AZED CROSSWORD 2428
1. I. Simpson: Christmas visitors deployed ships of the desert, crude site of tot’s first appearance being shed (anag. less anag. incl. t).
2. R. J. Heald: Fluttering seraph heralds Messiah’s debut, dispelling dreadful alarm – in us? (anag. incl. M less anag., & lit.).
3. C. J. Brougham: Who could be heading for stable, knowing that woman’s nursing the little Lord? (s + hep + D in hers, & lit.).
VHC (extra prizes)
D. & N. Aspland: These are first in prostration alongside woman before her son embodying God (she + p + D in her s, & lit.).
M. Barley: We feature in a gathering close to Messiah within outbuildings (h in per in sheds, & lit.).
N. Connaughton (Ireland): The first to proclaim He’s King amidst the outbuildings? (p He R in sheds, & lit.).
W. Drever: They’re startled at first, then melodically informed king is in rickety shed (s + hep R in anag., & lit.).
C. M. Edmunds: Shimmering seraph shed a light for them (anag. less a, & lit.).
Dr I. S. Fletcher: Female leads in pop show entertaining crowd – Pan’s People? (herd in she p, s; ref. TOTP 60s/70s dancers).
J. C. Leyland: The Lord’s seraph directs us to a first sighting of little King (comp. anag. incl. l, R, & lit.).
D. F. Manley: Troubled group of us heard seraph, with strange aura emanating (anag. less anag., & lit.).
C. G. Millin: Holy babe’s visitors, first in stable, knowing of the woman, God and son (s hep her D, s, & lit.).
C. Ogilvie: The likes of Gabriel appearing when ‘king’ is found in outbuildings round eastern inn (E ph in sheds incl. R; ref G. Oak).
J. Vincent & Ms R. Porter: The first characters appearing in stable, having experienced prophetic heavenly exclamations re divine Son (first letters & lit.).
Dr S. J. Shaw: Leaders in pastures hearing exultations and rewarded in outbuilding with first glimpse of Saviour (first letters in shed + S, & lit.).
J. R. Tozer: Get the shivers about what’s happening? We were sore afraid! (hep in sherds).
Mrs A. M. Walden: They could be hard pressed heading off herdwicks (anag. incl. h, h, & lit.).
L. Ward (USA): More than one husband intermittently has poorly pressed clothing; do they mind those often disorderly folds? (anag. incl. h, h).
A. J. Wardrop: Daphnis and Chloe? Man pursuing female pastor, leading characters in Ravel and Diaghilev’s staging (she P + he + R, D, s; ref. 1912 ballet).
A. Whittaker: They handle crooks in possession of little bits of pot with it (hep in sherds).
A. J. Young: Having unfortunately pressed very hard on pencils we are tending to use dipping pens (anag. incl. HH).
T. Anderson, T. Blakeson, T. C. Borland, Mrs S. Brown, P. Cargill, A. G. Chamberlain, C. A. Clarke, P. Coles, J. Doylend, G. I. L. Grafton, J. Grimes, R. Gwilt, P. F. Henderson (New Zealand), M. Hodgkin, G. Johnstone, J. Liddle, M. Lloyd-Jones, C. Loving, K. Milan, T. J. Moorey, A. Plumb, J. & A. Price, T. Rudd, P. A. Stephenson, R. C. Teuton, R. J. Whale, D. Whisstock (Italy), G. H. Willett.
166 entries, a substantial minority with SWAN IT (and one SWAT IT) for SWAG IT. After due deliberation I decided I couldn’t accept SWAN IT, since not only does it not appear in Chambers, but SWAG IT does and is clearly labelled as Australian slang, as indicated by the clue. I’m just a bit surprised that those who plumped for SWAN IT weren’t more worried by their choice. No one at all mentioned the dilemma created by the unchecked letter. A few did mention the inconvenience caused by the puzzle being spread over two pages. I’m afraid this was the only acceptable solution to the unusually long preamble without reducing the type size to microscopic proportions. And to clear up the puzzle’s title, which foxed some, it (‘Play-tent’) was a blending of Playfair and (Letters) Latent. I was rather pleased with it.
Fourteen clues received votes as your favourite, the winner by a very long way being ‘Work late shifts, extra hour put in? Not him!’ for (C)LO(C)K-WAT(C)HER. The puzzle as a whole received favourable comments, and seems to have been about right in terms of difficulty for the festive season, which makes the low entry rather disappointing. The code phrase was one of those happy discoveries, occurring to me as it did long before I came to construct the puzzle. Combining the elements of Playfair and Letters Latent clearly proved popular with those who regularly struggle with the decoding challenge. (One regular also noticed that the code phrase in the Christmas carol actually sits within a sequence of 15 different letters. I hadn’t spotted that!)
Clues submitted were of a high quality generally, if occasionally (and especially in ‘& lit.’ constructions) suggesting the answer rather obviously. In the spirit of Christmas I was inclined to tolerate this, other things being equal, but I especially admired the red herring implicit in Mr Simpson’s first prize winner.
My thanks to those who sent cards and/or seasonal greetings to me and my family with their entries. I wish you all good health and happy solving in the coming year. You may like to know that a Printer’s Devilry competition is scheduled for April.