How to Master The Times Crossword: The Times Cryptic Crossword Demystified Hardcover – 3 Nov 2008
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About the Author
Tim Moorey has been solving Times crosswords for the past 50 years, having begun in his early teens. His setting career started at an equally early age, when he submitted puzzles to the Evening News, who offered two guineas for each successful puzzle. His business career, as a financial controller and director of several BP subsidiary companies, allowed little time for more setting until 1991 when Tim joined The Sunday Times team. He now sets crosswords for the Mephisto and Owzat puzzles in various newspapers. In addition, he was the joint winner in the Observer’s monthly Azed clue-writing competitions for 2004/5. Tim also runs crossword workshops for beginners and, as the Cluru (the Clue Guru), provides help for puzzled puzzlers for the Crossword Club.
When not puzzling or solving crosswords, Tim Moorey is an after-dinner speaker. He has also umpired cricket matches for the MCC.
Top customer reviews
Like any "how to solve cryptics" book, an essential part is the coverage of the various clue types. Tim does this elegantly, listing 12 types and putting them in two groups - those which always include an indicator word, and those that don't (or don't always) do so. He's not scared to give some of the types names that differ from the norm, but these are all well-chosen - e.g. All-in-one to replace that rather dusty name "&lit.", and "sandwich" for the clear but lengthy "container and contents". This section uses a consistent diagrammatic way of explaining the structure of clues, which is continued in the rest of the book.
But the clue-types are dealt with in about 20 pages, and for many intended readers will just confirm what they already know - so good as this part is, it can't sell the book on its own. You then get over 100 pages of advice to help bridge the gap between understanding a list of clue-types and seeing how to solve clues. Some of this is general advice, which I must count as good, having said much the same to many people myself! Equally important is 40-odd pages on the "Finer points of clues", which shows you lots of the tricks that can make good clues so tricky to solve.
At the end of the book are 120 practice clues, a short but interesting exercise in trying a bit of clue-writing yourself, and 12 practice puzzles, the first of which has the type and definition indicated for each clue. The solutions to these are all annotated, so that if you fail to finish a puzzle you're not just presented with a grid of inexplicable answers. As a treat at the end, you get one of the very best Times puzzles to try, with a couple of levels of "clue-hinting" provided if you need them, as this puzzle is difficult.
The book pays a huge indirect compliment to setters and editors of the Times puzzles over the years - the clues used as examples are from the top drawer, showing you the entertainment in store when you solve the puzzle in future.
If you're not particularly interested in the Times puzzle, but in solving broadsheet daily cryptic crosswords in general, this book is equal to any other currently available - and it's clear which information is specific to the Times puzzle.
Declaring a small interest: I used to be the organiser of the "Times for the Times" blog which Tim both recommends and quotes from in the book. I now edit the puzzles Tim writes for the Sunday Times.
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.
The book starts by breaking down the clue types, and how they are indicated and built. Using detailed descriptions of example clues for each type, you'll soon know how to get from the clue to the answer.
As with anything, practice is the key to truly mastering, and this book not only has lots of example clues for you to analyze, but it also contains full puzzles, with full explained solutions, so you can have lots of dry runs before going for the real thing.
Not stopping there, the book also contains a list of commonly used abbreviations, which I found incredibly helpful, as well as a list of indicators (words that point to things like anagrams, sandwich clues, etc within a clue).
After reading the chapter on clues alone, I almost finished the Telegraph crossword the same day! Ok, so I'm not there yet, but this book is an indispensable tool for getting your mindset into that of the crossword solver.
If you are clever enough to attempt the cryptic crosswords, but find yourself frustrated
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