2541 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog

Toughie 2541

Toughie No 2541 by Sparks

Hints and tips by Dutch

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BD Rating – Difficulty ***Enjoyment *****

A delightful puzzle, the top half went in quickly though I slowed down towards the bottom. The Nina suggests a milestone, congratulations Sparks! Not sure if this is years or crosswords, either way a fine collection.… Continue reading

ST 2541 – as solved by two of us

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2541

Blow-by-blow solving accounts from two contributors

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BD Rating – Difficulty ** Enjoyment *****

Peter’s introduction

For a change this week, we’re trying to show you the solving process in action rather than an explanation of the clues written after the event. Two of us solved this puzzle while making notes about our thoughts, so that you can see two approaches to solving and the differences and similarities between our thought processes.

If you’re reading this to learn something, Gnomethang’s solving experience will be more familiar, and mine may seem absurdly unlikely. Mine is the result of a lot of practice – I’ve been trying to solve cryptics for about 34 years, tackling at least two puzzles a day for more than 25 of those years. I’ve been doing puzzles written by Brian Greer in particular for most of that period – he was probably a Times setter when I first looked (overambitiously) at Times puzzles in 1977, and he edited the Times crossword from 1995 to 2000 (Times xwd editors are setters, who amend clues quite often to achieve their version of the ‘Times style’). You’ll see that even with all that experience I don’t always see everything correctly when I first read a clue – I go up some blind alleys just like everyone else. As well as knowing commonly used tricks very well, the benefit of those years of practice is often seeing the right ‘wordplay structure’ early on, though not always knowing why. You might wonder why, after so much practice that these puzzles are often easy, I still do them. Apart from championship practice and spreading the cryptic crossword gospel, I do them partly because there’s always the chance that something will fox me for a while, and partly because I hope to see some clever treatment of words – in this puzzle, the ‘doubled’ bits of wordplay in 2D and 4D are a couple of examples.

Caveat: Although we’ve tried to record our thoughts accurately, cryptic clues rely on language-based tricks and our brains deal with language in ways that we don’t always understand – if you read books about language by people like Steven Pinker you’ll discover linguistic rules faithfully followed by your brain without your conscious knowledge. So when we’re solving clues, there may important things going on in our heads that we don’t know about, and statements about what we think and don’t think about apply only to our deliberate/conscious thinking.
Continue reading “ST 2541 – as solved by two of us”

ST 2541 – Hints

Sunday Telegraph Cryptic No 2541 – Hints

Hints and tips by Big Dave

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As is usual for the weekend prize crosswords, I have selected a few of the better clues and provided hints for them.

Don’t forget that you can give your assessment of the puzzle. Five stars if you thought it was great, one if you hated it, four, three or two if it was somewhere in between.

Peter Biddlecombe’s full review of this puzzle will be published at 12.00 on Friday, 25th June.

Continue reading “ST 2541 – Hints”