Friday, January 28, 2011

Composite Anagrams

composite-anagram A rare clue type for blocked grid puzzles, the composite anagram (aka compound anagram) is an advanced variant of the anagram clue. In a composite anagram, you need to find the answer to the question: what can I mix with a given word or phrase, to get another given word or phrase?

Take this example:

Azed 1997: Seen this Indian tourist destination? For 'Indus a rupee, that's fantastic (7)

Read the clue in this way to solve the composite anagram:
SEEN + [a word for "this Indian tourist destination"] = (INDUS A RUPEE)*

What Indian tourist destination can you mix with SEEN, to get an anagram of INDUS A RUPEE? The solution is obviously an anagram of (INDUSARUPEE – SEEN) i.e. (IDUARUP)*, which gives you UDAIPUR.

Composite anagrams are not often seen in daily puzzles – some papers like the Times do not allow them as they are considered too complex. They are staple fare for barred grid crosswords like the Azed.

Let's try another one:

Azed 1860: Soup polished off with relish? Oh, i.e., --! (6)

Read this as:
(SOUP + RELISH)* = OH IE + [a word to fill in "—"]

What word can you mix with OHIE, to get an anagram of SOUP RELISH? (SOUPRELISH – OHIE)* i.e. (SUPRLS)*, leads you to the answer - SLURPS. An &lit clue.

How to solve a composite anagram?

Some tips:

  • Find its weakest spot – the anagram indicator.
  • Follow exactly what the clue says. Advanced cryptics balance complexity with strict rules of fairness – there won't be any superfluous words or loose wordplay.
  • Count the letters, make sure the two sides add up to equal length.
  • The definition may appear in the middle of the clue. Look for definition placeholders like "this".
  • Composite anagrams are often of &lit type – check if it works to read the whole clue as the definition.
  • Practise!

Solve These

Put the last tip into action - solve these two composite anagram clues:

Azed 1962: Live through a tough winter? This thing's unsettling (7)
Azed 1987: Yes and no? Refuse thus as on forms (4)

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12 comments

sanhelmet said...

I think its really hard to spot a composite/compound anagram. Once spotted, I look to see where letters repeat and use math to figure out how many letters the anagram fodder should have. Still, tough clues to crack.

OUTWEAR = live through; (a tough winter)* = outwear thing

DENY = refuse; (yes and no)* = deny as on

Albatross said...

Took me a while:

1. OUTWEAR (A TOUGH WINTER - THING)*

2. DENY (YES AND NO - AS ON)*

SandhyaP said...

Live through a tough winter? This thing's unsettling (7)OUTWEAR*(-thing)

Yes and no? Refuse thus as on forms (4)DENY*(-as on)

Shuchi said...

sanhelmet, Albatross, SandhaP: Excellent work!

Tried writing a composite anagram? It's hard to solve, even harder to set!

KISHORE said...

Sorry, I could not decompose in time.

Shuchi said...

Just came across this composite anagram clue:

Guardian 25258 (Crucible): Correspondent trained with Oriya to become piano player (3,3)

Anonymous said...

Nice! Pen Pal?

sreelakshmi said...

How about this? It's not so good and totally crazy!
The wise man in pure haste fell off mountains with a cry- Stephen. E Rue, in India, say (7)

Shuchi said...

Can't see it sreelakshmi. What's the answer?

sreelakshmi said...

I am sorry if it is a bad clue:

THE WISE MAN IN PURE HASTE
fell off- deletion indicator
MOUNTAINS WITH A CRY, STEPHEN. E. RUE
IN INDIA,SAY(7)

(MOUNTAINS WITH A CRY, STEPHEN. E. RUE - THE WISE MAN IN PURE HASTE=COUNTRY)
In India, say- example of answer.
Just tried making a composite anagram.

Shuchi said...

I did think of COUNTRY you know, purely from the definition :)

'X fell off Y in [definition]' - from this structure the message to look for a composite anagram isn't very clear. Have another look at the clue structures in the examples above...pretty specific, do you see?

e.g. the Crucible clue: '[definition] trained with X to become Y'

How did you come up with such a long anagram? Very nice effort!

sreelakshmi said...

Yeah, the clues mentioned in your article are very specific and clear, I just tried making one. It took a lot of effort from me to get such a silly one, it's a result of a lot of crossing overs and cuttings! :-D And the definition should have been more cryptic :-( :-D