London: You may spend hours agonising over cryptic crosswords, but it will actually take you around nine years to get the hang of it!
In a new study, UK researchers found that rather than basic intelligence, it is experience that can help you master cryptic crosswords.
People can be taught to solve the puzzles in just a year but to become an expert takes far longer, psychologists said.
There is a `eureka` moment when people finally `get it`, they said.
Scientists carried out tests on 750 volunteers attempting to solve cryptic crosswords and recording hours of footage as they agonised over the clues.
They wanted to find out whether puzzle solvers were born or made and found that in most cases, it is the latter, although only after a lot of hard work and self motivation, The Telegraph reported.
The volunteers were analysed to work out their starting ability to do the puzzles, where answers are hidden in anagrams, codes or other methods within the clues.
The researchers found that volunteers approached the clues differently depending on how much experience they had of cryptic puzzles.
Rather than basic intelligence, it was experience that made the biggest difference, said Dr Philip Fine and Dr Kathryn Friedlander, of Buckingham University.
They calculated that a novice might be able to work out how to solve cryptic crosswords after a year of doing them.
However, for an individual to be "consistently good", it would take between seven and nine years.