lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

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Location: Kolkata, India

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Difficult? I Give You More...

If a thing is esoteric, do you need to make it more complicated?

If we are talking about crosswords, yes! Absolutely.

Araucaria invented (though he says he is not sure he did,) a tweak on the regular cryptic crosswords. He invented alphabetical jigsaws. Which is to say, the poor sap, a.k.a me, has not only to solve all the clues, but figure out where they will go in the grid. Because there are no numbers. You solve all the clues, decide where they fit, and that's it.

Oh, Araucaria is fair. The clues are listed in alphabetical order of their solutions. So one knows that the beginning few clues have their solutions starting with the top order of the alphabet. :D

The first time I came across a themed cryptic crossword, my heart sank. I didn't even know about themes in crosswords, then. All I saw was that just about every other clue said see some other clue. And that one clue would turn out to be some 30 or more letters; all witty and clever no doubt, but daunting all the same for a tyro.

But then I realised that a themed puzzle is easier to solve, if one has figured out the theme. There have been crosswords where every across solution is a bird, or a sport. There have been Shakespeare plays, or characters in a particular play. It could be the signs of the zodiac, or the elements.

Last month's genius crossword in The Guardian by Brummie had another twist. 11 of the 12 9 letter clues had their definition elements shuffled, so that 10 across might have the definition proper to 14 down and so on.

Taupi, another complier, once set a crossword where all the across clues had the definition backwards. For example: Taboo to swallow one vegetable(5) No-no, with an i in it, and the answer is onion. :-)

Araucaria also compiles a perimetrical jigsaw now and then. The squares of the perimeter make up a proverb, or a witty saying or a quotation, which has it's own clue. You have to figure it out, fill it in and then fit the rest of the solutions wherever they go. I find this easier than the regular alphabetical jigsaws, somehow.

Now I am off to solve today's prize puzzle. Which is an alphabetical jigsaw, with 26 clues, starting with each letter of the alphabet. It is by Araucaria. My cup runneth over. :D

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