Monday, 16 January 2012

Crossword ability - still there!

I think I've got some justification in feeling a bit chuffed with myself. I've just completed a certain crossword in under 24 hours without resorting once to a dictionary, reference book or the internet (as well as having completed the 'Speedy Crossword' from the same paper).
    Doesn't sound very remarkable, but when I was between my late-teens and mid-20s I did manage, or attempted to finish, the 'Everyman' competition crossword from our Sunday 'Observer' newspaper every week, occasionally sending them off to try to win the prize - though it was never won by me. Then when I moved house and lived alone, away from my parents, the habit fell into desuetude. I'd always kept the resolution to resume this satisfying practice sometime, but it never transpired (through always thinking about lack of time) - at least until yesterday, some 40 years later!
The 'Everyman' crossword is by no means the most difficult around, though I don't think many would classify it as 'easy'. Clues are in the direction of being 'cryptic', though anagrams, letter sequences, abbreviations also all appear - and it helps to have a reasonable grounding of general knowledge.
   So, now that I know I still can do it, I'll probably make it a weekly feature. Flexing and using those brain 'muscles' and achieving the desired result is oh so very satisfying!

Now while on the subject, how about if I offer, purely for entertainment, three classic clues and publish the answers in a few days time? The first has become a bit of an old chestnut by now, but it's possible that some of you have not seen it before. It was posed to me by a friend all those decades ago. Even though I say myself that I did get the answer, eventually - that 'eventually' took some time to come.
The second I heard on the radio some years ago where the very clever answer was given immediately. I'm dead certain I would never have got it - but it's a word we've all heard and used.
And the third was one I did eventually get - but only after considerable research in the local public library. I should imagine that, using the web, it would be possible to come up with the answer in a very short time, perhaps even a few seconds.

Clue 1)    H I J K L M N O                 (5 letters)

Clue 2)   heggs                                   (11 letters)

Clue 3) What Methuselah and Madame de Pompadour had in common?         (12 letters)

So, if you're inclined have a go. None of them is impossibly difficult. Well after all, I got two of them!
If you work them out or want to offer an answer please don't write them in a comment (otherwise I might have to delete it) , though a comment that you'd got them, without giving away the answer(s) would be nice. But if you want to suggest anything to me by e-mail I will respond through that medium. However, I will be posting the answers here in a few days time anyway. Good luck!


  1. Hello Ray:
    What a tease you are today. We love puzzles and are devoted to cryptic crosswords. There is, as you say, something very satisfying about being able to complete the crossword without recourse to any reference.

    We are addicted to the Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword and manage to complete one in every three or so. However, because we really could not bear to actually read said newspaper, we subscribe online!!

  2. Ta, J & L.

    Yes, I used to be something of a 'puzzle freak' - all puzzles, including visual ones like mazes or 'spot the difference', but word riddles were my favourite, and still are, though it's the finding of time to do them that is its own problem. When it comes down to it, reading a book is a still more domineering passion of mine, so inevitably that has won out for all these past years. But maybe times will now change. (Another 'rave' of mine used to be chess, but perhaps that's for a future blog.)

    You say that "WE are addicted" to the Telegraph cryptic Xword. It was a bit disingenuous for me to have given the impression above that when I did these puzzles many years ago I was always alone. Sometimes I was, but not every single time. (Yesterday I WAS!). Don't you find that doing these together, it's not like two brains working together, it feels more like THREE? There seems to be an exponential increase in mental powers available when one does it in company. Do you also find that? It's a most interesting phenomenon and although it's generally recognised I'm not sure if the precise cause of this has been identified.
    I fear that web access has made doing Xwords so much less of a challenge. But as you yourself recognise, the sense of satisfaction is all the greater when one has done it all oneself without having to look things up.

    Thanks again for visiting. Always grateful for your views - most especially when we're on the same wavelength, as we so often are.

  3. I love puzzles, especially 'cryptic crosswords'.
    Are you familiar with "GAMES" magazine? You should!

  4. Many years ago, Dr Spo, I used to get the weekly magazine 'The Puzzler' (it may still well be going) which sounds like it could be the British equivalent of 'Games'. The only reason I stopped was that it was becoming an addiction which was time-consuming and crowding out my passions for reading and listening to music. If time was valuable to me when young, it's become so many times over now. I only wish that there were more than 24 hours in a day and that we didn't have to sleep. But, just out of interest, I will follow up on 'Games'. Thanks.

  5. Just checking in... I do believe you are the guy I sent the Spo-shirt to? Did you receive it? (keeping my fingers crossed)


    1. Hi, Walt. Yes, indeed. It arrived yesterday, intact, thanks. I've told Dr Spo - and he's already sent me the name and address of the next recipient, luckily for me just 15 mins away on the train.
      I should immediately have also set your own mind at rest as I see that your blog details are in the book, so I had no excuses. Apologies for that.
      Thanks so much for coming here to check it out. After I have my haircut on Thurs I'll be posing in it and posting the results on this blog. Now I'm gonna have a look at your very own blog and see what's cooking there. Cheers!

  6. This game is too difficult for me. I'm having fun playing Words with Friends, an app for iPhone and players are friends on Facebook.

  7. I'm not surprised at all, Tai. Not only could I never even begin a crossword in Vietnamese (if there are such things), I do not know one single word of your language. Isn't that terrible? So what you say is fully understandable.

  8. I like some puzzles, I hate others, crosswords I love, yet I get bored at the first sign of a cryptic clue!!

  9. Yes, I can understand that, Jase. What I do like about cryptic clues is the need for lateral thinking. It makes one use 'mind muscles' that would otherwise go unexercised.