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

Posted by Andy Brown on 11 December 2017

You need a minimum screen resolution of about 700 pixels width to see our blogs. This is because they contain diagrams and tables which would not be viewable easily on a mobile phone or small laptop. Please use a larger tablet, notebook or desktop computer, or change your screen resolution settings.

10th position (from Sunday Times puzzle 4698)

The Sunday Times crossword differs from the weekly Times puzzle in two respects: it's allowed to reference living people (there's a convention for the weekly puzzle that no person's name can be included while they're still alive); and the setter is named.

My favourite setter is Dean Mayer, who also composes crosswords for the Guardian under the sobriquet ANAX.  At 10th place in my list is this gem from him:

Depression of jet-setter? (5,3)

Many of the finest clues are the simplest ones, and it's certainly true that the shorter a clue is, the harder it is to compose usually.

The answer is BLACK DOG (this was what Churchill, among many others, used to call the depression which sometimes overcame him).  But also:

  • JET is a synonym for BLACK; and
  • SETTER is a type of DOG.

The ingenuity of this clue comes from the fact that JET-SETTER is a standard expression in English.

The question-mark in this clue is necessary because there are lots of other types of dog: so a dog could be a setter, but could also be a labrador or a chihuahua or a doberman pinscher ...

Other clever double-definition clues like this:

Puzzle Clue Answer Notes
1146 Radio or TV (6) TRANNY That's TV as in TRANSVESTITE
4755 Unconditional love, OK? (8,4) ABSOLUTE ZERO Read it as 0 degrees Kelvin and it makes sense (love is a sports term for zero, of course)
26460 Take in? (4-4) HALF-INCH If you take something, you half-inch it, and half the word INCH could be IN.
This blog has 0 threads Add post