Find out what it takes to Become a Cryptic Crossword Expert!

by Carol Lee
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Becoming an expert on anything is no child’s play. It needs hard work, persistence, and diligence.  Training and practice are the keys to master any art, the optimum way to enhance any talent. Be it a sport, a musical talent, mind games, chess or anything else you need to put in some hard work to achieve greatness. Do you love to dabble in mysterious and enigmatic crosswords? Do you want to become an expert at solving cryptic crosswords? Solving cryptic crosswords is an art in itself that needs a lot of training and proficiency to master. You need the experts’ help to become an expert yourself.

You might have heard about the “10,000-hour rule”. Some cohorts of this rule believe that one has to train and practice any art for more than 10,000 hours to become an expert. But this rule is filled with flaws and is not exactly practical for most of the people. You might not have so much time to master your art. So, what do you do? Do not fret, we are here to help you become a cryptic crossword expert.

Find out what it takes to become a cryptic crossword expert

The role your genetics play

Various researches have proven that genetics play a crucial role in your abilities to master any art or talent. The probability of you undertaking the puzzle, putting in extra effort, excelling, and executing the activity heavily depends on your genetics.

Cryptic crosswords are quite different from your normal crossword puzzles. While the normal crossword puzzles need you to find simple synonyms, words or phrases, cryptic crosswords are specifically designed to delude and deceive you. Just reading and analyzing is not enough, there are grammatical clue codes in the instructions itself that need to be decoded first. This capability to see the coded clues and identifying the underlying meaning is not something that can be easily taught. You need to have the ability to track such cryptic information and use them to solve the puzzle.

Your genes need to be already equipped with the abilities to grasp the art or talent, which can be later enhanced through various processes. After lots of active researches and studies on this particular topic, it was found that people who have an affinity for maths and science are more likely to master the art of solving cryptic puzzles. One needs to have the ability to think flexibly and go outside the box to be an expert. If you do not have any such capabilities, even hours and hours of practice will fail to be of any use.

Know more about your fluid intelligence

Some scientific studies have determined fluid intelligence as a crucial factor behind people who are capable, efficient, and fast in solving cryptic crossword puzzles. So, what exactly is fluid intelligence? Fluid intelligence is basically your mind’s ability to jump through hoops while solving any problem. The mind has the ability to be flexible and adjust its capabilities towards a particular issue. It can bypass the unnecessary information and target the ones that are related to the problem, making the puzzle solving process easier and faster. Various studies proved that this capability is directly linked to people’s ability to untangle difficult, multi-dimensional, and cryptic clues.

People with higher fluid intelligence are more capable to identify, analyze, and solve the problem logically and quickly. They can grasp the complicated, misleading, and abstract concept in a better way. They are able to manipulate dates effortlessly as well as identify abstract information, faster and more accurately.

The University of Buckingham researched the topic by performing a detailed study on a group of 28 expert cryptic crossword solvers. The experienced cryptic crossword solvers were taken from all across the world and had decades of experience. Some of them were even elite crossword champions from various national as well as international competitions. All of them were given 45 minutes to solve the puzzle which was specifically designed to measure their fluid intelligence. Predictably, not only did they solve the puzzle within the time limit but also earned a high score in their fluid intelligence test. Each and every one of the expert cryptic crossword solver had high fluid intelligence which provided them with an innate aptitude for problem-solving. If you too are looking to become a cryptic crossword expert, find your fluid intelligence and learn more about your capabilities.

Are you an academic high-flyer?

An overall survey on all the cryptic crossword experts determined one common factor amongst them all which was their academic brilliance. Over 80% of them were found to be academic high-flyers with a university degree. The 12% of the crowd even had PhDs. The academic overachievers used cryptic crosswords to scratch their itchy brain and challenge their capabilities.

The research determined that most cryptic crossword experts were masters in the fields of mathematics, chemistry, computer, medicine, and more. Most of these people were deemed “super-solvers”, they could solve the toughest of puzzles in less than 15 minutes. While it is not customary for all the experts to be good in their academic career, but it definitely plays a major part. As cryptic crosswords heavily depend on logical, practical and code-cracking capabilities, these academic experts already have the skills to master the art of solving cryptic puzzles.

Loads of practice is the key

While we may have criticized the “10,000-hour” rule because of its rigidness, we cannot disregard the importance of practice. Yes, it is true that the more your practice, the more effective and fast you will become. It can help you solve even the hardest puzzles with effortlessness and ease. Solving even a couple crossword puzzles every day can contribute a lot in making you more familiar with the game. The continuous practice over the time can help you acquire a good knowledge about the rules, regulations, how to identify the clues and more.

While you do need other characteristics like high fluid intelligence, greater aptitude, and better problem-solving capabilities, practising regularly will enhance the skills and make you more efficient. Champions across the globe brag about their strict daily regime where they solve a significant number of crosswords puzzles every day. If you want to become an expert, make sure to keep your skills sharpened.

While being meticulous and thorough is crucial, one must not forget to enjoy. Remember working on your passion is always better than working on something that you do not enjoy. Putting too much pressure on your brain to find the answer will simply not help. Get your brain some breathing time and let it do its job. If you have the skill and capability to grasp the clues, no one can stop you from being the cryptic crossword expert that you always wanted to be.

About Author:

Carol Lee, is a crossword lover. She is fond of online crossword puzzles and love solving challenging word puzzle games. She writes for Wealth Words on different channels/platforms. You can find her interesting posts on:

Medium – Different Types of Puzzles You Need to Know About
Blogger – Have a passionate desire for Crosswords Challenge your mates here

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