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In praise of easy crosswords - RTC3
Random Thoughts on Crosswords Cryptic and Concise + Recherché Times Crossword Clues Considered
In praise of easy crosswords
One of the regular Times for the Times bloggers entitled his entry for last Wednesday's crossword: "Times 25,115 - A Daily Telegraph Puzzle". I think he simply meant to imply that he'd found it easy (perhaps rather too easy for his taste), but if we're playing "word associations" then the word that I immediately associate with The Daily Telegraph (the newspaper, that is, rather than the crossword specifically) is "boring". This could well be grossly unfair as I can't have done more than glimpse at a Telegraph in the last 50 years (I switched to The Guardian when The Times was out of action in the early 1980s). I tried a few Telegraph puzzles when I was investigating what it was like to solve them online, but was so put off by the experience (as reported here) that I didn't really notice the crosswords themselves - the obvious conclusion being that they weren't particularly interesting.

Whatever. I've no objection to easy crosswords per se, particularly when they're as elegantly clued as last Wednesday's Times puzzle. The first across clue set the standard: "Son on plane tucked into extra snack (9)" (select between the square brackets for the answer [ELEVENSES]). This is a neatly constructed clue with a good surface reading. It may be easy (though I have to admit that I didn't solve it first time through), but I certainly wouldn't call it boring. There were easier clues (or ones I found easier - these things are highly subjective), but all of them had a certain charm; and, even though I was tired after a busy day, I enjoyed this puzzle very much. I get the impression that some Times for the Times bloggers / commenters equate "easy" with "boring" - but I don't.

This could be where competitive solvers like me have an advantage over more casual solvers. If a puzzle is easy and I solve it in a satisfyingly fast time, then I'm happy; if a puzzle is difficult enough to present an interesting challenge, then I'm happy. But I also think it makes sense for The Times to offer a wide range of crosswords from the very easy to the quite difficult: less experienced solvers need to be rewarded occasionally with a puzzle they can crack in under half an hour. And I'm aware that clues which old hands like me can solve at sight (perhaps having come across something similar in the past) will often appear fresh and original to the newcomer.

Current Location: Ealing
Current Mood: easily pleased

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