Friday, April 5, 2013

Riddles (Puzzle No. 3,278)

Word Salad has been posted a little later than the puzzle the last couple of weeks (that's OK by me): thus the Friday posting this week.  This week's installment, "What's so Great About Two," begins with Ximines' three-part definition of a cryptic clue: "1) a definition, 2) wordplay and 3) nothing else," and goes on to describe clues that break that rule, which happens to be one of the rules Hot and Trazom are fairly observant of.

Like most questions about the strictness or leniency of cluing, Hot and Trazom get an earful from both sides.  This time the correspondent who wishes for the less-conformist approach gets to be heard from.  Frank Lewis, longtime constructor for The Nation, reveled in non-standard clues, including clues with three parts and clues with only one part, which I for lack of a better term call "riddles."

At their best, these clues are true wordplay.  They come in several different flavors, as shown in the examples at Word Salad:
CANDLE A wicked thing (6)   Here the wordplay is in the clue.
LAST TRAIN Presumably one doesn't run after it? (4,5)   Sort of a double-definition in one phrase, with some irony added.

However, if you don't recognize the twist, they look like clues from a straight crossword (and I've seen some FT puzzles that seem only 80% cryptic).  My view?  As they say, it's better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.  But you'd better bemuse the solver before you ask forgiveness for the clue.

This week's puzzle doesn't have any riddles, but it does have a few of the other twists Hot and Trazom have blogged about, starting with the answer spread across two lights.  There's also a very obvious familial relationship to many of the clues.

Link to puzzle:

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

Hozom's comment: Roasting Chestnuts (the column that came out after last week's puzzle), in which Hot and Trazom present examples (particularly anagrams) that are so fitting that constructors come back to them over and over (to the chagrin of some solvers).  Is "astronomers" the only word that's found its way into two chestnuts?  ("no more stars" as well as "moon starers")

Solution and annotation posted Monday.

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