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to be annoyed that I struggle with cryptic crosswords...

(303 Posts)
NessCathy Wed 24-Aug-11 15:02:58

I've been trying to get into cryptic crosswords, and I'm really annoyed that I struggle with them, and some find them so easy. I can usually get a few and when I cheat, find myself thinking either
a) Oh, that's so bloody obvious, or
b) How could anyone have put all that together?

Anyone else like them? Maybe we could have a MN group to improve? Or a grandmaster to help us?

StrandedBear Wed 24-Aug-11 15:03:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LadyBeagleEyes Wed 24-Aug-11 15:08:04

I used to love cryptic crosswords and got the Scotsman everyday as it was my favouite.
I even used to carry a pocket dictionary in my handbag when I travelled.
I just got out of practice with them and do them so rarely now that I struggle, but it's great when you manage to finish one.

BornSicky Wed 24-Aug-11 15:23:36

love them!

it's the only reason i buy the telegraph!

rarely completely finish it, but really like seeing the answers the following day. i find it helps work out how the setter's mind works.

the telegraph xword gets progressively harder throughout the week, except saturday which is a different compiler altogether.

the guardian has a few different setters, who do easy, average and hard xwords, so look at the name for each xword and see if you can familiarise yourself with their style.

the tabloid and local paper ones are always easy and pretty shit.

Radio times xword is good fun and usually relatively easy.

You can buy cryptic crossword guides and books to learn the common references, i.e worker is ant, horse is nag or mare etc.

NessCathy Wed 24-Aug-11 15:25:25

I just find it so frustrating so see how easy some find them, and I just struggle and plod away ... I suppose practice has to help

BecauseImWorthIt Wed 24-Aug-11 15:26:50

I'm with you, Ness. DH does them regularly and sometimes I can't even match the solution up with the clue!

Very occasionally I can work them out, but there's no way I could do a whole one.

squeakytoy Wed 24-Aug-11 15:28:10

I find if you do them all the time it becomes a lot easier as you go along. Leave them for a while, and you get rusty at it again.

FebreezeYourJeans Wed 24-Aug-11 15:28:24

If you're in London The Evening Standard is a good easy one to cut your teeth on. I only get cross that they can be a bit blokey. You have to learn the references to cricketing terms, golf & the military.

Lilymaid Wed 24-Aug-11 15:30:59

I've never got my mind fully round them. When I was at university a friend did the Times crossword every day and I learnt from her how to interpret some of the clues ... but many years have passed since then and I can only manage about 2 clues per crossword (Times or Telegraph cryptic).

hocuspontas Wed 24-Aug-11 15:34:42

Agree - DT is the best. Their clues are 'pure'. They follow the 5 or so basic clue types to the letter and rarely have the awful fill in the blank quote ones. Once you know the clues types e.g. anagram, 'in/within/among, double definition, and learn the crossword meanings of words such as 'butter' (goat), 'flower' (river), you'll find them a doddle!

DogsBestFriend Wed 24-Aug-11 15:38:38

I'm with BornSicky, cryptic crosswords are the only reason I buy the Telegraph too.

I'm a bit of a cryptic crossword addict, I'm afraid. I put it down to my age. grin

HooHa Wed 24-Aug-11 15:41:44

I can't do them either. That's all I've got on that subject.

Oh, and it annoys me that others can.

notcitrus Wed 24-Aug-11 15:42:09

It takes loads of practice - I can usually finish the Evening Standard ones after a couple years' practice, and the Radio Times ones, but there's usually a couple clues I don't get why it's the answer.
Times I either do really well or really badly.
Guardian and Indy I can't manage at all. Will try the Telegraph at Christmas (ILs get it)

I actually really enjoy my union one, which I have to do with my computer (anagram finder and and after about 10 hours get to within 1-3 clues of the end. I've finished it once in the last 5 years!

NessCathy Wed 24-Aug-11 15:46:20

I think I'm just going to have to be patient then, bah.

LadyBeagleEyes Wed 24-Aug-11 16:17:51

I remember the Observer used to do a good one as well.
Actually, having been on this thread, I think I may take it up again.
It's excellent excercise for the brain

grovel Wed 24-Aug-11 16:21:10

Here's a good clue for you.
"Listen keenly for aural intercourse?" (5,2,4,4)

LadyBeagleEyes Wed 24-Aug-11 16:23:13

Prick up ones ears.

bibbitybobbityhat Wed 24-Aug-11 16:24:19


hocuspontas Wed 24-Aug-11 16:24:28

Prick up your ears grin

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Aug-11 16:27:34

I wouldn't have got that in a million years. My mind just doesn't work that way.

<goes off and solves mathematical equations for fun>

Yeah, I'm being smug.

upahill Wed 24-Aug-11 16:30:41

I am totally rubbish at cryptic crosswords or indeed easy crosswords.
In fact I am still proud of myself for getting this one from about 15 years ago.

Ac/dc in search of the sun.

Answer Heatseeker

(of course you have to know ac/dc records and clearly I do but I was SO proud I got that without thinking about it!!)

Thumbwitch Wed 24-Aug-11 16:30:50

I got into cryptic crosswords many years ago. Always used to enjoy the quick crossword, as did my Dad, but he never got the hang of cryptic ones.

Then at work, 4 of us used to sit around in our breaks and try and crack the cryptics. We'd each buy one of the 4 broadsheets and try to finish them all by the end of the day (except we mostly gave up with the Indy because they were just too fucking hard!)

Monday Times was the easiest followed by Monday Telegraph; the Guardian (as has been said already) differed according to who set it - some I could do fairly easily (same mind warp) and others I could barely get one but all were harder than the Times or Telegraph until about Wednesday, when they started to even out.

We got pretty good after a while - it was good mental stimulation and useful to have more than one mind on it, as different people "got" different clues more easily.
Anagrams was my forte.

Not everybody has the mindset for them though - my Dad is very intelligent but has no ability with them at all.

giesabosie Wed 24-Aug-11 16:31:00

I've always wanted to do cryptic crosswords. I've been trying really hard to learn for the past year and find I'm now getting better. I also do the Telegraph ones but find the opinions in that paper pretty annoying so have subscribed to their puzzle website.

I also found a rather good blog where they analyse each Telegraph crossword and explain how the answers are derived from the clues. On Saturdays and Sundays they provide hints which when I was a complete beginner was sometimes enough to get started.

JKSLtd Wed 24-Aug-11 16:31:41

At school one of the teachers helped us learn how to do cryptics.
I kept each day's one then went through the answers the next day, defnitely helped to get 'into' the mind of the compiler.
Right pain when they change compiler though!

I love the Telegraph ones the best.
Have never mastered some of the more difficult ones though, my Grandad always did 'Enigma' - Times maybe? - i couldn't even understand the instructions.

Scholes34 Wed 24-Aug-11 17:02:20

Yes, the Daily Telegraph's is supposed to be one of the easier ones.

I hate cryptic crosswords, because I can't do them. The one I really enjoy is the Times' 2 crossword on Saturday. It's the same grid as for the cryptic one (but not the same answers). This tests general knowledge as well as English language and is something to really get it to and can keep you going all week.

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