I’ve scripted this topic in the form of a conversation between you, the reader and me, the author.
Your part of the conversation is mentioned in blue.
Me: Here is a clue
A pair (3)
You: On reading this clue, what should we do?
Me: Think of an answer. Ha, yes...there are a few ground rules to be followed for getting the answer.
Answer is always a word or phrase. (For now, let’s consider it as a single word)
No. of letters comprising the answer is always mentioned in parenthesis at the end of the clue. (In this case, it is a 3 letter word)
Answer is always the meaning or synonym of the clue.
You: Ok. Answer for the clue A pair (3) can either be TWO or DUO, because both are 3 letter words and both can mean “A pair”
Me: You are right. Easy one, right? Now, let us look at this clue
A pair of artworks (3)
I added just 2 more words! Now, what’s the answer?
You: Can the answer again be TWO or DUO?
Me: For the above clue, only one of the above is correct.
Me: Because clue has now become complex due to inclusion of few more words to the clue and therefore additional ground rules apply.
You: This is getting cryptic. What are they?
Me: Answer is always the meaning / synonym of “a part of the clue”.
Let us name this part of the clue as “Question”.
You: How to identify the question?
Me: Here lies the challenge! Generally, it is either at the beginning or end of the clue. It can be a single word or a string of words. But for now, let us consider it ‘to be learnt with experience’.
In this clue “A pair of artworks (3)” let us assume “A pair” is the Question.
You: What is the purpose of the remaining part of the clue?
Me: Remaining part of the clue is used to get the answer. It also helps in pinning down that specific word in case of more than one possible answer.
Let me name this part of the clue as “Help”. We need to use “Help” to get the answer.
In this clue, take the Help of “of artworks”
You: How does the part of the clue “of artworks” help in getting the answer?
Me: One of the meanings of “A pair” is TWO. The word “Two” is embedded in the phrase “of artworks”. So, TWO is the answer and not DUO.
You: Is the answer always embedded within a Cryptic Clue?
Me: Not really. That depends on the type of Cryptic Clue. Let us call this type of clue as Cryptic Clue Type “A”.
You: Are there different types of Cryptic Clues?
Me: Yes…we will discuss them with specific examples in later posts.
Summary of General Ground Rules for Cryptic Clues
Answer is always a word or phrase.
No. of letters comprising the answer is always mentioned in parenthesis at the end of the clue.
Answer is always the meaning / synonym of a part of the clue.
Answer is derived by using remaining part of the clue.
Hint for Clue Type “A”: Answer is hidden within the clue itself!
Let me recall one of the statements I made earlier….
Me: In this clue “A pair of artworks (3)” “A pair” is the Question.
You: What if we assume “of artworks” as Question?
Me: Let us say your assumption is right. Now, using rest of the clue, think of a meaning/synonym for the phrase “of artworks”
You: I have no clue!
Me: I can understand. That is because your assumption is wrong. Because, by using rest of the clue, it is not possible to get a word that can relate to “artworks”. Hence, this part of the clue cannot be the Question.
Wanna try answering a few clues? ....Click CA 1 to CA 5
Cryptic Clues posted here are a part of "Play with Words" section in this blog. Few other sections that I've created in this blog include "Nostalgia" "Mangala's Potluck" "My Paintings" Poems, Creative Writing etc.
To read my first post in this blog, click "My First Post"
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