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Crossword Tutor Workshops

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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Learn to Solve Cryptic Crosswords

September has been good to us, but the Indian Summer cannot last. Outdoor activities are soon going to become a lot less fun. So what do you do to while away the hours when your stuck inside the house? Instead of turning to the television remote, one much more engaging activity is crossword puzzles. They're also great for curing boredom on those long commutes.

I started doing crossword puzzles with my nana when I was young. Whenever I went to visit, she'd have a broadsheet on her lap, a word solver in her hand, and a dictionary and encyclopaedia by the chair. She'd often ask me the 'younger person' questions, about films or music, but I also enjoyed tackling the ones I did not have any knowledge of.

Despite this practice, it did improve my skills. I can usually manage to fill in half a crossword without aid, and if I'm lucky, complete it if I know where to source the answers. But that's just standard crosswords. Cryptic crosswords? Forget it. I can't even answer one.

The thing about cryptic crosswords is that each newspaper or magazine has a different way of forming the clues. Some use word play, others anagrams; you really have to know what your searching for.

If you have ever been stumped by a cryptic crossword, then maybe you need Crossword Tutors. The workshops were created by Kaz Pasiecznik, a psychologist from Bristol University. Kaz specialises in memory, and believes that crosswords are not only a good way to prevent boredom setting in, but also improve memory and possibly offset the stages of Alzheimer's and dementia. According to Crossword Tutors' Head of Teaching, Ben Summers, 'our students often tell us that they become more fluid conversationalists or better creative writers. It's the particular process involved in solving cryptic crosswords - even more so than regular crosswords - which we think is so beneficial.'

The next workshops will be on the 8th & 9th November, 15th & 16th November, and 29th & 30th November. The half-day classes are 25 or 20 for concessions or groups of four or five. They will be held at Conway Hall on Red Lion Square. Both morning (10am - 1pm) and afternoon (1.30pm - 4.30pm) sessions are available.
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Why? Keep your brain active
When: 8th - 30th Nov
Where: Conway Hall
Cost: 25, 20 concession
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