Most newspapers, and many magazines have crossword puzzles in them; quite often there are two puzzles, a cryptic and a general knowledge one. I’m quite good at general knowledge, but I find the cryptic ones almost impossible – although one an answer is explained I do understand how it was arrived at.
I though maybe crosswords had been around for a long time, knowing how people like to have word puzzles and teasers going back to Saxon times and their riddles. However, I was surprised to discover crosswords are actually not that old – what we would think of as very basic word puzzles started appearing in the 1800’s, and at first just being for children. All changed when a crossword puzzle was published in 1913 by Arthur Wynne; his puzzle was just white squares but within the next ten or so years, the black squares were introduced. These puzzles, at first in American newspapers and magazines, and then crossing the Atlantic to Britain, were for adults as well as children. Soon, in Britain, the cryptic clues began to appear, and crosswords began to get more and more fiendish!
I’m no good at the cryptic, but as I mentioned I’m not bad at the general knowledge. The Saturday crossword in our paper is quite large, and some of the questions are very obscure… in fact we never manage to finish it. We never ‘cheat’ and look up the answers; only when we admit defeat do we then do some research and track down the mysterious solutions.
Here are some of the clues which defeated me today:
- also called a gate-keeper,a mainly orange coloured butterfly feeding on brambles, ragwort, wild marjoram and wood sage (5,5)
- Swiss —–; the national anthem of a country with no capital (5)
- item used in the game of taw (6)
- capital of the Correze department in south-west France (5)
- item worn as an amulet or charm (7)
- monetary unit of Indonesia (7)
- author of The Destructive Element; or a 1990’s drama starring Jimmy Nail (7)
Do any of the answers spring out at you? Did you manage to get them all right? or were you totally baffled, like me?
Here are the answers:
- hedge brown
Well, now I know, but I can’t imagine I’ll use any of them very often – although knowing the butterfly might be useful when we’re out in the country!