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Online Guide to the Engima

Preface to the Guide
History of the NPL
Membership Information
Sharing the Puzzles
      Sharing the fun
      Combining Talents
Composing
Editorial Verses
Flats
      Acrostical Enigma
      Alternade
      Ambigram
      Anagram
      Antigram
      Apt. . .
      Backswitch
      Baltimore Deletion
      Baltimore Transdeletion
      Beheadment
      Bigram. . .
      Brookline Letter-Change
      Change of Heart
      Changeover
      Charade
      Combination Padlock
      Consonantcy
      Curtailment
      Deletion
      Diastichal Enigma
      Double-Cross
      Dropout
      Enigma
      Enigmatic Rebus
      False derivative
      FWNFR
      Group flat
      Head-to-Tail Shift
      Heart Transplant
      Heteronym
      Homoantonym
      Homoconcominym
      Homonym
      Homosynonym
      Interlock
      Letter Bank
      Letter Change
      Letter Shift
      Linkade
      Literatim
      Metathesis
      Mutation
      Mynoreteh
      Order Takeout
      Overloaded. . .
      Padlock
      Palindrome
      Phonetic. . .
      Phrase Shift
      Picture. . .
      Progressive. . .
      Rebade
      Rebus
      Redro takeout
      Repeated-Letter Change
      Repeated-Letter Deletion
      Reversal
      Reversed. . .
      Riddle
      Sound Change
      Sound Shift
      Spoonergram
      Subade
      Suber
      Switchback
      Telestichal Enigma
      Terminal Deletion
      Transaddition
      Transade
      Trans-Cross
      Transdeletion
      Transpogram
      Transposal
      Trigram. . .
      Welded. . .
      Word Deletion
      Word Substitution
      Solving the Rebus
      Browse the Flat Pages
Introduction to Forms
      From A to O
      From P to Z
      Form Modifiers
Cryptograms
      Constructing Medium Crypts
      Solving Cryptograms
      Other Solving Approaches
Extras
      Solving Cryptics
      Composing Cryptics
      Observations
Reference Books
Constitution
      Bylaws
Glossary
Supplements
      Non-Guide Flats
      Non-Guide Forms
      Non-Guide Extras
      Where to Find It
      Form Notation
      Italian Picture Puzzles
      Abbreviated Guide to Flats
      Mobile Guide to Flats
      Submissions
Errata


© Copyright 2013 by
the National Puzzlers' League
 Some Obsevations on Cryptics 
By Hot

[an excerpt from his article “Cryptic Thoughts”]

The appeal of a good cryptic crossword stems from the rich, multidimensional web of word relationships and connections. This web has three components: the clues, the diagram, and the puzzle’s gimmick (or theme). There is a lot of redundancy here: the clues provide two ways to get the answer, the diagram offers one-half or more checked letters, and the gimmick often provides additional information about some answers.

Cryptics could be too easy, given this wealth of overlapping information. A good puzzle should seem nearly impossible at first, but provide ways to progress that make the solution possible. At first, only some of the web is visible. As the solver advances, each additional part revealed adds to the total available information. The art of construction is to find ways to hinder the solver’s progress without making it impossible. There are three parts to this art:

  1. devious clueing
  2. gimmicks that tamper with the usual clueing routine (for example, a letter added or omitted from the wordplay)
  3. gimmicks that present obstacles to entering the lights into the diagram

Fairness requires balance. Square-dealing principles and diagram standards help provide a framework for construction. If some information is taken away by the gimmick, more information has to be provided elsewhere. For example, if some words are unclued, information is taken away; but if those words are all related by a common theme, information is given back. If some clues are eccentric, others should be familiar; if an answer is obscure, its clue should not be.

I would like to suggest that the following clueing rule is the only one we need: the clue must read grammatically and correctly, at both surface and cryptic levels. This is the essence of “square dealing.”