In a world of movies, games, gadgets and countless other distractions, it can be easy to forget the simple joy of finishing a crossword. It’s a brain-draining, tease-fest that sends some solvers into a fit of rage. So who’s the genius/sadist who designs these block-lettered quizzes? Meet one of Australia’s leading cruciverbalists (real word) David Astle.
David Astle has spent years designing cryptic crosswords for readers of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to mentally wrestle with.
He goes by the alias “DA” in the paper every morning, and says that the hallmark of one of his puzzles is that it “looks relatively lenient” upon first inspection. When readers try solving the puzzles, however, it’s anything but a smooth ride for the brain.
“You find after the first look around that you’ve got one or no clues at all. But if you put faith in me like any solver needs to do in a setter, in the end I will deliver the answer, but you will need to swing the bat at that pinata nice and hard. I don’t spill my lollies easy!”
So does Astle have any advice for beating a notorious DA crossword? Not really, but he may have given up a secret in relation to his favourite clue when chatting with The Feed‘s Lawrence Leung:
“My favourite type of clue is an ‘And Lit’. The wordplay is literally the definition. For example, ‘I melt lard’. If you mix up ‘I melt lard’, you get ‘treadmill’, which literally melts lard! Those sorts of clues are the Da Vinci’s: the masterpieces you try to pursue.”
I wish my brain worked this way!
Check out the video above to hear more about DA, and how he has readers who get so into his crossword that two people developed a relationship out of it.