Intermittent Selection Indicators

Intermittent indicators tell the solver to select letters at regular intervals from a word or series of words within the clue. So in the clue “Notice odd bits of swede (3)” the odd-numbered letters from the word SWEDE must be selected, producing SEE, and in theĀ  clue “Canny golfer regularly cut dogleg (5)” alternate letters in CANNY GOLFER must be deleted to produce ANGLE.

With indicators such as ‘regularly’, the solver must determine both the first letter to be selected and the sampling frequency – typically every second letter is to be extracted, but every third or even fourth letter could legitimately be required. Many setters take the view that at least three letters in total must be selected when an indicator such as ‘regularly’ is used, as just about any combination of two letters could be considered ‘regular’.

The indicators can dictate either selection or deletion of letters. With a ‘regular’ selection indicator, the effect for the solver is unaffected, so ‘regularly’ and ‘regularly cut’ come to the same thing. With ‘even’ and ‘odd’ indicators, the effect of deletion is the opposite of selection, so ‘odd pieces from author’ gives ATO but ‘author ignoring odds’ gives UHR (ie the even-numbered letters).

There are very few intermittent selection indicators which stand up to close scrutiny, but some are certainly better than others. In this list, indicators are rated A or B for validity. Those in first group I would consider relatively sound, while those in the second group are ones which I have seen used in puzzles but would consider highly questionable.

The list below can be sorted alphabetically on Indicator (default), Selection or Validity, in either ascending (default) or descending sequence. The Search box allows full and partial searching of the first two columns in the list.

Date last modified: 09/02/24
Nature of change: Initial list published

IndicatorAlternative form(s)SelectionValidity
alternate bits ofalternate parts ofalternate lettersA
alternatelyalternate lettersA
at intervalsregular lettersA
dropping every secondwanting seconds, seconds outodd lettersA
even bits ofeven letters from, even pieces ofeven lettersA
evenlyeven lettersB
evens outodd lettersA
every other pieceleaving every other piecealternate lettersA
every secondeven lettersA
every so oftenregular lettersA
from time to timeregular lettersB
ignoring the oddseven lettersA
intermittentlyregular lettersA
now and againevery now and againregular lettersB
now and thenevery now and thenregular lettersB
occasionallyregular lettersB
odd bits ofodd letters from, odd pieces ofodd lettersA
oddlyoddly chosenodd lettersB
odds cuteven lettersA
odds ofodd lettersA
on and offoff and onregular lettersA
periodicallyregular lettersA
regular letters fromregular lettersA
regularlyregularly ignoredregular lettersA
regulars inalternate lettersB

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