Monday, December 24, 2007

Crosswords: Crosaire

I was delighted to meet an amateur crossword setter last night who agreed with me that the cryptic crossword in the Irish Times, by Crosaire, is often unfair. (O'Brien Books has a free sample.) As this site says, a cryptic clue should contain "a definition and an element of wordplay", and "the wordplay element obeys logical rules". Crosaire falls down on the logic part. Solvers must use induction more than deduction.

An example from Crossword No. 13,413, published December 20th, 2007:

At this stage the tree gets a hat. (7)

I had "_ _ E _ T _ _", and guessed "theatre", which is an anagram of "tree" and "hat". However, there is no indication of an anagram in the clue, and no logical reason the articles "the" and "a" should be excluded from the wordplay.

Then again, Crosaire is set by a 90-year-old who has been doing this for over 60 years, so I should cut him some slack.

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