I recently set the ‘question paper’ for the Hindi Word Games General Championship (GC) 1 at IIT Bombay. Here are the links to the question set and the solutions. As part of the competition, I decided to put in a round of Hindi Cryptic Puzzles. Cryptic Crosswords are very popular in English, but haven’t got much of a traction in the Hindi world. Regular crossword puzzles are fairly common—I remember solving the crossword in the Dainik Bhaskar growing up, but cryptics are relatively unchartered territory.
Crossword Unclued, a blog/website that has tons of resources on Cryptic Crosswords, has released a few Hindi cryptic grids in the past which I will suggest you check out. They also have an excellent posts about the lessons learnt trying to make a Hindi cryptic grid. But other than this, I couldn’t find anything substantial on the internet.
Hindi words are typically smaller in length compared to English ones (I haven’t done the Math but I would guess that the average word length is close to or less than half that of English words). Here, I’m counting word length in terms of ‘letter chunks’, in which diacritics are counted with the base consonant and conjunct consonants are counted as one. This is the standard way of counting for regular Hindi crosswords too, and essentially corresponds to how the words are filled up in the grid. Note that Crossword Unclued calls this as counting the number of syllables in the word, but this is not exactly correct because of Hindi schwa deletion. (eg. मतलब has two syllables, मत and लब, but has a length of 4).
Here are the 12 clues I came up with. I wanted to make a grid, but that would have needed a lot of clues that would then have deserved a higher fraction of the total points, and I wanted to avoid that since it would be unfair to all those who had no prior experience with cryptic puzzles. Plus, making a grid is much more challenging and time-consuming, and I didn’t have that much time.
I added a small tutorial in the beginning for those new to cryptics—I chose to call the definition परिभाषा, the clue सुराग and the connector योजक.
Here are the twelve clues (answers after the clues):
- स्मृति से मिलो, दया, वापस जा कर (2)
- पुलिस को माल चाहिए तो ये करे, बरामदे से जाए (4)
- दो लोगों का मिलन, ऐसी दशा बना डाली (2)
- मस्तानी शाम और आखरी पल, जो ज़िंदगी को रोशन करे (3)
- रात के बाद नशे का पहला चिन्ह (3)
- धन का अभिप्राय (2)
- करजत में पाई जाने वाली धातु (3)
- ज़्यादा नहीं, काम से निकाला (2)
- दो लबों में छिपी ताक़त (2)
- सुंदर कहा जा सकता है शायद रावण और ब्रह्मा को (5)
- जैसे की भाजपा और कांग्रेसदोनों कीचड़ हैं (4)
- वज़न करके तल डालो (2)
Here are the answers:
स्मृति से मिलो, दया, वापस जा कर (2) याद
योजक: से मिलो
सुराग: दया, वापस जा कर
Word Reversal, with वापस जा कर being the indicator.
पुलिस को माल चाहिए तो ये करे, बरामदे से जाए (4) बरामद
परिभाषा: पुलिस को माल चाहिए तो ये करे
सुराग: बरामदे से जाए
Letter deletion, with जा-ए being the indicator
दो लोगों का मिलन, ऐसी दशा बना डाली (2) शादी
परिभाषा: दो लोगों का मिलन
सुराग: दशा बना डाली
Anagramming, with बना as anagrind, followed by letter addition, with डाल-ई
मस्तानी शाम और आखरी पल, जो ज़िंदगी को रोशन करे (3) मशाल
परिभाषा: जो ज़िंदगी को रोशन करे
सुराग: मस्तानी शाम और आखरी पल
Anagramming with मस्तानी as anagrind, followed by selecting a letter from a word, with आखरी as the indicator
रात के बाद नशे का पहला चिन्ह (3) निशान
सुराग: रात के बाद नशे का पहला
Synonym of रात, followed by selecting a letter from a word, with पहला as the indicator
धन का अभिप्राय (2) अर्थ
Double definition, which I chose to call a द्वंद्व पहेली.
करजत में पाई जाने वाली धातु (3) रजत
सुराग: करजत में पाई जाने वाली
Container clue with पाई जाने वाली as the indicator
ज़्यादा नहीं, काम से निकाला (2) कम
परिभाषा: ज़्यादा नहीं
सुराग: काम से निकाला
Another letter deletion clue
दो लबों में छिपी ताक़त (2) बल
सुराग: दो लबों में छिपी
This was kind of a telescopic clue, without directly giving the container
सुंदर कहा जा सकता है शायद रावण और ब्रह्मा को (5) खूबसूरत
सुराग: कहा जा सकता है शायद रावण और ब्रह्मा को
This is probably my favorite—it’s kind of a pun on खूब also meaning many in Hindi.
जैसे की भाजपा और कांग्रेस दोनों कीचड़ हैं (4) दलदल
परिभाषा: कीचड़ हैं
सुराग जैसे की भाजपा और कांग्रेस दोनों
This was a charade, with both components being the same
वज़न करके तल डालो (2) तोल
परिभाषा: वज़न कर
सुराग: तल डालो
Another letter insertion
There were plenty of interesting lessons from the process.
For starters, due to the word-order being different for Hindi, making a smooth and natural surface while keeping the definition on one end was difficult, since verbs that you’d typically use for that purpose would be most natural at the end.
Homophone clues are also impossible due to the largely one-to-one correspondence between graphs and phones.
Anagramming is pretty potent, but it probably needs to be formalized a bit more to deal with vowel diacritics, full vowels, conjuncts, nasals etc.
Although I didn’t have to face this since I was not making a grid, the presence of conjunct consonants along with vowel diacritics might make it difficult to use these in checked squares (squares common to two clues).
- GCs are inter-hostel competitions which contribute to the inter-hostel points tally for that year for the genre that they are in. The Hindi Word Games GC, for example, would contribute to the Literary Arts which in turn contributes to the Cultural GC. [return]