Letters to LR - January 2019


Dear LR, in your opinion, what makes a perfect cryptic crossword clue?

– Dan, via email

To me it’s surface sense – the clue should make sense as a real series of words. A good test is to see whether the clue will return a search result when googled. For example, 1-down in today’s cryptic is found in this excerpt from a nature blog: “The element of surprise is the sparrowhawk’s secret weapon as it zips through the forest snatching unwitting songbirds from their perches”. 

A great clue misdirects the solver, contains interesting but fair wordplay elements and is likely to make you say aha or haha - LR

Dear LR,

Why don’t you make the blocks in the crosswords grey so those printing PuzzleMail can save money on ink?

– Brendan, via email

Dear Brendan,

Excellent idea. I have fiddled around with the image settings for the crosswords and found a way to make them an appropriate shade of grey. Solvers, please let me know what you think!


Dear LR,

My guilty pleasure is to roll a small joint and sit down to my weekly PuzzleMail and your 9-across in the classic (Issue #008) was absolutely fantastic. It’s a great way to solve them – I feel slightly more challenged after a puff and hence more proud of myself when I finish one!
– Anonymous

Editor’s note: 9-across last week was:

Bogan jailed - smuggled cannabis (5)

Dear LR,

Do your solutions on PuzzleMail really need to be upside down?

– Andy, via Twitter

Dear Andy,

Not really! The upside down solutions were a suggestion by a fellow reader who was concerned about seeing the answers to a prior puzzle before he’d had a chance to solve it.  Perhaps it’s a bit paranoid, but better safe than sorry? Or am I mollycoddling my solvers?

– LR