Beware the cryptic bug! Once you get a glimpse behind the seemingly baffling clues, an alluring realm of wordplay, wit and poetry is revealed.
And, while beginners can sometimes feel that cryptics are a bridge too far for their brains, The Saturday Paper’s resident cruciverbalist, Liam Runnalls (aka LR), promises that the key is simply learning a series of linguistic tricks. According to LR, “It’s like the first time you hear someone speaking pig Latin – it makes little sense. Then you learn the trick and, voila, you can understand perfectly.”
In the tradition of the late, great Mungo MacCallum, LR tries to infuse his puzzles with humour, wordplay and poetry to give readers plenty of “Aha!” moments. They will be accessible, but always with a handful of curly ones deliberately thrown into the mix.
But hang on, are cryptics really “poetic”? "When I was studying poetry at uni,” says LR, “I noticed a striking similarity between Emily Dickinson’s poems and cryptic clues. Ever since, I've held the art form in high regard.”
So, happy solving. After all, as Dickinson wrote, “Much Madness is divinest Sense!”
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Mungo MacCallum (1941-2020)
– The Saturday Paper’s crossword writer – was a political journalist and commentator and the author of several books.