Crosswords UK

A resource for fanatics and beginners

Saturday 2nd July, 2022

No. 5,366

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Strategy Page Three

Getting Tougher

By now you should be left with those clues that need the most attention. If you've identified any anagrams you might like to write them out on some paper and if you do it's probably a good idea to write the letters down in a random order and/or in an order that makes some sense. If you've got one or two letters already filled, think about beginnings and endings and experiment with words formed in that way.

Personally I prefer not to write down anagrams as I feel there's too much chance of being misled by a random collection of letters. I prefer to try and jumble the letters in my head but this may not suit you. If I do write down letters I tend to write them in a circle so there's no beginning or ending as this helps to keep the options open.

With these tougher clues it becomes increasingly important to identify the 'straight' portion of the clue or the 'hint'. Cryptic crossword clues often have one or more words that are in themselves a more straightforward clue and identifying these is a big help. For example:

Finished without pax, unfortunately blown up (8)

This word construction/anagram clue solves as 'expanded' but the important point is that the words 'blown up' are the 'straight' hint. They don't add to the 'cryptic' part of the clue and could make a reasonable clue in a general knowledge crossword. Such hints are usually at the end or beginning of a clue and it's a good idea to ask yourself 'what's the actual clue' - what are you looking for as a solution. As always, don't be thinking this is always the case and the setter may well use this habit to mislead you.

Mis-identifying this 'straight' hint can cause as many problems as it solves and it may not even exist for some clue types so always be thinking about whether your supposed understanding of the clue is correct.

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