Friday 28 November 2008


In the reversal clue type, a word/phrase is spelt out in reverse to give the solution. The letters to be reversed may be indicated by the wordplay, or may be hidden in the letters of the wordplay.

Reversal Clue Structure: The clue consists of three parts -
1. Definition
2. Fodder that yields the word(s) to be reversed
3. Reversal Indicator – such as ‘back’, ‘returns’, ‘reflected’

Example (Whole Reversal):
ET3078: Stop the flow in crazy get-up (3) DAM<-
‘crazy’ gives MAD, ‘get-up’ indicates that MAD should be spelt backwards. This gives DAM, for which ‘stop the flow’ is the definition.

Example (Part Reversal):
NIE 31Oct08: An elevating Kipling poem of unaffected simplicity (4) NA<-IF 
AN is reversed to form part of the solution. ‘elevating’ indicates that AN has to be turned around.

Example (Hidden Reversal):
FT12934: To get better extract from pure tar, oil emanated the other way round (10) AMELIORATE [T]<-
The hidden word spans across the set of words (purE TAR OIL EMAnated). A clue with hidden reversal has indicators for both hidden word (‘extract’ in this case) and for reversal (‘the other way round’ in this case).

Reversal Clue Characteristics

  • Reversal indicators sometimes indicate the direction in which the letters are to be turned around. Such indicators either work for ACROSS clues only, or for DOWN clues only.
           ACROSS clues indicators can be words/phrases like going west, left, to the left.        
           DOWN clues indicators can be words/phrases like going up, taken up, mounting, rising.

  • Reversal may be applied only for short sections of the solution. The rest of the solution can be formed using any other technique, such as anagram or charade. The next one has a short reversal + charade.
    Guardian 24744 (Rufus): Delighted when record return took the pressure off (7) PL<- EASED

  • Reversals are more often used for short words, or short sections of longer words (as in the PLEASED example). Whole long reversals are rarer.

  • Reversal may be applied after the text to be reversed is derived through other techniques. The next one has components formed through a charade, after which it is reversed. 
    Example (THC 9383): Concluding part for a physician in retrospect (4) {COD A}<-

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