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Cryptic Crosswords for Beginners

2012/02/24

Cryptic crosswords are undoubtedly my favorite sort of pencil-and-paper puzzle, but they’re unfortunately very hard to get into at first. The vast majority of clues rely on the same set of basic tricks, and often use the same sort of words to indicate what trick is at work, so learning to solve a cryptic crossword is a lot like learning a new language. It becomes natural eventually, but only after lots of failed solving attempts.

A big part of the problem is that most cryptics are made with the experienced solver in mind, so setters often try to make the clues as hard as possible while still meeting some basic level of “fairness.” These are two puzzles I made with the opposite goal in mind; the clues are just about as easy as I could make them, while still being “cryptic.”

If you know the basics of how cryptics work, but have never had much luck with them, download these and try them out! It may be just the easy entry you’ve been looking for. If you don’t know how cryptics work, you’ll want to click the tutorial link below first.

Beginner Cryptic #1: (PDF) (JPG)
Beginner Cryptic #2: (PDF) (JPG)
Solutions: (PDF) (RTF)

Cryptic Crossword Tutorial

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