Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Contest: Solve Three Clues and Win a Gift Voucher

crossword-unclued-contest-win Here's a treat for cryptic crossword fans – a contest with a prize! To win, all you have to do is solve three cryptic crossword clues.

The Clues

Candid love note (4)
Small bag or small neat bags (5)
Connects phone call interrupting routes (7)

The Prize

The winner can choose any one of these prizes:

  • Flipkart gift voucher worth INR 1500
  • Amazon US gift card worth USD 25
  • Amazon UK gift card worth GBP 15

I will post the contest result next week announcing the winner's name. The winner can then contact me with the choice of prize. The gift card will be sent by email.

In case of multiple correct entries, the winner will be picked by a computerised lucky draw.

The prize has been kindly sponsored by www.CupONation.in, an Indian website that offers free discount coupons and deals for online shopping.

How To Participate

  1. Post all three answers in a single comment on this post. The answers should be annotated. Any format is all right – in words or in annotation symbols – as long as how you derived the answer is clear.
  2. Mention your name in the comment. Anonymous entries will not be considered.
  3. Only one comment per person. Each comment will be counted as one entry.
  4. Tweet about this contest to get a double entry into the lucky draw. To qualify for double entry, mention the direct link to your tweet in the comment on this post. This page tells you how to link directly to a tweet. [Tweet now]

Entries close on 2nd February 2013 (Saturday) midnight IST. Comments will remain unpublished till the contest is over and the result announced next week.

All right then, get cracking. Post your answers in the comments section and do spread the word about the contest.

Best of luck!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Demystifying Clue Annotation Shortcodes

crossword-annotation-symbols On crossword solving blogs/communities, solutions are sometimes explained in shorthand notation such as {A}{C}{CLIMAx*} for ACCLAIM, CAL(1)L<= for LILAC, or ~(tale)+SPIN for TAILSPIN. If these annotations seem confusing to you, this post will help you make sense of them.

Note that there is no universal standard/prescribed method of annotating crossword solutions; these shortcodes have evolved and come to be recognised as such through usage. So you may find variations in the way different crossword blogs – or even different bloggers on the same blog – annotate the wordplay. Some solvers might indicate reversal with <, others with rev, <- or <=: all are fine as long as readers understand what the symbol means.  Crossword sites generally carry a key to the annotation format – for example, THCC displays an "Annotations" widget on the sidebar.

On Crossword Unclued, I started off with using the same annotation format as Orkut's Hindu Crossword community. With time I began to favour the simpler ( over { to demarcate parts of wordplay, and then based on feedback from a number of readers, shifted to writing more descriptive explanations for answers. This might seem like overkill to experienced solvers but then I think they can skip the details if they wish, at least the newcomers wouldn't be intimidated. These days I reserve shorthand annotations only for very simple answers or for space-constrained places like twitter. Many other crossword solvers give detailed answers as well and Big Dave's blog of tagline "crossword clues explained in plain English" fame actively avoids the use of symbols to denote clue types.

Here's a list of clue annotation formats commonly used across crossword blogs/communities.

Clue Type Annotation Shortcode(s) Examples
Anagrams (fodder)*, *(fodder)
(FODDER)*, *(FODDER)

SOLUTION* – the most compact annotation format but can be ambiguous if the anagram fodder is complex
NIE: It can't be made whole (6) INTACT
(it cant)*
*(IT CANT)
INTACT*
Homophones SOLUTION~homophone word/phrase NIE: Big jar say (5) GREAT
GREAT~grate
Hidden Words [T] – from the term 'telescopic clue type' popular on Hindu Crossword forums

in <fodder in lowercase with hidden answer in uppercase>
NIE: Does nothing and some did less! (5) IDLES
IDLES [T]
in 'dID LESs'
Deletions {-letters to be deleted}LETTERS RETAINED
[letters to be deleted]LETTERS RETAINED
letters to be deleted crossed out
NIE: The endless hurry that gets the bird (6) THRUSH
TH{-e} RUSH
TH[e] RUSH
THe RUSH
Charades    blank spaces
+ , or – between charade components

{} brackets around charade components
NIE: A note to finish a list of things to be done (6) AGENDA
A G END A
A+G+END+A
A,G,END,A
A-G-END-A
{A}{G}{END}{A}
Substitutions FODDER - [letters to be removed]+[letters to be included] Times 25081: Fellows drop English for hard science subject (5) MATHS
MATES – E + H
Containers ( ) or { } NIE: Attest to a very absorbing Kipling poem (6) VERIFY
VER(IF)Y
VER{IF}Y
Acrostics Letters written out with spaces: X Y Z

Initial letters in uppercase, the rest in lowercase
Times 25015: Recess starting as parliamentary session ends (4) APSE
A P S E
A[s] P[arliamentary] S[ession] E[nds]
Reversals <   <-   <—   <=  
rev
NIE: Send money or return the watch (5) REMIT
TIMER<  
TIMER<-   TIMER<—   TIMER<=
(TIMER)<—  
{TIMER}<=
TIMER rev
Letter Sequences Selected letters in uppercase, the rest in lowercase Times 25341: Artiste was regularly disorientated (2,3) AT SEA
ArT iStEwAs
Letter Shifting Fodder with letters to be shifted highlighted –> solution with letter shifted highlighted Times 24375: Ruler in a mess having succeeded much earlier? (4) SHAH
HA{S}H –> {S}HAH
Letter Exchange Fodder with letters to be exchanged highlighted –> solution with letters exchanged highlighted Times 24399: Doomed king switching sides? True (4) REAL
{L}EA{R} –> {R}EA{L}
Double Definitions [2]
dd
[DD]

For multi-definition clues, the shortcodes would be [n] for n definitions, md or [MD].
NIE: Experience discrimination (8) TASTE
TASTE [2]
TASTE dd
TASTE [DD]
Cryptic Definitions [CD]
cd
NIE: The dotty type (7) BRAILLE
BRAILLE [CD]
BRAILLE cd
Cryptic Double-Definitions d&cd or cd&d, depending on whether the cryptic half is to the right or to the left in the solution NIE: Break one's nose perhaps (8) BREATHER
BREATHER d&cd
Palindromes ->SOLUTION<- NIE: It moves the helicopter backwards or forwards (5) ROTOR
-> ROTOR<-
&lit Clue type annotation followed by "&lit" or "all-in-one" NIE: A drink in the late afternoon (3) TEA
TEA [T] &lit

Combining Annotation Shortcodes

These symbols work as building blocks to annotate complex clue types. Brackets may be included as separators between wordplay components and these have the same function as in BODMAS – they ask you to process whatever is inside first.

NIE: Young insects raised up on pea soup (5) PUPAE; UP< (PEA)*
FT14121 (Alberich): Teacher nets about a million? That’s very unlikely! (5,2) DREAM ON; D(RE+A+M)ON
Everyman 3450: A bad-tempered moment reportedly caused by puzzle (8) ACROSTIC; A+(CROS TIC [~(cross tick)])

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