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Cryptic Crosswords provoke debate at latest Academic Scholar session

Cryptic Crosswords provoke debate at latest Academic Scholar session

English teacher Ben Richards gives you a rundown of what occurred during his Academic Scholar session on the theme of Cryptic Crosswords.

Recently, the Academic Scholars have been learning all about the joys of cryptic crosswords, the most fiendish brand of mind teaser. 

Anagrams, double definitions, homographs, hidden clues, charades, homophones... cryptic crosswords have them all (and more).

We started the session with a cryptic crossword on the board.  This was the first time any of the pupils had been presented with this particular type of puzzle, and there was head-scratching and debate aplenty.

"Rip off sheep's clothing (6)" puzzled a Year 10 girl. "Why would anybody want to do that?"

A Year 7 boy replied "Disturbed citrus fruit (5)?  I am beyond flummoxed."

After the wailing and gnashing of teeth had died down somewhat, Mr Richards (our resident school magazine cryptic crossword setter) donned his academic gown, put down his cup of tea and took the stage. 

With professorial aplomb, he started to unravel the mysteries of the form for the young people.

"The key to a cryptic crossword is in understanding that the definition must come at the very start or the very end of the clue.  The rest of the words are really directions for how the letters come together to build the answer."

And so the pupils learned that if citrus is LEMON, disturbed it makes MELON, and that FLEECE answers both rip off and sheep's clothing alike.

By the end of the session, the room of erstwhile bamboozled ponderers was transformed into a burgeoning hub of industry and clue-cracking.

"Penny drops - it held hidden dangers (8)?  It's got to be PITFALLS," chimed one penny dropee.

"TRAPS! - Greek city almost brought back snares (5)" exclaimed another delighted sleuth.

The session ended with small groups of huddled treasure-hunters unlocking the grid in the school magazine.

Another striking success for the scholars at "A mix-up!  Sorry and help our school. (5,7)"

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