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on 29 May 2010
This book is a good general introduction to cryptic crosswords. As well as describing the main types of clue and how to solve them, the book also includes some (partially completed) Guardian crosswords to help you practice. Although I'd recommend this book, since buying it I've read Tim Moorey's book How to Master The Times Crossword, which I think is a lot better.
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on 9 September 2007
I think the other review is a little mean-spirited!
This is a very good book to get you started on how to solve the Guardian crossword; it explains things clearly and in nicely paced stages, ratcheting up the difficulty in such a way that you feel that you're making progress without getting left behind.
So, all in all, it does exactly what its sub-heading sets out to do!
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This book is written by the Guardian's Crossword Editor, who is not a crossword compiler, so sees things more from the solver's point of view. It's written in a more entertaining style than some 'how to solve' books, and has helpful guidance for beginners, both clue analysis and tips about solving techniques, and does well at showing that the knowledge you need is "wide but shallow". It slips up on one or two technicalities such as the meaning of "&lit" - as used in this book, this includes true &lits and another clue-type, normally called "cryptic definition". The text includes groups of practice clues, and at the end of the book there are 14 sample puzzles with some letters in the grid to start you off, and (equally important) explanations of the answers as well as the solutions.
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on 16 June 2013
I'm afraid I found this book of little use. It roared along making a lot of assumptions right from the start. I'm no idiot but find it difficult to see these sorts of puzzles whereas I very quick on lateral thinking. I just felt even in the early examples it rattled on far too fast. It is also not honest to imply anyone can do these crosswords. There are a large number of historical, classical and cultural clues which require a pretty in depth education.
The author may not be a setter but he is clearly an accomplished cryptic crossword worker who has forgotten (if he ever knew) the blindness beginners have to these type of clues. There's an implication that it's all so obvious.
As for the lists and lists of what certain phrasing styles could possibly mean in a clue, I'm not sure how one is supposed to memorise that lot.
It would be more helpful to be introduced to a certain type of clue one at a time and then to be given a crossword to practice that before moving on.
This book probably reads well to those who already undertand what's involved. But then they are not the target audience.
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on 1 September 2016
does help to get you started and gives explanations - still struggling with these even after going on a course too
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on 25 February 2017
No 'secrets' were unknown to me - disappointing!
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on 12 April 2015
Still trying to use this more - loads to learn!
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on 9 August 2015
exactly as described
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on 10 July 2013
Having been a fan of cryptic cross-words for many years, but finding them a bit inpenetrable, this book has come to my rescue.
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