'A single grid is beckoning, each of its thirty-three clues sparking a different chapter on the art of puzzling and the secret lives of words. You'll also read about the peculiar life of clue-mongers...and the tangled tale of human wordplay, how an ancient itch to toy with letters has led us to this black and white curio we call a cryptic crossword. Just be warned: the further you travel down this winding road, the more likely you'll catch the bug...'
I love a good crossword puzzle though rarely make time for them these days, but I do enjoy a good bit of cryptic solving and it has taken me years of painstaking anguish to figure out some of the more obvious routes that the puzzle setters use. Once you spot them you might spot them again, but discovering them in the first place is the thing. Unless you know someone who knows how on earth are you supposed to find out, other than sweating blood and a whole day trying to figure it out.
Fret no more, here's the best bookish Christmas Cracker for the crossword solver in your midst, Puzzled by David Anstle. (did you see what I did there, Christmas Cracker? It would probably come under the Pun chapter)
The book begins with, quite sensibly, an unfilled crossword grid, and each chapter will take the reader through every twist and turn of the puzzling world whilst filling in the clues along the way. Reach the end and there are more crosswords to be completed with the benefit of the book under your belt and a helping hand from David Astle should you need it.
Anagrams..'Crossword makers turn to anagrams like Catholic nuns to rosaries..' says David Astle so here's one for you...
Discourteous shift is dispatched, subcontracted (10)
Easy when you know how isn't it...nigh on impossible when you don't.
Charades... right I didn't really know the proper 'crosswording' name for these, but this is about breaking the words down into syllables to make a single word answer. Here's your starter for ten...
Monk in oxygen mask (6)
Containers... these are the nesting clues.
Doctor binds a fracture (3)
And so it goes on through Hiddens, Double Meanings,Homophones, Deletions, Alterations, Codes, Puns, Spoonerisms and more. It's all very Bletchley but the mysteries are revealed, and in amongst the explaining David Astle weaves a narrative about the crossword-setters, the fiendish crosswords themselves and their history and much more.
The perfect book for anyone who loves crosswords obviously, but also for anyone who loves words and what those words can be persuaded to do.
Oh alright, one last one but beware, it's fiendish so I'll give you a pointer, it's a reversal...
Pacific islander immune to revolution (7)
Try this easy one instead...
Chopper blade can spin either way (5)
Any crossword gurus out there??