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Cryptic Clues That Refer To Other Clues

Clues that refer to other clues in the grid are quite common when solving cryptic crosswords, and also occasionally appear in quick crosswords, although less often.

In the latter case the referencing is usually quite straightforward, such as simply an answer that is split over several answer runs, so we will focus here on the former case, the clue that refers to other clues in cryptic crosswords.

These often appear where there is a theme, and it is not uncommon for a setter to make this a feature of a puzzle with several clues that reference a particular answer.

In most cases, the key to solving these puzzles is to work out as soon as you can the answer to the clue all the others refer to, so that you have a chance of making good progress with the puzzle.

As an example, the answer to 7 Across could turn out to be "novel", and then lots of clues in the grid will be something like "7 - cryptic clue here". Thus '7' will actually mean that the answer is a novel, and be the straight part of the clue, and so the puzzle will end up with the names of lots of books in it.

People tend to either love or hate such puzzles. Those who love them tend to enjoy cracking the theme, and admire the ingenuity of the setter in being able to construct a grid that has so many themed answers in, and often long ones at that.

Those on the other side point out the flaw: until you get the link, the puzzle can be deeply unsatisfying and hard to break into. Once you've got the link, the puzzle can suddenly become very easy, as you have a big head start on solving many of the clues in the grid.

What are your thoughts on crosswords that have lots of answers that refer to a particular answer in the grid - do you like this style of puzzle and the themeing opportunities it provides, or do you feel it has more negative points than plus points? Do share your thoughts below. Or perhaps you've seen a particularly good and creative use of referential clues - if you have any good examples you'd like to share, then again please do so below.
Date written: 20 Apr 2015

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