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The Hidden Benefits of Solving Cryptic Crosswords.

The use of the word “cryptic” to describe cryptic crosswords is somewhat misleading. The OED defines cryptic as “secret; mystical; mysterious; obscure in meaning; enigmatic”. Of these synonyms, “enigmatic” is possibly the most appropriate. For this reason, the OED has a separate entry for the word to describe “cryptic” when used to describe a crossword specifically, suggesting it is “not straightforward”. “Enigmatic” works best because it suggests a puzzle – something you have to think about. The answer is always there, it just needs unravelling or working out. Indeed, Alan Turing used such crosswords to recruit cryptographers to help solve the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park. Solving such crosswords brings a wealth of benefits. They are fun and keep the mind active and can be a genuinely rewarding experience to complete. What is less obvious is the amazing effects they can have on a person’s mind and her/his ability to think critically about what is written in a clue. Such clues need to be solved using a variety of analytical tools, which involve a kind of “language algebra”. A good “cruciverbalist” (crossword solver) can be anybody, from a scientist to an artist or a linguist to a geographer. It is simply a question of honing in the analytical and critical thinking skills required to see pattern, a hint or some clear indication of what needs to be done using the language given and to play around with the clue to get to the “hidden” solution. Many university courses require critical thinking skills for their courses – especially the most competitive courses at the most illustrious universities and an ability to solve cryptic crosswords can make a huge difference to an individual’s thought process and ability to look for ideas, make connections and reach a solution under pressure more easily. It also improves one’s English language skills. We can offer tutoring in such skills, via crossword solving lessons, at Minerva. An example would be as follows: Class (7) Class remains out of order (7) The first example is straightforward = another word for class. But that could be anything until other letters (from other answers) are inserted. The second has a very clear solution to a mind trained in the critical thinking skills required to solve a cryptic crossword. The words “out of order” mean the letters in the word “REMAINS” are literally “out of order” and need to be rearranged. The answer then becomes obvious = SEMINAR. An ability to look at language in this way has untold benefits to students of all ages and of all academic disciplines. For further information about how Minerva Tuition can help your child, please contact Valerie Weston on: Email: Phone: +852 6156 5705. We would be delighted to hear from you.

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