So, it all started when Arwen called across the office one day, “Hey Dave, you like solving crosswords. Is there any chance you could compile one as a competition for Connect in Copenhagen?”
Little did she know that in my spare time, as a hobby, I compile Cryptic Crosswords for a couple of like minded friends. So I did it. I compiled a crossword that proved to be quite a challenge, and resulted in only two correct solutions. Maybe it was a bit harder than I thought, even though I ran it past my friends who thought it was well balanced for an audience of non-native English speakers who had never done a cryptic in their life.
Anyway, all of that said, time has passed, and there are some of you who want to know how it all worked. So, what follows is my attempt at explaining, along with the message that was hidden in all the letters around the outside of the puzzle. Where appropriate, I’ve underlined the “object word(s)”, i.e the thing that is being defined by the rest of the clue, which in crossword land should always be at the beginning or end of the clue:
8 Incite no confusion for dangerous chemical (8)
It’s an anagram (indicated by “confusion”) of INCITE NO. The object is “dangerous chemical”, which nicotine most definitely is.
9 Fish returns after exercise to find a legume (6)
A fish (TUNA) returns (backwards) at the end of the word, and it’s then placed after PE (Exercises as in Physical Exercises.) A peanut is a legume.
10 Augments like kestrel inside (4)
To eke means to augment or add to. The word is buried (inside) in “likE KEStrel”
11 Deceive Don? (3-2)
A double definition. To deceive is to put-on, and to put some clothes on is to don them.
12 Drive off footwear in the audience (4)
To shoo is to drive off. It sounds like (in the audience) “shoe”. Soundalikes are commonly called homophones in crossword land.
13 Maths topic got Emery muddled (8)
An anagram (muddled) of “got emery”, gives you the maths topic.
16 Choir confused my leading policeman? Beyond understanding! (6)
Quite an arcane word, which is why I’ve tried to make getting the answer fairly easy. Once all the cross letters are found O_P_I_ it should be possible to guess at it. Orphic means beyond comprehension or understanding. It’s an anagram (confused) of CHOIR and P (leading Policeman).
18 Old greeting a hero of yore used initially(4)
A way of saying hello on the high sees once upon a time – hence “old greeting”. It’s the first letters (initially) of A Hero Of Yore
20 Smallest thing queen takes to ship (5)
A quark is the smallest particle in physics (ignoring string theory of course). This is a word sum. QU (a common abbreviation for Queen) and ARK – a type of ship, as in Noah in the old testament.
21 Luxury car left, in my opinion(4)
Simple sum of letters. L (common abbreviation for Left as in L and R) and IMO – a common IRC chat acronym for In My Opinion
22 Bones are amusing to me, or so it’s said (6)
Plural of Humerus, or what we wrongly call the funny bone. This is a Homophone, or sound alike. It *sounds* like (so it’s said) “humour I”
23 Toff the french fellow made in to a peer (8)
Another word sum. A synonym for Toff is NOB; “The” in French is “LE”; and Fellow=MAN. A peer is a nobleman.
26 Jobs old computer following (4)
Geek industry alert! After Steve Jobs was fired from Apple in the late 80s he formed a company called NEXT which made a leading edge computer that the current Macs owe a lot to. So this is a double definition: “Steve Jobs old computer company” and “following”
8 Relative number girl follows (5)
Common word for grandmother (relative). N is commonly used as an abbreviation for Number, and the girl that follows is ANNA.
30 Iron sailors plant (4)
FE is the chemical symbols for Iron and RN is the acronym for the Royal Navy, and a fern is a plant.
31 Pin old English on the way back in the wind (6)
Again, obscure word, but it is derivable from the clue. It’s an alternative spelling of Aeolian, which means of or pertaining to the wind. The clue itself takes NAIL (“to nail” is synonymous with “to pin”) then common abbreviations for Old (as in Old Testament = OT for example) and English (as in Oxford English Dictionary = OED) and reverses them from NAIL-O-E to EOLIAN
32 Little energy girl returns after worker gets transmitters (8)
OK. So now we’re into real cryptic crossword land. One of the classes of ants are workers, and this is commonly referenced in cryptics. Also, E is the common abbreviation for Energy (little energy) as in e=m*c^2 in Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. So it’s: E and ANNE (the girl) backwards (returns) and then put after the worker (ANT). The object here is obviously transmitters.
1 Gastropod victory over returning elk (6)
This one caused the most confusion, and was responsible for Mathieu thinking that I was smoking my breakfast. A winkle is a gastropod. This is made up of WIN (victory) on top of (over – this is a down clue, so direction is important) ELK going backwards (returning)
2 Ages of late onset (4)
Eons is synonymous with a long time (Ages). It’s buried: “latE ONSet”, and the “of” indicates that it’s buried.
3 Weak film on mollusc (6)
A limpet is a type of mollusc. Another word sum: LIMP (weak) ET (film – ET The Extraterrestrial)
4 Common Era real time? Sure! (4)
A cert is a “sure thing” in racing terms. This is from common acronyms: Common Era is the politically correct form of Anno Domini and in computing Real Time is often abbreviated to RT.
5 What we do is also ornamental (8)
Openwork is ornamenteel needle- or metal-work. This is a sort of double definition. What we (Linaro) do is Open Source Work.
6 Heavy service (4)
A simple double definition. MASS as in weight and MASS as in a Church service
7 Arrange our emu pie without energy element (8)
Europium is a trans-uranium metallic element in the periodic table. It’s an anagram (Arrange) of “our emu pie” without one “e” (that abbreviation for energy again)
14 Dismay because inside it’s possible (5)
Another buried word (inside): disMAY BEcause. Maybe=possible.
15 Time new ache (5)
The time span of 365 days (YEAR) and N as a common abbreviation for New. To yearn for something is also to ache for it.
17 Beat bean for example (5)
Double definition. A pulse is a beat or rhythm , and a bean in food terms is a type of pulse
19 Use photo to organise roof (8)
An anagram (organise) of USE PHOTO. Housetop is another word for the roof of a house.
20 What now Latin nosey parker? (8)
Quidnunc is a Latin phrase that translates as “What now?” but is also a word that means someone who sticks their nose into other people’s business.
25. Alexander: “Right, I will also go inside for a bag with breath in it!” (3,3)
Answer: AIR SAC
An air sac is a small pocket (or bag) in a lung that contains air (breath). So the clue is a reference to our own Alexander. Take ASAC and insert R (the abbreviation for RIght, again as in R and L) and I to get AIR SAC.
27 Group time? Capital! (4)
A trio is a group of 3, hence the “group”. It’s made up of the traditional abbreviation for Time in physics (T) and RIO, the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, and the second largest city in Brazil.
29 Sounds like my grandmother’s bread (4)
A homophone (sounds like) of a short form of NANNA, NAN, is the Indian bread that people love to have with their curries: NAAN bread.
30 Bowl type? (4)
Double definition. A font in a church is a kind of bowl, and a font in typography is a type face.
And once it’s all solved, the letters around the edge, reading from the top left and going clockwise:
“Welcome to Connect in Copenhagen”
I sincerely hope this helps. I hope that on the back of this some of you will seek out cryptic crosswords. They really are mind expanding. My vocabulary has massively increased since I started doing them because there are often worlds you don’t know, but when you’ve worked them out you will know them forever because of the effort you had to expend.