The first cryptic crosswords originated from the United Kingdom and appeared in the mid 1920’s. A cryptic crossword is a type of crossword puzzle in which each clue is a word puzzle including anagrams, acronyms, synonyms, homophones and other wordplays.
Cryptic crosswords where used during World War II at Bletchley Park, UK to help with the recruitment of logical and analytical minds with lateral thinking abilities. These were the required treats needed to become a proficient code breaker and help decode encrypted secret messages.
You can find more about Bletchley Park and the role of code breakers such as Alan Turing during World War II by completing our Enigma – Mission X challenge.
Before attempting to solve this challenge, you should familiarise yourself with the different types of clues that the crossword definitions can be based on. Effectively, the definitions given in a cryptic crossword, will almost never be a literal meaning of the answer you are looking for. Instead, they will be based on a wordplay. When looking at a definition, you will first need to try to locate the two main hints which are:
- An exact definition or synonym, in much the same way as a conventional crossword clue. This can appear either at the start or at the end of the definition.
- Some sort of wordplay. There are many different types of wordplay that can be used. Sometimes an indicator term (a specific expression or word) will lead you to the type of wordplay that is being used.
Let’s investigate some of the most common types of cryptic crossword definitions:
When the clue consists of two different meanings of the same answer.
With these clues you will have to jumble up the letters from the clue to find the answer.
These sorts of clues means that you will have to take some of the letters (e.g. the first letter of each word, or the last letter, or every odd letter, etc.)
When the answer is actually included within the clue itself! you just need to spot it!
When you need to read a word or expression backwards, from right to left.
The answer you have will sound similar to the actual answer you are looking for! You may have to say it out loud to find it!
Charades will involve joining several parts of words together to get to the final answer.
On occasion you will need to remove one or several letters from the clue to get to the answer.
These can be quite challenging, using a confusing definition sometimes purposefully given in a somewhat misleading way.
When you start combining several techniques within the same definition!