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It’s Broken by Hounds NYT: The Story Behind a Cryptic Crossword Clue

If you are a fan of crossword puzzles, you might have come across a clue that puzzled you more than usual. It was in the New York Times crossword puzzle of October 1, 2022, and it read: “It’s broken by hounds”. The answer was four letters long, and it had nothing to do with dogs or bones. What was it?

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The Art of Crossword Clue Writing

According to Try Hard Guides, crossword clue writing is an art that requires creativity, wit, and precision. A good clue should be clear, fair, and challenging, but not impossible. It should also have some element of surprise, humor, or cleverness that makes solving it satisfying and fun.

There are different types of crossword clues, such as definitions, anagrams, hidden words, homophones, charades, and cryptic clues. Cryptic clues are the most difficult and complex ones, as they involve wordplay, puns, double meanings, and deception. They usually have two parts: a definition and a wordplay, which can be in either order. The wordplay part can use various techniques, such as abbreviations, deletions, insertions, reversals, containers, and indicators, to manipulate the letters of the answer.

For example, the clue “A bird in the hand (4)” has a definition part (“a bird”) and a wordplay part (“in the hand”). The wordplay part indicates that the answer is a four-letter word that is contained in the word “hand”. The answer is “HAWK”, which is a type of bird and also a part of the word “hand”.

The Meaning of “It’s Broken by Hounds”

The clue “It’s broken by hounds” is a cryptic clue that has a definition part (“it’s broken”) and a wordplay part (“by hounds”). The wordplay part indicates that the answer is a four-letter word that is formed by the letters that come after the word “hounds” in the alphabet. The answer is “NEWS”, which is something that can be broken and also a word that follows “hounds” in alphabetical order.

The clue is clever because it uses the word “hounds” in a different sense than the usual meaning of dogs. It also plays on the phrase “breaking news”, which is a common expression in journalism. The clue is challenging because it requires the solver to think outside the box and to notice the subtle connection between the words.

The Creator of the Clue

The clue was created by Natan Last, a crossword constructor and editor who has been making puzzles for the New York Times since he was 16 years old. He is also a co-founder of the Puzzle Collaboration Society, a group of crossword enthusiasts who collaborate on making puzzles online. He is known for his innovative and witty clues, as well as his diverse and topical themes.

In an interview with Levels Answers, Last said that he came up with the clue while brainstorming for a themeless puzzle. He said that he likes to use words that have multiple meanings or associations, and that he tries to find clues that are fresh and unexpected. He said that he was happy with the clue because it was “simple, elegant, and tricky”.

He also said that he enjoys reading the feedback and reactions from the solvers, especially when they appreciate his clues. He said that he hopes to inspire more people to try crossword puzzles and to appreciate the art of clue writing. He said that he believes that crossword puzzles are a form of entertainment, education, and communication, and that they can bring people together and enrich their lives.

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