The Stickler Weekly Insights 197 – Hit and Miss?

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?

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4 Responses to The Stickler Weekly Insights 197 – Hit and Miss?

  1. Richard Sternes says:

    Would never have reached either those conclusions
    & would not have felt rewarded & satisfied if somehow, I did.

  2. Greg Mansell says:

    I’d tell you what I really think, but this is a family blog. So, to put it cleanly: They’re both #@&*ing terrible clues, and the constructors don’t know what the #@&* they’re doing.
    “Hit it off” would be acceptable in a cryptic wordplay to derive “H” – but going in the opposite direction is ridiculous.

  3. Arthur Maynard says:

    This was an interesting exercise. Clues like these are the reason I abandoned my daily crosswords from the Courier Mail and the Warwick Daily News. One rotten egg spoils the whole barrel.
    Without crosses, I would have no hope of getting either solution. I agree Kmart is not a Target rival. There is also the question whether this clue would universal. Are there Kmarts all around the world? I would question whether art is an adequate substitute for craft. They are generally recorded as Arts and Crafts.
    As for Click the less said the better. Interestingly I gave this clue to my advanced crossword group for comment. As I did not believe we had the time to reason it out, I also gave them the answer. Three said it was a good clue (looking at it with hindsight), I admitted she had no idea how to work it out, and struggled with the explanation, and two had no comment, so I suspect they were in the same boat as the last mentioned.