Survey – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Would you like to see the Telegraph add a cryptic aimed at beginners?

Mr K here. We're running a survey this week that allows you to have a say about the crosswords offered by the Daily Telegraph.  In the latest Puzzles Site Newsletter, puzzles editor Chris Lancaster writes:  Recent correspondence indicates that some solvers might appreciate another type of cryptic crossword: one which is easier than the normal Telegraph Crossword, and is aimed squarely at beginners.  Would an additional, simpler, cryptic crossword be something you would like to see?  Chris tells us that if such a puzzle is added it would initially appear on weekends, so he can gauge interest. Note that it would be a new puzzle, not a replacement for any of the current cryptic crosswords.

Click on the expandable spoiler box below (or click here if that doesn't work) to record your answer to Chris' question along with an optional comment.  We'll send everything to Chris, and summarize the results here next Tuesday. 

Click here to open the survey


81 comments on “Survey

    1. Excellent idea, my wife grabs the codeword,quick, & gk, crosswords, which only leaves me the cryptic one.

  1. That’s a really great idea for subscribers but I don’t buy the paper at weekends (too cumbersome, too much waste, too expensive)

  2. Good idea to introduce people to the Cryptic world. I know of people who still think too literally when faced with cryptic clues so an accompanying explanation may help beginners.

    1. Absolutely agree. Surely it’s not too much to expect 4 crosswords per week to be added. The puzzles website, in addition to costing £35, is very cumbersome to use on the iPad.

  3. I think this is an excellent idea. I should also like to see the Toughie and the cryptic printed on the same page.

  4. I think an easier puzzle, when the only offering is a Toughie by the impossible Elgar, would be welcome.

  5. As I said in the survey everyones brains are wired differently, that is probably why some people think that some puzzles are stinkers while others complete them easily. That is also why some people can do Soduku, and some struggle with words. Having said that by doing the puzzles and looking at the hints you gradually build up to solving most. (Sometimes)

  6. I have only the IPad Telegraph. I would rather the prize crosswords be sorted out first, before the introduction of Xwords for beginners. Nevertheless, a good idea which I support strongly.

    1. Hello, Richard. In the same issue of the Newsletter, Chris writes about the iPad issue:

      If you solve our puzzles in the Telegraph Edition App for mobile and tablet devices, you’ll have seen that there is currently a problem with the submission of prize puzzle entries; this affects the Saturday and Sunday prize cryptic crosswords. Entries on the Telegraph Puzzles website are unaffected.

      We apologise for this problem, and are working to fix it. In the meantime, if you are unable to submit your prize crossword entries via the Edition App, you can be entered into the main prize draw for these crosswords by taking a screenshot of your completed grid in the app and emailing it to us at The prizes available in this draw are as follows:

      Saturday cryptic crossword: three first prizes of a boxed Telegraph fountain pen, and twelve runner-up prizes of crossword companion notebooks.

      Sunday cryptic crossword: one first prize of a boxed Telegraph fountain pen.

      If emailing entries, please use either ‘DT NN,NNN’ (where NN,NNN is the puzzle number) as the email subject field for the Saturday crossword, or ‘Sunday Cryptic NNNN’ (where NNNN is the puzzle number) as the email subject field for the Sunday crossword. In both cases, the body of the email should also include your name and postal address.

    2. Yes indeed, and the other bug that occurs later in the process of suduko and the crossword whereby a delay occurs. I solve it by restarting the app but it is so tedious surely the Telegraph has the ‘brains’ to solve this?

      1. Agreed – it is infuriating that for no apparent reason the delay occurs , leading to a lag in typing the answers and staccato scrolling of the clues.

        1. Just exit the puzzle and click it again, the problem will have gone (but might come back).

      2. You only need to exit the particular puzzle, then reenter it. That works for me and the person here who told me to try that (I too was restarting the app).

  7. ahoy there, Mr K…
    If the Ed decides to go along with this, it might not be a bad idea either to include an annotated solution the following day/week whatever, or at least to put a message in the paper recommending that people should come here to BigDave to have the clues explained. We all know that it’s v important to learn the ropes when starting out on cryptics and a site like this is invaluable in that regard. I have a weekly cryptic in TES magazine which prints not only the solution but also my parsing notes for the previous week’s puzzle.

    [ps thanks to everyone who comments on my Hudson puzzles in the Toughie slot – I do read them all and it’s very helpful feedback. Still very much a bedding-in process for me.]
    best wishes, Rob

  8. Given that we are all crossword enthusiasts by virtue of the fact we are on this site, is anyone really likely to say ‘No’?
    PS Thanks for dropping in Hudson

    1. There are quite a few “no”s. The ones accompanied by comments often say something along the lines of “the back pager is already too easy”. Which is odd, because there are plenty of harder puzzles available out there in crosswordland for such solvers. I bet the Enigmatic Variations setters would love to see more comments on their puzzles when they are blogged over on

  9. Good idea. If the new puzzle is going to be reviewed on this site, then perhaps more experienced solvers should hold back on commenting on the difficulty level so as not to demoralize those who are new to cryptics.

    1. I don’t think that would be a problem, many ‘more experienced’ solvers only tend to only comment on Toughies, NTSPP, MPP, RC etc
      Most people ‘get’ that if all you’re going to post is ‘This was a doddle’ or ‘This was a horrid puzzle’ (aka I couldn’t solve it) or similar, why bother to post at all or even solve for that matter

  10. I have a historical comment to make. I helped to get the Toughie off the ground. Will Lewis the editor told Kate Fassett that his old Times colleagues said that the Telegraph needed to compete with The Times at a harder level , and Kate asked me to suggest names. i was rewarded with a bottle of bubbly. Subsequently the Toughie went beyond The Times framework with the likes of Elgar and took in some of The Guardian’s ideas. Then a few years later when The Times wanted an entry-level puzzle like The Telegarph it introduced the Quick Cryptic, and with a smaller puzzle it seems to have outflanked The Telegraph. Again I was in at ground level. My own view is that back-page Telegraph is the basic 15 by 15 entry-level puzzle still and must be left alone. For absolute beginners we would have to emulate The Times with a Speedy 13 by 13 cryptic — but would The Telegrah really want three cryptic puxxls in a single paper?

  11. I only comparatively recently came across the second cryptic on a Monday. Since we are involved enough with the daily cryptic, sudoku, quick crossword and herculis (and ditto the rest of the week, for herculis read toughie) we have no need of another bit of brain exercise. But if that cryptic were aimed at a new audience it would seem to make sense though as someone who learned the business from two fanatics — mother and a wonderful English teacher — I’m not sure how an apprentice-level cryptic would work.
    Still, the more of us cruciverbalists there are the better, I reckon!

    1. I too was introduced to the Telegraph cryptic crossword by my Mum. Thanks for reminding me Mike, made me come over all dewy-eyed for a moment.

      And a new (gentle?) cryptic puzzle for beginners has to be a good thing.


  12. I think this is a great idea. As someone who does cryptic crosswords in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep, a slightly less taxing one might stop my brain from waking up too much!

  13. This is clearly a good idea and it’s a resounding YES from me. I was indoctrinated to the cryptic by my parents from an early age and it’s been a part of my life ever since. However no matter how hard I’ve tried the family tradition will end with me because none of my children have shown the patience to persevere with the cryptic. So an easier alternative may have been what they needed.
    I also strongly agree with Richard M above. Prior to adding another crossword to the back page can the I pad issues PLEASE be sorted – they have been ongoing for too many months now, and I don’t understand why I pad users are not considered worthy of the toughie?

  14. Yes, I think that might be very acceptable, especially for those who are beginners. Also, an easier puzzle might be a ‘lollipop’ for the more seasoned solvers! A puzzle can still be great fun even if it isn’t a tussle. I agree with Expat Chris at #16 above re taking care not to demoralise those newer to cryptic crosswords by more experienced solvers commenting on the difficulty level. It’s very off-putting to be struggling with a puzzle that most others think is easy!

  15. Worth doing if it’s done well. There is the “Quiptic” on the Grauniad website on a Monday which is billed as “A web-only, cryptic puzzle for beginners and those in a hurry” but half the time I find it tougher than the ordinary cryptic which seems to defeat the object.

  16. It does seem that this is needed but a slightly loaded question as if I said no – that makes me look like a selfish elite :-) . So I have to say yes for the others that want it – but would not need it myself. Not because I am good – but because I prefer a struggle and the rewards that that brings, even if I have to turn to the hints so amusingly presented on this great site. I often prefer the hints and the banter from the crossword itself.
    My complaint is on the new website – as I am working my way back through the entire 25 years I print 10 off at a time and there is no mechanism on the new site for multiple printing and no star rating for the older crosswords – that disappeared with the new site – I did contact the DT but no action was taken. But that’s another issue.
    I take Giovanni’s point, but I don’t think the DT needs to compete with others, it has a loyal readership. If it did want to make an easier cryptic then less black spaces giving more checkers might be the way rather than a 13 by 13 grid. I think the Metro does this or the Evening Standard.
    I also agree with Catnap and Expat Chris perhaps we should just give a mark for ‘enjoyability’ – after all that’s what these puzzles are all about – I’m not interested in others times or even my own – I only like to think – was this enjoyable or not – that surely would give sufficient feedback to our excellent setters – on how well they did…

  17. When I was asked in the past to recommend a good puzzle for relative novices, I would always suggest the Everyman puzzle in the Observer as the epitome of sound, straightforward clueing. With that puzzle’s recent ‘change of direction’, I feel there is a gap in the market for a weekly puzzle which plays absolutely fair with solvers and has a single setter (as Everyman did for many years), such that less experienced solvers can build a level of confidence in a ‘controlled’ environment offering a reliable measure of their progress (if you’re needing less help, or your solving times are coming down, then you must be improving), either before moving on to confront a more varied array of puzzles with diverse levels of difficulty or while also trying some of those puzzles.

  18. On the other hand if you want a beginner’s level cryptic crossword you could visit Michael Curl’s site “” where there is a “Daily cryptic”. It’s on a 13×13 grid and designed for beginners and you can solve on-line or print the puzzles. They are very well clued, as could be expected from an experienced Grauniad/FT setter (Orlando/Cinncinus), and each one contains a wide variety of different clue types but not too difficult. I’m obviously not a beginner but I enjoy them. I met Michael at a Sloggers and Betters in Derby about ten years ago and I seem to remember him saying there were about 350 of these puzzles on the site which rotate on a daily basis so you’ve got nearly a year before they repeat. By that time you’ll probably have forgotten the first one you solved.
    No, I’m not on commission – just saying is all.

  19. I think it is a really good idea to have an easier cryptic to introduce beginners to the genre. It could be a nice warm up for regular solvers too.

  20. Yes, a good idea – can’t do any harm can it? But with the proviso that if it works OK in the weekend trials and then is included daily then the back-pager should be consistently more difficult so that experienced solvers get a guaranteed good challenge every day.

  21. As mentioned by Don, other newspapers have started offering a 13×13 “quick cryptic” or “Quiptic” puzzle.

    This puzzle is still very high quality and maintains all the aha pleasure offered in larger puzzles, while avoiding “advanced” (super-devious) puzzle tricks. Of course such advanced tricks are already avoided in the telegraph back pager. A smaller grid is already a much lower challenge, allowing completion in a third of the time.

    I would support a 13×13 grid as long as the clueing remains high quality. I would not welcome an easier puzzle that removes challenge completely. Puzzles are addictive only because the solver is proud of being able to complete successively more of a puzzle as they gain experience

  22. and I’d be happy to contribute puzzles of the sort i deem suitable! I think the Times quick cryptic is admirable – an easier puzzle, but not massively dumbed down – it remains interesting also to experienced solvers (therein lies the key, I think, to success)

  23. Hmm, I think the space allotted to a new, simpler puzzle might be better employed by explanatory notes on the previous day’s cryptic. Yes, I know they are available here, but it would be a service to those without t’interweb.

  24. Excellent idea. I organise a cryptic crossword group for Towcester U3A . I find that there are so many people who are really put
    Off by the present crosswords of the Telegraph which we use. We have a core of 8 members three of which can whistle through the toughie , we do after the cryptic. It would really help beginners who have no prior or little knowledge and would boost their confidence. So many people have no idea how to solve cryptic and although we explain as we go along find it very confusing, In fact members are frightened at the thought of giving it a go

  25. I have tried to make a comment twice over recent days but they haven’t appeared – presumably my opinion wasn’t popular?! I now see this is in fact appearing so I will merely say that IMHO we already have a broad spectrum of crosswords in the DT so do we really need another?!

    1. Hello, Angellov. There aren’t any comments from you either awaiting moderation or in the comment bin, so most likely your previous two attempts did not actually get submitted to the site when you hit Post Comment.

  26. Yes…I have been attempting his for years and it has definitely become harder over recent months. Would appreciate one not quite so impossible for us mere mortals!! Thanks for raising

  27. Fab idea. I cut my cryptic teeth on The Liverpool Daily Post ‘choose your clue’ type crossword where the answers were the same whether you chose cryptic or simple definitions.
    A beginners’ crossword would encourage more people to attempt and stick at solving cryptic puzzles.

  28. I think this is a great idea, I’ve only been doing the Saturday cryptic for about a year, whereas my wife has been tackling it for much longer. I find it a bit of a struggle at times (which is how I found Big Dave for assistance! ) and an easier cryptic puzzle would be good training for me.

    1. Yes i think it would ve an excellent idea to add a simpler puzzle. I quiteoften struggle and need a bit more experience in knowing what phrases mean

  29. An excellent idea which will help those new to cryptic crosswords to get started. I think one of the other papers already publishes one.

  30. Great idea! Solving cryptic crosswords gives me huge pleasure and exercises the brain. Anything which can encourage others to take this up is surely a good idea.

  31. I see no reason not to.
    For those who say ‘no’ because the back-pager is already too easy, what gives? Go and find a harder challenge and leave thickies like me in peace.

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