Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Semi-&Lit Clues

Sponsored Links

semi-andlit A semi-&lit (semi all-in-one) clue is a variant of the &lit (all-in-one) clue type.

In an &lit clue, the entire clue is the definition as well as the wordplay.
In a semi-&lit clue, the entire clue is the definition but only a part of the clue is the wordplay.

For example, a clue by Roger Squires:

Slow-moving mice may get snapped up by them (4) OWLS (SLOW)*
The entire clue "Slow-moving mice may get snapped up by them" defines OWLS, but only "Slow-moving" (i.e. anagram of SLOW) is the wordplay. So this clue is a semi-&lit.

Compare this to:

One's cold to walk over (6) ICECAP
I (one) has C (cold), PACE (walk) reversed i.e. over 
This is an &lit, as there is a perfect correspondence between the definition and wordplay.

The difference between &lit and semi-&lit clues can be confusing when the definition and wordplay are nearly the same.

How will you classify the next clue - &lit or semi-&lit?

Indy 7682 (Anax): He, wearing one pair, returned on opening of handcuffs? (7) HOUDINI
IN (wearing) I (one) DUO (pair) reversed, on H[andcuffs]
The clue has only one additional word beyond the wordplay - "He", which gives the definition the right part of speech without altering its meaning. So is it an &lit?

How to distinguish between &lit and semi-&lit clues

Here's the thumb rule, thanks to Anax - If in doubt, ask a fundamental question of the clue: Does it contain anything at all outside the wordplay? If so, it's semi-&lit, even if that extraneous material is nothing more than a word such as 'it'.

In the clue above, HOUDINI is semi-&lit because 'He' is outside the wordplay.

Try this clue from Tim Moorey's book next:

What's carried by pupils at Cheltenham? (5) SATCHEL

Does the whole clue work as the wordplay? Yes it does – SATCHEL is what's carried by pupilS AT CHELtenham. So it is a pure &lit.

Semi-&Lit Characteristics

In summary, a semi-&lit has two parts:

  • the non-wordplay part, which is like a condensed definition
  • the wordplay part, which extends the definition

Together, the wordplay + non-wordplay parts form the complete definition for the answer.

Let's revisit the OWLS example again.

Slow-moving mice may get snapped up by them (4) OWLS (SLOW)*
The non-wordplay part "mice may get snapped up by them" gives us the condensed definition, and adding the wordplay "slow-moving" fleshes this out into a larger definition.

The wordplay in a semi-&lit may be based on any clue type, and the non-wordplay part will point to the answer without having to change syntax/tense/grammar.

Solve and tell - &lit or semi-&lit?

By Roger Squires: All of a tingle, perhaps, from such a beating? (12)
By Roger Squires: He may be found in a wrongful act (5)
Times 24607: Some tack — it’s cheesy (6)
Times 24792: Who might have struggle swallowing poultry product? (6) V____E
Guardian 24641 (Paul): Still after criminal — as one should be! (9) C______L_

Related Posts:

If you wish to keep track of further articles on Crossword Unclued, you can subscribe to it in a reader via RSS Feed. You can also subscribe by email and have articles delivered to your inbox, or follow me on twitter to get notified of new links.

19 comments

Shyam said...

Thanks for the article, Shuchi. It was something I took sometime to understand!

All of a tingle, perhaps, from such a beating? (12)
FLAGELLATION (ALLOFATINGLE)*
Looks like an ordinary clue at first sight, but does it become an &lit because of the QM?

He may be found in a wrongful act (5)
C{HE}AT* - &lit
Would have loved this more if "may be" were replaced by "is", though the surface would suffer somewhat.

Times 24607: Some tack — it’s cheesy (6)
KITSCH - telescopic. &-lit

Times 24792: Who might have struggle swallowing poultry product? (6)
V{EGG}IE - Great &lit!

Guardian 24641 (Paul): Still after criminal — as one should be! (9)
CON STABLE - semi-&lit
I guess, as 'still' has no significance in the definition.

Shyam said...

Also I take this opportunity to mention one of Anax's brilliant clues.

Covering for cobblers (7)

:D

Shuchi said...

Thanks Shyam, and well-solved. Keeping your first comment unpublished for a day so that others can have a go at the clues too.

I can't see the answer to Anax's clue yet - is it LEATHER?

Vinod Raman said...

By Roger Squires: All of a tingle, perhaps, from such a beating? (12) FLAGELLATION* (Semi-&Lit)
By Roger Squires: He may be found in a wrongful act (5) C(HE)AT* (&Lit)
Times 24607: Some tack — it’s cheesy (6) (tac)KITSCH(eesy) Semi-&Lit
Times 24792: Who might have struggle swallowing poultry product? (6) V(EGG)IE (&Lit)
Guardian 24641 (Paul): Still after criminal — as one should be! (9) STABLE after CON (&Lit)

Shyam said...

Nope! but a small correction: It is
Covering around cobblers

anax said...

Beautifully written Shuchi!

Can I offer another example from a recent Indy puzzle? I offer it because it was a re-write of a standard clue for which I'd used a definition that was deemed slightly too oblique - the result was something discovered quite by accident (although in retrospect the idea jumped out in a very obvious manner):

See finished (6,7) _ O _ _ _ _ / _ _ _ _ U _ _

And many thanks to Shyam for remembering that other clue - I must stress it wasn't a newspaper one! Perhaps - in the CrosswordUnclued tradition - I could ask Shyam to provide one or two starter letters?

Shuchi said...

@anax: Thank you, especially for all your help :) I solved the Indy clue the day it was published and remember it well - it's a classic.

@Shyam: Yes, starter letters please. By the way, the answers are all correct but have another look at the &lit/semi-&lit classification - some need revision!

Restating from the post: the difference between &lit and semi-&lit is based only on the wordplay - whether it covers the full clue or part of the clue. In both, the full clue stands in for the definition - and the definition tends to get long-winded in both &lits and semi-&lits!

Shyam said...

Ok! Here we go...

(Anax) Covering around cobblers (7) --R--U-

Actually, coming to think of it, most clues that have stayed in my memory after solving are pure &lits and more so when they are succinct.

Here are couple of winners from the CCCWC:

(Mike Baker) He probes unusual cases of sinister criminal outbreak (8) S--R----

(Paul Coulter) Put suspect in custody (7) -A-T--E

anax said...

It strikes me that there are really three flavours of &Lit, and from a setter’s point of view I suppose we could regard them as Gold, Silver and Bronze medals.

Gold is always the first prize and there isn’t a setter alive who doesn’t feel a tingle of thrill when spotting a pure &lit.

Silver is the classic semi-&lit and the setter will be happy when the wordplay necessitates only a gentle nod to the definition. Going back to the main article, the clue for HOUDINI is a good example, just “he” being used as the definition.

The first Rufus offering of the ‘Solve and tell’ clues is a Bronze. The definition includes the synonym ‘beating’ because a word such as ‘this’ instead of ‘such a beating’ wouldn’t really have made the clue close enough to the meaning of the answer. In fact, examining the clue, you start to wonder about the degree to which it can be called even semi-&lit. A full definition is in place, and Rufus has merely bolstered it by finding (excellent) wordplay which happens to tie in nicely with the definition.

Venkatesh said...

Covering around cobblers (7) SCRTOTUM

Shuchi said...

@Shyam and @Vinod: All the answers right - congrats! A few of the classifications need change. Try again?

@Venkatesh: Thanks for the answer. Annotation?

Shyam said...

Hi Shuchi... Given a chance for revision, I would like to have a relook at KITSCH alone - I find it to be a pretty unusual one. Originally I was not familiar with this meaning of tack. Now I find that either of "Some tack" or "it's cheesy" could act as a definition for KITSCH. Not two distinct definitions of the word, but two different ways of saying the same thing!

Shyam said...

Also the answers for what I had posted:

(Anax) Covering around cobblers (7) SC {ROT} UM

(Mike Baker) He probes unusual cases of sinister criminal outbreak (8)
SHERLOCK: HE in {SR, CL, OK}*

(Paul Coulter) Put suspect in custody (7)
CAPTURE: CA{PUT}*RE

Venkatesh said...

"Cobblers" is a rhyming slang for "balls" (testicles). The origin is from "cobbler's awls" which rhymes with balls. So, the covering for testicles is SCROTUM.

Incidentally, 'cobblers' is used in the context "what you said is rubbish".

Shuchi said...

What a fantastic set of clues, Shyam. Thanks for sharing them.

'Solve and tell' answers:

All of a tingle, perhaps, from such a beating? (12) FLAGELLATION
(ALLOFATINGLE)*
semi-&lit. The wordplay is only 'all of a tingle, perhaps'. As Shyam and anax have pointed out, this is a narrow semi-&lit - close to being a regular clue with the wordplay extending a complete definition.
---
He may be found in a wrongful act (5) CHEAT
HE in (ACT)*
&lit
---
Times 24607: Some tack — it’s cheesy (6) KITSCH
hidden in 'tacK ITS CHeesy'
&lit. The definition could have been shorter than the full clue and 'some' is not integral to the definition, but the right questions to ask are:
a. Does the entire clue work as a valid definition for the answer?
b. Does the entire clue work as the wordplay for the answer, with nothing outside the wordplay?

The answers to both those questions are yes. So the clue is an &lit.
---
Times 24792: Who might have struggle swallowing poultry product? (6) VEGGIE
VIE (struggle) around EGG (poultry product)
semi-&lit. The wordplay is 'struggle swallowing poultry product', with the rest pointing to the answer from outside the wordplay.
---
Guardian 24641 (Paul): Still after criminal — as one should be! (9) CONSTABLE
STABLE (still) after CON (criminal)
semi-&lit. The wordplay is 'Still after criminal'; 'as one should be!' suggests a definition from outside the wordplay.

Shyam said...

Thanks for your answers, Shuchi. There was a reason I deemed #4 was an &-lit.

Times 24792: Who might have struggle swallowing poultry product? (6) VEGGIE

I just substituted the answer into the wordplay and found a meaningful cryptic reading.

"VEGGIE might have VIE swallowing EGG" - Somehow I thought the choice of the link-word "might've" didn't render the initial part extraneous to the wordplay. The 'might' maybe taken to signify one of many other containment patterns.

Shuchi said...

Shyam,

If the clue said - "What might have A swallowing B" then yes, we could read the full clue as the wordplay.

But the clue says "Who..." - 'who' can only point to the definition.

Venkatesh said...

Shyam/Shuchi,

If covering = SCUM, how does one get ROT for cobblers?

Venkatesh said...

OK. I got it.

A load of (old) cobblers is synonymous with ROT.