NOTE: The clues in this guide are taken from The Times (17.10.14) Quiptic crossword. I use them here as a teaching aid under the umbrella of fair use - however, should the copyright holder want me to remove them from this site I will do so ... very quickly.
1d - The wrong ale I ordered in pub (8,4)
So let's get started. Below is how the grid entry for 1d looks with the letters I have from answering across clues.
W _ T _ R _ _ G / _ O _ E
‘Ordered’ looks like an anagram indicator (letters being ordered), so I count the letters prior to that and yup, it’s a bingo!
Here's how I do it:
A ‘pub’ is a WATERING HOLE, so that must be the definition. ‘Ordered’ looks like an anagram indicator (letters being ordered), so I count the letters prior to that and yup, it’s a bingo! 12 letters there, and 12 letters in the answer. I cross out each letter in the phrase ‘the wrong ale I’ and they all correspond with the letters in WATERING HOLE.
I stick the answer in the grid and move on swiftly.
My first thought is ‘what an odd collection of letters', but pretty soon I see a possible fit ...
2d - After food, we shall see you around (8)
F _ R _ W _ _ L
‘See you around’ is a good match for FAREWELL so must be the definition, but what about the wordplay? ‘After’ seems like a positional indicator, so I go on to ‘food’. FARE is a good synonym for 'food' which leaves WELL to be accounted for. With only ‘we shall’ left, I see that it's a contraction: ‘we shall = we’ll’ = WELL.
Everything fits, so into the grid it goes FAREWELL.
3d - Film director disliked by Mrs Sprat? (4)
L _ A _
Who is this Mrs Sprat, I ask myself. However, myself doesn’t know so it’s off to Google I go ...
After a while, I see that LEAN (the director of Lawrence of Arabia) fits, and that leaves ‘disliked by Mrs Sprat?’ as the wordplay! Who is this Mrs Sprat, I ask myself. However, myself doesn’t know so it’s off to Google I go.
Aha! Mrs Sprat is a nursery rhyme character who liked fat, but not LEAN. So, the clue is either a double definition, or cryptic definition which provides two ways to get to the answer LEAN.
I whack it into the grid and make a mental note to brush up on my nursery rhymes.
With the crossers, it doesn’t take long to see SANDAL fits in and matches ‘item of footwear’ ...
4d - Boys upset about an item of footwear (6)
S _ N D _ L
So how does that work?
‘Upset’ can be a reversal indicator (as in turned over), and ‘about’ can be a surround indicator (as in around). If this is the case, a synonym of ‘boys’ will be reversed around either ‘an’ or a synonym of ‘an’. I check that with SANDAL and see that ‘lads’ is spelt backwards around ‘an’.
Happy with that, I put SANDAL in the grid and wonder why I have a desire to buy a single Birkenstock.
5d - Sport coming in all across Europe (8)
_ A _ R _ S _ E
An Arse?! Lovely, but it’s not helping so I look at the clue for additional help ...
As we know by now, the definition is usually found at the beginning or end of a clue, so I start with sport as a possible def. Any sports that would fit the letters I have? Yup – LACROSSE. As soon as I see that, I also see the wordplay, in fact, it’s staring me in the face in the letters of ‘alL ACROSS Europe’. It’s a hidden clue with the hidden indicator ‘coming in’ as in ‘answer coming in 'alL ACROSS Europe’.
Satisfied, if not a little embarrassed that I didn’t see the hidden clue right away, I write the answer in the grid.
First thing that jumps out at me here is ‘personal assistant’. This is often abbreviated as PA ...
6d - Personal assistant in bother (4)
_ A _ N
P A _ N
What’s left unaccounted for? ‘in’ and ‘bother’. Well, I have an ‘n’ there, so I pencil in ‘in’ and have:
P A I N
All that’s left now is ‘bother’. PAIN is synonymous with bother so I have my answer and, guess what?, into the grid it goes.
8d - Score twice, having such good vision? (6-6)
So, with thanks to the setter, into the grid it goes with me eyes closed.
I thought fleece and saw ‘sheep’ (please don't judge me) ...
12d - Rather embarrassed, like one that's fleeced (8)
I solved this one when doing the across clues in the previous blog post. Here's how I did it without crossers.
So what next?
I looked to the clue and saw the word ‘like’. In a crossword, 'like' can be (among other things!) a synonym of ‘as’, a definition/wordplay indicator (answer ‘like’ wordplay or vice-versa), or could be part of a definition which is an adjective. It was the last option that caught my eye here, and – although the surface of the clue was trying to make me think of ‘fleeced’ as a robbery - I thought fleece and saw ‘sheep’ (please don't judge me).
I put this together with the words prior to 'sheep': ‘like one that’s’, and saw a possible adjective meaning ‘like a sheep’ may have been required. Well, I said to myself, if that’s the definition, then ‘rather embarrassed’ must be the wordplay or a second definition. Yup – how about a second definition: ‘rather embarrassed’ SHEEPISH and ‘like a sheep’ – SHEEPISH.
I liked it! And into the grid it went.
13d - Evident I'm needing energy for extra working hours (8)
I also solved this, but didn't give my workings, when tackling the across clues.
I got it from the definition ‘extra working hours’ and was helped by the link word ‘for’ ...
I got the answer OVERTIME from the definition ‘extra working hours’ and was helped by the link word ‘for’. Often, ‘for’ will mean ‘wordplay FOR answer’ and, because of this, I had a good idea the definition was 'extra working hours' and the wordplay was everything prior to the 'for'.
The wordplay took a little time for me to see, but after matching IM (im) and energy (which has the dictionary-confirmed abbreviation E), to OVERTIME, I was left with ‘overt’ which fitted as a synonym for ‘evident’.
And so, OVERTIME went into the grid.
Swimmer, more often than not, is XWD shorthand hinting that a fish is sought, and ‘heading off’ usually means ‘take the first letter off’.
15d - Swimmer's heading off, going astray (6)
I also solved this one previously, let’s see how I worked it without the crossers.
With that in mind, I started looking for 7 letter fishes that, when I removed the first letter, gave a word that meant ‘going astray’. PIRANHA? HADDOCK? Nopers, but I soon hit upon HERRING. HERRING, without the first letter, gave ERRING which means ‘going astray’ and I had my answer.
Nice one, I said, and bunged it in the gird.
18d – Look up and down (4)
P _ E _
Nothing to scare the horses there so into the grid it goes ...
Nothing to scare the horses there so into the grid it goes.
Bish, bash, and indeed, bosh, into the grid it went. Crossword complete ...
19d - Buddhist priest accepted by Islam apparently (4)
Last clue in the grid, and one I solved when tackling the across clues so I’ll tackle it here as I did without the crossers.
Bish, bash, and indeed, bosh, into the grid it went. Crossword complete.
So, there it is. A walk-through of the down clues found in The Times Quiptic #160. Hopefully, going through the clues this way has provided an insight into basic solving methods, and also into a few tricks that crossword setters employ.
Next month, I'll provide a two-part 'walk-through solve' of the main cryptic found in The Times, and aim to make it a regular feature until I've covered each of the cryptics in the UK broadsheets. In the meantime, feel free to post a comment to tell me what you thought about this post, take a look at the site's solving guide, or have a go at my crosswords.
Thanks for listening and I hope to see you around the site soon.
In the meantime, feel free to post a comment to tell me what you thought about this post, take a look at the site's solving guide, or have a go at my crosswords.