"The perils of cold-solving a cryptic definition clue!"
"We hope the paper sticks to grids that do not need so much cold-solving."
Common expressions in any crossword forum. If the term 'cold-solving' has perplexed you before, read on to understand what it means.
To 'cold-solve' a clue is to derive its answer without help from crossing answers in the grid. When you start with the first entry into the crossword grid, or when you run an eye over all the clues deducing the answers mentally, you are cold-solving.
"How many clues in this crossword did you solve cold?" can be a way to estimate the puzzle's difficulty. It can also be a marker of the solver's skill.
In theory, it should be possible for every clue in a standard cryptic crossword to get cold-solved since a good cryptic clue is expected have an unambiguous answer. The same does not hold for a quick crossword clue – a quick clue might lead to more than one answer and checking plays an important role in determining which one fits into the grid.
Some hard cryptic puzzles such as the Listener and Azed introduce additional complexity like deliberate misprints in answers, no word lengths, etc. Cold-solving acquires greater significance in such puzzles, as the point at which a solver can start to make entries in the grid depends on a subset of clues that have been cold-solved.
[We'll take a closer look at one such type of crossword in the next post.]
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