A personal take on the best dozen Times crossword clues from the last 5 years
Part of a -part series of blogs

Posted by Andy Brown on 11 December 2017

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4th position (from puzzle number 26734)

Construction clues can be quite contrived, but are the staple of many cryptic crosswords.  But get them right, and they can make the solver sit back in admiration.  Consider this clue:

Possible description of wife, with clothes on: large (6-3)

It's all down to the surface reading, of course.  Here we have a perfect snippet of text, which (like all good clues) puts an image in the solver's head which bears no relation to the answer (in this case COMMON-LAW).

Even experienced solvers could spend a minute or two trying to work out why this answer is correct (even though the answer so obviously fits the letter count and the definition Possible description of wife).  The insight you'll need is that the , in the clue should be read as COMMA.  Thus the clue divides into two parts:

Part Clue Notes
Definition Possible description of wife COMMON-LAW
Wordplay comma with clothes on: large COMM-ONL-AW

Oh, and you'll need to know that L is a common abbreviation for Large, and W for With!

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