I don’t solve other cryptic crosswords nearly as much as I should. It’s not that I fear getting “out of touch” with what other setters are doing, it’s more that I do get out of practice from a solving perspective if I don’t solve regularly. For me cryptic crosswords don’t need to, and shouldn’t “evolve”, as they aren’t just catering for the same solving group over time. If they were, solving cryptic crosswords would be an almost impenetrable pastime, with an ever-increasing level of difficulty to appease the regulars. Surely clues can be difficult without requiring the solver to make impossible leaps?
Here are two clues from a recently published local crossword that I’d like your opinion on.
Target rival craft at a distance? (5) Here the definition is well disguised (although faulty), and so the wordplay should be such that the solver has a reasonable chance of using it to solve the clue. The clue’s answer, KMART (which is not a rival of Target as they are owned by the same parent company), requires the solver to take “craft at a distance” and come up with “km (kilometre) art”. IMO, this is only discernable in hindsight, that is, after the clue has been solved, which is contrary to how I believe cryptic clues should work. I can’t see any way of taking “craft at a distance” and coming up with “km art”. What do you think? Here’s another: Click “H”? (3,2,3) Here the solver really has to solve the clue as a straight one, with the definition being “Click”, then take any prospective answer and see if somehow it fits with “H”. Is this a cryptic clue? Can “H” lead the solver to the answer? Does this clue provide two ways to the answer? The clue’s answer, HIT IT OFF [hit (with) it off], is doubly hard due to the tense of HIT. What do you think?