Monday 28 June 2010

Poll: Non-Cryptic Clues In The Hindu Crossword

Every setter in the Hindu slips in a few clues of this kind in the crossword:

THC 9879 (Gridman): A building feature that's projected to bring in air and light (3,6) BAY WINDOW
THC 9865 (Nita Jaggi): Language spoken in Afghanistan (4) DARI
THC 9858 (Neyartha) Meshing together (13) INTERKNITTING
THC 9859 (Sankalak): Refuge for destitute children (9) ORPHANAGE
THC 9853 (M Manna): Old continental gold coin (5) DUCAT

These are straight, non-cryptic clues. Colonel Gopinath uses the shorthand annotation [E] i.e. "easy type" for them on The Hindu Crossword Corner. (Strictly speaking, getting GK-based answers directly can sometimes be tougher than with the help of wordplay.)

If you solve the Hindu crossword - are you happy with such clues? Or will you be happier to see them go? Answer this poll!

(RSS readers: please visit the main article on the blog to cast your vote.)

Poll is open till 3rd July 2010 6PM IST. Cast your vote before that and please spread the word!

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Chaturvasi said...

Don't you think that there is an ever-so-slight cryptic element in the first clue?
"[P]rojected" in the sense "set out (an idea, a plan)" or "proposed" (perhaps by the architect or the designer or the real estate agent!)
Anyway, this is not to exclude Gridman from occasional use of straightforward clues in his work.
BTW, it's called "The Hindu Crossword", not "The Hindu Cryptic Crossword" as it used to be - until they reached the four-digit serial number when the column width that they were using then would not accommodate the lengthy title and they had to cut down somewhere!

Shuchi said...

I'm sure most solvers were not misled by that meaning of "projected" when they solved that clue. Let's take another by Gridman today:

Such an excuse is not acceptable (6) FLIMSY

Whatever the name of the crossword, let's see if solvers are happy with the use of straight clues. I for one will be glad if THC compilers get rid of them.

Bhavan said...

While it is bad enough that these kind of clues make it to a cryptic crossword, here in my opinion is the worst of the lot from the examples you have chosen :

THC 9865 (Nita Jaggi): Language spoken in Afghanistan (4)

According to the setter it is Dari, but Hani which is hidden is an equally valid answer for the way that clue is framed.

veer said...

I very much prefer that "Easy" type clues not be present in cryptics. I can understand that there is a need to provide a few "see and put down" clues in a crossword to give the solvers a leg up and keep the interest from flagging. But the same can also be accomplished by giving away a couple of obvious anagram clues like the Times does often or one or two long answers that have simple definitions so that it can be solved without completely parsing the word play.

Chaturvasi said...

You've caught Gridman by the scruff of his neck!
In any case, I didn't exclude him from the set of setters who occasionally use the S clues, did I?

Shuchi said...

Haha. I don't mean to pick on good old Gridman whose clues are very entertaining otherwise. Just quoted another example, that's all.

Chaturvasi said...

To keep the record straight:
I think it used to be called "The Hindu Crossword Puzzle xxxx" before it was shortened to "The Hindu crossword xxxx".
My constant grouse is that the crossword in the magazine section of the Sunday edition too is called "The Hindu crossword xxxx" (with a different serial number). Now, overseas readers who use online edition find after solving the (reproduced UK) crossword on Sunday that the solution the next day is unrelated. There is no indication that the solution will appear a week hence after letting in solvers for a whole week into the regimen of solution the next day.

VJ said...

I'm totally all right with E type clues. A cryptic crossword should have a reasonable mix of all components (incl E's) IMO (with a slightly greater accent on double definitions, charades and anagrams). Too much of anything is not good though.

In my little experience, I've always liked non-cryptic clues, especially if they are GK related. It's a kinda test I like. Also, it feels nice if you know the answer and you're able to fill in the grid instantly. I wouldn't like this to happen with every other clue though.

pavalamani pragasam said...

I second VJ.

Anonymous said...

I am ok with some easy clues or GK based ones as long as they are not very obscure (railway station in Moscow or Siberia) or too many in number. Just like there is a certain amount of thrill and skill in 'getting' whether a clue is DD, T, reverse, initial, alternate, homophone, anagram, literal or other type, one can get some thrill out of recognising that it is not cryptic and that one has been misled by such a clue appearing in a crossword which is 'expected' to be cryptic by the audience, though not named as such. In fact, THE HINDU QUICK CROSSWORD from the Guardian, is sometimes actually more difficult because it does not rely on wordplay but pure information, though it is supposed to be an 'easy' puzzle. And it too sometimes does have its share of 'cryptic' ones. Also, I think a setter should have some leeway in fitting in things, so a few easy ones are ok as long as they are accurate. Deviousness is the name of the game, and there is a certain thrill in winning, ie. realising that the setter has not been able to out wit us, as long as it is done fairly and not by misprint, bad English, bad information and the like.

Chaturvasi said...

And it [the 'quick' crossword] too sometimes does have its share of 'cryptic' ones.

Oh yes, I was going to mention it.

If I remember right, the occasional cryptic clue in a straightforward puzzle is usually double definition.

BTW, no cryptic clue for FLIMSY in today's THC? For some efforts by myself and other fellow-followers of Col. Deepak Gopinath's blog on THC, visit:

Chaturvasi said...

As a solver of THC from No. 1, I may mention here that the earliest setter - for whose cluemanship I had great admiration - also used to have the occasional straightforward clue.

I am referring to Adm. R. D. Katari who single-handedly set the puzzle for several years after his retirement from the navy.

Balaji said...

Personally, I do not mind seeing an E clue occasionally in the grid but wouldn't want to encourage the setter to include them frequently. After spending way too much time on cryptic clues, these straight clues trick me sometimes. I am trying to break them into pieces that I shouldn't even be bothering to do. So, if these occasional clues are interesting enough or have an 'ha' effect, I wouldn't mind.

Bhavan said...

Today's THC 9881 by M Manna seems even more slipshod in the context of this poll.

Shuchi said...

@Bhavan: I agree. Looks like the maestro has been delegating a lot to the other.

Anonymous said...

@ Shuchi 911: The sorceror's apprentice ?

Ananth said...

For clarity, lets use the word "straight" instead of "easy". The clues in the original blog post were straight and boring. But:
"Such an excuse is not acceptable (6) FLIMSY"
I wouldn't consider this clue straight. It may be "easy" but it is not a straight dictionary definition - but uses a parallel interpretation. I enjoy these types of clues over some convoluted constructive cryptic clues.

Shuchi said...

One way or the other, Gridman gets excused :)

Chaturvasi said...

Let's say I write the clue
Language of North India (5)
how would you classify the clue?
Straightforward? Or cryptic? Or what?

Shuchi said...

Cryptic, of course? An easy cryptic, but since it has separate wordplay and definition it is not a straight clue.

Vinod Raman said...

A straight clue (with no cryptic or &Lit element) should have no place in a cryptic crossword. In my opinion, it takes away from the pleasures of lateral thinking. It's annoying to realize a clue is nothing but a direct dictionary meaning after having invested several minutes in trying to interpret it cryptically.

Chaturvasi said...

May I quote what Gaufrid wrote while blogging on a Guardian crossword today:
A handful of clues that I have indicated as being a cd (cryptic definition) should really be annotated sd (simple/single definition) but unfortunately sd is not an abbreviation that is used on this site (though perhaps it should be introduced for puzzles such as this).
This seems to suggest that THC is not alone in using non-cryptic clues.
Let me quickly add: clues that Gaufrid terms SD are far superior to the ones that you have cited above from THC.
What I am trying to get at is that we might be tolerant of the "E" clues that creep into cryptic crosswords but expect them to be well-crafted (like Rufus's, for instance) and not tossed in a lazy, dismissive way.

Shuchi said...

This poll was prompted by discussions over THC but it was never suggested that THC is alone in using non-cryptic clues. The question stands for any crossword, for any solver:

Do you like non-cryptic clues in a cryptic crossword?

Ultimately, it is a matter of taste. I do not like non-cryptic clues and will be happy if cryptic crosswords do not use them.

Rufus does not always write non-cryptic clues, most of his CDs are beautiful. I cannot admire clues like the ones for UNFURLED, BLOODTHIRSTY in today's Guardian crossword in the same way as, say, the one in the post on good cryptic definitions (this is by Rufus, too): Made up a number (8).

Not everyone is intolerant of non-cryptic clues as the poll results indicate! I'm compiling the results and will publish them tomorrow.