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Solving Aids And Solving Crossword Clues

When it comes to solving crosswords, where do you stand on the debate with regard to using solving aids?

Some people think that there is something "wrong" with using solving aids - in the very particular sense that it is a form of cheating, whilst for other people it is just common sense, and doesn't count as cheating at all. People tend to divide into one particular camp: where do you stand? Let us know in the comments field below.

Certainly most people, at some point, will have used some sort of solving aid. Some draw distinctions between different levels of assistance.

The least contentious is usually the use of a tool to look up an anagram answer: when you have the letters CRATE then you can use an anagram finder online to instantly see that this is also an anagram of react, trace, caret and more besides (bonus points for working that out!) These tools are particularly useful for longer anagrams that can be quite tedious and time consuming to try and solve by hand, and far from enjoyable too.

Next up in level is probably the word suggester: this is where you enter C?A?E into a tool, usually online website, and then it tells you all the words that fit - like crate and craze and so forth. Some people think using an anagram dictionary or solver is fine but that looking up words is cheating, as effectively you're just looking for the answer rather than really thinking about what it could be.

Considered also cheating by some is the use of synonym dictionaries, particularly with quick crosswords, where you can find the answer for most clues just by looking it up in the synonym dictionary. What's this word for quick, that's five-letters long? Look up 'quick' in the thesaurus, and you'll find 'rapid' fairly, well, rapidly - and that might just be the answer.

Of course there are a range of other aids available - from simply looking at the solution to using tools online such as the Wordy Puzzle tool that tells you if you enter a letter incorrectly in the grid: not something that many people would consider to be cheating, but perhaps some purists do.

Which solving tools and aids do you use, and do you consider it cheating? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.
Date written: 30 Apr 2015

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