April 22, 2006

Something cryptic for the weekend?

More than any other nation - perhaps because our language is well-suited to puns and clever manipulation of meaning - the British are fanatical about their cryptic crossword puzzles - although our Anglophone cousins in N America do not seem nearly so keen, for some reason. Give Brits a really arcane cryptic clue and they will happily suck on the end of their pencil for hours, taking time out for little bursts of scribbling down letters and then running a line through them. Hmmm, that didn't work ... I could have sworn ... Oh, wait a minute!

The Daily Telegraph is particularly noted for a very rigorous intellectual workout in the crossword department. Here, for your weekend entertainment and frustration, are a few of the more famous Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword clues. The number in parentheses after the clue indicates, of course, the number of letters in the answer.

hijklmno (5)
Farewell to the French about to depart. (5)
Revo (10)
geg (9, 3)
IST (9)
and lastly, here's one I don't understand, even though I've read he answer:
Poor kid, no panorma (6) If anyone can figure it out, can you explain it to me?

Answers published on Sunday evening.

Posted by Verity at April 22, 2006 12:24 PM

Poor kid, no panorma (6)

Orphan? (no pa, nor ma)
I'm terrible at these. Don't have a clue about the others.

Posted by: Jim at April 22, 2006 08:14 PM

Well, Jim, you're correct. I asked that anyone who could solve this one explain it to me. You haven't. This is the most baffling one to me. The others, OK, takes time, but I could get them, but this?


Posted by: Verity at April 22, 2006 08:21 PM

Oh, no! I just got it! Aaaaii!

Posted by: Verity at April 22, 2006 08:23 PM

Well, I like the crosswords a bit, and I believe the answer to the first one is "water". The clue is the string of letters from "h" to "o". "H2O".

I also like puns, which seems to be a failing of crossword puzzle creators...

Posted by: CptNerd at April 22, 2006 08:30 PM

Well, you ol' clever clogs, you are right!

Posted by: Verity at April 22, 2006 08:48 PM

geg > scrambled egg
revo > over-turned
IST should be capital-ist, but that's (10)
to depart might be le-ave, but I'd need some crossing letters to be sure.

Yeah, they're addictive.

Posted by: Kelly at April 22, 2006 09:44 PM

Kelly. No. You either didn't read the clue or you don't speak even beginning French. The others, though, very good!

Posted by: Verity at April 23, 2006 06:49 AM

Now it seems as if crossword puzzles are losing some popularity in the United States, what with competition from Sudoku.

Posted by: Peter at April 23, 2006 10:43 AM

Well, the people who like Suduko are clever in a different way, and it wouldn't take much in the way of challenge to woo people away from American crosswords, which by and large are drab affairs.

Cryptic crosswords are as popular as ever in the UK and people even pay to be able to get The Telegraph puzzle online. I think the Timesonline also charges for their cryptic crossword puzzle.

Posted by: Verity at April 23, 2006 10:58 AM

Sudoko is purely a logic puzzle (it's not even about math, since it doesn't need to be numbers--any nine unique symbols would work), whereas crosswords require a great deal of cultural knowledge.

Posted by: Rand Simberg at April 28, 2006 09:55 AM

I know, but it looks clever to me because I can't do it!

Posted by: Verity at April 28, 2006 10:31 AM
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