Clued In (Blogs)

Clued In #179 | An echo can bridge two mountain walls

Mihir Balantrapu  |  16 November 2020

Hey there, and welcome back to Clued In!

Sometimes, setters take the solver’s clairvoyance for granted. The solver is usually neck-deep in their daily rut and a million problems, and should not be expected to divine the setter’s whimsy unless and until explicitly told. The least a setter can do for the solver is to be fair and punctuate their clues with the requisite indicators, signposts meant to lead them to the intended answer in the cryptic maze. Punctuation may matter very little in a cryptic crossword clue. But the indication matters to heaven and back.

Then again, language is all ’bout making friends and dropping formalities. Meaning that...


Everyman #3,856 | 9 Across

CLUE: Doss about, eating first piece of picnic in swimming trunks (7)

Clue type: Anagram, letter-pick, alphabet homophone

Definitions: swimming trunks


Clue explained:

We need a 7-letter word here that could mean either ‘doss’ or ‘swimming trunks’ most likely.

Already, when I hear ‘swimming trunks’, I am thinking of speedos.

And look, the clue has the word ‘doss’ which has some of the letters of the probable answer. So, the word ‘about’ must be the anagram indicator to be applied on ‘doss’. So, we can reshuffle its letters and get SDOS.

‘Eating’ is a very obvious containment indicator. ‘First piece of picnic’ suggests a P, which is the leading letter of the word ‘picnic’. If we add the P to the mix, we would get SPDOS.

Where are the two missing Es we need to make the word SPEEDOS?

Well, this here is, depending on your orientation and opinion, either an oversight or outrageous usage by Everyman. See, it appears that Everyman is insinuating that the alphabet P can be spelt as PEE, which would give us SPEEDOS, the 7-letter word for ‘swimming trunks’.

But the thing is, if Everyman wants the solver to generate PEE from P, he/she needed to have used a homophone indicator (or a kidney!). A homophone is a word that sounds just like another but is spelt different. P sounds just like PEE, and needs a homophone indicator to tell us to spell it differently.

... if, as solvers, we just become familiar with the fact that alphabets can be spelt out by tacking on some vowels, the homophone indicator could conceivably be dropped altogether from alphabets that are to spelt out. British solvers seem likely to embrace this devolution more easily than Indians. Then again, the British have a head start on the relationship with the language as well as with cryptic crosswords.

Was that fun to solve? Did you get a kick out of understanding how to work out the answer to a cryptic crossword clue? Did you enjoy being given a random sentence that ultimately leads to a completely unexpected but totally decipherable answer? Do you feel like you could use some help to guide you towards the answer for each of the 20-30 clues that usually bamboozle you in each puzzle? Well, look no further!

Ok, look just a little further. Because, every Sunday, The Hindu Crossword Plus will be posting a new The Hindu Cryptic puzzle with annotations for each clue! Go ahead and bookmark that link and play the latest puzzle.

Each annotation will give you helping hints and hold your hand as we work out the answer together. If you liked the long-winded explanation to the above clue, then you will surely enjoy the crisper versions we give you in The Hindu Cryptic on Sunday puzzles, when you click the button ‘Reveal’ and then ‘Show a hint’.

And guess what, The Hindu Cryptic on Sunday is absolutely free! All you have to do is sign up to play.

Click right here to subscribe to the interactive THCrosswordPlus, so you can solve on your mobile phone, get hints, and even check your answers on the go!