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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
weeks of fun and you can kid yourself you're actually doing something
on 25 March 2010
With about 60 clues per puzzle, these are a bit daunting at first but for me the key was to focus on segments and not go darting all over the puzzle looking for easy answers.
I believe the test of a great clue is that from it you can construct a word or phrase that you've never heard of. For that reason I used to love Auracaria's crosswords for the Guardian. Some of the compilers here - there are 13 of them - meet that criterion. From the previous edition of the the Times Jumbo there were very few puzzles that achieved difficulty, to me at least, by being vague - probably one compiler. That's certainly an improvement over Daily Telegraph cryptic crosswords which these days are only difficult when they're either imprecise or inaccurate or both. And over about 3000 clues in that last Times Jumbo edition I think I found only one that was answerable equally logically with two different words. Pretty good going.
These puzzles also passed another acid test. When you've finished and found you got one or two wrong, do you have to agree you were sloppy and that if you'd interpreted the clue more accurately you would have got the right answer? In almost every instance I've found that to be the case. With most of these compilers you feel you've been in a fair fight.
Having a recent copy of Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary close at hand, helps. Okay, I know you're not supposed to use a dictionary but I'm not that clever and having lived half my life in Canada it helps to be able to check the exact English definition of a word, often slightly different from the Canadian version.
If I say that one of the highlights of my current day is the first half hour with a coffee and my Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword book, I hope the phrase 'get a life' doesn't come to you.