16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Best there is but didn't work for me,
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This review is from: How to Master The Times Crossword: The Times Cryptic Crossword Demystified (Hardcover)I have tried to solve cryptics on and off for years -sometimes a year might go by without attempting one and then I might have a three month blitz. At best I would get the Telegraph out and get perhaps half way with the Times, Guardian and Independent.
I then decided about 18 months ago to really make a go of it and bought several books which I worked painstakingly through without much in the way of improvement.
Then I came across this one which includes "The stated intention is that the Times Crossword can be done by any moderately well educated person with a love of language and problem solving without recourse to reference books"
Believe me I have really worked my way through this book but I have never managed to solve one Times crossword wihtout online help. Here is a clue that I couldn't get "Traveller swindled pair from Rome clothes company" -now if you can solve that I take my hat off to you but I don't think any book can ever teach you that. I have found that it is a bit like buying a book on "How to plaster". There is no way that you will ever learn to plaster without getting your hands dirty and even then some will never have the skill no matter how hard they try.
I frankly don't believe that that the Times Crossword can be done by any moderately well educated person with a love of language and problem solving without recourse to reference books.
This is without doubt the best book there is but anyone thinking that they will be successful even if they spend hours on it will be wrong.
The answer to the clue is Didicoi. I and several others of my standard just couldn't get it-we'd never heard of it. Some will say ah yes but swindled =did , company =co, two from Rome =ii so the answer must be did i co i . I'm afraid no book is ever going to get me thinking that way.
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Initial post: 4 Sep 2009 15:11:02 BDT
Peter Biddlecombe says:
There really are plenty of people who fit the "moderately well educated" bill and can do the puzzle without books. But as you quite rightly say, reading a book is not enough and you must get your hands dirty. It seems only fair to point out that in chapter 14 the author says: "Practice, practice, practice! This is the number one recommendation for improvement." This statement should probably appear much earlier than page 135! For the Times puzzle, I needed several years of daily practice to get to the point where I was finishing reliably every day - and there were some spells in the early days when I gave up on cryptics. That was before books as good as this and blogs with daily analyses of puzzles. With perseverance I'm sure you can eventually get there - especially if you've finished the DT and got about halfway with the others.
In reply to an earlier post on 15 Apr 2012 18:05:59 BDT
Last edited by the author on 15 Apr 2012 18:24:35 BDT
R. J. Hole says:
"Practice, practice, practice" may be good advice but if all your practice has not exposed you to the obscure word you are looking for, e.g. didicoi, you are not going to get it. However, there would have been other answers to help fill in some of the gaps. Even if you had no help from other lights you could perhaps try looking up words beginning with "did". It is all very well doing this at home but you are not going to lug a copy of Chambers on your journey. The rules of cryptic clues are simple enough; it is usually lack of knowledge which gets you stuck. Better advice might be "Read the dictionary, read the dictionary, read the dictionary" and when that fails read the encyclopaedia.
I guess the "moderately well educated" bill means having a very good grounding in the classics. A clue I had today was "Rival has top cards, including king (5)". Obviously my education was not good enough; I could only understand the connection between "Rival" and "Acres" after doing an internet search.
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