An open letter to the Clueless Club
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Some of the recent posts from members of the Clueless Club have made me despair and so I give below my thoughts on the DT Cryptic Puzzle.
First of all, I am not an “expert”, I don’t think even the most experienced solver – and I speak from the point of view of 40 years of DT Cryptic solving – could ever be an expert as there is always something new to learn every day. I was introduced to the mysteries of cryptic puzzles by a fellow commuter and was hooked. They do, however, take a lot of practice to get into the minds of the various compilers, all of whom have different styles and methods of stretching our brains.
There is not an exact art to solving the DT Cryptic – some days they can, if you have had enough practice and your brain is on form, be solved in one go. Contrary to belief expressed by some posters to the blog, most days it is not an instant process. Personally I usually have one or two clues left, or even a whole corner, but move on to the other puzzles in the paper and find, on returning to the Cryptic, that some strange subconscious part of my brain has worked out the answer for me. I refer to these puzzles as a “cogitator” as you do need time to think it over. Before I “met” Big Dave and certainly in the early days of solving, I would not complete a puzzle, have a look at the solution next day and still be none the wiser as to how the clue related to the answer. But I persevered.
I have, however, never been downhearted at not being able to solve a puzzle. I relish the challenge and don’t give in (even with the awful “Marmite” puzzles so hated by BD). I have known Friday Toughie puzzles where I have gone back to them on and off until I finished, refusing to look at the hints as I was determined to crack the solution myself. One particular puzzle took me on and off until the Saturday afternoon but the joy on completion was really something.
Finally remember these are Cryptic Puzzles in the Daily Telegraph, not puzzles in one of the red topped tabloids more concerned with young ladies who seem to have forgotten their vests! They take lots and lots of practice (the crosswords not the vest forgetting!) so persevere as it’s the most enjoyable pastime I know.