A cryptic crossword is a special type of crossword where the clues are not straightforward definitions of a word, but consist of various forms of wordplay that obscure the meaning you're looking for.
For example, whereas in a standard crossword the clue for Raisin might be Dried fruit (7), in a cryptic crossword you might get something like Dried fruit is found in the wet season (7).
The definition is still there, but it is hidden by a whole lot of other (apparently pointless) infromation.
The challenge then becomes trying to figure out which part of the clue is the definition and which part is designed to throw you off the scent.
Normally cryptic clues have two parts:
The job of the solver is to decide which bit is the definition and which is the subsidiary, and then to solve the clue.
In the above example "Dried fruit" is the definition, and "is found in the wet season" is the subsidiary.
So how do you solve it?
Well, the wet season is the rainy season, or the "Rains"
And the subsidiary also tells you that "is" is "found in" the wet season, so obviously you get raISins (is inside rains).
Confused? Do not worry!
There are (a few) rules. For example, the definition will normally be found at the end or the beginning of the clue.
And there are types of clues and techniques to solve them.
Also, there is a lot of redundancy in the system - when you get an answer that fits all parts of the clue, it is very rarely wrong.
But beware: Clues are written to make grammatical sense, but only to confuse you! Also, do not pay much heed to punctuation - it’s normally just a red herring.
In the next few pages you will find guides to some of the most common clue types and how to solve them: