Internet Puzzle resources
The categories used here are approximate - sites listed under "Cryptic Primers" may include puzzles and link-lists, for example. Suggestions for other sites to mention here are welcome by e-mail.
Inclusion of a site doesn't mean I approve of all the puzzles or sample clues on it. Although I like to whinge about unfair clues sometimes, it's more useful for beginners to try lots of examples of the clues than to spend lots of time worrying about fairness - you can develop your own opinions about which puzzles you enjoy, and that's what really matters. Fairness should be what the setter is worrying about...
Suggestions for other links are welcome, but I don't intend competing with Ray Hamel - I'd like to limit this list to about 30 good sites.
These include puzzles to solve, and links to other crossword sites. Some include advice on solving as well.
|The Crossword Directory||Derek Harrison runs this site, which is a great source of advanced cryptic puzzles from a wide range of setters. It also has other information about cryptic crosswords and a message board (mainly used for discussing advanced cryptics like the Listener.)|
|Free Crosswords Online||Free crosswords by Alberich, the site's author, and various guest setters, often of a very high standard. Also features a good explanation of what Ximenean clue-writing is all about.|
|Monk-ey puzzles||Crossword home page of professional setter Mark Kelmanson - Monk in the Independent and FT, and also on the Times setting team. Includes free samples of his work.|
|Cryptica||Site set up by professional setter John Halpern - Paul in the Guardian, Punk in the Independent, Mudd in the FT, and also on the Times setting team. As of April 2009, some promised parts of the site are not yet in action.|
|UKPuzzle.com||Site set up by professional setter "Anax" who is a setter on the Times setting team. A wide range of free puzzles, with some very good clue-writing. Until Anax made it onto the Times setting team, this was one of the best sites from an "amateur" setter. Amateur in quotes as he'd previously produced puzzles for regional papers like the Birmingham Post.|
Sites devoted to barred-grid (i.e. difficult) cryptic crosswords.
|Listener Crossword site||The official site for the Listener puzzle, with information about its complete history, Listener Setters, and solving statistics, and detailed guidance for anyone thinking of writing a Listener crossword (entries are accepted from all comers, and some famous setters started out with a few Listener puzzles). Includes a small selection of very early Listener puzzles.|
|Magpie magazine||If the Listener crossword is too easy for you, this is the monthly subscription magazine for you. 6 puzzles a month produced in a PDF document which is produced by people who know what they're doing - both in setting and editing crosswords, and presenting them in this medium. £30 a year well-spent if advanced cryptic puzzles are your main solving interest.|
|& lit. – The Azed Slip Archive||A complete record of the clue-writing contest which takes place once a month, based on the Azed puzzle in the Observer. If you want to see examples of really good clues in the Ximenes/Azed style, there are hundreds here. Most people with any intention of setting cryptic crosswords have had a go at this contest, myself included. The monthly slips also include comments from from Azed about clue-writing.|
A few of the sites where you can find crossword-related software.
|Tea and Sympathy||Two very useful programs for solvers and setters, from Ross Beresford - former Listener crossword editor, now based in the US. The site also includes other software and a booklist.|
|Crossword Maestro||Cryptic solvers are approaching the sad fate of Garry Kasparov - computers will soon be able to solve puzzles faster than we can. This is the best software for solving cryptic puzzles, and will apparently complete around two-thirds of a Times or similar puzzle. It will also explain its answers.|
|Rex Parker does the NYT Crossword Puzzle||The most successful crossword blog on the planet, about the New York Times crossword. Worth a look from time to time even if you never solve this puzzle, mainly because "Rex Parker" writes very entertainingly about puzzles.|
|Wordplay - the crossword blog of the New York Times||The official blog for the New York Times crossword, produced by Jim Horne, who previously ran his own blog about the puzzle and also runs a statistics site for the NYT puzzle. Includes coverage of the occasional cryptic puzzles in the Sunday paper.|
|Diary of Crossword Fiend||A blog written by Amy Reynaldo, who usually finishes in the top 20 or so of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Includes a discussion forum where cryptic crosswords (mostly US ones) are discussed.|
|Today's Irish Times Crosaire Crossword: Solved||A solving blog for the best-known cryptic in Ireland - Crosaire. A highly idiosyncratic puzzle, but one with a loyal following.|
|George vs the Listener Crossword||A record of Listener solving attempts, written by US-based Aussie "glheard" who also writes reports for the Times for the Times blog.|
|Listen with Others||A blog for the Listener crossword, with reports from solvers and quite a few of the setters.|
|RTC3||A blog for the Times Crossword Club's "Race the Clock" contest, based on the Times2 non-cryptic puzzle. Run by Tony Sever, the 1981 winner of the Times Crossword Championship, and still very hard to beat in the Times championship - "cave testudinem", as he likes to say (Beware of the tortoise). Read about some remarkably quick solving times, from quick solvers on at least three continents, and some of their adventures in achieving them.|
|Ray Hamel's Link List||The biggest list of crossword-related sites, divided into categories and run very efficiently - suggested links are usually added within a day or two. The place to go if this page doesn't have enough links for you.|
|The Crossword Club||The home page of a UK-based club which publishes a monthly magazine including two tough cryptic puzzles, clue-writing contests, and general cryptic crossword gossip.|
|YAGCC Contents Page|
|Other material about cryptic puzzles on this site|
Editor: Peter Biddlecombe
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