This is the hint.
The Quick Cryptic crossword first appeared in The Times in 2014 and has been a popular addition, appealing especially to less experiencd solvers, as well as to older hands perhaps for whom the puzzle is more “Quick” than “Cryptic”.
The list of setters for this latest compilation includes two new names: Ali Gascoigne and John Ewbank. The mission of all Quick Cryptic compilers of course is to produce puzzles which are more straightforward than the famous Times Crosswords (to which series most of us also contribute). This does not necessarily mean that the clues are always as easy as we would like for everyone: the ideal Quick Cryptic crossword clue should provide entertainment and wit if possible, and that cryptic element may still baffle and tantalise, if hopefully more briefly. Occasionally a cluewriting gem really stands out, and I would like to give an honourable mention to the first clue of puzzle 63, which brought a broad smile to my face when I first test-solved it.
I hope this selection will provide some tantalising entertainment for beginners and experts alike!
Richard Rogan, Crossword Editor
Cryptic crossword compiling is a deceptive art. Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the Looking-Glass’ sums it up when he says, “When I use a word…. It means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
May I recommend, particularly to newcomers to the crossword, a simple approach taught me by my father, which is to study the solution and then examine the clue to work out how all the pieces came together to mean what the compiler chose them to mean! The method is particularly apt here because the solver is spared the agony of waiting for the next day’s paper.
Here are a few sample clues to give you a flavour of what lies in store, followed by an appropriate introduction penned by my late father.
Grateful acknowledgment too to Richard Browne, former Crossword Editor of
The Times whose work is included in the computer crosswords, together with that of The Times crossword team and former editors, Mike Laws, Brian Greer, John Grant, Edmund Akenhead, Jane Carton, Ronald Carton, and never to be forgotten our founding father, Adrian Bell.
David Akenhead, Author of the Computer Crosswords
Often does badly but gets decorated (9) FESTOONED
Convention: anagram of “often does”. Indicator: “badly”
Unlike Dogberry’s comparisons, not to be sniffed at (9) ODOURLESS
Convention: antonym. In Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing “Comparisons are odorous”. The opposite of odorous is odourless
Convention: association – silent order of monks
Convention: cryptic definition – obvious when understood
Convention: conundrum (or riddle)
Convention: double meaning or two meanings
Convention: dramatic assoc – refers Priestley’s The Inspector Calls
Convention: envelope – O (duck) and TT (teetotal or dry) inside RING
Convention: familiar – iron as in scrap and iron as in golf; song of music hall comedian, Harry Champion
Convention: hidden – disTRESSing
Conventions: initials or acronym – refers Dr Who, fictional time traveller
Conventions: lit. and surgery – “last of the girls” reveals RLS, initials Robert Louis Stevenson, alias Tusitala, “story-teller” of the South Seas
Conventions: logic or conundrum
Conventions: nursery rhyme and word division – refers Three Little Kittens – “they shall have no pie” read O/PIE
Conventions: opera, word division, reversal – “A drinking man” is a sot, “upset” it becomes TOS plus C (about) plus A
Convention: palindrome – reads both ways (also double meaning)
Convention: pun or sound – Jane Seymour (third wife of Henry VIII) sounds like “see more”
Convention: reversal – ALL US for “total American”. Indicator: “backing”
Convention: Roman numerals – read instead AC to DC (alternating current to direct current)
Shakespeare – in Henry V this is the Bard’s spelling of the patron saint of shoemakers (last saint)
Convention: surgery – the painter is BETTY minus B (All my eye and Betty Martin)
Convention: word division – TEAR/DROP read “rent reduction”
Convention: word division – ST (way) plus RE (about) plus SS (ship)
Convention: word division – R (right) plus APT (fitting) plus URE (river)
Conventions: word div/envelope – SET plus PARA (inset – in set) plus OR
Conventions: word div/reversal – I (one) plus DAH (had, rejected) plus O (love)
Conventions: word div/anag – HERETI (anagram of “either”; indicator, “maybe”) plus CAL (state – California)
Conventions: envelope/anag – EACH envelopes (indicator, “eating”) an anagram of CORN (indicator, “perhaps”)
By Edmund Akenhead, Times Crossword Editor, 1965-83
The devices used by a cryptic crossword compiler are so many and varied that an introduction such as this can only give the beginner a glimpse of them. Experience will prove the best teacher, but I hope that the following tips will help the beginner in his or her first steps towards mastering ‘The Times’ (and similar) crosswords.
The best known device is the anagram. “Terribly angered” is a definition of the answer “enraged”, which is also an anagram of “angered”, the word “Terribly” being used in the clue as an anagram indicator. The solver should always be on the look-out for words suggesting arrangement, change, wrongness, confusion, strangeness and the like which may point to anagrams in the clue: “new” is sometimes used, also “sort” and “out” (in the sense of “wrong”), while “perhaps”, “maybe”, and “possibly” will probably indicate anagrams. Then there are words which have different meanings: “refuse” in a clue may appear to be a verb meaning “decline”, but it may really mean the noun describing “rubbish”: “tent” may mean not a canvas shelter, but a Spanish wine: “saw” or “gnome” may mean a maxim. Solving crosswords certainly helps to enlarge one’s vocabulary. All sorts of words have hidden meanings in crosswords with “do” clued as a party, “letter” as a landlord, “number” as an anaesthetic (that which numbs) and so ad infinitum, the oldest chestnut being “flower” as a river, while “sewer” may mean a sempstress and “cover for a sewer” will mean not a manhole but a thimble, and “tour de France” is not a cycle race but the Eiffel Tower.
Many a crossword answer is made up of other words indicated by the clue. “Loudly disapprove royal skating display? Some reservations here (7-5)” is solved by joining up Boo-king off-ice, while Mild-red is well known as a girl with slightly communist sympathies. A word may consist of one word containing another (Envelope), and there are many other ways in which words (including abbreviations) may be combined either in their normal, or in anagrammatic or reversed forms to make the answer. In such “build-ups” the word “river” may refer to one of the compiler’s favourite British waterways – Dee, Exe, Fal or Ure (tributary of the Yorkshire Ouse).
Solvers should be familiar with many common abbreviations, such as e.g., i.e., the points of the compass N.S.E.W. (sometimes clued as bridge players), musical notes A to G (or doh, re, mi etc) and Roman numerals M, D, C, L, X, V, I. The clue ” 1,200 less 200 (10)” needs conversion into Roman numerals “MCC less CC” and anyone interested in cricket will know that the M in MCC stands for Marylebone. Chemical abbreviations for elements are sometimes used such as “au” (gold), “ag” (silver), “fe” (iron) etcetera. The letter L could be clued as money (pound sign), 50, lake, or as student, tyro, novice or learner (driver with L Plates. Solvers are also expected to know simple words in the more familiar foreign languages, particularly the articles, e.g. el (clued as “the Spanish), der (“the German”) un (“a French”) etc.
Finally, to mention four other types of clue: (a) Hidden answer clue “Something more in the next race (5)”, here the answer EXTRA appears in consecutive letters in the clue (nEXT RAce”). (b) Surgery, which requires a certain amount of doctoring of words to produce the desired effect. Associated words like “beheaded”, “curtailed”, “reduced”, often indicate this type of clue: “Humperdinck in turn to some extent a singer (6)” answer TREBLE is one of my favourites. Engelbert (“in turn”) gives in reverse form TREBLEGNE and “to some extent” indicates a need for surgery or reduction. (c) “Sound” clues with sound-indicators such as “say”, “we hear”, “it’s said”, or “sound” telling the solver to look to the sound of the words used. “Some measure of spirit? I say! (5) gives the answer OPTIC (optic measures used in bars). “Say” in the clue tells the solver to look to the sound of “I”, that is “eye” revealing an alternative meaning. (d) The acronym or word made up from the initial letters of other words. “Paddy as the normal agriculture initially here (5) PATNA.
An ounce of practical demonstration being worth a pound of theory I leave the rest up to you.