Category Archives: Clues of the week

Clue of the Week – 04/02/18

The Observer Everyman cryptic crossword in the NZ Herald Weekend section continues to provide well-crafted clues which rely on clever wordplay to conceal meaning. Once again, our clue of the week comes from this puzzle:

Observer Everyman Cryptic Crossword 03/02/18

Happy tips in general accepted (4)

‘Happy’ is the definition. The answer’s letters come from the ‘tips’ (ie the first and last letters) of ‘general accepted‘.

Cryptic clues of the week: 10/8/17

Once again the Observer Everyman cryptic crossword provides some well-crafted clues which illustrate a few of the fiendish ways that expert compilers use to keep us entertained!

Observer Everyman 5/8/17

18D: Sincere, not caring? Not he. (7)

‘Not caring’ is HEARTLESS. Removing the letters HE gives the answer, a synonym of sincere.

8D: Structure for play with unknown actors in club one organised. (6, 6)

‘Structure for play’ is the definition. ‘Unknown’ is often used for X, Y or Z (as in an equation such as Y = X+2). Here it is Y and followed by CAST (ie ‘Actors’) inside an anagram of CLUB ONE. Note how the word ‘actors’ leads us down the garden path by suggesting a different meaning for ‘play’!

Cryptic clues of the week: 19/7/17

Today, both clues of the week are from Kropotkin crossword 998: both provide interesting examples of the vagaries of the English language! They also illustrate Kropotkin’s tendency to write clues which rely on obscure and archaic words…

Kropotkin 998

1A: “It is eaten by large reptile” – a brain-twisting dilemma (11)

IT is eaten by (ie included in) CROCODILE. Pretty straightforward, and the definition is indeed a type of insoluble dilemma known to students of philosophy. There is the potential for confusion here, as the mineral crocidolite (which has a completely different derivation and pronunciation) is sometimes misspelled as crocodolite. Neither are words in common use!

27A: One living with someone won’t be dressed in acton unfortunately (10)

‘One living with someone’ is the definition. ‘Won’t’ is very misleading – it should be read ‘wont’ which is a synonym for ‘habit’. SO HABIT is included (‘dressed’) in an anagram (‘unfortunately’) of ACTON. Note that ‘acton’ is an archaic word for an item of clothing as suggested by ‘dressed’.

Cryptic clue of the week: 3/7/17

A cleverly misleading clue from the Observer Everyman this week: I really enjoyed this one, a standout from the weekend’s puzzles.

Observer Everyman 1/7/17

14D. Dandies keeping style of T. Rex in bright lights (3, 5)

‘Dandies’ = FOPS. ‘T. Rex’ would usually suggest the letter T followed by the letter R (which can also be suggested by ‘King’,’Regina’ or ‘Queen’). But here it refers to the rock band T. Rex, whose style is usually characterised as ‘glam rock’. So GLAM is inserted into (‘keeping’) FOPS. Very cunning!

Cryptic clues of the week: 28/6/17

A couple of interesting clues this week in the Tossman crossword: see if you can work them out before showing the answers.

Tossman 1033

Pitchers put sheep at risk oddly (5)

‘Pitchers’ is the definition. ‘Sheep’ is EWE and the odd letters (letters 1 and 3) of ‘Risk” are RS. Nice!

A teller of fabulous tales with a topsy-turvy attitude (5)

‘Attitude’ is POSE, ‘topsy-turvy’ indicates POSE is entered upside-down after A.

Cryptic clues of the week: 18/6/17

Tossman 1032

What a weightlifter might do with one kilo over after slipping on some snow (5-3)

‘What a weightlifter might do’ is A PRESS + (with) KI (‘one’ with ‘kilo’ over it). The definition is ‘after slipping on some snow’. Nicely convoluted.

Kropotkin 994

The Maori sub-tribe are an isolated settlement up North (2, 5)

A clue that is particular to New Zealand and wouldn’t make much sense anywhere else! ‘The Maori’ is TE (‘the’ in Maori) + HAPU (a sub-tribe) + A for ‘are’: an are is a unit of measurement (as in hectare).

Observer Everyman 17/6/17

Famous person’s stage tip (6)

‘Stage’ is LEG (ie a stage of a race). ‘Tip’ is END (ie the tip of a knife). ‘Famous person’ is the definition. This is a great example of the compiler’s craft in hiding the solution in a web of double meanings!

Cryptic clue of the week: 3/6/17

Observer Everyman 3/6/17

The Observer Everyman crossword relies on clever word-play rather than obscure words to make the solution truly cryptic. This week’s featured clue is a good example:

Notion about game without wicket lads play (3, 7, 4)


‘Notion’ is THEORY, put it ‘about’ WHIST (a card game) but drop the W (short for ‘Wicket’ in a cricket score), then add BOYS for ‘lads’.

The answer is the title of a play by Alan Bennett which was later made into a film.

Cryptic clues of the week: 16/5/17

A few choice clues from the last week or so. For each clue, we provide a brief explanation of how the answer is derived.

See if you can work out the answer before clicking on Show.

Tossman 1027

A doctor and English graduate is a spineless little creep (6)

‘Spineless little creep’ – a nice play on words! ‘Doctor’ is here a signifier for MO (Medical Officer) not DR.

Where inclination to building is apparent in fortified village (4)

IS in PA – a clue which is specific to New Zealand!

Observer Everyman 13/5/17

Fly westward for example and fade (5)

Neatly done – ‘westward’ signifies the following text (EG + DIM) is to be reversed.

Servant taking the box back full of drink (5)

‘The box’ is TV, reverse it and insert the letters ALE.

Odds rise rapidly in projection (8)

The use of ‘Odds’ for SP was new to me – Wikipedia says ‘In horse racing, the starting price (SP) is the odds prevailing on a particular horse in the on-course fixed-odds betting market at the time a race begins.’

Kropotkin 989

California pilots bombed state houses (8)

I liked the use of ‘bombed’ to show the letters CA + PILOTS are to be shuffled (ie an anagram)

One flew six pieces of art in Austria (9) (8)

‘Six’ is VI, insert with letters of ART in ‘Austria (9)’. Tricky at first if you don’t notice the two sets of numbers!