Cryptic Quiz Guide, Part 8
Bits-and-pieces clues require you to piece together various strings of letters to get to the answer.
Often the letters come from codes and abbreviations:
- standard abbreviations, like DR for "doctor", CO for "company";
- chemical elements, such as CU from "copper";
- Roman numerals, like X from "ten", V from "five";
- compass points, eg N, S, W or E (usually indicated with the word "point");
- other, eg the number "1" can signify the letter "I", "unknown" can mean X (as in algebra).
There are many more codes like this. These are just some of the more common ones. Googling "cryptic crossword guides" will take you to more comprehensive lists.
Another way you can get letters from bits-and-pieces clues is by taking them selectively from a clue word. Here are some of the ways this can happen:
- INITIALS. This was covered in part 7. Words like "initially" or "leaders" can indicate you should only consider the first letter of words.
- ALTERNATE LETTERS. "Alternately", "odd", "even", etc mean you should take every other letter.
- FIRST AND LAST LETTERS. Words like "edges" or "extreme" can indicate you should take the first and last letters of a word.
- PARTS OF WORDS. "Almost", "part", "fraction", etc mean you should use only part of the word.
Usually the letters are then linked sequentially to make a word, but sometimes there can be other arrangements specified. If the arrangement is non-sequential, it will be signified by language in the clue. Some examples of non-sequential arrangements are below:
SUBTRACTIVE. This is a particularly important case. Words like "lacking" require letters to be taken away.
Consider this example, which is a modification of a clue by STeaM:
Canonised pigs lost one Roman wargame. 
The answer is STONKERS.
"Canonised" gives you ST, the abbreviation for "saint". "Pigs" are OINKERS. "Lost one Roman" means to take away I (the Roman
numeral 1). "Wargame" is the straight clue.
CONTAINER. See part 5.
REVERSALS. See part 6.
Here are various examples of clues which use the bits-and-pieces approach.
1. The pagan doctor drove under the influence erratically. 
"The pagan" is the straight clue. "Doctor" is DR. "Drove under the influence" points to the abbreviation DUI. "Erratically" meams you have to rearrange the letters of DUI.
2. Gangster faces youth leader. 
"Gangster" is the straight clue. "Faces" is MUGS. "Youth leader" is the first letter of "youth", which is Y.
3. The crème de la crème burned in the outskirts of Edgware. 
"The crème de la crème" is the straight clue. "Burned" is LIT. "The outskirts of Edware" means the first and last letters of Edgware: E and E. "In" means a container arrangement: LIT should be inserted between the two Es: E-LIT-E.
4. A celestial phenomenon finally drove one of five cattle. 
"A celestial phenomenon" is the straight clue. "Finally drove" means the last letter of "drove": E. "One of five" is a QUIN. "Cattle" is OX.
5. The homeless man almost sank his teeth into the short fellow.
"The homeless man" is THE HOBO. "Almost" means you should shorten this to "THE HOB". "Sank his teeth into" is BIT. "The short fellow" is the straight clue.
That's all, folks. I think I've covered enough in these tutorials. I hope it's been helpful to some of you. Now I have to find the time to come up with a new quiz....