# Fifteensquared

## Tips For Solving Alphabetical Jigsaw Crosswords

Posted by Admin on November 26th, 2011

The following is a copy of a blog written by PeeDee for an Araucaria puzzle that appeared in the Guardian on 19/11/2011. It contains useful tips for those who have not met this type of puzzle before (scroll down to below the main body of the blog if you don’t want to read the clues, answers etc.).

Guardian Prize Puzzle 25,484 by Araucaria
Posted by PeeDee on November 26th, 2011

To me this is absolutely classic Araucaria – an alphabetical jigsaw with great clues cutting a swathe through general knowlegde, and taking some Araucarian liberties in the process. Not an easy solve but a very satisfying one. A real pleasure to solve and blog, thank you Araucaria.

A nice feature of this puzzle (that passed me by completely) is that the clues are in rhyming couplets. Thanks to bridgesong for pointing this out.

For those new to alphabetical jigsaw puzzles they can be quite daunting so I have included some tips on how to get started at the end of this section.

### How to get started on alphabeticals jigsaws (for beginners, old hands skip straight to the comments)

The key to filling an alphabetic grid is getting the first few words in correctly. We start by trying to place a single letter in the grid by looking for a place in the grid where two words start with the same letter: in this case we find the top middle square begins both an across solution and a down solution, which means both entries must start with the same letter. A quick glance through the clues shows that only the ‘S’ clue can provide enough words of the correct length to go here, so we can write the letter ‘S’ into the grid.

Now we must solve the S clue to have any real chance of progressing. If you can solve it straight off then great, but what if you need a bit more of a help from some crossing letters? How do we progress?

We can start by grouping the solutions by their letter count as so:

12: C M 10: P E 8: A B G H I O T 6: J N Q V X Z 5: D L 4: F U Y K

We don’t know whether the S solution is entered across the grid then down, or down the grid then across, the 8,4,3,8 letter count will fit both ways. Start by looking at the three letter word, the two possible positions mean that it either starts or ends with A,B,G,H,I,O or T. From these letters make a guess the three letter word is either THE or AND. The only way this fits is if we go down then across, otherwise the E or D of THE/AND would begin an 8 letter word, and we can see from our list above this is not possible.

Next, we see there not many 5 or 9 letter words, and the across solution cross two of these, so there are only two possibilities for these letters. Similarly we can narrow down two more choices where the solution crosses 8 letter words, though with more options.

Hence we can guess/deduce the solution is of the form:

S _ _ _ _ _ * _ / _ _ _ _ / THE or AND / S _*_ L-D _ E-P _ where *=A,B,G,H,I,O or T

This is not a perfect start, but a hell of a lot better than nothing. Playing with the possible combinations for the final word we guess at ‘shoulder’, and then the rest of the clue falls into place.

Once this is written in the grid we now have places for more words as the first letters are now defined. Note that we can also immediately write D and P into the grid, as there is now only one remaining place for them to go. We now have definite places for eight solutions in the grid (S O L E H T D and P) and we are on our way…

### 3 Responses to “Tips For Solving Alphabetical Jigsaw Crosswords”

1. Stella Heath says:

Well done Gaufrid for responding so promptly to what was looking like a general request.

2. Pasquale says:

These tips are very good, but could make the task look more daunting than it is. Looking for an across/down first-letter intersection is a good starting point obviously. Then it’s a matter of proceding logically through the possibilities, linking lengths with possible staring letters. A case where a student’s applied intelligence and understanding plus experience will trump any teacher’s careful instructions!

3. stumped says:

I got started by solving most of the 4 & 6 letter words and quickly filled the NW corner. Solution for S came about halfway through. First time I’ve encountered an Alphabetical. Very satisfying.

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