Thursday, December 18, 2014

Takeaway (Puzzle No. 3,348)

Solving the latest Kevin Wald variety cryptic (which will be in the next Sunday brunch), I noticed that the constructor was able to bring in some new wordplay by informing us that the wordplay component of a number of the clues would yield a result that was missing one letter from the actual answer.  New anagrams and reversals and hidden words all became available as a result.

While Wald’s puzzles often are notoriously hard, and the alterations like his missing letters usually lead to a second- or third-level solution, there’s no rule that says variety puzzles have to be hard.  If you make the alteration simple, like “the wordplay in all the across clues has an extra A in it,” most cryptic solvers should be able to handle it.  Also, a simple alteration like this wouldn’t look unseemly in a block grid, even though variety cryptics usually are block-style.

I’d love to see more puzzles like this: to freshen up the cryptic landscape.  Meanwhile we have a new The Nation puzzle to work on, including a four-part answer and an unusual grid.

Link to puzzle:

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

Hozom’s comment: “One Hand Washes the Other,” in which Hot and Trazom celebrate a special form of cross-reference clues: the ones where two clues cross-reference each other, usually by anagram.  It’s not as unfair as you think, since intersecting letters give fodder for both answers. We’ve seen several of these since Hot and Trazom took over setting duties.

Weekly cluing challenge (at Word Salad):  MUTUAL

Back with the solution Monday: join us this weekend and every weekend for Sunday brunch.

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