Friday, November 28, 2008

Reversals

In the reversal clue type, a word/phrase is spelt out in reverse to give the solution. The letters to be reversed may be indicated by the wordplay, or may be hidden in the letters of the wordplay.

Reversal Clue Structure: The clue consists of three parts -
1. Definition
2. Fodder that yields the word(s) to be reversed
3. Reversal Indicator – such as ‘back’, ‘returns’, ‘reflected’

Example (Whole Reversal):
ET3078: Stop the flow in crazy get-up (3) DAM<-
‘crazy’ gives MAD, ‘get-up’ indicates that MAD should be spelt backwards. This gives DAM, for which ‘stop the flow’ is the definition.

Example (Part Reversal):
NIE 31Oct08: An elevating Kipling poem of unaffected simplicity (4) NA<-IF 
AN is reversed to form part of the solution. ‘elevating’ indicates that AN has to be turned around.

Example (Hidden Reversal):
FT12934: To get better extract from pure tar, oil emanated the other way round (10) AMELIORATE [T]<-
The hidden word spans across the set of words (purE TAR OIL EMAnated). A clue with hidden reversal has indicators for both hidden word (‘extract’ in this case) and for reversal (‘the other way round’ in this case).

Reversal Clue Characteristics

  • Reversal indicators sometimes indicate the direction in which the letters are to be turned around. Such indicators either work for ACROSS clues only, or for DOWN clues only.
           ACROSS clues indicators can be words/phrases like going west, left, to the left.        
           DOWN clues indicators can be words/phrases like going up, taken up, mounting, rising.

  • Reversal may be applied only for short sections of the solution. The rest of the solution can be formed using any other technique, such as anagram or charade. The next one has a short reversal + charade.
    Guardian 24744 (Rufus): Delighted when record return took the pressure off (7) PL<- EASED

  • Reversals are more often used for short words, or short sections of longer words (as in the PLEASED example). Whole long reversals are rarer.

  • Reversal may be applied after the text to be reversed is derived through other techniques. The next one has components formed through a charade, after which it is reversed. 
    Example (THC 9383): Concluding part for a physician in retrospect (4) {COD A}<-

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Hindu Crossword 9387: M.Manna

This puzzle was not so easy, with some clues clever enough to keep you thinking, some others faulty enough to keep you thinking. I got going with the right-hand side; the clever 14D was my last to get entered.

As is the case with M.Manna's puzzles, the surface reading is uniformly good but there is surprising variation in the quality of clues.

ACROSS

1 I’m going to repeat that, despite lacking education (10) I'LL ITERATE
The first clue defines the 'mood' of the puzzle for me. I liked this charade.

6 The French in charge is a layman (4) LA IC
Ho-hum wordplay. I’m not a fan of clues that rely entirely on standard abbreviations.

9 The shortest dance? (3,4) ONE STEP [CD]
Nice CD.

10 Oriental writing a note back (7) EASTERN
I don't understand the wordplay here. 'Oriental' is the definition and 'back' suggests a reversal but can't see the rest. (Thanks to xwd_fiend for clarifying - (musical) note = E, and ASTERN = back (towards the back of a ship))

12 Gen up on new smart articles of clothing (8) GARMENTS*
I genned up on the phrase 'gen up' after reading this clue :) British slang, not used in India-speak but it makes for good surface reading.
Not pleased with the indicators; they do not convey that 'gen' and 'smart' have to be anagrammed together. ‘up’ isn’t a convincing anagram indicator in any case.

13 Mental picture of an idol (5) IMAGE [2]
Uninspiring double-definition.

15 Dad summed up for Ted (5) ADDED
How does this clue work? Is it an anagram, charade or &Lit? Whatever it is, I bet that Ted or Ted's "T" have no business being in the wordplay. (xwd_fiend explains that Ed and Ted are both diminutives of Edward, so Ted = ED is OK. I would have lost the bet!)

17 Understand her perturbation and hang about (9) APP{REH*}END
Good one!

19 Successor to ancestor’s assets (9) INHERITOR
Nothing cryptic about this.

21 Not right river to prevent a crossing (5) DETER
Other than 'prevent' being the definition, don't see the rest. Definition in the middle of the clue does not bode well for its correctness!

23 Authenticate a hard shell by an examination (5) TEST A
Testa is a hard shell. 'authenticate a' is enough to derive it. What is 'by an examination' there for?

24 Containers holding nothing but pictures (8) CARTO{O}NS
The word 'container' naturally gives an easy surface read to this c/c clue.

27 Made a neat net for her (7) ANNETTE*
All fine, except that I don't like random proper names in crosswords.

28 It tends to confuse one who has to do oral examinations (7) DENTIST*
Smart anagram. I toyed with the idea of cryptic definition for a while, when the crossing letters made me see light.

29 Cheese that’s made the wrong way (4) EDAM<-
Fine reversal. And a coincidence: the same word appeared in The Guardian today.
The Guardian clue:
Cheese: 12-ed and ____? (4)
where the 12 referred to the clue: Touch one's son on back of neck (4)

30 Mid-morning Daniel goes to church gate (10) AT TEN DAN CE
Really good! Creative definition, and I like 'mid-morning' for 'at ten'.

DOWN

1 Ron goes around with a golf club (4) IRON*
It took me ages to solve this simple one. I kept using the 'A' instead of substituting 'I' for the anagram.

2 Pull fish up into the shelter of the boat (7)LEE<- WARD
All right.

3 Symbol of a North American tribe (5) TOTEM
Straight definition.

4 Sorry when the agent gets the tenant to move (9) REP ENTANT*
All right.

5 A rest maybe needed on mountain ranges (5) TIERS
Another clue of which the wordplay doesn't make sense. Is this an anagram of (I+REST)? If yes, 'maybe needed' as indicator is taking it too far. Is it a cryptic definition? If yes, it is weak.

7 Mean to assert one’s seniority (7) AVER + AGE
AVER+AGE is terribly overused! Regular THC solvers will know the answer on sight.

8 Not favouring offers made by the opposition (10) CON TENDERS
Liked this one!

11 Clergyman may spend it freely (7) STIPEND*
Another well-cloaked anagram that I took to be a cryptic definition at first. Didn't know that stipend=clergyman? (xwd_fiend explains that stipend is the wages that clergymen receive, so this clue looks fine as an &Lit now.)

14 He tries to give old priests free treats (10) MAGI STRATE*
'free treats' is such a neat way to clue 'strate', and 'he tries' works really well as the definition.

16 Don’t ring Irma, I left her sleeping (7) DO{RMA}NT
Another excellent clue.

18 Some crest! Some bird! (9) PART RIDGE
Very well put together.

20 Glory be! Governess supports bottomless stockings! (7) HOS(-E) ANNA
The surface reading made me chuckle. I looked up the connection between governess and ANNA after solving the clue.

22 One isn’t put out by it, but it’s a strain (7) TENSION*
The anagram fodder is well-concealed but there are too many filler words. If this was meant as an &Lit, it doesn't quite work.

24 Teach one to make bread of a lower quality (5) CHEAT*
Problem with connectors again. 'one' is redundant, on top of that it is wedged between the anagram fodder and indicator.

25 Acknowledged new party in trouble (5) OWNED*
All right.

26 Set young around to climb over the filthy place (4)STYE*
Lots of problems with this one! The least of them is whether young=Y is valid.
There are two indicators: 'around' and 'to climb over' - why? If this is meant to be an anagram, then one indicator is redundant; if meant to be an anagram+c/c, then the indicators are incorrectly placed.
An eye infection may be a huge annoyance but calling it "filthy place" is a bit much. Was it STY and not STYE that the definition was written for? (xwd_fiend points out that STY can also be spelt as STYE in big enough dictionaries)

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Hindu Crossword 9384

the-hindu-crossword It has been over a month since I wrote in detail about a whole puzzle; the last was THC 9350 when we took turns to write for our THC community. I plan to attempt detailed posts about specific puzzles once a month or so, and more frequently if time permits.

9384 was uncomplicated with many easy charades and anagrams. Nothing to hold one up for long, other than an unfamiliar word  on 19A (biology stumps me as usual). I find that M.Manna’s clues use innovative solution definitions and the surface reading is pretty good - to maintain which the correctness of the wordplay is sacrificed at times.

ACROSS

1 Revelation which should broaden the pupil’s views (3,6) EYE OPENER [CD]
The pun on 'pupil' is a nice touch, but why not just: 'Revelation that broadens the pupil's view'? This drops a connector and a superfluous plural without loss of meaning/accuracy.  

6 Smart cheat (5) STING [2]
Fine double-definition.

9 Henry to ride around for a place to conceal (5) H IDER*
Straightforward clue.

10 Theoretical solution for reducing a beer gut? (9)RATION ALE
I like the use of 'gut' here. The surface reading leads you to think of getting rid of a pot belly, but 'beer gut' actually refers to ALE in this clue. Don't see how 'reducing' gives RATION though – shouldn't the corresponding word be 'reduce'? Also, the RATIONALE of a thing is its underlying principle or reasoning: why 'theoretical'?

11 Tender fish I take on board (10) CHAR I TABLE
Nice charade.

12 He succeeds in heartening the IRA (4) HEIR [T]
In spite of the 'IRA' signaling strongly the presence of a hidden word, this was still not solved at sight. Maybe because of the neat definition. Thumbs up for the hidden word indicator 'heartening'.

14 Supplied to soldiers again (7) RE ISSUE
I didn’t follow the wordplay clearly for this one. Is soldiers = ISSUE? For 'supplied' as the definition, shouldn't the solution be REISSUED?

15 Con man turns up in disgrace (7) SCAN DAL<-
Con=SCAN in the sense of 'study' perhaps, and man=LAD is passable (LAD is nearer a boy than a man, though). But 'turns up' as reversal indicator for an ACROSS clue is not OK I think. 'Con man returns in disgrace' would be more apt.

17 They are fleeced by dirty fellows who take one in (7) PIG{EON*}S
I like the definition, but where is the anagram indicator for ONE?

19 Inner portion of organs are affected to dull ones in Middle East (7) ME{DULL}A
MEDULLA fits the definition 'inner portion of organs' all right but the wordplay isn't convincing: 'Middle East' = ME and DULL is placed as-is, but how does A appear? 'ones'=A??

20 Do the French give state benefit? (4) DO LE
Simple one.

22 Vagrant with no job becomes a bouncer (10) TRAMP O LINE
job=LINE as in 'He is in the business line', to describe occupation.

25 A ship comes in with their consent (9) A SS ENTERS
Another simple charade.

26 Ann with Al records events as they happened (5) ANN AL
'The answer is ANNAL' is probably the only clue that could have beaten this in an Easiest Clue contest.

27 Timber reordered by one (5) EBONY*
Anagram indicator more creative than 'reordered' can surely be used; 'timber' opens up so many possibilities.

28 They are those who lend their ears (9) LISTENERS [CD]
All right.

DOWN

1 The in-charge arranges a system of rules to follow (5) ETHIC*
Easy anagram.

2 Charming the listener in the finale (9) END{EAR}ING
Have seen a similar clue recently, so this was solved easily.

3 Authorisation needed for every special assignment (10)PER MISSION
With 'for every'=PER, the answer was obvious.

4 Dashed upset over charge for recount (7)NAR<- RATE
Very nice one. 'Dashed upset' means 'very distressed' in the surface reading, and gives the reverse of RAN for the solution. The definition works well too - it fits in as the noun (meaning 'verification'). in the surface reading, and the verb to give the solution.

5 What the skeleton does when badly flustered? (7) RATTLES [CD]
Fun cryptic definition.

6 Prevent post disruption (4) STOP*
Very easy anagram.

7 Picture me in mature years (5) IM AGE
The wordplay seems faulty – it gives IMAGED (I'M AGED) rather than IMAGE.

8 Gruel liar prepared for an underground fighter (9) GUERRILLA*
Straightforward anagram.

13 So camera shy it’s almost unbearable? (4,2,4) HARD TO FACE
Another nice cryptic definition.

14 Tied up — are prepared to cast off (9) REPUDIATE*
A slightly more challenging anagram to unscramble, but not to spot: the anagram fodder was a giveaway.

16 Note union’s shilly shallying (9) D ALLIANCE
The word 'DALLIANCE' sounds so lyrical, just finding it in the solution pleases me :) The Guardian crossword too carried this word a couple of days ago. (Guardian 24527: Flirtation of one and all at church (9) DALLIAN* CE)

18 Contradictory conditions between dream and reality resolved as reality (7) SURREAL
Unsure of the annotation. If 'Contradictory conditions between dream and reality' is the definition, how does 'resolved as reality' tie in? Too many REALs in here: two in the clue text and one in the solution.

19 Rhetorical use of one’s supposed words (7) MIMESIS [CD]
Straight, non-cryptic definition.

21 Look to catch donkey with this? (5) L{ASS}O &Lit
I have a soft spot for &Lit clues, so this was welcome! The wordplay is very easy but will do.

23 She lies for a pound (5)E{L}LIS*
Indicators for anagram and container - both absent?

24 See around New York without others (4) ONLY*
I don't mind indirect anagrams if the anagram fodder is effortlessly got, but I do mind incorrect placement of anagram indicator and repetition of wordplay ('see'=LO) in near-adjacent clues.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Cricket And Cryptic Crosswords: Part III

We've talked about bowling and fielding references in crosswords before. Let's take batting next.

cricket-crossword-batting Words for basic batting shots such as block, cut, sweep, pull can also work as common nouns or verbs. When the solution is a cricket term, the surface reading of the clue typically tries to throw you off track by referring to these words as common nouns or verbs. Here's an example:
Times 24070: e.g. New York Times hack is shot (5,3) SQUARE CUT

If cricket is mentioned in the clue, it makes solving much easier – as long as you are aware of cricket strokes. Such as this one:
Cricket stroke on the leg side with vigour (2,5)
ON DRIVE [2] 

The ways in which batsmen can get out also feature in clues. The most common use is as cryptic abbreviations: caught=C and bowled=B are frequently used for clueing short sections of the solution.cricket-shots

ET 3776: At one time is taken in after being caught short (7) C ONC{IS}E
THC 2637: Making every allowance for amateur bowled in international match (2,4) A,T {B}EST

Here's a list of other cricket-related substitutions that you might have to make when solving crosswords.
Four, Six = Boundary
Eleven = Team
Player = Man
Wicket = W
Run = R
Duck = O
Match = TEST, ODI 

For crossword enthusiasts who are not into cricket, it may be worthwhile to get acquainted with the basic terminology. Look up Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batting_(cricket)

Solve These

Try solving these clues with cricket references, from the The Hindu Crossword archives:
Last batsman in, perhaps, one to finish dog? (4-5)
Successful batsman caught — and touchier about it (6)
Become exhausted and so lose the wicket (3,3)

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cricket And Cryptic Crosswords: Part II

After bowling references in crosswords, let's now look at how fielding features in the clues.

cricket-crossword-fieldingFIELDING

The terminology for fielding positions is full of words with alternate meanings unrelated to cricket. Slips can be errors or garments. The Third Man is a book by Graham Greene. A gully may be a ravine, and  fine leg a compliment to the human limb.

No surprise that fielding positions provide rich fodder for crossword clues.

THC 8450: Fielder providing very good support (4,3) FINE LEG

Times 20462: Turning obscured gate's position in field (9) MID<- WICKET
THC 8947: Fielder Tim runs back and holds wicked shot (9)  MI{DWICKE*}T<-

Times 23748: You can just make out something here by fielder (4,5) NEAR POINT [2]

ET 3340: Yearns to start practice in the field (4,4) {LONG S}TO P
Times 24076: Cricketer, say, succeeded intercepting return of ball (3,4) L{EG S}LIP<-

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'cricket side' can be used to clue short sections of the solution - to mean OFF, ON or LEG.

THC 8202: Cricket side: the spinners turn up immediately (2,3,4) ON THE SPOT<-
THC 8826: Cricket side worker is rather casual (7) OFF HAND

If direct words like FIELDSMAN, FIELDER or WICKETKEEPER are part of the solution, the definition usually avoids making obvious reference to cricket. Consider these for example:

Times 23753: Maybe cover sore, initially inflamed horribly (9) FIELDSMAN*
Times 24006: Composer's servant who tries to minimize score (9) FIELD'S MAN

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Cricket and Cryptic Crosswords: Part I

Hugh Stephenson, the crossword editor of The Guardian, draws a fascinating parallel between cricket and cryptic crosswords in this article :

"They are both governed by laws that are arcane; they heavily depend on convention and gentlemanly conduct; they are totally unintelligible to people who don't play the game themselves, even after long and patient explanation; they can be over quite quickly or drag on for ever, and still end in a draw. With both, playing the game is the thing, rather than the result."

Leaving aside debates on that interesting premise, the fact remains that cryptic crosswords reference cricket a good deal. So much so that familiarity with cricket is almost a prerequisite for mastery over the puzzle.

Coming up here is a series of articles about clues that involve cricket. Clues with bowling references in the solutions, to start with.

BOWLING

cricket-crosswords-bowling Bowler is the player who throws the ball to the batsman. Bowler is also a kind of hat.

If you see a clue with both cricket and hat in it, there's probably a BOWLER in the answer.

This double-definition, a slightly oblique one, defines the word in both these senses.
ET 3022: Cover for one making deliveries (6) BOWLER [2]

...and here are clues that qualify bowlers.

Times 23648: Cricketer, first to purchase excellent hat (4,6) P ACE BOWLER
Times 23796: He's quick to put top hat on president's head (4,6) P ACE BOWLER

Note that the wordplay in the above pair of clues is near-identical: (i) First letter of a word starting with P (ii) A word to define ACE (iii) 'hat' to mean BOWLER.The second is tougher to solve of course, with its indirect definition and rearrangement of charade components.

Another pair of cryptic definition clues, from different publications by different setters, but very alike.

Guardian 24208: He's in no hurry to take over (4, 6) SLOW BOWLER [CD]
THC 8522: He's quick to take over (4,6) FAST BOWLER [CD]

More bowling references - bowler names and bowling-related activities in the solution:
THC 8957: Pace bowler who could reportedly restrain boy (5) TY{~tie} SON
Times 23862: Approach ladder - then where to go? (3-2) RUN UP [CD]
THC 8893: One way of dismissing a cricket batsman said to be brave (6) BOWLED{~bold}

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Friday, November 14, 2008

More RAITA

THC favourite it has long been, now FT is catching on to RAITA too!

Clue from today’s FT 12929: Portrait artist depicts Indian dish (5)

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THC Choice Word: RAITA

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Baiting With The Carrot

carrot-cryptic-clueCARROT in cryptic crosswords is rarely the vegetable. It is more the lure, the promise of reward (as in "To garner votes, the party  held out the carrot of massive loan waivers.").

After BARNACLE of yesterday, here's CARROT - used by The Hindu and The Times in the same sense on the same day.

Times 24068: Resent being forced to eat little carrot (9) S{WEE}TENER*
THC 9375: Unfit titan cracks rod as a disciplinary measure (6,3,5) CARROT AND STICK*

...and here are more carrots from the archives.

THC 8290: Dangling the carrot? (8) TEMPTING [CD]
THC 8258: It goes with the stick in motivation (6) CARROT [CD]
THC 8250: Edible root used as an incentive? (6) CARROT [CD]

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Billions Of Blue Blistering Barnacles!

The crossword world is teeming with BARNACLEs. We just had one show up in Sunday Times 4302 yesterday, and here is another in today's The Hindu Crossword 9374.

Times 4302: Twisted cable ran to this underwater attachment (8) BARNACLE*
THC 9374: Block the clean sort of creature (8) BAR NACLE*

Here are older occurrences of the word.

Guardian 24475: Sticker to bottom (8) BARNACLE [CD]
THC 8500: Clear ban, somehow, on something difficult to get rid of (8) BARNACLE*

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Charades

charade-clue-type A charade clue splits the solution into several parts, and the wordplay describes each of those parts. The parts are then assembled to give the solution. The name "charade" comes from the game of Charades (also called "Dumb Charades"), in which players guess a word being acted out: one technique used in this game is to break and act out word parts individually.

In any standard cryptic puzzle, you are likely to find a lot of charades. Around one-third of clues in daily crosswords are pure or part charade.

Charade Clue Structure: The clue contains these parts -
1. Main Definition
2. Charade Component Definitions - Definitions of the parts that make up the solution.
3. Position Indicators (optional) - These are present only if the charade components are to be rearranged in order different from that of the wordplay.

Example:
Sunday Times 4302: Member acquires friend, not improperly (7) LEG ALLY
"not improperly" is the main definition.
"Member" and "friend" are charade component definitions. Member = LEG, friend = ALLY.
They are put one after the other
to give the solution, LEGALLY.

Charade Clue Characteristics

Charades are often combined with abbreviations, or bits and pieces of words (such as first/last letters).

THC 9355: Prior belted one that is ultimately right (7) EARL IE R
"Prior" is the main definition. The charade components are: belted one = EARL, that is = IE, right = R.

THC 9373: Head of attorney liberal for one making an excuse (5) A LIB I
"Excuse" is the main definition. The charade components are: "head of attorney" = the first letter of "attorney" = A, liberal = LIB, one = I.

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A charade could use anagrams, reversals etc. to clue its individual segments. If so, each such segment carries the associated indicator.

Charade + Anagram Example:
Guardian 24539: Baffled deer? Baffled deer (8) HIND ERED* 
The first "Baffled" is the main definition. The charade components are: "deer" = HIND (the female deer), and "baffled deer" = the word DEER anagrammed, which gives ERED.

Charade + Homophone Example:
Times 24055: Appreciative when jar's topped up by speaker (8) GRATE FUL{~full}
"Appreciative" defines GRATEFUL. The charade components are: "jar"=GRATE (in the verb form), and "topped up by speaker"=something that sounds like "full", which gives FUL.

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Charade components need not always be placed one after the other. Where rearrangement is required to get the solution, the clue contains appropriate position indicator.

ET 3420 : Coming for the opening after seeing the publicity (6) AD VENT
The wordplay for charade components give "opening" = VENT and "publicity" = AD in that order, but "after" indicates that VENT should be placed after AD.

----------------------------------
The number of charade components can vary. Two or three components are common, but there can be more.
Here's one with four (I couldn't find a better published example, so will have to use this for now – ignore the weird surface, please!):

THC 9373 (Nita Jaggi): Quiet bird has a sign on a strange occurrence (10) P HEN OMEN ON
The charade components are: quiet = P, bird = HEN, sign = OMEN, on = ON

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Too Much Of The Same Thing

repetition 
Overuse of a cryptic device in the same puzzle is so not stylish. The Hindu Crossword 9370 had me frowning on many occasions because of the repetitions. The piecemeal clue construction may be fine, but variety in the puzzle as a whole would be that much nicer.

GREMLIN and GOBLIN, BEDBUGS and BEDSORE – similar words, similar wordplay.

‘United Nations’ to stand for UN was used twice. In one such clue the solution itself was the word UNITED. Giving off a large chunk of the solution gratis in the clue is bad enough, but handing out the whole solution like this is a horror!

‘Second grade editor’ appeared twice, to give BED.
The fragment ‘IN’ of the solution is taken straight off the word ‘in’ from the clue, in three cases.
The substitution L for ‘left’ is used four times.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Circular Reference

circular-reference In software architecture, circular references are EVIL. FunctionA and FunctionB invoke each other? Redesign! EntityA and EntityB have bidirectional dependency? Break it!

The reason is that software with circular references is difficult to maintain, understand or use.

So also with crosswords.

Came across this pair of clues with circular reference in today's Guardian 24537. They were the last two to go into the grid. Standalone they might have got solved easily, but calling on each other this way they gave me a hard time!

ACROSS 19: 25 Short of a large cask, brings back a small one (3)
DOWN 25: 19 across, nothing more (4)

The crossing letters made it fairly obvious that the answers were BUT and ONLY. How and why, not so obvious. Putting the annotation up here for the benefit of those who were as confused as I was.

ACROSS 19: BUT [3] This is a triple definition.

Definition 1: 25 = ONLY
Definition 2: Short of a large cask = BUT{-t} (BUTT is a large cask)
Definition 3: Brings back a small one = TUB<- (TUB is a small cask)

DOWN 25: ONLY [CD]

The clue is to be read as 'BUT, nothing more', which gives ONLY.

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Inter-Grid References
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Saturday, November 1, 2008

Agent Nouns In Crosswords

In cryptic crosswords, words have unexpected meanings.

A typical trick involves words ending in '-er'. One interpretation of this form of word is as an agent noun, i.e. a noun obtained by adding an '-er' suffix to a verb (action) to denote someone/something that does that action. This is generally the oblique interpretation of that word, which the surface reading skillfully hides.

Take this double-definition clue from The Hindu 9366:
Butter in computer memory (3)

Your first thought is of "butter" as in the fatty thing you put on bread, but you need to actually think of it as "one that butts" to get the solution.

Here's a collection of words that work as agent nouns, or can pass off as agent nouns in a cryptic sense, with examples of how that is woven into cryptic clues.

Word Straight Meaning Cryptic Meaning Clue Examples
BANKER One who works in a bank One that has banks (river)


One you can rely upon
Guardian 24224:
Trendy Italian banker boxes celebrated doctor (11) HIP PO CRATES

Guardian 24120:
See a fast scramble to be an MP’s banker (4, 4) SAFE SEAT*
BETTER Good in comparison One who bets Guardian 24317:
It’s preferable to be a speculator (6) BETTER [2]
BLOOMER Blunder


Item of clothing
Flower


Loaf
ET 3067:
Pleas for reform might be a bit of a bloomer (5) SEPAL*

Guardian 24317:
This could make a bloomer, say (5) FLOUR [CD]
BUTTER Dairy product One that butts (ram/goat) Times 23849:
Butter bread, notably omitting filling, and try with a starter of tomatoes (5,4) NAN N{-otabl}Y GO A T
DENIER One who denies Silk fiber weight
Old coin
FT 12743:
One rejecting sheer quality (6) DENIER [2]
FLOWER Blossom of a plant One that flows (river) NIE 9849:
Pakistan flower business lacks go (5) INDUS{-try}
JABBER Chatter One that pricks or punches NIE 9697:
Jabber and annoy (6) NEEDLE [2]
MISTER Form of address for a man One that produces mist Times 24038:
Mister, a shilling! - heartfelt plea (7) S PRAYER
NUMBER Symbol for counting (1, 2, …) One that causes numbness Times 24055:
A number having a stylistic principle(11) AN AESTHETIC
PUTTER Golf club One that puts

Move aimlessly
They lay in irons (7) PUTTERS [2]
SEWER Drain One that sews (tailor) Guardian 24470:
Sewer joint takes strain (10) SEAM STRESS
SKIER One who skis High ball Guardian 24376:
One going up in the air or along the snow (5) SKIER [2]
SUMMER The warm season One that sums Times 24068:
Frames for summer's activities? (5) ABACI [CD]

Caution! 

Sometimes crossword compilers use the double-bluff. You read "flower" in the clue and begin thinking of rivers, when actually it referred to a regular flower all along. 

A few examples where the agent noun ploy was not used:

THC 2622: Sewer, initially dry, before the wet weather (5) D RAIN
NIE 9737: A flower came up (5) A ROSE
THC 8189: Mister, admit the princess for deportment (6) M{ANNE}R

Further Reading:

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