Home

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
 Cryptograms: Other Solving Approaches 
By Sibyl et.al.

Cryptograms are often deliberately constructed to outwit a single solving method: it’s not hard to write a message, for instance, in which Q’s and Z’s have higher frequencies than E’s and T’s. But it’s impossible to disguise every telltale characteristic of the language and still be writing meaningful English.

Titles can suggest words that may be in the text. The title of the Hindu nastika thumps mridanga . . . crypt above was “Atheism rewarded.” If you look up atheist in a large crossword-puzzle dictionary, you’ll find nastika and other words; trying nastika in all the possible positions will quickly lead to a solution. Similarly, faced with a hard crypt titled “Old fanfare,” you might start by checking out the names for old trumpets.

Prepositions are the hardest words to hide. As Ajax suggests, try from, with, into, and so on.

Some solvers look for pairs of words with many letters in common.

Somewhere the crypt must have a noun plus a verb; therefore somewhere there’s a likely -s -- either at the end of a plural noun or at the end of a singular verb (faun grabs or fauns grab). Or there will be a past-tense -ed. Constructors may disguise plurals and past tenses (children, seraphim, fish; brought, spent, came), but these variations are limited, and the disguises are penetrable.

Crypts tend to be limited in syntax. The first three words of a crypt, for example, are frequently adjective, noun, and verb (as in Hindu nastika thumps . . .)

The hardest crypts often begin: adverb (often -y), adjective (often -ic), noun, and then verb plus adjective and noun object (Weirdly myopic faun grabs prim maid). Try that pattern; try it also without the opening adverb (Myopic faun . . . )

Use the crypt’s punctuation to help solve. If, for instance, the mark after maid, above, is a comma, the next word is probably a verb referring to the subject, faun: . . . grabs prim maid, dances hotly.

But if it’s a semicolon, the next word is likely to be a noun, often a synonym for maid (grabs prim maid; damsel squirms). Or the word following the semicolon may be a new, third noun (grabs prim maid; chaperon slaps).

There may be another adjective first: grabs prim maid; squealing damsel squirms; or grabs prim maid; watchful chaperon slaps . . . .

The word preceding a colon is often result, upshot, object, or an equivalent. Similarly, you can make assumptions about a word preceding a quotation mark or a comma plus quotation mark.

For more solving hints, read the article on construction.

As Ajax suggested, keep trying. One right guess at a word can solve a crypt that seemed impossible a minute earlier. Even a wrong guess may have two or three correct letters, enough to set off a chain of reasoning that leads to the solution.