Kosman and Picciotto on their Nation puzzle, cryptic crosswords, wordplay and puzzles in general.
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A new Nation puzzle appears on line every Thursday, and we will be posting several hints here on the following Monday. Today is our first trip to Hinter Land, focusing on Puzzle #3229. We’ll try to provide help on clues for some easier clues to help beginners learn the ropes, as well as guidance to help more experienced solvers get past one or two thorny clues and finish the puzzle.
If you are new to cryptic crosswords, we have two documents to help you get started. First, check out our introduction to cryptics; you might print that and have it by your side as you solve. (It would be even better to have an experienced solver at your side, but alas, that is not possible for everyone.) Second, here is a talk that Henri gave a few years ago to a group of Italian puzzlers.
We will read all your comments, but we may not be able to give more hints in a timely manner. However, we encourage you to post your questions here, and perhaps another solver will help you. When giving hints, the only restriction is to avoid out-and-out giving an answer. Solvers who don’t want hints should not read our Monday posts!
We will discuss this puzzle again on Friday, after the solutions have been revealed. Now on to this week’s hints.
15A By the sound of it, passes out tricks (6)
“By the sound of it” tells you that there’s a homophone in this clue. Think of a word meaning “passes out” that *sounds like* one meaning “tricks.”
23A Repair a slab at the foundation (5)
“Repair” is a common indicator of an anagram, and the fact that the next words total five letters—the same length as the answer you’re looking for—confirms it. You should “repair,” or rearrange, the letters in A SLAB to make a word meaning “at the foundation.”
3D Minimum ale a stein can hold (5)
This is a container clue; the answer appears directly in the clue, interrupted by spaces.
6D She twirls exotically in some American paintings (9)
This is an anagram.
Here are nudges on some of the puzzle’s trickier clues:
1A H in an isolated location (6,2,7)
This is not a standard cryptic clue. We will discuss this type of clue at more length in a future post, but for now, know that the definition is “an isolated location.” The “H” on the other hand, can be thought of as being clued by the answer. In other words, for that part of the clue, the solution works backwards.
27A Boxer, switching truth value, gets more drunk (7)
In formal logic, “truth value” refers to TRUE and FALSE. Here, we are thinking of the corresponding abbreviations. The definition is “more drunk.”
4D Best (or sunniest, at first) setting for a picnic (8)
This is a three-part charade. In the cryptic reading, “Best” is a verb.
Your turn to ask for and offer hints!