‘Do crossword compilers follow cryptic rules? Well, yes and no …!’

LESSON 19 in ‘How to solve cryptic crosswords’

As a solver, can you count on crossword compilers following cryptic rules?

By now you’ve no doubt gathered that ‘rule’ is rather a loose term in cryptic language.

Most cryptic clue compilers follow some cryptic rules and conventions but you can never be sure of it until you've found the solution.

Some compilers ‘play dirty’ and some are particularly parochial with their clues. Don't be surprised if an occasional clue or solution refers to a local football team, a nearby suburb or a specific government minister.

The secret is to keep an open mind and to remember that each setter takes a different approach to his or her task. Some will be more on your wavelength than others.

If you're having difficulty with a particular crossword, put it aside for a time. When you return to it, new interpretations of the clues may jump out at you. If not, check the answers the next day and work out how they were derived.

In the early stages, cryptic crosswords can be enormously frustrating, but as cryptic fans will tell you, there is nothing quite like the mental satisfaction of solving a particularly clever clue.

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