Favourite Crossword Books

Cryptic Crosswords

This page is partly here so that if I leave comments on fifteensquared then I can link my name to something vaguely crossword related. If you've ended up at this page then you might be interested in these pages too:

Recently I've been trying to improve my cryptic crossword solving and it's been a lot of fun. Solving clues is very satisfying, they often make me laugh, and there's something creative about the way you have to think that I'm afraid Scrabble just doesn't have...

During the week I do the Guardian almost every day and (now that it's online for free) the Independent when I have time. On the weekend I do the Guardian prize crossword and the Azed, although the latter normally takes me a few long sittings and lots of research. I haven't yet had a mention in the Azed clue-writing competition, but coming up with entries for that has been an excellent exercise, and has increased even further my respect for crossword setters.

The Guardian on a weekday currently takes me about half an hour if I can concentrate on it, but there are normally a few clues at the end that I can't get without some cheating - see below for more on that.

Suggestions for Beginners

Since I'm not very good yet, you should take the advice below with a pinch of salt. If you're a complete beginner, it's worth getting a book that explains the various types of clues that you'll see. I've bought four or five books along these lines, but my favourite is definitely Don Manley's Chambers Crossword Manual. It doesn't go quite so slowly over the basics as some other introductory guides, but the examples and discussion are all excellent and the later sections on devising clues and types of advanced cryptics will certainly be interesting if you find yourself becoming addicted.

The following tips are things that I wish someone else had told me when I was initially trying to learn to solve crosswords:

Levels of Cheating

I think the ideal situation for doing cryptic crosswords is if you're on a train or waiting for someone in a pub, or some other situation where you have no access to other reference sources. However, if you're really stuck then there are lots of places to get outside help from. I've ordered these tactics from most to least acceptable:

I have a deliberately omitted any even less ethical tactics that may exist from this list :)

Do let me know if you have any comments or suggestions about this page.