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The 8 best Times Crossword anagrams of the last 2 years
Many of the Times Crossword's clues are things of elegance and beauty, but these 8 anagrams take clue-setting to a new level. See if you agree (and if you can solve the clues without peeking at the answers!).

Posted by Andy Brown on 26 July 2022

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The 8 best Times Crossword anagrams of the last 2 years

Loyal readers of this website will know that I'm a fan of the Times crossword (I've blogged about it in December 2017 and again in May 2020).  I thought it was time to offer up my 8 favourite anagram clues from the last 2 years or so.

Structure of an anagram clue

There are many different types of cryptic crossword clue, of which an anagram gives perhaps the simplest structure to understand.  An anagram clue consists of just 3 parts: a definition, an anagram indicator and the anagram itself, with the additional constraint that the definition must come at the beginning or end of the clue. 

The real beauty of a good cryptic clue is that the surface reading (what it would initially seem to be about) tells an amusing story, but has nothing whatsoever to do with how the clue should be correctly interpreted.

Here's an example of an anagram clue from a previous blog, to give you the idea:

Example clue

How cute - an instruction to cook dinner!

Now let's read that again:

Restated clue

The definition is shown in blue, the anagram in red and the indicator that you should shuffle letters around in green.

This gives the answer to this beautiful clue: EMBALM (what you get if you make a stew of the letters in ME LAMB, and what you do when you make a mummy).

My 8 favourite recent anagram clues

See how many of these you can work out.  The trick is probably to try to find the anagram indicator first (the instruction to jumble letters), but be warned that good clues like these are often harder to solve than mediocre ones (the answers are below should you want to cheat).

Position Clue
Player's brief decision targets game (5,10)
7 You need pros and cons re-evaluated (6,6)
6 Wind that's icy - a feature of the continent? (8)
5 Matches used when building is in flames? (10)
4 Scott's problem? Dashing to be first (9)
1= Rent dockland garage in secret (5-3-6)
1= As the Orange Order is to RUC? (7)
1= Old head saw parent after work (6)

Before the answers, here's a picture of a pensive-looking cat:

Neo the cat

The only purpose of this picture of Neo is to prevent you seeing the answers to the clues without having to scroll down.

And here's one of Annie at the same window, I think:

Annie the cat

Another gratuitious picture to fill in space.

 

Answers and Explanations

So here are the answers to the clues: the definition is shown in blue, the anagram in red and the indicator that you should shuffle letters around in green.

Position Clue Answer
Player's brief decision targets game (5,10) STAGE DIRECTIONS
7 You need pros and cons re-evaluated (6,6) SECOND PERSON
6 Wind that's icy - a feature of the continent? (8) CHASTITY
5 Matches used when building is in flames? (10) SEMIFINALS
4 Scott's problem? Dashing to be first (9) FROSTBITE
3 Rent dockland garage in secret (5-3-6) CLOAK-AND-DAGGER
2 As the Orange Order is to RUC? (7) CITROUS
1 Old head saw parent after work (6) TREPAN

The last 3 clues are just about perfect:

Answer Notes
CLOAK-AND-DAGGER Who would have thought that DOCKLAND GARAGE was an anagram of CLOAK-AND-DAGGER?
CITROUS The clue looks like it is to do with Northern Ireland, but it turns out that Orange belongs to the definition and Order is to be used as a verb to change the sort order of letters!
TREPAN The word saw is presented as a verb but interpreted as a noun, the definition is beautifully concealed and the anagram indicator (that the letters of parent should be given after work on them) superb.

My hope is that this blog will inspire you to subscribe to the Times cryptic crossword, IMHO the king of cryptic crosswords (I'm not an influencer, and don't get paid to advertise the crossword - I'm just a lifelong fan).

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