Do you solve the clues in sequence, clue#1 onwards?
Do you start at the top-left of the grid, move right/down till you get an answer and then look at its crossings?
Or do you scan all the clues first to get a "feel" of the overall puzzle before zooming in on specific clues? (I do this sometimes, when I'm not in a hurry to finish quickly.)
In general, I try a little harder to solve words that run across at the top and left of the grid. The idea is to crack the clues that give good checking letters for other words. A checked first letter is very useful, so getting 1 Across in the grid can be a big help for the rest of the crossword.
Apparently, John Sykes who won the Times Championship several times recommended starting with the last few Down clues, since the setters run out of ideas by the time they reach the tail end of the puzzle. This assumes of course that the setters write clues in numerical order – I don't know how many setters do that – but I think the strategy can work with the Everyman crossword (The Sunday Hindu Crossword). When I was new to solving and couldn't finish The Sunday Hindu, I would still get the answers at the bottom of the puzzle. What has been the experience of other Everyman/Sunday Hindu solvers?
I was reminded of this during my interaction with Anish (Maddy), hobbyist setter and a friend, regarding the latest crossword he has compiled. While I liked his crossword very much, I mentioned that I wasn't too impressed with 16 Down. Maddy responded:
This was the last word I clued and had lost patience by then :) so didn't put too much thought.
So there you have a setter whose crossword you can attempt in reverse order :) His 1 Across is quite brilliant as are several other clues, and there's also a rare kind of clue with the definition in the middle. Check out his crossword here:
Recommended reading: The section "Be grid-centric" on Peter Biddlecombe's site (which incidentally suggests starting from the top-left). I picked up the practice of marking word breaks in the grid from this guide, and it has made a difference to my solving.
[I'm on vacation till 2nd May 2010, might not get to respond to comments/emails during this time. Will get back to you when I return, thanks for your patience and happy crosswording till then!]
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