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My handle, anagrams, the davinci code and cryptic crossword puzzles

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  • My handle, anagrams, the davinci code and cryptic crossword puzzles

    Well, as I said in my intro a while back my name is Don, so I'm sure some of you must be wondering what's up with the HoaryGill thing.

    It's an anagram of holy grail that I dreamed up after being inspired by the movie The DaVinci Code. I've always enjoyed doing cryptic crosswords and I wanted to have a pen name derived in such a way. Hoary Gill just seemed original and natural to me, plus I thought it sounded a lot better than Girly Halo! lol

    Anyway, not sure if some of you could be curious about doing cryptic crosswords so I'm transposing below the basics on how to do them which I copied from an article my mother had saved for me from an issue of Toronto's Globe and Mail from the 1980s.

    Knock your socks off.

    How to do cryptic crosswords

    Cryptic crosswords are the word-play-packed relatives of regular crosswords. If you’re new to the game, you need to learn the difference between regular clues and their cryptic cousins.

    The important distinction is that every clue has two parts: a definition of the answer and another way of arriving at the answer through word play. These two parts are put next to one another. You must figure out where one part ends and the other begins. There are eight main types of word-play hints, each with its own special signals that indicate what to do to produce the answer a different way.

    Anagram: Old man chewed up nut (6)
    In an anagram clue, the letters that make up the answer are given in scrambled form. Beside them is an anagram signal, a figurative word or phrase that indicates that you must anagram letters. (As well, as in any cryptic clue, there is a normal definition of the answer.) In the clue above, the answer ALMOND (“nut”) is a chewed up (anagrammed) version of OLD MAN. The digit 6 in parentheses tells you the answer is a six-letter word.

    Charade: Record an airport in Boston (5)
    In a charade, the answer is broken into pieces and clued piece by piece. The answer LOGAN (“airport in Boston”) is a charade of LOG (“record”) + AN.

    Hidden Word: Still in diner today (5)
    Sometimes, the clue-writer hides the answer in its correct order right in the clue. No rearranging is necessary. What word meaning “still” is found in DINER TODAY? Look closely, and you’ll see INERT.

    Two Meanings: Floor crumbled (6)
    Some words have two meanings from different origins. For these words, the clue-writer may just give the two definitions side by side. GROUND means both “floor” (as a noun) and “crumbled” (as a verb).

    Container: Huge loss in fuel (8)
    In a container, the solution is formed by putting one part of the answer inside (or outside) another. COLOSSAL (“huge”) is formed when you put LOSS inside COAL (“fuel”), like this: CO(LOSS)AL.

    Homophone: Lift metal, we hear (5)
    A homophone clue tells you that the answer has the same sound as another word or phrase. STEAL (“lift”) sounds like STEEL (“metal”) when “we hear” the word. Every homophone clue has a signal like “to the audience”, “we hear”, or “reportedly” that indicates people hear or say the two words the same way. This homophone signal is always beside the definition of the homophone, not beside the definition of the actual answer word.

    Reversal: Stain covers back (4)
    A clue may hint that the answer word spells something when reversed. SPOT (“stain”) is TOPS (“covers”) written backward. A reversal clue always contains a signal (like “back”, “returned”, or “from the east”) that suggests the reversal in a playful way. In Down clues, which refer to vertical entries, look for indicators like “up”, “northward”, and “rising”.

    Deletion: Almost have squads (6)
    A clue may suggest that a word could lose “head” (first letter), “heart” (central letter), or “tail” (last letter) to form a new word. Or the clue may tell you not to start the word, or not to finish it. POSSES (“squads”) is almost POSSESS (“have”). The word “almost” suggests that you need almost all of the word. That is, you drop the last letter.

    These are eight types of word-play devices. You may want to take a moment now to try the practice puzzle, which has one each of the eight clue types. Some clues involve a combination of two or more types of word play, such as an anagram inside a reversal, or a deletion as part of a charade. Look at this clue:
    Finish with terribly sore back (7)
    ENDORSE (“back”) is a charade of END (“finish”) and ORSE (“terribly sore”, an anagram of SORE).
    Abbreviations

    Clue-writers may use dictionary-sanctioned abbreviations such as these:
    B, R, W = black, red, white
    BA = graduate
    CA = about (circa)
    CH = church
    F, P = fail, pass (report cards)
    G, R = general, restricted (U.S. movie ratings)
    H, L = high, low (weather maps)
    HI = Hawaii (U.S. postal abbreviation)
    I, V, X, L, C, D, M = 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000 (Roman numerals)
    K = kindergarten (K-8 school)
    L, R = left, right
    M, F = male, female
    N, P = nitrogen, phosphorous (chemistry’s periodic table)
    N, S, E, W = north(ern), south(ern), east(ern), west(ern)
    O = circle (from its shape)
    P, T = pressure, time (science formulas)
    S, L = small, large (clothing sizes)
    T = Tuesday (calendar)
    T, F = true, false (on tests)
    The clue-writer may also instruct you pull off pieces of words. For example, the capital of France is F (its capital letter), the third of May is Y (its third letter), central Poland is LA (the two letters at the centre) and piece of wood is W (“piece of” always refers to the first letter).

    Now you’re ready for the giant contest puzzle. Get cracking!

    Practice Puzzle
    Answers and explanations appear below.
    Across
    Warning Mad Hatter (6) anagram
    4 Song with less feeling (6) two meanings
    Swallow most of olive-garnished drink (6) deletion
    Sell bicycle, we hear (6) homophone

    Down
    Zip fly up (4) reversal
    Storm sheep attendant (7) charade
    Helped Midler in ad (7) container
    Formerly in concert (4) hidden word

    Answers to Practice Puzzle
    Across
    THREAT (“warning”) is a mad (anagrammed) version of HATTER.
    NUMBER means both “song” and “with less feeling”.
    MARTIN (“swallow”) is most of the word MARTINI (“olive-garnished drink”).
    PEDDLE (“sell”) sounds like PEDAL (“bicycle”) when we hear it.

    Down
    TANG (“zip”) is GNAT (“fly”) written upward.
    RAMPAGE (“storm”) is a charade of RAM (“sheep”) + PAGE (“attendant”).
    ABETTED (“helped”) is formed when you put BETTE (“Midler”) inside AD.
    5 ONCE (“formerly”) is hidden inside CONCERT.
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