Cryptic Crosswords

From CrosswordUnclued.com’s Tackling Cryptic Crosswords: 7-Step Guide For Beginners:

1. Know The Clue Types– Cryptic clues may be tricky to interpret, but they are not vague. There is logic and method in the way each clue is crafted; you only need to know how to read it right. The first thing to do is to learn about cryptic clue structure and types. Click here to find a list of cryptic clue types and tips to solve them.

2. Spot The Anagrams and Hidden Words – Anagrams and telescopic clues are usually the easiest to crack. The posts on How To Spot Anagrams and Digging Out Hidden Words tell you more about these clue types. Skim through the clues to identify these first, fill them in and see if you can get the crossing words next.

3. Crack The Long Ones – Check if you can get the long ones on sight. Really long words or phrases are sometimes easier to solve. If you get these into the grid at first go, you get plenty of crossing letters to help with the rest of the puzzle.

4. Guess Words – Make the most of crossing letters. If the grid has V?O???? for a word, there is a narrow selection of words that fit there. Think up some and then match them against the clue. VIOLENT? VIOLETS? VIOLATE?

5. Identify The Definition – In a clever puzzle, this may be difficult to do. Till you build on instinct and experience to help, the common rule is: the definition is either the first word/group of words, or the last word/group of words. Try each of these as definitions one by one, see if the solution fits in with the rest of the clue.

6. Fill In Word Parts– The answer to the clue must match with the part of speech and tense of the definition. So, if you’ve identified that the definition is “exploited” but don’t yet know what the exact answer is, you still know that the answer will be in past tense, and will most likely end in a “D”.

7. Keep At It – Solving cryptic crosswords does not require extra-ordinary abilities. If you have decent vocabulary and a fair knowledge of trivia, all you need more to master cryptics is familiarity. If you don’t get the hang of it in the first few tries, don’t despair. Take the grid with its solution and go through the clues to see how they work. Fill in a few words into the grid, then try the remaining once again with the crossings. Visit solving communities – see the links under “Solving Sites” on the sidebar of this page. Be patient, be persistent. As with any other skill, to excel you must practice – there are no short-cuts!

If you’ve been trying to solve for some time without much success, this might be of help: More Tips For Solving Cryptic Crosswords.


For examples, check out:

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Checkers

1. Learn The Rules


2. Basic Tips & Mistakes To Avoids

Play your men toward the center of the board in a wedge-shape formation. Each advanced checker should be backed up so that the ranks are solidly massed. You can then attack your opponent on any weak side. If your opponent controls the center of the board, it is generally wise to attack and exchange pieces (provided they are amply backed up). This lets your capturing men take over the center squares. The key squares are 14, 15, 18, and 19 (see Figure 2 ). The strongest opening move is 22-18; the weakest is 24-20.

In general, avoid moves to the side of the board. This handicaps a checker as it subsequently can move only in one direction—away from the side. Occasionally it’s okay to move to the side when you can set up your opponent for a two-for-one shot trap or to avoid being jumped without a return exchange jump.

The single corners are squares 4 and 29. The double corners are squares 1 and 5, and 28 and 32. Play from your single corner and attack your opponent’s double corner. Keep your double corner as strong as possible as this is the easiest place for your opponent to make a king. If the double corner is vacated, the opponent player can easily slip in from 28 to 32 or 5 to 1, making a king and escaping back out the same way. Players often find themselves trapped, however, if they make a king in the single corner square 4 or 29. For example, if red is on 21 and 30, black can move 22, 25, and 29, making the king. While black is being crowned, however, red can remove the bridge checker on 21 to 17, and by doing so trap the black king.

Contrary to common belief, it is not a good strategy to hold all four king-row squares in order to keep your opponent from making a king. Doing so lessens your strength since you will have less men to attack with. Instead, defend your king row with only two men; leave a man on every other square starting with the double corner. For red these defense squares are 1 and 3; for black they are 30 and 32. With this defense it takes two checkers for your opponent to make a king. For example, if red stays on 1 and 3 and vacates 2 and 4, black needs to first build a bridge by placing a checker on 10 to keep the second checker from being jumped as it moves into 2 to make a king. Getting two checkers safely down board for this maneuver takes precious time, giving your opponent a chance to come from behind and attack with his or her own king.

When you are a checker ahead, it is wise to judiciously exchange jumps to reduce forces. Whittling down the total number of checkers on the board reduces the number of possible moves and the chances of your making a mistake and losing your checker-ahead advantage.


3. Learn The Common End Game


4. Practice

  • Download Checkers Free on Android by AI Factory Limited, choose difficulty level ‘1’ and start practicing, going up one difficulty level when you start winning at least 50% of your games. Play one game per day. (To learn how you can make playing one game per day into a habit, read here)
  • Use the undo button and learn from your mistakes.

Rubik’s Cube

Introduction

Solving the Rubik’s Cube is something that seems impressive but is actually pretty banal once you’ve learnt how to do it. It’s not smarts, it’s learning algorithms. It definitely becomes more difficult if you start doing in competitively or blindfolded etc., but normal solving is simple, as you will see.

Factoids To Sound Smart

  • Invented by the Hungarian architect, Ernő Rubik.
  • Originally, known as the magic cube.
  • It took him a month to figure out how to solve it.
  • There are over 43 quintillion possible configurations.
  • World Record is 5.55 seconds.

(The tutorial given below is one of the easiest ones for beginners with the simplest and least number of algorithms. If, however, you are uncomfortable with it, a simple Google / Youtube search should get you something else. Alternatively, you can check out the Reddit tutorial, linked at the end.)

Step 1: Make a Cross on the Top Layer

Step 2: Solve Top Layer Corners

Step 3: Solve the Second Layer

Step 4: Make a cross on the Bottom Layer

Step 5: Position the Bottom Cross

Step 6: Position the Bottom Corners

Step 7: Solve the Bottom Corners

Minesweeper

Introduction

The objective of the game is to clear a rectangular board containing hidden “mines” without detonating any of them, with help from clues about the number of neighboring mines in each field. Rectangular, hexagonal, 3D, circular and triangular variations exist. [Wikipedia]

Step 1: Learn The Clicks

  • Single Left Click on unopened tile
    • Opens a tile
  • Single Right Click on unopened tile
    • Marks a Tile as a Mine
  • Double Right Click on unopened tile
    • Marks a Tile with ‘?’
  • Left and Right Click Together (called ‘chording’) on opened tile if atleast one adjacent tile is marked with a flag
    • Opens all adjacent tiles except those marked with a flag

Step 2: Understand The Numbers

  • The number in any tile indicates the total number of mines present in the 9 adjacent tiles.

Step 3: If a number is touching the same number of squares, then the squares are all mines.

Step 4: Understand The Patterns

Step 5: If you have to guess, just guess. Thinking doesn’t improve chances.

Step 6: Learn where to click first.

Step 7: Remember, the game ends when all safe squares are open, not when all mines are flagged.

Step 8: If you accidentally click down on a mine, slide onto a different square before releasing the mouse button.

Step 9: Learn to use the 1.5-click to chord faster

Step 10: Do not use Questionmarks.

Relevant Websites / Links:

Chess

Don’t move the same piece twice (at least early on). Tempo and development is very important.

Learn about openings, and pick one to use as your standard. The best ones have already been figured out, and provide a “base” that is very well protected but will also allow you to attack efficiently. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel with them – they have been perfected over the history of the game. Playing from the same opening every time also makes for fewer possible moves to consider – so it’s easier to pick good ones. And you’ll run into the same situations over and over, so you learn what to do and what not to do in that situation in the future. You essentially have a standard plan, and have an idea of how you want to trap the king, and you just practice that in every match. So you’re following a well rehearsed plan instead of just reacting to what your opponent is doing.