Advice for beginners

This page provides some general advice for people who are interested in learning how to solve cryptic crosswords.

It explains the difference between cryptic and quick crosswords, and what is involved in learning how to solve cryptic clues.

The difference between cryptic and quick crosswords

There are various different types of crossword puzzle.

Two of the most common types are:

  • quick crosswords
  • cryptic crosswords

Quick crosswords
You don't need any special knowledge or skills to attempt a quick crossword.

The answer to each clue is another word or phrase that means the same as the clue.

Cryptic crosswords
You do need special knowledge to attempt a cryptic crossword. This is because cryptic clues contain hidden instructions that tell the solver how to arrive at the answer. You need to know how these instructions work in cryptic clues, and develop the skill of solving them.

Anyone who can solve clues in a quick crossword should be able to learn how to solve cryptic clues. Having access to an effective learning resource is going to be a great help.

Example crosswords

 Type of crossword   Documents  
 Quick crossword  puzzle  solution
 Cryptic crossword   puzzle   solution 

 

Learning how to solve cryptic crosswords

Solving cryptic crosswords is fun to do and gives the brain a good workout.

Anyone who can solve the clues in quick crosswords should be able to learn how to solve cryptic clues. Learning is involved because cryptic clues are written in a form of code, and you need to understand how cryptic clues work and develop the skill of solving them.

Learning any skill is a process which takes time and application, and this process is much easier for beginners if they have access to effective learning resources – whether this is face-to-face teaching or a book, or ideally a blend of both.

For many people, a book is going to be the most practical learning tool available. The quality of the book will depend on the teaching skills and experience of the author, and their expertise in designing learning content.

A book for beginners should start with the simplest ideas and easiest types of clue to learn, and build in stages to the advanced aspects of the subject. Each topic should be followed by exercises designed to reinforce the key learning points. This approach makes learning easier.

Find out more

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 Learning how to solve cryptic crosswords   612K   A more detailed account of what is involved in learning this skill