Cryptic Quiz Guide

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Rorthron
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Cryptic Quiz Guide

Post by Rorthron » Sun Dec 17, 2017 7:22 pm

Cryptic Quiz Guide, Part 1

@Spud suggested I provide a guide to solving the cryptic Spectrum clues I post from time to time, so I've had a go below. I've included a bunch of examples from previous quizzes, with explanations. The explanations are mostly hidden in spoiler tags, so you can try the clues again, if you are so inclined.

I don't claim to be an expert at this, but I've done my best!

BASIC RULES

The clues I post usually follow the standard principles of newspaper cryptic crossword clues. That means each clue contains two parts. One part is a "straight" clue. This is a normal, non-cryptic clue. The other part is the cryptic bit. This is a code that, when deciphered, will give you the exact letters of the answer.

So the first task, when facing a clue, is to break it down into the two parts. This isn't always obvious. The straight clue can come at the start or at the end, and you don't know how long it is.

Consider this example:

No genteel atheists were harmed in the Nazi lair. [4, 3, 6, 4]

This clue can be broken down into the two parts, as follows:

No genteel atheists were harmed // in the Nazi lair.

The straight clue is to the right of the // mark: "in the Nazi lair". The cryptic part is to the left of the // mark.

As long as you can break the clue down into these two parts, you can always attempt the clue, even if you do not understand the cryptic part. In this case the straight clue "in the Nazi lair" leads you to the answer INTO THE EAGLE'S NEST.

Sometimes there might be bridging words to link the two halves of the clue. These words do not provide any part of the answer, but can help you work out how to divide the clue into its two parts.

For example:

Saline mix for foreigners. [6]

This breaks down as follows:

Saline mix / for / foreigners.

"Foreigners" is the straight clue, and "saline mix" the cryptic part. "For" is just bridging text. "Foreigners" gives you the correct answer, ALIENS.

ANAGRAMS

The cryptic part of each clue can be one of several types. One type is an anagram clue. Both the examples above are of this type.

Anagram clues comprise the letters of the anagram, plus a word or phrase to indicate that it is an anagram. Such words or phrases can be "jumbled", "confused", "upset", "awfully" or something similar.

To return to the examples above:

No genteel atheists were harmed // in the Nazi lair.

Here the anagram signifier is "were harmed". So the answer is an anagram of "no genteel atheists", or INTO THE EAGLE'S NEST, as we already worked out from the straight clue.

Saline mix / for / foreigners.

In this case "mix" indicates it is an anagram. So the answer is an anagram of "saline", or ALIENS.

Here are some more examples of anagram clues. Answers and explanations are in the spoiler tags.

1. Urgh, untidy designer! [4]
SpoilerShow
HURG
"Untidy" is the anagram signifier. "Urgh" gives you the letters of the anagram. "Designer" is the straight clue.
2. Bewildered Dirk chased Tut and found a trifling child. [3, 7, 3]
SpoilerShow
THE CUSTARD KID
"Bewildered" signifies an anagram. "Dirk chased Tut" are the letters of the anagram. "And found" is bridging text. "A trifling child" is the (punning) straight clue.
3. Travel through the dimensions and meet a git in a state of confusion. [4, 4]
SpoilerShow
TIME GATE
"Travel through the dimensions" is the straight clue. "And" is bridging text. "In a state of confusion" is the anagram signifier. "Meet a git" are the anagram letters.
4. A tolerant voice transformed an uprising. [8,6]
SpoilerShow
ELEVATOR ACTION
"A tolerant voice" gives you the anagram letters. "Transformed" is the anagram indicator. "An uprising" is the straight clue (another pun).
5. Snag her awfully with the teeth [7]
SpoilerShow
GNASHER
This one's not mine, but was written by STeaM. "Snag her" are the anagram letters. "Awfully" tells you it is an anagram. "With the" is bridging text. "Teeth" is the straight clue (though "tooth" would be a bit more precise).
I'll cover other types of cryptic clue in future posts.
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Re: Cryptic Quiz Guide

Post by MatGubbins » Sun Dec 17, 2017 7:37 pm

You have now used your Nazi quota for the year. Start fresh in 2018. :D (3,7,2,5,2,2,5)
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Spud
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Re: Cryptic Quiz Guide

Post by Spud » Mon Dec 18, 2017 12:14 am

Thank you for putting this together, it is very helpful and insightful! I will work my way through the examples and see if I can come up with any answers. I presume these are not Speccy related?
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Re: Cryptic Quiz Guide

Post by Seven.FFF » Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:27 am

Excellent, thanks!
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Rorthron
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Re: Cryptic Quiz Guide

Post by Rorthron » Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:37 am

Spud wrote:
Mon Dec 18, 2017 12:14 am
Thank you for putting this together, it is very helpful and insightful! I will work my way through the examples and see if I can come up with any answers. I presume these are not Speccy related?
Actually the clues are all for Spectrum games. They're all old ones, though, that have been posted in various other places before.
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Re: Cryptic Quiz Guide

Post by Spud » Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:41 am

I managed to get 3 and 5! I struggle with the longer anagrams, especially when the straight clue gives me no clue !
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Re: Cryptic Quiz Guide

Post by R-Tape » Mon Dec 18, 2017 1:18 pm

I found 1 easy, and looked at the solution to 4 as I had to prove to myself the answer wasn't EONACTIA REVOLT, nor is it a Spectum game as it turns out.

Thanks for this, I'm learning, still a lot of brow furrowing going on.
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Re: Cryptic Quiz Guide

Post by Rorthron » Tue Dec 19, 2017 7:53 am

2 and 4 were a bit tricky. As you said, they are quite long anagrams and the straight clues were possibly more hindrance than help. Sometimes it can be quite hard to come up with straight clues for Spectrum games.
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Re: Cryptic Quiz Guide

Post by Rorthron » Tue Dec 19, 2017 7:54 am

Cryptic Quiz Guide, Part 2

HIDDEN WORDS

In part 1 I explained how clues break down into a cryptic part and a straight part. I also covered one type of cryptic clue: anagrams. This post covers another type of cryptic clue: hidden words.

Hidden-word clues conceal the answer in the text itself. This type of clue is usually indicated by a word meaning "hide", "contain" or similar.

Here is one example:

Both old and young concealed a fop. [5]

The clue breaks apart as follows:

Both old and young concealed // a fop.

The straight clue is "a fop". "Concealed" tells you the cryptic part is a hidden word in "both old and young":

Both old and young

The answer is DANDY.

Here are some more examples. The first three are previous ones of mine. The last one is a new clue. They are all for Spectrum games:

1. A famous investigator keeps her locket boxed. [8]
SpoilerShow
SHERLOCK
"A famous investigator" is the straight clue. "Boxed" signals the hidden word. It is quite an unusual signal; usually the signals are more obvious.
2. Japes feature in romantic story. [6]
SpoilerShow
ANTICS
"Japes" is the straight clue. "Feature in" tells you it is a hidden word.
3. Within its facade my school lay hidden. [7]
SpoilerShow
ACADEMY
"Within ... lay hidden" tells you this is a hidden word. "School" is the straight clue, which is unusually embedded in the middle of the clue. The order of the different parts is quite tricky in this clue.
4. Secretly, I box enough for a future competition. [4]
SpoilerShow
XENO
"Secretly" is the hidden-word indicator. "For" is bridging text. "A future competition" is the straight clue.
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Re: Cryptic Quiz Guide

Post by Spud » Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:22 am

Thanks again for this. I thought these might be easier but couldn't figure out any of them! I nearly got the first one from the straight clue, but I got hung up on the gender of the investigator (keeps her locket boxed), and try as I might I couldn't actually find the investigator that I thought it should be in the text despite it staring back at me. I realise I need to stop being so literal but it is hard :)

I wonder if having these in a real crossword might make things a little easier.
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