Puzzle blogs are websites where teams of experienced solvers post the answers to newspaper puzzles, together with explanations of the clue wordplay. The sites are run by enthusiasts and access to them is free of charge.
A valuable resource for improvers
Puzzle blogs are valuable learning resources for improvers, because of the wordplay explanations provided and the regularity of publication.
They are available for some of the more challenging puzzles and a few of the intermediate puzzles appearing in national newspapers. Puzzles at this level of difficulty are not generally suitable for beginners, but if you are already familiar with the different types of wordplay and competent at solving easier puzzles, then they are a great way to up your game.
Blogs and the puzzles they feature
There are three puzzle blogs that cover the UK 'Quality Press':
- Fifteensquared — offers the biggest range of puzzles, covering those published in The Guardian, The Independent and the Financial Times. The Observer Everyman and Guardian Quiptic puzzles are also featured, and these provide useful stepping stones to the more challenging daily puzzles.
- Big Dave's Crossword Blog — is focussed on the Telegraph newspaper. It covers (in increasing order of difficulty) the Sunday Telegraph, Telegraph and Telegraph Toughie puzzles. Nice touches on this site are the liberal addition of topical diagrams within the wordplay explanations, and a 'Click here' button next to the wordplay explanations to reveal the answer.
- Times for The Times — blogs the Times Crossword, but also covers the less challenging Times Quick Cryptic crossword.
Puzzle blogs for cryptic crosswords published in newspapers outside of the UK include:
How to use puzzle blogs
Try to do as much of the puzzle as you can first of all. Then when you can make no further progress, consult the blog when the solution is published. Check the clues you got stuck on and also any where you couldn't see the cryptic reading even though you were confident you had the right answer.
How to get help with puzzles that are not blogged
If you are stuck on a clue from a puzzle for which there is no regular blog, you could try posting the clue on sites that serve as hubs for questions and answers.
There is a crossword section in The AnswerBank that solvers regularly post to, and anyone can reply. You are almost sure to get help, but the wordplay explanations may not be as clear as those published on the specialist crossword blog sites.