on 6 August 2009
Over the last few months i have become very interested in cryptic crosswords, i guess because i consider them to be rather 'clever'. A few friends at work have a go at the Times crossword most days and i've questioned them many times about how they got their answers.
Having decided to try my hand at these puzzles i thought i'd buy a book or two to help. I've purchased 4 books and this is the best (although the one by Kevin skinner and the Daily Telegraph guide are both very good)
The reason this book works so well is because it has 30 puzzles which gradually increase in difficulty. The first 10 puzzles give you the definitional part of the clue and the type of cryptic 'puzzle' it is e.g. anagram.
The second 10 do not give you the definitional part but do tell you what type of puzzle it is.
The last 10 give you no help and these are like the standard that can be found in broadsheet newspapers.
So far i'm on crossword 12.
There is also a 'help' section which i have found very valuable. It gives hints and sometimes explanation as to how the solution can be worked out. For example, it might say it is an anagram of 'remain + ark' where remain and ark have been obtained from two different parts of the clue. Of course there are also solutions to all 30 crosswords as well
Although i rate this book highly, i have not found it easy going. I understand the different types of clues very well now, but my problem has been with MY vocabulary....
Entreat, Excoriate, Caprice, Grandee are examples of solutions to clues which are simply not in my vocabulary, or should i say, weren't. But the reason i like these is because of there educational element as well as the puzzle and so i will endeavour to continue and see if i can get to puzzle 30.
If you'd like to understand how to complete these crosswords and have a good vocabulary (or want to improve your vocabulary) then i highly recommend this book.
This book consists of all the ingredients you'd expect from a 'how to solve' book, such as an explanation of clue types and devices, practical advice on solving, and common abbreviations. These sections are crisp, clear and concise.
The meat of this book is actual practice crosswords. A very neat and effective learning curve is set up whereby the first 10 puzzles have some answers filled in, and next to each clue is an abbreviation which indicates what clue type it is. As you progress through the book (sections of 10 puzzles divided by articles such as history of crosswords and famous clues) these props are gradually taken away. This works very well.
A recommended introduction to this type of self-torture.
on 17 February 2010
Alas - I will never be able to join the Facebook group of those who can do the Times Crossword in 2 minutes, but I am beginning to get to grips with the cryptic thanks to this book. It is very well designed with excellent tips and hints.
After a very good introduction setting out all the clue types, there are three sections each with 10 graded puzzles: Part 1 has the principle definitional element of each clue indicated in bold and the clue type. Part 2 only has the clue type and in Part 3 you lose all support, but the book also has an excellent two-way glossary and a help section which is designed to give more hints if needed.
The puzzles in each section are very well graded and very well thought though - did you get the answer to the heading? You'll have to have a look at 22 down in Puzzle 4! This is an example of a clue I would never have been able to solve.
on 25 June 2014
Re Chambers Cryptic Crosswords and How to Solve Them. This second-hand paperback was described as being 'Good' and I accepted this description at face value. Frankly, in my opinion, it's only fit for the dustbin - with many of the Crosswords already filled in by a previous owner. Not impressed!