A puzzle within a puzzle
Because English has so many words, it makes it a very good language for word puzzles. They are also very popular. One of the most difficult is the ‘cryptic crossword’.
At first glance, a cryptic crossword looks the same as a normal crossword. But there’s one major difference – the clues are puzzles too.
One example is the clue ‘Killers found in Windsor Castle’. You might think you need to start researching the history of Windsor Castle to find out about murderers. But actually, the answer has nothing to do with Windsor Castle… because the solution is ‘orcas’ (another name for killer whales) because the word is found within ‘Windsor Castle’.*
Cryptic crosswords follow certain rules – but they also use a lot of word play and often some humour too. They are tricky and fun, but usually require not just word knowledge, but also knowledge of many aspects of history and culture. They also test your ability to think in different ways, which is why a cryptic crossword competition was the perfect undercover way to find codebreakers for the secret military facility Bletchley Park during World War 2.
Each year The Times newspaper has an annual crossword championship. The fastest puzzle solvers can manage to finish a crossword in under 5 minutes. If you’ve ever seen The Times crossword, you will be amazed that it is possible to do it so fast.
You can find out more about how to solve cryptic crosswords on the Solving Cryptics website.
*thanks to renowned crossword setter Dean Mayer for this clue.