Clued In (Blogs)

Clued In #353 | To the solver, with love, the setter

THCrosswordPlus Desk  |  30 September 2021

Hey there, and welcome back to Clued In after a while!

We may have been off the grid for a minute, but we hope that your affinity for cryptics hasn’t waned or weakened. We’re always on the lookout for new and fresh ways of playing with words and phrases, and that’s exactly why we hang on the setter’s every word... and phrase. Of course, everything novel naturally takes a little bit of time, exposure, and elucidation to gain currency and fluency among its practitioners and users.

So, here’s taking a look at a few tricky clues from a new setter that you might have been enraged or enriched by.


The Hindu Cryptic #13365 | WrdPlougher | 9 Across

CLUE: Omissions excepted, writes down exactly, like, what Ali Baba declared (4,6)

Clue type: abbreviation, containment

Definition: what Ali Baba declared


Clue explained:

We are looking for a two-word phrase that is just ‘what Ali Baba declared’.

If you’re a contract lawyer or importer-exporter, you would be familiar with the expression Errors and Omissions Excepted (E&OE). Such commonly-used terms are generally accepted as standard abbreviations only in their full form. However, in this case, since we are given the words ‘omissions excepted’ so clearly and in the standard order, we can assume that the setter wants us to pluck out the relevant letters from the standard abbreviation, and get OE.

Another word for ‘writes’ is PENS.

‘Down’ is a containment indicator as it is what you might do when you drink up a medicine or pint right quick. So, WrdPlougher is telling us here that O and E together ‘down’ or drink up PENS. That makes OPENSE.

(Alternatively, another way of thinking about the word ‘down’ is as an insertion indicator. How? Well, when you say you are ‘down’ with something, you are signalling, in urban American slang, your acquiescence or intent to participate, which indicates that you would like to insert or involve yourself in the activity. So, ‘writes down’ could also be read as “PENS is in”.)

Remember, punctuation is redundant in cryptics. And so, if we remove the comma from the words ‘exactly, like’, the synonym would strike us the SAME.

And when we split these hard-won letters into a (4,6) word structure, altogether, we get OPEN SESAME, which is exactly, like, ‘what Ali Baba declared’!

Sometimes, indicators are crunched together, and it becomes tricky to view them clearly as individual wordplay entities.


The Hindu Cryptic #13365 | WrdPlougher | 18 Down

CLUE: Boy, girl running back-to-back laps regularly near sports department — in full throttle (3,5)

Clue type: abbreviation, containment, letter-picking, link word

Definition: throttle


Clue explained:

We are looking for a two-word phrase that means ‘throttle’.

Another word for ‘boy’ is LAD.

An abbreviation for ‘girl’ is G.

‘Running back’ is a reversal indicator telling us to arrange LAD and G in reverse order as G and DAL.

‘Laps regularly’ is telling us to select the even letters of ‘lApS’, which are A and S.

An abbreviation for a ‘sports department’ is PED.

‘To back’ means to support, and therefore it is a containment indicator telling us that GDAL is to be wrapped around ASPED.

‘In full’ is a new kind of link phrase that serves to connect the wordplay with the definition. This one is to be parsed as follows — “when the wordplay is worked out IN FULL, definition”.

Altogether, that spells GAS PEDAL, our (3,5) term for ‘throttle’!

Sometimes, a definition involves a stretch of the imagination. In such cases, the setter must remember to caution the solver accordingly with a nifty question mark. They aren’t obligated to, of course. Just that it would make life that much easier for the solver, who is already rather embattled by the banes of rising prices, COVID waves, and climate change — and so, a little bit of fairness would go a long way in alleviating the solver’s existential distress. Largesse from the setter is always appreviated.

The Hindu Cryptic #13365 | WrdPlougher | 15 Down

CLUE: Jackpot! Almost winning five elections — a third promise (4,6)

Clue type: tail deletion, containment, abbreviation, letter-picking

Definition: promise


Clue explained:

We’re looking for a (4,6) term that, in a way, means or suggests ‘promise’.

Another word for or example of a ‘jackpot’ is LOTTERY. ‘Almost’ is a tail deletion indicator telling us that LOTTERY is not quite fully spelled out. And so, we delete its tail and get LOTTER.

The Roman numeral for ‘five’ is V.

‘Elections — a third’ is telling us to select only one third of the nine letters that are used to spell ‘elections’. That gives us ELE.

‘Winning’ is a containment indicator as it suggests that LOTTER has gained V and ELE.

Altogether, when we split those letters into two words of 4 and 6 letters each, we get LOVE LETTER, which is a ‘promise’ of undying love made by a passionate suitor! (You know how it is with young lovers who pen love letters — they are apt to make ostentatious vows and histrionic declarations of eternal companionship and perpetual affection, just to win a date with their prospective paramore... when a simple expression of interest would have sufficed!)

Was the above clue 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 posts a new The Hindu Cryptic puzzle with annotations for each clue! Go ahead and bookmark that link and play the latest puzzle after signing up and subscribing.

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’.

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