Clue types in a DT crossword

February 15, 2010

An explanation of how the answers are derived in DT Cryptic No. 26164 is available in my blog here:

This is an attempt to classify the clues by their type and analyse the crossword further.

Do leave a comment if you differ in the classification of any clue.

We find that of the 32 clues, the maximum are wordsum (WS) with 8 (I think that in any crossword usually these are bound to be more than any other clue type). Next in descending order: anagram (anag) 6 and double definition, also 6; cryptic definition (CD) 5; container contained (CC) 2; word sum with anagram (WSwAnag), also 2; wordsum with container contained (WSwCC) 1; cryptic and double definition (C&DD), also 1; and antonymic (Ant) also 1.

Abbreviations used:

CD – Cryptic definition
DD – double definition
WS – word sum (also known as charade or combination or as word after word)
Anag – anagram
WSwAnag – Word sum where one component is an anagram
WSwCC – Word sum where one component is a CC
CC – container/contained or word within word (whether one is taken around another or whether is one is inserted in another
C&DD – Cryptic and double definition
Ant – Antonymic (clue-type name that I have just coined: if there is any precedence I shall withdraw this claim

Note: The order of clue types in chart from left to right is the same as from top to bottom in the vertical column alongside

1a Does he take a chance, or just think about it? (10)
9a Peas and carrots are given a star (4)
10a Point to one duke or another (10)
11a Cut by a quarter? That’s serious (6)
12a It could be disastrous when I.O.U runs out (7)
15a Aunt Sal unexpectedly seen in harem (7)
16a Persuade an agency girl to start typing (5)
17a Intervals quietly employed in empty talk (4)
18a Animal quarters, perhaps (4)
19a Jacket cut in style (5)
TUNIC – Anag
21a A place of current conflict (4,3)
22a Bitterness associated with an age old craft (7)
GALL (EON)* -WSwAnag
24a Quick, the doctor’s in the river! (6)
27a Their union offers security (4,3,3)
28a Property to come down (4)
29a Going for acquittal (7,3)

2d Aristocrat always preceded by a page (4)
3d Pillar of the press? (6)
4d It results in a certain jumpiness among rugby players (4-3)
5d Child has a point to convey (4)
6d Becomes exhausted and exits hurriedly (4,3)
7d Davies seen playing a form of Rugby (5-1-4)
8d Manager we’d ordered to run the wild life reserve (4,6)
12d Corner at 90 (5,5)
13d I’m in prison without money, that’s the snag (10)
14d Arrangement not laid down? (3-2)
SET-UP – Antonymic
15d Twig a starting price swindle (5)
19d Interval elapsing before giving sentence to a convict (4,3)
20d Drink in the fresh air next to tents (7)
CAMP (ARI)* – WSwAnag
23d Pet greyhound? (6)
25d Tax which makes a difference to cost (4)
SCOT – Anag
26d Grouse meat (4)

Hard twists in clues

February 1, 2010

This is an addendum to the usual blog on Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 26152 that I posted in Big Dave’s Telegraph Crossword Blog today ( ).

Here I wish to analyse why I thought some clues in this crossword were more difficult than others in the same puzzle.

This is not a plea to any composer that clues must be less difficult. I also realise that clues in some advanced puzzles can be even more difficult. This is just an analysis to show beginners certain elements in certain clues that delay their solving.

Let us take selected clues one by one.


1 Written evidence leads to convictions (6) RECORD

The problem here is that the solver is not able to grasp immediately whether the answer is in singular or plural form. The answer is delayed until he realises that clue is a cryptic definition and is to be taken as a whole. The ‘written evidence’ here is what is let out in court proceedings and what may lead to ‘convictions’, not in the sense of ‘strong beliefs’ but ‘decisions that the person accused is guilty’. One wonders why the composer thought it fit to use ‘convictions’, for I believe that ‘conviction’ itself has the sense of belief as well as a judge’s decision.

4 Incline to wither in general (8) GRADIENT

A word that means ‘wither’ put inside the name of a general (an old general whose first name was Ulysses) gives the answer word that means ‘incline’. Here, ‘incline’ is verb in surface reading but as the definition for word required it is noun. Also, as long as the solver thinks that ‘general’ is an adjective in the sense of ‘common’, he won’t get the answer.

10 Reliable account given by priest (8) ACCURATE

An abbreviation for ‘account’ plus a word for a ‘priest’ provides the answer. If the definition had been ‘right’, ‘exact’, ‘errorless’ or ‘precise’, this clue would have been less difficult. The definition ‘reliable’ makes it hard.

13 Go round twice at speed (5) OOMPH

‘Go’ is verb in surface reading but a noun as def for word reqd. It is this element that makes this clue hard.

29 Angel fish hesitant at heart (6) CHERUB

As long as we think of Angel fish as anglefish, a kind of shark, we won’t get the answer. Here we take a word for ‘fish’ and put inside it a word for ‘hesitant’. The def is angel.

30 Friend goes to States for talks (8) PALAVERS

A word for ‘friend’ plus a word that means ‘states’,v., give a word for ‘talks’. ‘States’ in the clue has false capitalisation and it’s this adds difficulty to the novice.

31 A time for high-handedness (6) TWELVE

Cryptic definition. The answer is a number suggested by “A time” that may be by noon or midnight. “High-handedness” is when the hands of the clock (assuming that it’s an analog clock that we are looking at) point upwards. Excellent wordplay; the clever use of ‘high-handedness’ is something that beginners may find difficult.


5 Go over – to the enemy once more? (12) RECAPITULATE

Definition cannot be just ‘go over’, for RECAPITULATE is ‘go over again’. But ‘once more’ comes after ‘to the enemy’. “Go over to the enemy once more” as a whole very well suggests ‘recapitulate’ for ‘go over to’ means ‘transfer allegiance to’. But when once one has capitulated to an enemy where is the question of recapitulating, so ‘once more’ seems redundant in this case. The answer is attainable but but it is not too easy.

7 Gets full satisfaction out of religious work (6) EXACTS

A prefix meaning ‘out of’ plus the title of a ‘religious work’. Definition: gets full satisfaction. I believe that if the definition had been ‘extorts’ ‘demands’ the clue would be easy (but that won’t do for the surface reading of the clue as written).

19d Collect up jumble in efficient fashion (8) ASSEMBLE

Though ‘collect’ is a synonym of the answer word, it is not the definition. It is just an instruction to string together the letters of MESS, a word meaning ‘jumble’, in reverse order (‘up’ in this Down clue) and put SSEM inside ABLE aword that means ‘efficient’. What then is the definition? It is ‘fashion’. But as def for word reqd it is verb. Thus many elements make this clue hard.

Analysis of some clues

January 23, 2010

Shuchi, in her blog the other day, had given some clues and invited readers to comment on them.

I thought that I would write my views here instead of the Comments section in her blog.

Other solvers’ views might be seen here:

1. One who thinks about fluid (5)

Though veteran solvers might solve this clue quickly even offhand, they as well as others might not find this too difficult after they obtain a couple of crossings in the grid.

Indirect (or concealed) anagram it is, because we have to derive SERUM before dealing with the letters to get MUSER.

“about” is such a common anagram indicator that the moment the solvers see it, they will immediately look for an anagram fodder, and, even though it is followed by the five-letter word, few would be foolish enough to proceed to jumble them for a possible answer (for, the answer may be expected to be an agent-noun ending in -er or -or and ‘fluid’ has neither).

In their search for a five-letter fodder that means ‘fluid’, solvers will not grope too much as I don’t think there are many possibilities.

Also, the definition “one who thinks” quickly leads to MUSER without the need for any subsidiary indication. Is there a five-letter word other than MUSER for this?

Thus the clue is non-Ximenean but none-too-difficult to solve.

2. Derringer’s exploits? (6)

If we know that a derringer (with the first letter uncapitalised) is a pistol, then solving this clue poses no insuperable difficulty.

But how does the clue resolve itself? Well, it is supposed to be an anagram of PLOITS.

Really? What then is the anagram signal?

It is ex!


Yes, ex, in the sense of ‘out of’.

“Out” is a well-known anagram signal and ‘out of’ is not far-fetched. Except that we have to look at ‘exploits’ as ‘ex ploits’ and then figure out that ‘ex’ is ‘out of’.

Derringer in the sense of pistol does not take a capital letter. As a name it does, and that is why the clue-writer has placed it cleverly in the beginning, so for a moment you might be thinking of the deeds that a certain Derringer might have done.

In our having to look at ‘exploits’ as ‘ex ploits’ and in ex being an anagram signal, the clue is certainly non-Ximenean.

But the solution is gettable.

3. Madly devouring without end, showing gusto (6)

In this anagram, we start off with the anagram signal. It is followed logically by anagram fodder which undergoes deletion before yielding the required number of letters for the six-letter answer. The deletion indicator is ‘without’, which again is followed logically by the letters to be deleted. The definition for the word required is ‘gusto’, ‘showing’ being just there for smooth surface reading of teh clue.

Quickly obtainable. What is non-Xiemenean about this clue?

That the letters to be deleted are not as a string but are dispersed here and there.

Even without being aware of Ximenean principles, this is rather inelegant and the solver is uncomfortable with the device.

4. Secured, however noted error (8)

The first word ‘secured’ is the definition. ‘However’ yields BUT, and we add TONED, anagram of NOTED, to it to get BUTTONED, the answer. What is the anagram signal? It is ‘error’. Purists would say taht this nounal anagram indicator is non-Ximenean.

Even the surface reading of the clue does not redeem this clue.

5. Engine parts from crate burst or fell apart (12)

The answer CARBURETTORS (definition being ‘engine parts’) is an anagram of CRATE BURST OR. As we take ‘fell part’ as the anagram signal, we are left with ‘from’, which apparently plays no part in the clue.

This extra word, with which the surface reading is smooth, flouts rules.

6. Half-witted doctor declines aid from the vocal bishop’s neighbour (7,5)

This clue is from a puzzle where definitions were deliberately left out of some starred clues.

As for wordplay, AID is deleted from the anagram fodder HALFWITTED. The remaining letters, when anagrammed, give TWELFTH. The deletion letters AID do not appear as a string but note that they appear in the same order in the deletion fodder. The anagram signal is attractive but is nounal. For NIGHT, we have an appealing homophone signal, ‘vocal’ and the homophone fodder, KNIGHT, is indicated by a very clever definition, ‘bishop’s neighbour’. However, ‘from’ is not quite the position indicator in this charade and so is a bit loose there.

The Times Cryptic 21867

December 3, 2009

Published in the Hindustan Times, Thu., Dec 3, 2009


1 Such an article written in rough (10) INDEFINITE
6 Slight cut to consider (4) THIN(k)
9 As company manager, I am in favour of keeping oriental dress (10) IM PR (E SARI)O
10 Severely criticise the pounds invested in missile (4) S(L)AM
12 Shock as girl gets officer rank (4) JO LT
13 Offensively strike, wanting large sum of money in plant (9) SPEAR MINT
15 Broad smile vanishes, so poorly placed on these? (4-4) BEAM ENDS
16 Finally feed fire in hearth, wood being low (6) D INGLE
18 Get the better of silly person after university (6) O U TWIT
20 Wide-angle shot of original woman with mother, but not daughter (8)PAN(-d)ORA{MA}
23 With case-loads to work through, shelving everything? (9)U NPACKING
24 Sticks back what is cut (4) SNIP<-
26 Bit of news also out of date (4) ITEM
27 OECD members arranged to share medal (10) DECO RATION
28 Frank’s lost house, a pleasant one (4) (ho)NEST
29 Identification of radio station surfers may maximise use of? (10) WAVELENGTH


1 Winger one is putting in book (4) I(B)IS

2 Go down to look at academic’s degree certificate (7) DIP LO MA
3 Pretty girl in Italy might be poor (4,3,5) FEEL THE PINCH
4 In Britain, the left mean to join party (8) NEAR SIDE
5 Time to firmly fix bracket (6) T RIVET

7 Not enjoying touring lake, making slow progress (7) HA(L)TING
8 They made an arrangement to schedule the ceremony (4,3,3) NAME THE DAY*
11 Block ahead of those coming to this false entrance? (8,4) TRAITORS GATE
14 Obtain soul renewal with this? (10) ABSOLUTION*
17 Swamp tree found in island thicket (8) MAN GROVE

19 Slept so badly, half-naked (7) TOPLESS*
21 Established bachelor needs helping out (7) A(B)IDING
22 Screen persons caught up in security organisation (6) CI(N)EMA
25 To an extent, Saharan khamsin made Egyptian cross (4) ANKH (T)

NB: A couple of answers were entered by a couple of members in the  Orkut community: The Hindu Crossword Solutions that I own and moderate.