The Perfect Cryptic Crossword?

In the UK recently, a number of readers of The Guardian newspaper expressed their dismay over the perceived difficulty of the publication’s recent batch of cryptic crosswords. Some readers spoke of ‘impenetrable clues that go on forever’ and that solving them ‘prompts groans of misery not delight’. One moderately heated letter hypothesised that the compilers ‘invent new rules to preserve their self-awarded intellectual power’. In the world of crosswords, this was no storm in a teacup.

 So what makes a good cryptic crossword? In the opinion of the experienced Lovatts team, it ought to present a challenge, but a fair one. It ought to enlighten, but not be an overt teaching tool. It ought to provoke a few determined sighs and some pensive pencil-nibbling, but not so much that it ends up crumpled in the rubbish bin.

 If you’re new to the cryptic game, you will need to know the conventions: things like commonly used abbreviations and anagram triggers. Most of these go back decades and are well known to seasoned solvers. When new clueing techniques using modern terminology are introduced, the upshot, as The Guardian is discovering, might be a bit of generational discord.

 But that doesn’t mean that cryptic crosswords should be simple. After all, an ‘easy cryptic’ could be considered an oxymoron of sorts. We believe that our cryptic puzzles here at Lovatts fall into the ‘challenging but solvable’ basket. We’re not aiming to baffle our solvers so much that they give up, but we do want them to think outside the square. Solving takes place during commutes or lunch breaks for many, so spending three hours cracking a single puzzle isn’t a feasible option most of the time.

 Recognising the roots of the cryptic crossword, we’re liberal with our British throwbacks: references to the Queen and pre-decimal currency, for example, and many of the other classic conventions. But we aim to appeal to new solvers, too, so we produce ‘easy cryptics’ for those just starting out. To keep up with current references and definitions we continually update our content. Finding that perfect balance is always a challenge, especially with the rapid evolution of the English language, but we reckon the job we’re doing is pretty on fleek.

 Should you get stuck on a cryptic clue, and you’re likely to, think of it as a learning experience. A new word or definition acquired through a crossword is a wonderful way to enrich your own vocabulary, and it’ll make subsequent puzzles just that little bit more satisfying. And satisfaction is the name of the game – you have to have fun with it!

 In closing, we’d just like to say: Get Hank Young to show words of gratitude (5,3)

 In other words: Thank you.

Not Your Grandma’s Crossword Anymore 

At Lovatts we think it’s time to dispel a lingering perception about the humble crossword. For too long it has been treated as a relic, positioned forlornly at the rear of a magazine, to be given attention only as a plan B for a rainy day. That - if it was ever true - is certainly no longer. The crossword is all grown up now, and imposing itself on a new generation of solvers around the world.

Where else, besides the humble crossword, are you likely to encounter Game Of Thrones, Criminal Minds, Ed Sheeran, and Pokemon Go all on the same page? Where else could you discover references to ‘Brexit’, ‘twerking’, and ‘unfriending’ sharing the same piece of real estate? It’s these sorts of entries that have been propelling the black-and-white boxes to new heights of stardom and diversity.  Crosswords are not just a doctors’ room distraction, they’re a way of sharing knowledge, celebrating change, and revelling in inclusions to our language and pop culture.

Our gang of content creators here at Lovatts Media exemplify this diversity. Obviously we all share a love of wordplay and the English language, but our outside interests couldn’t be more different: guitarist, golfer, hula-hooper, poetry writer, roller derby girl, equestrian, marathon runner, racing car driver, entrepreneur, and chorister are just some of the badges we wear outside the office. The Lovatts team spans the generations, too; from hipster-bearded twenty-somethings to beatnik baby-boomers.  This variety is important in ensuring rich and innovative puzzle content, perfect for modern day digital detoxers.

Of course, peppering a puzzle with contemporary references won’t necessarily ensure its success. Crosswords need to be thoughtful, respectful, and executed with the solvers in mind. Just because something exists doesn’t make it a great grid word or clue. Knowing one’s audience is paramount.

We love the challenge of staying relevant to all generations, and we love sharing the fun of words. Creating crosswords is our dream job and we’re excited that more and more people are re-discovering their love of crosswords too.

Calling All Cruciverbalists!

Lovatts Media is searching for a crossword compiler to join our team. If you love crosswords this could be the job for you!

Straight from the mouth of another of our lovely compilers - "Why should you apply for this job with Lovatts Crosswords & Puzzles? Perhaps my FB status from July 2012 might give you an inkling:
'I love it at Lovatts! I clued my first lads' puzzle yesterday, learned how to compile 4 x different (and new to me) puzzles today, 2 of which involve quotes (which you may have noticed I'm fond of), have another hand-compiled one to learn next week, put my hand up for some more writing-based prospects.'  Apply Now