I am greatly intrigued by the cryptic crossword, but I find it entirely beyond me. The easiest example I could find, aimed specifically at beginners, has left me stumped; and the Guardian’s crossword is so obscure that, after looking at the answers, I cannot make sense of them even in retrospect. Either I am spectacularly Missing Something, or else there is a severe lack of beginner-level cryptic crosswords.

So I decided to write my own.


Some of the clues fall on a spectrum from nearly straight to somewhat oblique to deliberately misleading. Others may be particularly simple examples of standard cryptic-crossword techniques, including homophones, acrostics, anagrams, defining the word multiple times in a single clue, and a sort of verbal rebus.

It is my hope that most or all of these should at least make sense in retrospect. Nevertheless, the answer page includes an explanation of each clue.

Parts of this puzzle might be considered PG-13.


This puzzle is also available as an .eps file.

crossword puzzle

Across

1 The foundation of a good entree (4)
5 A poison (5)
10 A magazine cover treats a topic too briefly (5)
15 Mount when you hear me count (4)
16 Cutting short a surgery changes the theater (5)
17 Western entertainment (5)
18 This group heads up California’s latest area newspapers (4)
19 You may be driven to stop here (5)
20 Newly included (5)
21 Lamplighter (8)
23 Things to work on (5)
24 Double-sided (6)
25 Ladies’ common titles (4)
27 I hear a relative is an unwelcome picnic guest (3)
29 Mongols make sauces from plaque (7)
33 Confuse a sentient hen for fractions (11)
38 Incite a wager (4)
39 A singular start to opening new enterprises (3)
40 With 39-Across, makes ready for time (4)
41 Something extra comes in a boat (5)
42 Faces covers (5)
44 A worker that scrambles to refuse (4)
45 The white ball is a signal (3)
46 A cure without fondness makes opposition (4)
47 They say grumpy payments bear witness? (11)
50 I hear this fruit might make you lose hope? (7)
52 Hold the vessel (3)
53 What ends well is put into the princess’s distress to produce a plaintive cry (4)
55 The queue for the Salvation Army bring medical supplies (6)
60 I hear a small butt might be something of value? (5)
63 Clued doc scrambles to be covered up (8)
65 Customer service specialist (5)
66 Hawaiian mixers become common (5)
68 Sinker without ice is a mountain (4)
69 Leet doodz look down on those more handicapped (5)
70 At home on the stovetop (5)
71 Don’t drop it (4)
72 Lets fall buildings (5)
73 Prunes the bushes, sharpens the boundaries (5)
74 Conveyance might be extended by General Electric (4)

Down

1 They say physicians are at the wharf (5)
2 The water’s not where you plug in (5)
3 Gaze at the way up, they say (5)
4 Not an offer (5)
5 An unknown person adds unity, I hear (7)
6 Get down off from there? I think not (4)
7 Measured? Not again, but measured. (5)
8 Our sounds exist? (3)
9 Workout helps Calvin get in character then? (11)
10 Marker (6)
11 Mine’s celebrity makes Polaris (8)
12 Uneven chance with ends (4)
13 If sleek, drop the late starter to look around (4)
14 Soap bubbles have a change of heart, become turfs (4)
22 Eats on a lazy-susan for somewhere to sit (4)
26 Enjoys (3)
28 The hottest stars get high (11)
30 Counters (5)
31 Sounds like a writeup of the show (5)
32 Fashions lose something when they become pigpens (5)
33 Not angry, just wandering (5)
34 Stupid is one less than crazy (5)
35 Traditional birdhouses (5)
36 Cutting the heart out of the point of faces creates objections (4)
37 Knight’s pace starts the reign of terror (4)
43 Prepared a herring to be 47-Down (8)
47 Famous fighter (3)
48 They say shellfish are the source of strength (7)
49 This cat’s owner is a rarity (4)
51 When I hear about where sacrifices are made, it changes me (6)
54 No guy confused is not old (5)
56 Slippers (5)
57 I lay out cards the best way (5)
58 This messenger has resolve (5)
59 Trimmed (5)
60 Change the head of the night birds and find tools (4)
61 A hash with the start of a hat rules (4)
62 I hear addition doesn’t get everything (4)
64 If you take the top off this enclosure, you’ll discover an era (4)
67 In this adage, you might feel down (3)