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Goneril’s father is LEAR – don’t worry if you didn’t know this, it’s the kind of thing we have in our glossary.Then, LEAR goes around THE (article) to produce the answer LEATHER, a noun synonymous with hide. The astute observer knows that whenever a conjuror says ‘Look, nothing in my hand’, the real business is likely to be taking place somewhere else, like the magician’s other hand. One must fight the temptation to look where the compiler is directing our attention. Bells might ring at that point, leading to the notion that, in that context, a ‘set meal’ is in fact a TV DINNER.Example: 'Set meal' (2,6) This is a familiar phrase describing restaurant fare. Remember, the crossword clue has to be synonymous with the solution (or at least be strongly suggestive of the answer) so the compiler will be very wily in using the only tools available to the craft: disguise or misdirection, usually both at the same time.Once we are on our guard that we might be being misdirected, the last thing we should think of is a restaurant! EQUIPMENT FOR THE JOB The beginner really needs to have a handful of reference books handy. Of course, there will be expert solvers who will pride themselves on finishing a broadsheet cryptic with no use of aids, but these lucky people must be a minority, an enviable elite.Regular mental exercise is just as important as daily physical exercise and several prominent doctors have extolled the virtues of the crossword habit in staving off the ravages of age on the brain.THE NATURE OF CRYPTICS Crosswords can be classified broadly into two groups.

Although I use assorted dictionaries, thesauruses, reference books and so on – it was when I realised my own file had become not only my first means of attack when facing a virgin grid, but also my most-used source, it occurred to me there was a book in it that could be useful to others. BACKGROUND The story goes that the first crossword appeared in an American newspaper (the Sunday edition of the New York World) at the beginning of the last century.

In that situation even the delights of TV, radio and records began to pall and, in frustration, I turned my attention to the cryptic puzzle in my daily paper.

Up till then I had never given the wretched, impenetrable thing more than a glance.

Firstly there is what is called the definitional type.

They are easily recognized because their clues are usually short and their solution calls for knowledge rather than language manipulation.

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