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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Code breaking
This is a novel book. Which is not to say its a novel.
However what Mr Greef achieves in explaining the workings of cryptic crosswords is actually epic, if not quite revolutionary.
Believe me I've tried these damned things for many years, mostly spent in abject failure. I've even tried the brand of cheating that involves using books similar to Mr Greef's...
Published on 8 Jun 2003

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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I think this is the least successful of the currently available "how to do cryptic crosswords" books. The author undoubtedly has experience of solving puzzles, and has a pretty good grasp of how the clues work. But explaining cryptic clues to other people needs more than this.

A big problem with the book is that it invents its own language for talking about...
Published on 8 May 2003 by Peter Biddlecombe


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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 8 May 2003
By 
Peter Biddlecombe "peterbiddlecombe" (Bucks, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hidden Code of Cryptic Crosswords (Paperback)
I think this is the least successful of the currently available "how to do cryptic crosswords" books. The author undoubtedly has experience of solving puzzles, and has a pretty good grasp of how the clues work. But explaining cryptic clues to other people needs more than this.

A big problem with the book is that it invents its own language for talking about cryptic clues, using exotic terms like "nosek" and "hydration", which make a glossary essential. (Can you guess what hydration is? I'll tell you at the end of the review, and I'm pretty sure you'll guess wrong.) Many of these invented words are not used in other discussions about cryptic puzzles, either because more intelligible alternatives already exist (e.g. "container and contents" - longer than "concon" but easily understood without a glossary), or because no-one thinks the word is necessary (e.g. "geograph" = a clue requiring geographical knowledge).

Some of the descriptions using this language are pretty impenetrable, in a way that other books manage to avoid. For example, to explain "Poet writes note held by disheartened singer" = SPENSER, all we need is something like:

Clue type: container and contents
Definition: Poet = (Edmund) Spenser.
Wordplay: Writes note = PENS E, all inside: disheartened SingeR = SR, giving S(PENS E)R.

Instead, this clue is a "condix" rather than just a "concon", and is explained thus:
"Both dixes remain once a central dix is removed from singer. This is not a simple one step disheartenment that leaves the answer standing in the form of a partword. The addix is required to construct the answer. Thus we see that the addix is a two step construction (undix, then addix) as all the earlier examples show. One, remove dix from clue. Two, put dix in answer."

Special formatting, to show the structure of clues, is used throughout the book. You never get any unformatted clues to look at, to see whether the book has taught you to analyse the structure of the unformatted clues that appear in real puzzles. Nor do you get any sample puzzles to try, or much advice about where to find puzzles to cut your teeth on. It's a bit like a driving course that never puts you behind the wheel of a car.

There are also several pages of material that contribute very little to the purpose of the book. The table of "differences and similarities in the nomenclature of segments or word parts" could be deleted, and information about topics like the potential palindromic properties of numbers below 196, and the introduction of zero to Western maths, belongs in some other book.

Here's that definition of Hydration: "Insertion of a letter at the head of a word; opposite of beheadment."
(Presumably from the mythical Hydra, which had many heads - but absolutely nothing to do with the normal meaning of "hydration").
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Code breaking, 8 Jun 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Hidden Code of Cryptic Crosswords (Paperback)
This is a novel book. Which is not to say its a novel.
However what Mr Greef achieves in explaining the workings of cryptic crosswords is actually epic, if not quite revolutionary.
Believe me I've tried these damned things for many years, mostly spent in abject failure. I've even tried the brand of cheating that involves using books similar to Mr Greef's.
Similar but not the same. For here is a book that is more than a few worked examples and several blind leaps of faith. Here is a book that goes to the principles, that delves into the murky minds of the setters and shows that there is logic and substance trapped within. Above all it is a book that attempts (mostly successfully) to show not so much what to do, but rather, how to do it.
Having read and tried Mr Greef's methods, you come away from the experience with the white light of a Damascene conversion, rather than the rather sordid feeling that in some way you might have been cheating.
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3.0 out of 5 stars cryptic crossword book, 14 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Hidden Code of Cryptic Crosswords (Paperback)
I have found this book quite hard to use. The style of writing does not suit me but may well suit others. Well explored and comprehensive. I just need to make more effort!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique approach....., 2 July 2012
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Mr. Jw Perks (Lincolnshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hidden Code of Cryptic Crosswords (Paperback)
The Hidden Code is certainly a unique approach that delves deep into the art of cracking and completing cryptic crosswords. Invention is surely the mark of a good crossword and so it is with this book - the writer has invented his own language to dissect and dissemble clues and give the reader an approach to future solving. This means you have to be prepared to accept his methodology and his language - a play on words in itself - if you are to get the most from it.

I have read Dexter's book, and others, and these were a good starting point, but if you want an approach that loosens and undoes the very nuts and bolts of clues and how they are formulated then go for it and try this book. It's a refreshing and creative approach that will get you another letter closer to finishing that cryptic crossword.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Daily Mail - Books on Friday, 4 April 2003, 29 April 2003
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This review is from: The Hidden Code of Cryptic Crosswords (Paperback)
If you are totally baffled by cryptic crosswords, and irritated that other people can whizz through them, here at last is a book that cracks open the code. With clever use of underlining and italics, this book unscrambles and demystifies hundreds, if not thousands of fiendish clues. It also explains many of the tricks of the trade; for example there are reams of words like chewed, drunken and rebuilt which indicate you've got to mix up the letters you are given and make an anagram. Love usually means 0 (like in tennis), five usually means you need a V (like the Roman numeral) while Loud often indicates ff (from the musical notation for forte). Very clear and authorative for beginners or old crossword hands.
Georgia Metcalfe
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars That's bitwords and concons for you., 19 July 2004
By 
Adam "Say something about yourself!" (Dunton, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Hidden Code of Cryptic Crosswords (Paperback)
In the very specialised field of cryptic crossword self-help books Mr Greef has thrown us a curve-ball.
Said ball catches the reader unawares with it's own language and symbol system used to dissect and understand the cryptic clue.
It's a highly stylised and systemic approach that meets with mixed success. On the plus side, there's an entertaining range of clues on offer here that are deconstructed by Mr Greef in his own unique way. If you follow him through you will gain understanding and insight and your game will improve. In this sense, it really does what it says on the tin.
But his quirky glossary can be a trial. 'Concons', 'condixes', 'bitwords', 'numers', to name but a few, will have you constantly flipping back to the glossary at the end of the book, and this can be an irritation.
But then the offbeat glossary is part of the books usp, its otherworldly charm.
I read most of the book unaware of Mr Greef's personal circumstances, (a Sunday Times article appraised me of that, and there's a coda at the end of the book). That he put together such a complex and entertaining work under the linked problems of manic depression and homelessness.........well, good on yer, mate. Bitwords fall too short.......
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New language fully explained., 29 April 2003
By 
This review is from: The Hidden Code of Cryptic Crosswords (Paperback)
"By reading this new book the complete novice will find plenty of good
advice on how to go about getting started on solving cryptic crosswords. In
breaking down and examining the words that are used in example clues, the
author gives insights into how to arrive at correct answers with a fresh
approach.
After a very few hours with this book most people should be able to start
filling in answers to the puzzles found in most magazines and newspapers
with confidence... the pleasure of understanding a new language fully
explained."
[...]
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new language fully explained., 29 April 2003
By 
This review is from: The Hidden Code of Cryptic Crosswords (Paperback)
By reading this new book the complete novice will find plenty of good
advice on how to go about getting started on solving cryptic crosswords. In
breaking down and examining the words that are used in example clues, the
author gives insights into how to arrive at correct answers with a fresh
approach.
After a very few hours with this book most people should be able to start
filling in answers to the puzzles found in most magazines and newspapers
with confidence... the pleasure of understanding a new language fully
explained.
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The Hidden Code of Cryptic Crosswords by Francois Greeff (Paperback - 17 Feb 2003)
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