Saturday, September 21, 2013

Parsing the question (Sunday brunch: September 22, 2013)

I’ve been spending a good deal of time parsing out questions recently, and only some of them were related to cryptics.  I’m teaching Sabers how to read and interpret a rulebook, and while he’s taking the test to referee fencing, many of the same principles I’ve learned from hockey rules exams apply.  You reconstruct the situation as the question puts it, and walk through it one step at a time.

So if fencer X makes an attack against Y’s point in line, and finds Y’s blade, Y places point in line again while X continues the attack and both fencers hit, who gets the point?  Take it one step at a time.  Y’s first point in line establishes right of way, which X must take away.  X does that, and then gets the right of way by doing so.  OK so far?  Once X gains right of way, X keeps it even when Y goes back to point in line because Y didn’t do anything to take it back.  Touch for X.

Parse these puzzles out, and remember they’re for relaxation, not for torture.

The only new cryptic on our side of the pond this weekend is Hex’s in the National Post.  Falcon has worked it out for you as usual, and reports his mind is in better “shape” for the experience

Want another cryptic?  Try Xanthippe’s British puzzle called Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

Kevin Wald has been kind enough to post his variety cryptic (a bonus puzzle) from the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

It’s a two-acrostic weekend.  The Wall Street Journal puzzle is by Mike Shenk.   After my first pass through the clues (either having no idea or too many ideas for most of them), I was resigning myself to this one being a real slog.  But surprisingly, I wound up getting most of the quote from partials in it and from discovering a few words that were repeated several times in the quote.  So on one level, I liked the puzzle because it made me approach the answer from a different direction, I also disliked it because of all the repetition making the quote so easy to find.

The New York Times acrostic (by Hex as usual) is also behind the paywall as usual.  Deb Amlen blogs it as usual at Wordplay (spoiler warning).  Note also that the straight crossword in today’s Times (by Mike Selinker) is a prize puzzle.  See Wordplay for instructions on how to win one of their new 2014 calendars.

Nathan Curtis’s weekly variety puzzle isn’t up yet (I’ll post an update when it is), which is probably OK for those of you still working on last week’s Pathfinder.  [UPDATE: Did you finish the Pathfinder? I did.  Nathan now has another Snake Charmer for you to solve.  Thanks, Nathan!]


  1. The link to Kevin Wald's variety cryptic appears to be incorrect. It sends one to Deb Amlen's post about the NY Times acrostic.


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