Sunday 13 May 2012

First look at the Firstpost Crossword has introduced a new daily cryptic crossword: A first look at their offering – the good and the bad.

The Good

Interactive grid with timer: No other major news website in India provides interactive solving AFAIK. Great to see this on firstpost.

Prominent display: An eye-catching banner on the homepage sidebar.

Topical India-centric subject matter:

12a, 13a: Aye, majesty, a vat is broken for big show (8,6)
4a: More than a celebrity hosting 12,13a (4,4)

I like the idea of grid fills based on hot topics in the news. It'll probably attract more solvers who don't attempt cryptic crosswords otherwise.

The Bad

The Clues

Many clue surfaces are weak, the wordplay dodgy.

[Screenshot from firstpost Crossword no. 2, 11th May 2012]

Assuming the setter of the Firstpost crossword is new to setting, giving here detailed feedback for some clues from Crossword#2 – hope his helps:

1a: Fixed inside a vegetable for foreign money (6) PESETA
SET (fixed) inside PEA (vegetable) 
A good clue should read like a natural phrase/sentence when you take it outside the context of a crossword. This one does not. For more on good and bad clue surfaces, have a look at Surface Reading, Cryptic Reading.

9a: Listen to polish coming out of organ (3,3) EAR WAX
EAR (listen) WAX (polish); defn = coming out of organ.
Other than the weak surface, there are grammatical issues here.
listen = give EAR, not EAR. 
The definition 'coming out of organ' does not match EAR WAX.

To verify that the wordplay is accurate, try the substitution test. A sentence containing the answer should be unaltered in grammar and meaning when the answer is replaced with its definition.

Can you construct a sentence in which 'listen' can be replaced with EAR, 'coming out of organ' replaced with EAR WAX? If you can't, your wordplay needs a change. Have a look at What's wrong with this clue? for a less obvious example of a similar error.

23d: Deserters rise for ruler (4) TSAR
RATS (deserters) reversed
RATS reversed is STAR, not TSAR.

Things to remember

The right of the grid has this curiously detailed set of instructions:


The first two instructions seem to be meant for a person who has never seen a crossword clue before and needs to be told with an example that seven = 7. If that is the target audience of this puzzle then they will require a lot more than this set of instructions to be able to solve the crossword.

Related Posts:

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raju umamaheswar said...

Thanks Schuchi. It wasn't bad, for starters. However, in place of 3down in the main cluing, they had shown 2. Maybe, a typo.

What is this Firstpost? A newspaper? Published where and was this crossword gving any prize? Just curious.

Shuchi said...

Hi Raju, Firstpost is a news website and has a pretty big following online. They have launched a daily cryptic crossword last week, the screenshot in this post is from Firstpost's crossword#2. No prize. You can follow the link in the post to get more details.