DA for the 7th of May, 2021

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8 thoughts on “DA for the 7th of May, 2021

  1. Grins V Groans
    I have a recurring problem philosophically with many of our esteemed hero Mr Astle’s clues, which I classify as either grins or groans. Yes it’s the groans which are the problem.
    Fundamentally it stems from the belief that a cryptic clue should contain 2 distinct elements, i.e. definition and wordplay, both of which when considered separately or together allow the solver to derive the answer prior to entering the answer on the grid. An act generally accompanied by a grin.
    If the wordplay element of the clue can only be understood once the answer is deduced through other means, such as the definition alone, or by the imperative of intersecting letters, then that produces a groan from this solver, and diminishes the joy in solving the puzzle.
    So, in a Grin clue the wordplay predicts the answer, but in a Groan clue the answer solves the wordplay which is thus confirmatory only and not predictive.
    In today’s puzzle I would cite 21-2down etc as an example of a Grin, and 8 down as a Groan.
    More Grins and less Groans please Mr Astle!

  2. That’s great SB – my intention is to be both insightful and inciteful!

  3. That’s an interesting philosophy, Brond. As you may have seen from my various posts over the months, my reaction upon solving cryptic clues generally covers a complete continuum from groan to smile (or, as you so alliteratively put it, “grin”).

    Smiles come when there is a certain cleverness in the clue, often involving an artful misdirection, culminating in a “lightbulb moment”; groans when the wordplay seems to struggle and is convoluted. Rarely — and I enjoy these moments immensely — a smile might even erupt into a chuckle.

    A good, satisfying puzzle, apart from being the right level of difficulty, should always have more smiles than groans. Significantly more. This week’s DA probably only had one groan for me, 8d, but an abundance of smiles, especially 4d and 13d, the latter bordering on a chuckle even.

  4. There not Brond’s ground rules, they’re the basis of cryptic crosswords. Two ways to the answer. If you can’t solve the wordplay as a separate entity, and have to rely on the definition to give you the answer, then you are solving nothing more than a glorified quick crossword.

  5. I like your Grins and Groans Brond. There are some interesting studies on what parts of the brain light up and hormones involved when solving cryptic crosswords. It’s that ‘aha’ experience that brings the grins I reckon.

    Agree PeterW. The game is supposed to be a fair one between setter and solver. They’re supposed to let you in on the trick. Sometimes when (reverse) parsing DA I get how his mind works, but it doesn’t help me solve the clue.

  6. A couple of weeks back I likened the aha! feeling to popping bubble wrap – when the clues pop under firm mental pressure. I can get that buzz parsing forward or backward.

    For me the groans come when the clue seems overly convoluted. They take a long time to solve and when I do, the feeling is ‘alright, whatever.’

  7. Peter W says:
    9 May 2021 at 12:14 am
    There not Brond’s ground rules, they’re the basis of cryptic crosswords. Two ways to the answer. If you can’t solve the wordplay as a separate entity, and have to rely on the definition to give you the answer, then you are solving nothing more than a glorified quick crossword.

    Just saw this after the bandwidth issues. Totally agree and have said so many times. DS (Saturday) is by far a more clever setter imo, within the rules. DA relies =on a vast general knowledge/vocabulary to make ‘glorified quick clues’ appear as difficult cryptics. No Mr Astle, they are just difficult unknown, who cares , knowledge, not ‘clever’.
    As I have said before. You should be able to come from anywhere in the world with a good knowledge of English, and as a practiced cruciverbalist, be able to pick up any English cryptic puzzle and have a reasonable chance

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