Puzzle sources (newspapers and magazines)
There's already a list of books about cryptic puzzles on this site, including those just containing reprinted puzzles.
The ones listed here are those whose puzzles I've tried and enjoyed. Those whose puzzles are available on the net have links to the paper's home page. In some cases you need to provide information about yourself before you can get to the crossword page.
|The Times||This paper actually prints three different cryptic puzzles, two
of which appear in the Weekend Review section on Saturdays.
The daily 15x15 puzzle is probably the world's best-known cryptic crossword. It's not as difficult as many people think, especially when you get used to some of the tricks not used much elsewhere. The level of difficulty is more even than in the Guardian, as there are fairly comprehensive house rules for the Times puzzle, and editing to ensure they're followed. Each year, there is a championship for those who take pride in solving this puzzle quickly.
Jumbo puzzles use 23x23 grids and a similar clueing style to the daily puzzle. The increased grid size makes it possible for some setters to include thematic groups of words - one had 12 classical composers with (7,6) names. Vocabulary in these puzzles can be a bit more difficult than in the daily puzzle.
The Listener puzzle used to appear in the magazine of that name formerly published by the BBC. It presents a different challenge every week, and includes some of the most difficult cryptic puzzles you could hope to find. Any correct solution is recorded, and summaries of your performance are available annually. These include a thorough statistical analysis of the solutions submitted during the year, and a list of the most successful solvers.
|The Guardian||These puzzles are attributed to individual setters, unlike
those in the Times. There is less editing, so the style of clues is up
to the setter. Cross references between clues are quite common in Guardian
puzzles, and these often mean that the puzzle is built around some theme.
Extremely long phrases are another feature of some Guardian puzzles.
The puzzles printed on Saturdays often have these features, or are sometimes
Alphabetical Jigsaws - you're told the first letter of the answer to each clue
(but not the answer's length), and have to work out where the answers fit into
the grid. Bank holiday weekends normally have a thematic puzzle.
My personal favourites among the Guardian setters include Enigmatist, Pasquale, Paul, and Brendan.
|The Independent||These puzzles are somewhere between the Times and Guardian in
style - puzzles are attributed to setters, but don't often include
multiple cross-references or other Guardian features.
My favourite Independent setters include Phi, Morph, Nestor, Anax, Nimrod and Bannsider.
The Independent Magazine, in the Saturday edition, includes a barred-grid puzzle based on some theme, which is a good introduction to thematic advanced cryptic puzzles.
|The Daily Telegraph||Probably the world's most popular cryptic puzzle. I see more people solving this one than any other broadsheet newspaper puzzle. Not very fashionable among cryptic whizzkids, but if it gets people interested in cryptic puzzles, then it's doing a good job. For the last few years, there has also been a "Toughie" cryptic Tuesday - Friday each week.|
|The Financial Times||Varies in style - some puzzles are similar to those in the Telegraph, but setters include Araucaria and other well-known people under different names, and puzzles sometimes involve a theme.|
|The Observer||Prints two cryptic puzzles.
Azed is the third setter in an illustrious sequence (following Torquemada and Ximenes). These puzzles are all barred-grid advanced cryptics, and about one in eight is some kind of 'special', some types of which are only found in this series of puzzles. Once a month, solvers submit their own clues to one word in the puzzle, and the winner keeps a coveted trophy for the month.
The Everyman puzzle is a fairly easy 15x15 puzzle which is a good starting point for beginners.Although the Guardian and Observer share the same web site, neither of these puzzles appears on it.
|The Sunday Times||Facts only on this one, as I'm now responsible for these as the ST Puzzles Editor.
Mephisto is similar in style and difficulty to Azed. Each puzzle is by one of three setters - Paul McKenna, Mike Laws (until his death in May 2011) and Tim Moorey.
The Sunday Times Crossword has another trio of setters - Don Manley, Tim Moorey and Jeff Pearce. It also has a clue-writing competition.
|The Independent on Sunday||Two puzzles again.
Beelzebub is the barred-grid puzzle, similar to Azed and Mephisto.
There are usually two Beelzebub puzzles setters - I believe these are currently Paul Henderson, aka Phi, and Colin Gumbrell.
The 15x15 puzzle is currently written by a group of setters - Poins, Riach, Glow-worm, Crosophile and Hypnos.
|The Sunday Telegraph||This has two puzzles as well.
Enigmatic Variations is a series of barred-grid puzzles at
about the same level as those in the Independent magazine.
There's also a 15x15 puzzle, currently compiled by Brain Greer.
|The Spectator||Barred-grid thematic puzzles by a team of setters. Themes can be quite subtle, but the puzzles avoid many of the difficulties added to the solving process in Listener puzzles.|
|Private Eye||The rudest commonly available cryptic puzzle. Makes considerable use of the magazine's own private slang, so if you don't understand why "Brenda" = ER, this may not be for you.|
|The Week||Weekly (surprise!) magazine, with a puzzle by Tim Moorey. Includes a "clue of the week", which Tim selects from paper publications or the net.|
||Monthly subscription magazines. Crossword is published by the Crossword Club, and includes two puzles, usually barred-grid advanced cryptics. One Across has puzzles by Araucaria and other Guardian setters, and some setters not yet published elsewhere. There are details of these and other subscription magazines on Ross Beresford's site.|
|Magpie||Finding the Listener crossword too easy? This is the mag for you.|
|Puzzler||Included as a representative of various monthly puzzle magazines easily obtainable in newsagents. This one usually includes one or two cryptic puzzles along with other crosswords and puzzles, including various ways of making plain definition puzzles more interesting.|
|Irish Times||15x15 cryptics by Crossaire - roughly similar in style and difficulty to Daily Telegraph puzzles. Crossaire is reputedly just one person.|
|Times of India||A puzzle with a slightly old-fashioned flavour.|
|Wall Street Journal||The new home for Cox and Rathvon's thematic cryptics after some fool at Atlantic Monthly ditched their puzzle after decades of good puzzles. Once every 4 weeks, and unfortunately hard to distinguish from the other non-cryptic puzzles in the headings, but available for free. The best easily available US-produced cryptics - gentle versions of the ideas in our thematic cryptics, without the Chambers vocabulary to struggle with. Some local culture, of course.|
|Harper's Magazine||Has a rather individual puzzle by Richard E Maltby Jr. I found the November 99 puzzle quite an interesting challenge, though I grumbled a bit about some of the clues.|
|Internet Puzzle resources|
|The bad and the ugly|
|YAGCC Contents Page|
|Other material about cryptic puzzles on this site|