So, I recently eulogised American-style crosswords. These witty, moreish puzzles keep solvers on their toes through allusive, often terse clues and through answers that merrily include abbreviations, fragments of phrases, elementary foreign vocabulary and other unfamiliar thrills. Illustration: Wikimedia Commons Admitting entry to odds and ends that are not to be found in a dictionary is not merely a necessity in a grid that has far fewer black squares, and in which every square is part of an across as well as a down; it also asks the solver’s brain to work in a different way, dredging answers from parts of the brain that do not typically work together. As a solver, it’s a different feeling. (A quick note of reassurance to the UK cryptic: your lustre remains untarnished, from the steady-as-she-goes Times – through the rowdier broadsheets – to Azed and beyond. Just as American “constructors” may discover the merits of … [Read more...] about Crossword blog: Let’s make US puzzles work in the UK
The news in clues Perhaps there exist some clues and themes somewhere in crosswording that are supportive of and enthusiastic for the 45th president of the United States. Let me know if you spot any. Meanwhile, the combined response from the Independent’s team is itself a combination of alarm and outright derision. Exhibit A, from Crosophile ... 24d The president’s no leader, a butt (4)[ president’s name missing its first letter (‘no leader’) ][ TRUMP - T ] ... is a display of a RUMP, while in the following day’s exhibit B ... 19ac Trump starts to harass emigrants, sending them the greatest distance possible (8)[ synonym for ‘trump’ + first letters of (‘starts to’) HARASS EMIGRANTS SENDING THEM ][ FART + HEST ] ... Eccles gets to FARTHEST via an obnoxious equivalence of “Trump”. Latter patter Here’s a poignant image in a Telegraph clue that, if my assumed rota is correct, comes from the … [Read more...] about Crossword roundup: dosh, dosh, loadsamoney
You’ve been solving Zeit’s kryptischen Kreuzworträtsel. Now, this not is a puzzle built on UK-style wordplay. But it’s not straightforwardly definitional, either. What else is in there? The majority of clues are sort-of-cryptic to very-cryptic definitions (maybe a bit like the American crosswords you highlighted the other week). Here’s a not-very-cryptic clue from a couple of weeks ago that stuck with me: Drauf zu verzichten ist Kuckucksluxus (6) [Abstaining from this is cuckoo’s luxury] The answer is NISTEN (nesting), and there’s not really anything deep going on beyond a test of fairly common bird knowledge. Maybe the setter wrote this clue just to invent the wonderful tongue-twister “Kuckucksluxus”. I Googled the word to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, and that puzzle was the only page on the internet that used it. Or the clue might just require a bit of general knowledge: Liebstes Hobby von Statler und … [Read more...] about Crossword blog: can you be cryptic in German?
Hello, sceptic. What makes you think I’m a sceptic? Well, you enjoy British crosswords, but you never look at American puzzles. On the contrary! Since your feature on American cryptics, I look at the Nation every so often, and … I’m not talking about American cryptics. I’m talking about regular American puzzles. Oh, those. Well, of course I don’t solve them. Just like I don’t do wordsearches, or spot the differences. You think that because they’re not cryptic, they’re simple. They are simple. And they are simple because they have those grids that look like an “Arrow Words” in a Children’s Bumper Fun Puzzle collection, with hardly any black squares. All that extra crossing means they have to use proper nouns, which is something to be avoided where possible. I’ll grant you that there are a ton of proper nouns in American puzzles – and that they can include unfamiliar confectionery brands, Midwest towns and TV … [Read more...] about Crossword blog: American puzzles – a word to the sceptical
The news in clues A tweet of delight from Classic FM’s Tim Lihoreau: Tim Lihoreau (@TimLihoreau) The solution to yesterday's @guardian crossword, set by @enigmatistelgar Check out the letters upwards on the left. #allMyChristmases pic.twitter.com/kjgSku1CFg September 8, 2017 Lihoreau is not the only presenter hiding in the margins of this exacting Guardian puzzle, and its clues resemble a playlist on a particularly good day for the station. And if you’re thinking, “I solved a puzzle with a Classic FM theme, but I’m pretty certain it wasn’t in the Guardian”, perhaps you’ve had a crack at the same day’s Financial Times puzzle, where the answers include … 16ac Civilisation divided, decoy blurring boundaries (7)[ synonym for ‘divided’ + synonym for ‘decoy’, swapping the letters where they meet (‘blurring boundaries’) ][ CUT + LURE with the T and L swapped ] 19ac Maybe … [Read more...] about Crossword roundup: DJs hiding in the corners
A few tournaments back, I used these pages to describe the experience of watching its serial champion winning still another Times Crossword Championship: A samurai in civvies, the figure of Mark Goodliffe compels the gaze as powerfully as his mind commands the stubbornest crossword clue ... Something resembling that experience is now available to you without your having to attend the final in person, and applied to puzzles you may yourself have tackled. Goodliffe is, as well as a solver, a setter (Magoo) and test solver for the crossword magazine The Magpie, which setter Chalicea recently recommended during our Q&A – as a stepping stone for the daily broadsheet solver who fancies a more exacting challenge. Co-hosted by Magpie co-founder Simon Anthony, we now have Cracking the Cryptic: a YouTube channel of real-time solves. Now, your instinctive response might be along these lines: Why in the name of all that is good and holy should you suggest that I spend half an … [Read more...] about Crossword blog: Cracking the Cryptics in real-time on YouTube
The news in clues Ah, the puzzle page. Refuge from the terrifying contents of the rest of the newspaper. And here’s a pleasing, innocent surface reading and construction from Scorpion ... 21ac Donald Duck seen in Tennessee for kids’ TV programme once (8)[ a famous Donald, then value of a duck in cricket inside abbrev. for Tennessee ][ TRUMP, then O inside TN ] ... evoking nothing more than happy memories of TRUMPTON. Nope, wait. There he is, in the first five letters. And once you accept that there’s no escape from the man who yearns to be the topic of every conversation on the planet, at least crosswords offer an aide-memoire for when you’re trying to remember which is his callous daughter and which her luckless mother: 24d First daughter saved $1,000 for her mum (5)[ IVANKA without abbrev. for $1,000 ][ IVANKA – K ] And so thanks to Julius for that. Latter patter Meanwhile, our domestic chaos has at least provided a gorgeously apposite … [Read more...] about Crossword blog: even clues fail to provide refuge from the news
Advance notice: Maskarade’s bank holiday special will be published on Saturday 26 August. _____ The issue of the place of anagrams in the Quick puzzles has surfaced again this summer. The majority of those expressing a view seem either to dislike them or to dislike them intensely. But I hope it will not cause offence if I say that it is hard to judge whether or not this majority is a representative sample of those who turn to the Guardian Quick for pleasure. Human nature being what it is, it is easier for Disgruntled of Highbury and Islington to hit the keyboard to register ‘dislike’ than for Satisfied of Salford to do so spontaneously to register a positive ‘like’. So, dropping any pretence that I am neutral on this subject, here are three reasons why I think that, within acceptable limits, anagrams have a proper place in Quick crosswords. First, (as it says on the label) these are crossword puzzles. They are not general knowledge quizzes. The Guardian … [Read more...] about Is ‘A ragman (anag) (7)’ fair as a Quick clue?
FOR beginners, solving a cryptic crossword can prove to be a real head-scratcher. Luckily the answer is always right in front of you, and there are some handy tricks that can help you find the solution in no time. A cryptic crossword is a tricky game where each clue is a word puzzle within itself. And because of this, a lot of people are put off even tackling them. But there are a number of different types of cryptic crossword clues, and identifying which one is used can help to solve it. The different types include anagrams, double definitions and charades. The main types are: Anagrams Anagrams have three parts, a definition, an anagram indicator and the anagram fodder (which are the letters to be shuffled). These puzzles are indicated by a hint word such as “muddled”, “strange”, “wild” or “drunk” – so look out for these words. There is a list of indicator words to learn here. For example, in the cryptic crossword “Do legal … [Read more...] about These hints and tips will mean you never need to be stumped by a cryptic crossword clue again
Chalicea – known outside crosswords as Shirley Curran – is a prolific setter, especially of “advanced cryptics” for such series as the Listener, the Inquisitor and Enigmatic Variations and in magazines including the Magpie, 1 Across and Crossword magazine. She has also operated under other noms de guerre, including Gnomie and Curmudgeon. So, let’s meet the setter. Where do you create your puzzles? Ideas for themes occur anywhere and everywhere (on a plane, on a ski slope, half way down the page of a book) and I jot them in a notebook. Compiling is an obsession and I do it much of the day – at a computer, or fast asleep in bed when an idea wakes me and I leap for pencil and paper. When did you get the crossword bug? My mother was an avid and good solver. I started with the Sunday Express Skeleton (as did so many others), then moved on to the Guardian at university. I took to solving it regularly when my husband and I were first together and competed … [Read more...] about Crossword blog: Meet the Setter – Chalicea
Screw had his first Guardian cryptic published in March 2015. At the time, I wrote: “Keener readers might have noticed Donk in the comments hereabouts, as well as in the featured clues”, alluding to his Independent puzzles. Since then, he has established an economical, shrewd and occasionally cheeky style – so let’s meet the setter. (And if you are one of those solvers who prefers not to know what the setters look like, avert your eyes before the image at the end.) When and where do you create your puzzles? I tend to write either at the dining table or at a desk in our spare room. But when inspiration strikes, I’ve always got a pen and notebook handy. Driving through Dorset recently, we came across Chideock, which showed some promise for an insertion. And when did you get the crossword bug? Probably when I started going on holiday more regularly. I remember scanning clues occasionally when I was younger, looking for anagrams – but it only became a … [Read more...] about Crossword blog: Meet the setter – Screw
Chifonie has been setting cryptics for the Guardian since 1994; he also sets for the Financial Times as Armonie and has posed fiendish barred-grid challenges as Symphonia. He can be devious in a way that is frequently funny and always fair; for example, the clue “Deer takes one for a ride (4)”. So, let’s meet the setter. When did you get the crossword bug? In 1971, I was working in a laboratory in Birmingham and during our tea and lunch breaks, a group collected around a copy of the Telegraph and solved its crossword collectively. I soon started attempting the Guardian puzzle at home on my own, but the first time I completed it without assistance was while queuing outside the British Museum for three hours to see the Tutankhamun exhibition. That was a red-letter day in more ways than one. How did you choose your pseudonyms? Music means a great deal to me and at the time my first puzzles were being published I was listening to a lot of early music in which the … [Read more...] about Crossword blog: meet the setter – Chifonie
Nutmeg has been setting cryptics and quiptics for the Guardian for nearly a decade. She also sets for the Times and the Church Times, as well as some of those exigent puzzle series with barred grids. The profile on her puzzle index tells us that “her interests include classical music and genealogy”; she is known for her smooth, elegant surface readings and her persistent fair play. So, let’s meet the setter. When did you get the crossword bug? At secondary-school age. My parents liked words and were crossword enthusiasts. I’m an only child, and a favourite evening family pastime was to tackle the day’s broadsheet cryptic. I gradually learned the structure of clues, began contributing some answers and became hooked. Solving with others is, I believe, the best and most satisfying way to learn. I was entrusted with the dictionary and my wandering eye lit on all sorts of fascinating words – nothing to do with the puzzle – some of which would never … [Read more...] about Crossword blog: meet the setter – Nutmeg
Take in bachelor? It could do (3) No sooner has DI Morse met Sgt Lewis for the first time than Morse thrusts a copy of the Times at Lewis and tells him to, “Have a look at 14 down.” Lewis, an occasional solver of the Mirror’s quick crossword, is “much puzzled”. Morse, played by John Thaw in the TV adaptation, explains that it is the curious mixture of highbrow (R from the abbreviation for recipe, the Latin for “take”, inside BA, a bachelor’s degree) and lowbrow (the answer, BRA) that appeals to his cryptic mind. He asks: “Do you think I’m wasting your time, Lewis?” Colin Dexter: a mischievous, generous man every bit as clever as his creations Read more But of course, there’s a connection to the murder they’re about to work on; more importantly, Lewis’s reply (“Yes, sir”) reveals him to be the perfect sidekick. It also proved, nine pages into his first novel, that the … [Read more...] about Crossword blog: Colin Dexter’s life in five clues
In a recent instalment of this helpful series, our eyes boggled at the amount of slang that has been gifted to the English language by illegal recreational drugs. A flick through the nearest slang dictionary will reveal that the same goes for booze. For those who would like to upgrade from quick to cryptic crosswords, think of this post as a prohibition-era speakeasy: there are lots of secret codes involving alcohol, but once you know them, everything very quickly becomes unlocked ... In the example clues that follow, remember that cryptics generally give you two routes to the answer: a definition of what it actually means (indicated in bold type), before or after a little recipe for the letters that spell it out (in italics). Some examples One of the most common references to drink in crosswords is, in fact, a reference to abstinence. Here’s Picaroon: 23d Dry sandwiches a cold delicacy (4) Here, we look at the word “dry” and replace it with TT, since both … [Read more...] about Cryptic crosswords for beginners: alcohol
Though the Independent has stopped appearing in print, new puzzles from its former stable happily continue to appear, most of them preserved online in the site’s Games section. Most, but not all. Saturday’s Inquisitor – one of those challenges which typically has no black squares and demands full concentration – is too varied and unpredictable in its form for anything other than print (in the i tabloid). Case in point: PW RBS by Base, which you can see here as a PDF and print to solve. The puzzle’s subtitle is “(with apologies to Only Connect)” (full disclosure: I am the current question editor for that BBC2 quiz). It’s a staggering achievement which incorporates all of the show’s devices: the walls are represented by four groups of four words hidden among the clues, there are missing vowels, and even a set of three pictures which the solver must peer at and guess what comes fourth. And it doesn’t diminish the staggeringness … [Read more...] about Crossword v quizzing – which is the greater hobby?
AN exhibition telling the story of an Irish footballer credited with saving FC Barcelona from bankruptcy has opened at Stormont. Patrick O'Connell's life is being told in a series of paintings and photographs in a display launched yesterday at the Long Gallery. 'The Man Who Saved FC Barcelona - the story of Patrick O'Connell' will run for two weeks before it moves to the National football museum in Manchester. It tells the remarkable story of a man whose career began at Belfast Celtic and who later became the first Irishman to captain Manchester United before moving to Spain where he rose to become a revered figure in the history of Barcelona football club. Dedicated to the man who led Ireland to its first football title, the exhibition has been organised by the Patrick O'Connell Memorial Fund, which was established to remember the footballer, and sponsored by Sinn Féin assembly member Fra McCann. Maureen O'Sullivan TD at the exhibition launch in the Long Gallery at Stormont. … [Read more...] about Exhibition launch of story of Irish footballer credited with saving FC Barcelona
Exhibition featuring some still-life paintings as well runs till May 7. LAHORE: A collection of 47 art pieces, including some still-life paintings, by senior artist Musarrat Hasan is under way at the Zulfi's Art Gallery till May 7. The exhibition called 'Retrospective' includes the artist's work in medium oil and water or pastels on canvas, ranging from the 1960s to the present. The theme of artist's work revolves around landscapes, still life and portraits, featuring men and women, young and old, representing the terrible social divide of our society. Some paintings, featuring families engaged in a dinner, passing time on hill stations which appear as moments captured in times, are also on display. Exhibition curator Zulfikar Zulfi says portraits have remained the favourite theme for the artist and one gets a certain feeling of calmness and innocence oozing out of the personalities depicted in her work. "The art of creating portraits is a very sensitive matter in a … [Read more...] about Solo show: Portraits by Musarrat Hasan on display – The Express Tribune
'Great intellectual' Colin Dexter has been remembered by those who knew him as not only a talented author but a kind and generous man. Friends, fellow crossword setters and the stars of the TV series inspired by his Inspector Morse novels all paid tribute to the North Oxford writer after his death yesterday. Mr Dexter said he would never allow anyone other than the late John Thaw to portray the detective, and yesterday Mr Thaw’s daughter paid tribute to the writer. Abigail Thaw, who appears in prequel Endeavour as Oxford Mail editor Dorothea Frazil, tweeted: “So sad. “Strangely thought it could never happen. “We owe him so much. “A very dear and brilliant man.” The Morse novels featured DS Robbie Lewis, who went on to be made famous on screen by Kevin Whately. He was partnered in the Morse sequel Lewis by DS James Hathaway, played by Laurence Fox. Yesterday Mr Fox tweeted: “Farewell wonderful Colin. “Thank you for your … [Read more...] about Friends, actors and fellow crossword kings pay tribute to Colin Dexter (From Oxford Mail)
By a County Press reporter Published on Friday, February 03, 2017 - 10:25 The Isle of Wight County Press has a new team of writers for its Weekender section. THE Isle of Wight County Press has today (Friday) launched a new double-page opinion and competition section in the Weekender section. The first two, of our eight new columnists, Rebecca Roncoroni and the mysterious Malcolm Mime, are featured this week. Malcolm takes a look at the new administration at County Hall, while former community psychiatric nurse Rebecca turns her attention to the state of mental health care on the Island.They will be followed in the coming weeks by six more writers, debating a whole range of issues, some light-hearted and some serious. Our popular My Island slot remains, providing a platform for IW people to say what they like about the Garden Isle…and what they don’t. And there is the readers’ favourite, the prize cryptic crossword, now complemented by a Sudoku number puzzle … [Read more...] about New writers for the Isle of Wight County Press — plus the solution to missing crossword clues