Friday, December 21, 2012

Situation manual (Puzzle No. 3,265)

While there wasn't a new puzzle last week, there was a new post over at Word Salad.  Both that one and this week's post deal with fine points of the rules cryptic crossword constructors try and follow.  They give some examples to illustrate how the rules should be applied.

It's like the USA Hockey Situation Manual (now called the casebook) which I carry around in my officiating briefcase.  It gives official interpretations of common and uncommon situations.  For example: if a player breaks his stick, he can get a replacement handed to him by a teammate on the bench.  Can a teammate who's in the penalty box give him his stick?  Answer:  No, bench minor for throwing a stick into play illegally.

And while we're on the subject of hockey, here's a shout-out to my occasional partner Kate Connolly, who has been selected to line the IIHF Women's World Championship this coming April in Ottawa.

Link to puzzle

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): hard

Hozom's comments–last weekGoing My Way, in which Hot and Trazom explain the balance between the wordplay and the definition in a clue.  Normally you wouldn't want both to be hard or both to be easy.  Also, there's a directionality in a few common indicators, where you need to make sure the wordplay is before (usually) or after the definition in order for the clue to not unfairly misdirect the reader (as opposed to fairly misdirecting, which Hex are famous for).

Hozom's comments–this weekThe Etymological Taboo, in which we learn that Hot and Trazom read the dictionary for fun (admit it readers, some of your own routines are just as geeky!).  More importantly, they explain that one of the more important rules is not to rely on the same dictionary definition or part thereof for both the definition in a clue and part of its wordplay.  Once you think about it, it's a pretty obvious rule: the kind where breaking it with an easy clue makes it extremely forgettable while breaking it with a harder clue will even get intermediate solvers recognizing the problem.

Solution and annotation will be posted Monday.  Use the comments section for hint requests.

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