One thing I really like about crossword blogs, and particularly this one where there are serious solvers who take the time to be constructive, is that they give setters like me the opportunity to work solvers out. Every week I give you the task of working me out, but I don’t get as much of an opportunity to learn about how solvers tackle my clues. The more I know, the better my crosswords will be for you. Take last week’s most talked about clue in The Stickler Weekly 187, 20-down: Respect India’s crossword setter? (6) There were a number of different reactions, all providing me with insight into the people who posted comments. More than one mentioned that there was no indicator – I have never written a clue that needs an indicator without one, demonstrating, perhaps, that some setters don’t always use indicators and this practice has, wrongly, legitimacy in some solvers’ minds. Here is my blurb on hidden-type clues – I don’t write them like most other setters, believing a hidden-type clue should have the same two-part independence that other cryptic clues have. Another said that some setters use extra words in hiddens to make them read better – that’s just poor form and unacceptable in a Stickler crossword. Regular solvers, in my mind, would know this and look beyond what their brains are telling them and explore further. This tells me something about solvers: I should constantly reinforce the fundamentals in clues to make it clear what I believe is Ok and not. Here is my blurb on the use of “?”. It’s a grey area simply because I don’t think setters in general know how to use them properly and consistently. I never waver, yet in this clue the use of a question mark clearly caused confusion or at least didn’t have the effect that I intended it to have. There’s something else about this clue that some seem to have missed: the “‘s” in “India’s”. As a hidden-type clue it’s totally unnecessary to put it in UNLESS it has a purpose. It’s quite common for apostrophes, dashes, capital letters etc to be used in the fodder of the hidden word to disguise its presence (as I’ve also done here), but not in this part of the clue, so what is its role? For me, for “crossword” to operate as an indicator it has to point to part of RESPECT INDIA, so here the “‘s” is possessive. In other words, I’m asking for a word that crosses RESPECT and INDIA.
A couple of people quietly praised the clue which raises a smile as I know and they know there’s a simple but devious device at play.
Example: A indeed (?) could mean to insert A inside deed.