I've got back into dosing myself on the hardest of the hard cryptic crosswords (well, of those available in NZ). They are the Kropotkin crosswords which are in the Weekend Herald. When I'm high on them, I'll proclaim them as the most spectacular challenge to the intellect; and solving them as akin to godliness. Naturally they are neither, but such exaggeration is indicative of how much I'm enjoying them.
It is not just that they are a more difficult; it is that some of the answers are obscure words that you may not have even seen before. The compiler creates words occasionally. This week the answers that I have got so far feature: frescade, theeing, Frenchman's Creek, chorpoda and hircine; and last week featured: gormenghast, dilutee, trencherman, grimwig, neath and chinwag. Of the other answers, few are 'normal' words. Useful knowledge this week included knowing that 'inch' was another word for an island, 'fell' was an old word for a skin or hide, 'magister' is the latin for master, two greek letters (chi and mu), a Maori Major of the past and the names of indian tribes. Almost all the clues are so carefully crafted so that you can look at them for hours before they are unlocked. It is truly a puzzle that can keep you occupied throughout the week.
Currently I have four clues remaining, gnawing at me (from the 26 in the beginning). The only other person I know who does them has already got all 4 of them, indicating they are not completely impossible. The only saving grace is that I have got one he hasn't got. Anyway, just to demostrate a little of the wonder:
Correspond with me after letter got from overseas (5) Answer: CHI+ME 'Chi' is a greek letter, and to Chime in is to agree or to correspond!
Ravel - A french composer of hits about the first century (8) Answer: Un+sti(t)(c)h 'Un' being french for A and ravel not just being the name of a French composer but also a word meaning to undo! So intricate and well crafted.
I can't wait till Saturday to finally 'get' the remaining clues and get another set of the finest challenges.