Saturday, June 13, 2015

Vera City (Puzzle No. 3,206)

(double issue of The Nation last week, so we’re going back for an archive puzzle this week).

There’s a kind of clue that is pretty popular among some constructors, particularly in Great Britain.  We rarely see it in The Nation because it doesn’t fit the Ximinean model of “definition, wordplay, and nothing else.”  For lack of a better term, I’m going to call it “deconstruction.”  Here’s an example from the Globe and Mail syndicated puzzle two weeks ago.  

In truth, she is head of a big place. (4)

I’ll give the answer and explanation below the fold. 

VERA    VERA_city_ “truth” = VERA precedes (“is head of”) CITY (“a big place”)

This is a clue that’s easier to find and construct than it is to solve.  As you read things and words roll around in your mind, sometimes you parse them out in unexpected ways.  If you’ve ever heard a little kid doing the Bible reading in church, you know what I mean.  They get to a word they haven’t seen before, so they pronounce it like two simpler words run together.  The congregation stifles a laugh, and a clue is born. 

Combinations like this jump out at those of us who create and solve cryptics, but they aren’t obvious to solvers: in large part because there aren’t any real indicators.  I’m the tolerant type, and I often take a stab at British cryptics, so I’m OK with a few of these turning up in American puzzles from time to time.  I’m sure some of the commenters from Word Salad aren’t though.  The key to using these deconstructions without turning off too many solvers is to make the intersecting letters fairly easy to obtain, and to only use these clues when they make for a really smooth and shiny surface.

Back Monday with the solution and annotation to puzzle 3,206.

1 comment:

If you're responding to a hint request, please remember not to give more information than necessary. More direct hints are allowed after Monday.