Cryptic crosswords are an extension of standard ('quick') crosswords in which each clue consists of both a definition of the answer word and an indication of how to stitch other words together to get to it, kind of like lexical papercraft. See the Wikipedia page for a good example and analysis of a typical cryptic clue. If you enjoy wordplay, quick crosswords or word puzzles in general, chances are you'll love cryptic crosswords!
This course is for anyone who is baffled and bemused by cryptic crosswords but wishes not to be. Classes will focus on the different types of cryptic clue and solution techniques, with additional information for those interested in solving advanced crosswords or setting their own.
By the end of the course, you should have a firm grasp of the fundamental ideas behind cryptic crosswords, and be able to solve most of them with nothing more than some brainpower and a little tenacity.
- The clues and the crosswords
A general look at cryptic crossword grids and clues.
- The clues and the crosswords
Same as lecture one above.
- Cryptic definitions
We take a look at our first clue type, cryptic definition clues.
- Double definitions
The next clue type, double definitions.
- Hidden answers
An introduction to hidden answer clues.
A little about palindrome clues.
All about homophone clues.
- Homophone double definitions
Our first foray into the world of hybrid clues!
An extended lesson about anagrams.
We meet charade clues at last.
Things get turned around!
- Reverse hidden answers
The exciting twist mentioned in lesson 5 finally makes an appearance.
- Containers and contents
Words in and words around.
- Bits and pieces
The crossword equivalent of scissors in origami (part 1).
- Deletions, substitutions and movements
The crossword equivalent of scissors in origami (part 2).
- Lesson 16: compound anagrams
Anagrams with deletions come back to bite us in a new form.
- Lesson 17: meta-clues
Anything you can do, I can do meta.
- Lesson 18: &lits.
The worlds of definitions and wordplay collide.
This is the last lesson in Part I. Stay tuned for Part II!
Familiarity with 'standard' crosswords.
Useful, but completely optional, bonuses include lateral thinking skills and an appetite for words.
All class materials, worksheets and solutions thereto will be posted on the official course subreddit, /r/introtocryptics.
Part I: Know Thine Enemy
Topics include: anatomy of a crossword grid; anatomy of a clue; cryptic definitions; double definitions; hidden answers; palindromes; homophones; anagrams; charades; reversals; containers and contents; bits and pieces; deletions, substitutions and movements; compound anagrams; meta-clues; complex clues; &lits.
Part II: To Arms!
Various clue-level and crossword-level strategies for solving crosswords with minimal pain.
Part III: Sic Them on Someone Else!
How to create (good) clues and (good) crosswords of your own.
Part IV: Beyond the Beyond
A little about barred crosswords, crosswords with themes or special instructions, and crossword variants.
See the interest check post.