Peculiar robotics effort today _5_2_7_

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					                             October 1, 2003

Peculiar robotics effort today

   Cryptic crossword puzzles and
         how to solve them
            Daniel Stewart
Recognizing cryptic crosswords

Typical standard   Typical cryptic   Barred cryptic (or
crossword grid     crossword grid    Torquemeda) grid
However, cryptic crosswords are
mainly distinguished by their clues
     A cryptic crossword clue (almost
     always) consists of:
        A surface reading which includes:
            A definition + some kind of
            wordplay (or wordplay +
            definition) along with the number
            of letters in the answer

  For example:
  Resilient pig’s home filled with vomit (8)
              surface reading

Resilient pig’s home filled with vomit (8)

 definition           wordplay
Resilient pig’s home filled with vomit (8)

definition                wordplay

   ―filled with‖ = container indicator (i.e. specifies
   the type of wordplay)
   ―pig’s home‖ = STY
   ―vomit‖ = RETCH
That is: sty filled with retch

  ST … RETCH … Y

        STRETCHY , one meaning of
        which is ―resilient‖
        (the definition portion of the clue)
              Types of clues
•   containers           •subtractions
•   charades             •British-style cryptic
•   anagrams             clues
•   double definitions   •There are other,
•   hidden words         less common, types
•   homonyms             and more than one
•   reversals            type can be
                         combined in a single
Charade Clues

 Politically divided island tolerated
 nothing (6)

• Politically divided island tolerated
  nothing (6)

      ―Politically divided island‖ = definition

      ―tolerated‖ = BORNE
      ―nothing‖ = O

      (―nothing‖ or ―love‖ often indicates the
      letter ―O‖)

      BORNE + O = BORNEO
 Charade clues thus require ―construction‖ of the answer
 from parts supplied in the clue
Anagram clues

   Peculiar robotics effort today (5,2,7)

Peculiar robotics effort today (5,2,7)

         ―Peculiar‖ = anagram indicator

         (anagram indicators can be words
         like ―mixed‖, ―unusual‖, and so on)

         ―robotics effort‖ = anagram fodder
         ―today‖ = definition

     The letters in ―robotics effort‖ can be
     rearranged to form:

Double definition clues

  Make tea expensive (5)

Make tea expensive (5)

             ―make tea‖    =   STEEP
             ―expensive‖   =   STEEP

  The answer to the clue, STEEP, is a
  single word that satisfies the two, very
  different, definitions
Hidden word clues

 Scots snack found in disco nearby (5)

Scots snack found in disco nearby (5)

   ―found in‖ = hidden word indicator
   (others might be ―holds‖, ―carries‖, or just
   ―disco nearby‖ = words containing
   hidden answer

   SCONE is contained in ―disco nearby‖
Homonym clues

 Feudal drudge waves to the audience (4)

Feudal drudge waves to the audience (4)
    ―to the audience‖ = homonym indicator
    (others can be ―to the ear‖, ―heard‖, ―for the
    auditor‖, … )

    ―waves‖ = surf, which is a homonym of:

    SERF, which satisfies the definition: ―feudal

In this case the homonym indicator is at the end of the
wordplay indicating that a word for ―waves‖ is a
homonym of a word for ―feudal drudge‖ and not the other
way around (they both have four letters). Compare to:
Actor Tom heard stage hands (5)

  The answer here is CREWS, which
  has 5 letters; not CRUISE (if the clue
  had indicated 6 letters, the answer
  would be CRUISE). When the two
  homonyms have a different number of
  letters, the homonym indicator can be
  in the middle of the clue with the
  correct answer of the two possible
  indicated by the number of letters.
Reversal clues

  Touch horn backing up (4)

Touch horn backing up (4)

    ―touch‖ = definition
    ―horn‖ = TUBA
    ―backing up‖ = reversal indicator
    (others can be ―from the south‖—in
    a down clue, ―from the East‖—in an
    across clue, or just ―reversed‖)

    TUBA backwards is ABUT
Subtraction clues

    Montana town spread endlessly (5)

Montana town spread endlessly (5)

―spread‖ = BUTTER
―endlessly‖ = subtraction indicator

BUTTER with the ―R‖ removed = BUTTE
Note that either end of the word can be
removed and more than one letter can be
removed. Consider:

Backside spread endlessly (4)
Clues using a combination of these
Any of these can be combined. For example:

Brat at Ontario museum put out without
warning (9)

Brat at Ontario museum put out
without warning (9)

This is a combination of a charade clue and an

 ―Brat‖ = IMP
 ―Ontario museum‖ = ROM
 ―put out‖
     •―put‖ = anagram fodder
     •―out‖ = anagram indicator

 IMP + ROM + PTU =         IMPROMPTU
 Which satisfies the definition, without warning
British-style cryptic clues

 In American and Canadian cryptic crosswords there
 is great emphasis placed on the form of the clue—
 there must be a definition, wordplay, and an indicator,
 if one is required. No other words should appear in
 the clue.
The British-style cryptic clue is often much looser:
   •non-cryptic clues are occasionally included in
   puzzles; e.g. Mideastern city (5) -- Cairo
   •clues can be cryptic without the strict American
   structure; e.g. Kosher diet (7) -- Knesset
   •extra words are often found in the clues ―linking‖ the
   definition and the wordplay; e.g.
       Town in Montana is spread endlessly (5)
       ―is‖ does not form part of the definition or the
       wordplay; it just links the two (occasionally seen in
       American puzzles also)
The most difficult cryptic crossword clue ever:
          ―E‖ (13)
The answer is SENSELESSNESS    The solver here is
This is a kind of a reversed   being required to find
subtraction clue.              the cryptic clue –
SENSELESSNESS, that is:        that produces the
                               answer ―E‖ as an
the letters in SENSE           answer to ―E‖
                               presented as a cryptic
LESS (i.e. take away)          clue.

the letters in NESS

which leaves the letter ―E‖.
Where to find cryptic crosswords:

     • Toronto Globe and Mail
        – Weekday: anonymous British (on line)
        – Weekend: Fraser Simpson

     • National Post

     • Virtually any British newspaper (particularly the
       Guardian, the Times, and the Telegraph—usually
       signed with a pseudonym)

     • A large number of web sites

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