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*

Indicator | Alternative form(s) | Selection | Validity |
---|---|---|---|

alternate bits of | alternate parts of | alternate letters | A |

alternately | alternate letters | A | |

at intervals | regular letters | A | |

dropping every second | wanting seconds, seconds out | odd letters | A |

even bits of | even letters from, even pieces of | even letters | A |

evens out | odd letters | A | |

every other piece | leaving every other piece | alternate letters | A |

every second | even letters | A | |

every so often | regular letters | A | |

from time to time | regular letters | B | |

ignoring the odds | even letters | A | |

intermittently | regular letters | A | |

now and again | every now and again | regular letters | B |

now and then | every now and then | regular letters | B |

occasionally | regular letters | B | |

odd bits of | odd letters from, odd pieces of | odd letters | A |

oddly | oddly chosen | odd letters | B |

odds cut | even letters | A | |

odds of | odd letters | A | |

on and off | off and on | regular letters | A |

periodically | regular letters | A | |

regular letters from | regular letters | A | |

regularly | regularly ignored | regular letters | A |

regulars in | alternate letters | B |