Cryptic crosswords for beginners: playing cards

Continuing our series for those tempted or daunted by the cryptic crossword: jacks and aces, east and west

In the example clues below, I explain the two parts of each: the definition of the answer, given in bold type, and the wordplay – the recipe for assembling its letters. In a genuine puzzle environment, of course, you also have the crossing letters, which will greatly alleviate your solving load if you have them. The explanations contain links to previous entries in this series on such matters as spelling one word backwards to reveal another. And setters’ names tend to link to interviews, in case you feel like getting to know these people better.

If you see a word in a clue that can be represented by a single letter somewhere in the world, that may be just the toehold you need.

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