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A number of people in a theatre could be an anaesthetist — a different meaning to the word numb. But with the cryptic puzzle, these kinds of double meanings and wordplay are taken to mind-bending new levels. And you can find yourself staring at them for what seems like hours, none the wiser. Puzzles may also demand anagrams and acrostics.

However, the conventions of cryptic crosswords can be picked up more easily and quickly than you may have thought, and are probably fewer in number than you might have thought.

And every good crossword will plant a few easier clues, placed strategically, to get the ball rolling. The first thing to understand is that all cryptic clues tend to be made up of what are called the Ximenean principles — which say that all cryptic clues can be divided into three basic parts:.


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Absolutely nothing else! So bear in mind that you need to tease out which parts of the clue are straight definitions and which are wordplay.

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This will hardly ever give you the right solution. One tip when learning how to solve cryptic crosswords is to try solving a crossword puzzle with a friend in the first instance — it can help to have someone to have ideas you can bounce off. Another one, which may seem slightly odd initially, is to actually try and set a few clues yourself, so that you see it from the point of view of the crossword setter. Equally, though, most solvers will insist on putting up a fight first. The famous crime writer Agatha Christie once said that writing her whodunnits was not unlike setting a cryptic puzzle.

Here are some of the devices setters use most commonly to take you towards solving cryptic clues. If you will, consider it a basic little toolkit, and remember that a lot of the fun comes from wondering which tool to use next! With these clues, two frequently very different meanings are given of the answer. With these ones, you will find that the answer is given in a somewhat misleading way. Half of the clue will offer a definition of the correct answer, while the other half will jumble up the letters in the answer.

These clues provide a definition alongside a description of a word which, when you spell it backwards, will give you the answer.

Learn to solve a cryptic crossword: Basics explained

With these clues, you get a definition along with a hunt that you need to take the initial letters of several other words to get the correct solution. Another thing to bear in mind is that, nearly always, you can find the definition either at the start or end of a clue. However, the double definition rule explained above can be the one time when you will find an exception. Thanks for telling us about the problem.

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Easy Cryptic Crossword

Welcome to the world of cryptic crosswords, where no clue is as simple as it seems. Here's where you can uncover the secrets to solving these tricky puzzles and then test out your new-found skills on some of the toughest examples you've ever seen!

For the first part of the book, in-depth, step-by-step notes and annotations explain how to solve each type of clue. Learn how Welcome to the world of cryptic crosswords, where no clue is as simple as it seems. Learn how to recognize "flags" signaling hidden words, anagrams, charades, homophones, reversals, containers, deletions, and double definitions.

Ximenean Principles

Then, practice on the samples where the clues may appear to make sense on the surface, but dig deeper and you'll see that each one has at least two meanings. One definition is obvious--but to figure out the other, you'll have to engage in some wordplay. Once you've fully grasped cryptic logic, try the real thing with 19 increasingly difficult, bigger puzzles. Get A Copy. Paperback , 96 pages. More Details Original Title. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book.

Learn Cryptic Crosswords

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Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jan 05, Denise Sutherland rated it really liked it Shelves: puzzles-english.

This book is nice and clear, and friendly. It has a good selection of practice crosswords, arranged by clue type, and good explanations of all the clue devices generally found in the standard sorts of cryptics. It's also a rarity — written for the American market, where cryptics are not widely done!