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Diabolically Arcane

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You Always Remember Your First - Hopefully

19 February, 2011

I know I do. The first time I cracked a Times crossword by myself, no reference books, no search engines (as you’d expect in 1976.) That would make me 15. I was on a Central bound train, heading off to the Easter Show to meet some mates, and I filled in the last Across before doing the Eddy Avenue bus shuffle. Yes, I was on cloud 9 all through the marmalade section, and even still on the Tilt-A-Whirl.

I kept the grid too, of course. Tacked it like a trophy on my bedroom corkboard, where it slowly turned yellow in direct sunlight, and curled up like a Dead Sea parchment. But every time I sat at my desk, I’d stare back at that memory of triumph. The whole grid completed. Gotcha, sucker!

So tell us your debut as a successful solver. Do you still own the snippet? Was it one setter in particular – an Araucaria, an NS, a Loroso – that had you clicking your heels when the last letter fell into place? Love to hear your boasts, with an eye to a future column.

Mind you, nobody is likely to trump a bloke called Ken. No surname supplied, but Ken sent an email to ABC Brisbane, on hearing the Fidler/Astle interview, and dished it out with both barrels:

Loved the interview with DA , only caught part of it live and podded the whole thing later. Have nailed to my billiard room walls several things , the pelt of the black feral cat that took three years to nail, the best target I’ve ever shot, but the best trophy is the two DA cryptics FULLY SOLVED without any help. Please tell DA that he’s a bastard (in the best Aussie vernac) Ken

So while we wait for Loroso to judge our best clues, tell us your cryptic moment of crowing. Carn, confess, we’re all addicts here.

Welcome to the new forum. Looks scary? It’s not. Feels iffy? It ain’t. The DisQus platform is here to block spam and lend us more chat options. That’s all. Please note, you don’t have to create a DisQus account to make a comment. If you do, however, it will speed your future visits. Be assured no details are abused, misused or reused. Let’s fight spam as one, and get back to the grand conversation. Thanks, DA

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Wordburger Awaits!

Welcome all puzzle-lovers, including any chompers of the Wordburger book or app. (Check them out if you enjoy words & trickery.) And if you still crave more alphabet mischief, click on the burger icon above for a fresh serve.



Packed with games, pickles, codes and cheesy puns, Wordburger is your chance to be a champion puzzler in 20 quick bites. Ideal for wordy kids keen to open a new language door, or grown-ups who want to cut their cryptic teeth. Click here. 

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Riddles in song, in code, in pictures. From Ireland & Wonderland, Einstein & Pompeii. Riddledom reveals 101 wry questions from 50+ languages & shares their secrets. A book to unlock culture via conundrum. Order here.

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Cluetopia roams the planet – and century – to find fresh crossword stories in 30+ languages. From shipwrecks to hoaxes, Cluetopia is a holiday for the head. Buy here.

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Riddledom Rave

If you missed my riddle chat with Richard Fidler, then feel free to slurp the podcast at http://ab.co/1I9t1x5

Text-speak is creeping into Scrabble. Where do you sit?
OBVS I'm fine with it
Entrenched stuff - like LOL and OMG - but no more.
Words With Friends, maybe. Scrabble, no
Let the 'real' dictionaries decide first
Just the handy stuff, like FAQ and EUW
I mean, WTF?! No way
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