My thoughts and advice on cryptic crosswords...
The information and puzzles here are most likely to be useful for those solving
cryptic puzzles published in the UK, although some of it also applies to American cryptics.
Offer: If you are baffled by the answer to a cryptic crossword clue, send me the clue, and preferably the answer too! I will try to explain what it's all about. This offer applies to cryptic crossword clues only. If you're using it for the first time, please read the small print below to make sure you get a reply. Send your clues here.
Clarification: If your clue doesn't come from a cryptic crossword, please don't send it. To show that you're sending a cryptic crossword clue, please include the number(s) in brackets indicating the length of the answer, which are included in all cryptic crosswords except a few that should only be tackled by people who don't need my help. Some identification of the puzzle involved and any letters provided by intersecting answers will also help.
Information about cryptic puzzles
Places on this site and elsewhere where you can read me banging on about my favourite subject. I've moved the three blog sites to the top of this list, because they're now the most powerful internet tool available to people who want to improve their solving. There have been numerous comments from beginners, reporting the kind of improvement in a few months which took me years back in the pre-internet days when I started, just by attempting a paper's puzzle every day and reading the blog when stuck. The blogs are also a great place to swap views with other solvers or see some of the experts saying where they went wrong, or dropping hints about how to solve.
|A solving blog for the Times crossword ... and a few others from the Times stable (Sunday Times, cryptic Jumbo and Mephisto at present). Started by me in December 2005, but produced by a team of Times solvers since November 2006. Updated on the day of publication except for prize puzzles, so solve before looking. Each entry includes a solving time, and comments on the puzzle as a whole and some individual clues.|
|A blog for the Guardian, Independent and FT crosswords - same idea, different puzzles.|
|A blog for the Daily Telegraph crosswords - including the "Toughie" puzzle introduced in late 2008.|
|Yet Another Guide to Cryptic Crosswords - Includes an introduction (with glossary), a list of clue types, some solving tips, thoughts about bad cryptic puzzles, lists of paper and web-based puzzle resources, and some help on British cryptic puzzles for those who struggle with some of the local language used.|
|An Amazon UK affiliate store where you can find currently available books on cryptic crosswords (and a few non-cryptic ones too), in categories that should help you to find what you want easily. The old booklist (which was rather out-of-date) is here if you want information that includes out-of-print books.|
|An unofficial page of information about this annual contest.|
Puzzles to try
These are all pretty old at the moment - though I do have a new one in the pipeline. The last three are unchanged reprints of ones I wrote a 10 years ago or more. They both contain musical and UK-specific references.
|A puzzle written in May 1998 for the Mining Co. (now About.com) crossword pages, and intended to be solvable in any country where English is the mother tongue..||Solution|
|A puzzle based on well-known pairings.||Solution|
|Mostly about the sunny time of year.||Solution|
|Across clues are of a kind.||Solution|
Puzzles by other people ...
|A puzzle sent to me by Roy Dean in June 2006 as a personal challenge. Solution page not ready yet.||Solution|
|A puzzle sent by Mr Magoo in April 2007 as a response to a challenge to setters in my Times blog. Solution page not ready yet.||Solution|
|A second puzzle sent by Mr Magoo in April 2007 as a response to a (different) challenge to setters in my Times blog. Solution page not ready yet.||Solution|
Editor: Peter Biddlecombe
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