sweet, or pudding that could be a clue for the word note (Note's clue). We can then get that the answer is ETON MESS, a pudding which could be a crossword clue for the word note

I hope you found this helpful, I shall release Part 002 next week where I will look at the different types of wordplay.