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[ See the solution from our
January-February 1999 issue ]

Also see Instructions, How to Decipher Cryptic Clues, or a larger, printable version of the grid and clues.

1 Figure out only around five
2 Be on the lookout for odd rot in friend
3 Chick in drag?
4 Degree application; corrupt practice
5 Put off about that other school down the street
6 Sticky about face, doc
7 Wiser umpire keeps back
8 Observe the sibilant boils
9 Arrangement upset, altered
10 Rugby formation right in the mud
11 Wings in the fashion of the east
12 Sound, correct practice
13 Ale might turn to stone
14 Novel kind of language
15 Hearing next made of dirt
16 Assembled, stated (in which Harvard is)
17 Ye Gods! Architectural curves!
18 Lightheaded in drinking spree mixer
19 Harvard less a ruffled badger
20 Square measure section
21 Wrong road, right passion
22 Cute craftiness
23 Set askew in back door, came to rest

1 Bone broken, run in check
2 What's funny is keeping part of psyche in cigar box
3 Moderate mood
4 Buchanan-Fitzgerald joint
5 Meal hall muddle
6 Turning skins for 40 winks
7 Born the 13th, waits
8 Writer pens beginning of Plague on college grounds
9 Out on a limb? Time for grass
10 Maybe another storm feast
11 Throaty sounds--like from the lowest ranks of society
12 Sounds--like burning a supply of guns
13 Apply oil to ailing nation
14 Mailer has Passover feast around first of November
15 Counts mountain passes
16 Regular army serving of edible root
17 Property conveyance act
18 Noble cut of beef
19 Lot more quaver
20 Say! Swell cloth for a suit
21 Homo sapiens period run
22 Holy bag color


Guess the words defined by the cryptic clues (words vary in length from four to eight letters), then enter them in the grid one after another in the same order as their clues, starting in the upper left corner of the left section and filling it entirely before proceeding to the right section. Across words that don't end at a right margin continue on the next line; down words that don't end at a bottom margin continue in the next column. Any across or down word that doesn't end in the lower right corner of the left section continues in the upper left corner of the right section. Eleven across words and 11 down words won't fit in the grid unless one of their letters is removed. Those 22 letters, taken in order, spell an appropriate five-word phrase.

Readers able to solve this puzzle are invited to send the correct solution to "Puzzle," Harvard Magazine, 7 Ware Street, Cambridge 02138. On November 20, a blindfolded editor will draw one from the pile of solutions received by that date. The puzzler so selected will receive a copy of senior editor John T. Bethell's Harvard Observed, a lavishly illustrated history of Harvard in the twentieth century. The name of the winner and the solution to the puzzle will appear in the January-February issue.

How to Decipher Cryptic Clues

A word or two of explanation for those unfamiliar with cryptic clues. Cryptic clues have two parts: a definition of the answer word and some wordplay. The definition is the same as you'd find in any standard crossword puzzle and consists either of a synonym or a brief descriptive phrase. The wordplay may take any of several forms: a second definition; a pun, anagram, reversal, or homophone; components, embeddings, enclosures, or codes; or a combination of two or more such devices. The two parts are combined in no special order and with a conscious intent to confuse, but cryptic clues have none of the ambiguity of standard crossword-puzzle clues because word play and definition independently confirm the answer. Here are examples of each.

Two definitions consists in simply stringing two definitions together, usually without punctuation, to form a misleading phrase. (Punctuation in a cryptic clue is also meant to mislead; your best bet is to ignore it completely.) The word flag, for instance, can mean either "to signal" or "to get weak." A cryptic definition, therefore, might be "get weak signal."

Anagrams are rearrangements of the letters of the answer word and are always indicated in the clue by words such as "changed," "edited," "strange," "crazy," "odd," and the like. Take the clue "enraged, disturbed, furious." The only possible answer is angered. The clue tells you in effect that if the letters of enraged are "disturbed" (that is, anagrammed), they lead to a synonym for "furious": angered. Although three other anagrams of enraged are possible (derange, grandee, and grenade), you know that angered has to be the right answer because of the synonym "furious."

Reversals are words that, spelled backwards, form other words. Reversals are always identified as such. If the clue reads "get beat when game turns around," it means that golf turned around leads to the answer flog.

Homophones are two words that sound alike but are spelled differently. They are identified by hints such as "sound of," "spoken," "heard," and so forth. The clue "hear appeal of victim" gives the answer prey because it sounds like pray, while the clue "sounding brass is a sign of something" yields symbol because it sounds like cymbal. (Note that "sounding" here does double duty.)

Components means that the answer word is made up of shorter words; in such cases the clue will define both the answer word and its components. For example, the clue for farthing, whose components are far and thing, could be "money a distant object."

Embedding means that the answer word consists of one word embedded within another. For example, if you insert rows in bed, you get the word browsed, an appropriate clue for which might be "casually examined lines in the sack."

Enclosures are words contained within longer words or phrases. You will immediately recognize "city in Czechoslovakia" as oslo, although it may take you a moment's reflection to realize that the clue "from gust or mistral comes a tempest" has the answer storm (gust or mistral).

Codes are single letters or letter combinations that, in general usage or in specialized fields such as music, science, mathematics, and the like, stand for specific words. shack may be thought of either as s plus hack or as h embedded in sack. Now, s is often used as the abbreviation for "south" or "southern," while h in chemistry is the symbol for hydrogen. Thus, two distinct definitions are possible: "southern writer's humble dwelling," or "bag with gas found in cabin." The latter is admittedly a bit recherché, but puzzle words are not always cooperative and sometimes require rough handling.

Puns require no explanation, but if you see the clue "dollars for quarters," think rent; and if you ponder long enough over "had enough heggs," you'll surely get exasperated (eggs aspirated).

Illustrations by Lynne Foy

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