Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Hindu Crossword Compilers: Your Views?

 difficulty-hindu-crossword-compilers

On The Hindu Crossword Community, a question was raised about the subjectivity of estimating crossword difficulty.

As a follow-up, my question is: Of The Hindu Crossword compilers, whose crosswords do you find the easiest to crack, whose the most arduous?

There are five compilers at present:

  • Gridman
  • M. Manna
  • Neyartha
  • Nita Jaggi
  • Sankalak

How do you fare with them?

Update: A reader has mailed in an interesting suggestion to expand my original question. The additional questions are:

"What other characteristics /peculiarities/preferences/prejudices have you formed of the present set of setters?

When you see the byline what have you come to expect?"

The comments section is open, let's hear you!

[Note: Before you post, please consider if you would use the same words if the compiler was listening. No personal attacks, please!]

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

An Odd Question

letter-selection

This clue from The Hindu Crossword 9532 (Nita Jaggi): 
        Odd girl very boring and sad (4) G R E Y
led to an interesting discussion on the THC community. Keep aside the weak definition (how does 'boring and' help the clue?), the focal error is that odd letters from 'girl very' do not lead to the expected answer GREY, but to GRVR.

An open question on the forum is as below, which I thought I'll talk about in a bit more detail here.

In an odd letter fodder, do we take letters 1,3,5, etc and in an even letter fodder, do we take letters 2,4,6 etc. Can we be expected to string letters 1,3,5 in a clue which uses odd/oddly. And in a clue which has 'regular/regularly' which letters do we pick up?

I think the simple answer is that as with any indicator, we do with the fodder what the indicator logically implies.

'The odds of' can be translated to 'take the odd letters from [fodder]', so I pick letters 1, 3, 5, 7...
'Oddly lacking', 'ignoring the odds' can reasonably be read as 'remove the odd letters from [fodder]', so I drop letters 1, 3, 5, 7…
'Evenly' suggests selecting 2, 4, 6…, and 'evens out', 'seconds away' point to removing the letters 2, 4, 6…

'alternately' and 'every other' could either be read as 'pick odds' or 'pick evens'.
Indicators like 'regularly' and 'uniformly' give more leeway to the setter – in plain English they mean any consistent pattern, so I think it is valid even if they indicate a sequence like 3, 6, 9, 12. (A gentler clue would of course state more transparently: 'every Nth' for a letter pattern with gaps > 1).

Coming back to the original clue: Even if the solution is GRVR, can 'odd girl very' be interpreted as 'take the odd letters from GIRL VERY'? I can't bring myself to think so. Though I've come to recognize it as a letter sequence indicator from its appearances in crosswords, I don't get how 'odd [fodder]' is equivalent to 'the odd letters of [fodder]'; to me it looks like a discrepancy between what the indicator means and what the compiler expects the solver to do.

Or am I missing something here?

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Not Just Royal Or Sky

Do you too find that when you learn something new, reminders of it suddenly start appearing all around you?

blue-squander

Last week I discovered a new meaning for the word BLUE, when I met with this clue in FT 13071 (Alberich):
Spend millions – half of capital – acquiring old film with graphic images (4, 5)
'to blue' means 'to squander'.

Within 3 days, the same BLUE popped up in the Times. Well I was ready for it this time!
Times 24222: More conservative individual who squanders? (5)

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rising Setters

crossword-compiler My crossword buddies have taken to some serious puzzle compiling. Drop in to their blogs, solve and give them your bouquets/brickbats!

Anokha's Crosswords - An expert Hindu Crossword solver, Anokha is currently on a break from solving and is publishing self-composed puzzles on her blog.

The I-Do-It Box - Tony and Vinod (TV) have together started this imaginatively named blog, on which they promise to post new crosswords regularly.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Wordplay On Regional Dialects

dialect-homophones A few politically incorrect clues that play on Indian regional dialects, inspired by the Cockney clues. Just experimenting with the wordgame.

The clues don't have conventional homophone indicators but they mention the region of which the accent is to be used.

e.g. Separate turn for work for one from Bihar (4)
Turn for work = SHIFT,
for one from Bihar => SHIFT spoken in a Bihari accent = SIFT, which means 'separate'

Get the drift? Okay, try solving these:

  Made advances, as a Bengali would? (5)
  Pretend to be a Banarasi supporter (5)
  Archer, say, on the Kannadiga's side (6)
  It's on the fly, a Bihari's vehicle (4)

Post your answers in the comments section. I'll publish the solution after 7 days if any of it remains unsolved. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Cockney H

In Cockney pronunciation, the initial "H" sound is omitted from words that start with "H". cockney house, hat, hammer become 'ouse, 'at, 'ammer.

This h-dropping shows up in clues that need to delete an H for the solution.

Example:
THC 9473 (Gridman): Cockney fish is making a mistake (6)
fish = HERRING. "Cockney" signals dropping the H, which gives the answer ERRING.

H-Dropping Clue Characteristics

  • The clue mentions "Cockney" or a geographical area where Cockney English could be spoken (e.g. East End, Albert Square), to indicate the dialect.

  • This device is not too frequently used: once a month perhaps in most daily publications.

  • The dialect opens up fresh homophone possibilities; you will often come across the cockney H in combination with homophone clues - such as OAKS{~cockney HOAX} or EIGHT{~cockey HATE}.

    Guardian 24523 (Pasquale): Smart-arse having no room for Cockney, we hear (4-3)
    no room = NO HALL. "Cockney" indicates dropping the H, which gives NO ALL. "we hear" indicates a homophone, which gives the answer KNOW-ALL.

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