In ‘The Basics’ I said that there is really no such thing as ‘a’ cryptic clue. Well to be honest this type is as close as you might get to that definition. With the types we’ve looked at so far there was a ‘trick’ or a ‘hint’ to how the solution could be found and with many the answer can actually be ‘worked out’ without even knowing the meaning of the word or phrase that forms the solution. ‘Straight’ cryptic clues are rather more tricky.
I define a ‘straight’ clue as one where the solution simply fits the clue and there are no hints or tips along the way. This in itself is a good pointer to the straight clue type – if you can rule out anagrams, hidden words and so on then you’ve probably got a straight clue. Unfortunately, experience is really the best way to recognise this type and it can be the hardest to solve. Here’s a recent and very good example:
They may offer sea views (3,7)
Just the size of the solution should indicate that it’s not a hidden word and it’s also pretty easy to rule out an anagram for the same reason but there’s really no other hints or tips available. In this case, the solution is ‘bay windows’ and once you know that the clue becomes obvious and it’s this that makes straight clues so infuriating at times.
So, if there’s no hints and no way of working the solution out, how can you solve them? Well they can be hard, there’s no denying that. However most straight clue solutions do make sense so the best advice is really to try and think what sort of answers you’d give if you were asked a question based around the clue. In the above case we thought about where you might be able to see the sea and what sort of places offered views. We found this solution as soon as one of our group said that you saw views through windows so it’s that kind of thinking that’ll help find the solution.
There’s not a lot more that can be said about this clue type. They might appear to be the hardest of all as they offer no hints but in truth they can be among the easiest if the clue just catches your brain in the right way. In fact, more than once I’ve refused a possible solution because it seemed ‘too easy’ but it’s worth bearing in mind that very simple solutions do occasionally crop up.
I’ll let you decide where this one falls into the range of easy to hard…
One’s got one (10)
This is one of my all time favourite clues which probably means I need to get out a lot more. The first thing the clue suggests is that you’re looking for an anagram. Surely it can’t be a coincidence that ‘one’s got one’ is ten letters and we’re looking for a ten letter solution. This theory appears to be confirmed when the letter ‘o’ appears twice through other solutions.
The trouble is, there don’t appear to be any words that use these letters and the longer we were fixated on it being an anagram the further we got from the truth which is that’s it’s a particularly devious straight clue. The solution is ‘apostrophe’. Why? Because ‘one’s’ got one.