An open question for setters and solvers: what makes a crossword a good collection of clue types?
We may complain about too many anagrams, CDs or DDs, but how many is too many?
Before I put this question to you, I put it to myself and tried to come up with numbers for at least the contentious clue types. I soon realised that while solving, my idea of balance in clue types stems from more than count.
If there are 4 15-letter words in the grid and all of them are anagrams, my senses say "too many" even if those are the only anagrams in the grid.
3 deletions consecutively seem like a lot more than 4 deletions in clues far apart.
Some solvers (famously Colonel Gopinath) dislike CDs/DDs and will probably not miss them if they disappear altogether. I love a good CD and if they're distributed around the grid, I'm happy with half a dozen CDs in a puzzle. At the same time I usually find CDs hard to solve without crossings and will object if 3 of them intersect.
Tim Moorey's How To Master The Times Crossword covers some tips for solvers about the number of clues to expect for certain clue types in the Times crossword: "There may be no hidden clue in any one daily puzzle and rarely more than one" [p64], and similar such for anagrams.
The tips in the book are worded as approximations and not rules.
All in all this looks like a fuzzy area based on taste/perception and I'd like to open the floor for discussion.
Questions for setters:
Do you follow guidelines set by the paper or do you have your own working style in choice of clue types? Do you consciously keep track of the number of clues of each type and make an effort to moderate them?
Questions for solvers:
What is the ideal clue type distribution for you? Does an excess of some clue types invite your wrath more than others?
- Ask the readers: Should posthumous puzzles get published?
- The Hindu Crossword compilers: Your views?
- Poll: Should Neyartha use fewer "GK words"?
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