AZED CROSSWORD 1856
LITAS (Printer’s Devilry)
1. H. Freeman: Greens on, ba/ked brown, with capon warming (ref. Bali conference on climate change).
2. Dr E. Young: Big star for now El/ton is: he’s ahead of present takers.
3. M. Barley: The public’s found lo/o offensive – there was a huge stink! (‘Lolita’).
VHC (extra prizes)
P. A. Cash: Tabloid paid chambermaid to tel/ex scandal about goings-on up at the manor.
E. Cross: Self-advertising eccentricity accounts for the celebrity da/ted from 1940 onwards (ref. Salvador Dali).
N. C. Dexter: Do paedophiles dream of seeing an under-age lo/t? Ripping! (Lolita).
A. S. Everest: The ‘brawn’, when found badly pickled in the local, de/test art.
J. Glassonbury: The locomotive sp/un, derailing train; passengers hospitalized.
R. J. Heald: After fighting, his opponent co-opera/ted – another sweet victory! (ref. Henry Cooper, Muhammad Ali).
B. Jones: Spicy hot da/te Di’s a little tart!
E. C. Lance: Although some people were ill after eating the freshly caught herring, sal/ted were fine.
D. F. Manley: A safe line won’t let anybody bel/t up – idly conceived plan must go (ref. Aesop’s fable ‘Belling the Cat’).
T. J. Moorey: The novel lo/o out of order with a loose minor coupling caused a stink (‘Lolita’).
R. S. Morse: A homesp/un Derby hat, redone, is sad to see.
R. A. Norton: The too generous host may proffer a large whisky and cal/m all on E.
R. J. Palmer: Cute missions by half-ba/ked politicians at summit (ref. Bali conference on climate change).
D. Parfitt: Slavering old dog eyes a tenderlo/in fully (Lolita).
K. Rae: After seasoning my Christmas mea/t – ethereal flavours!
D. R. Robinson: To satisfy the sensational press reporters tel/ex scandal.
D. J. Short: When you find a stable, star/e – a son of peace and goodwill has come.
N. Talbott: Guiding light towards ‘Table of Jesus’, the magic al/tar of Bethlehem.
D. H. Tompsett: ‘New Markets’ – big meeting – what might imperi/al lenders attack? (see sallenders).
J. R. Tozer: Wise men reaching the stable so star/k where a King may be found.
A. Whittaker: Murali’s doosra sp/un, derailing English batting (ref. M. Muralitharan).
M. P. Young: Visit Diocletian’s palace in sp/ite of local interest (in Split).
T. Anderson, R. Bates, C. J. Brougham, Rev Canon C. M. Broun, Mrs M. J. Cansfield, P. Cargill, H. Casson, N. Connaughton, J. Cowhig, K. J. Crook, V. Dixon, T. J. Donnelly, M. Draper, W. Drever, R. Eastwood, J. Edgington, J. Fairclough, A. G. Fleming, Dr I. S. Fletcher, J. Gill, M. Goodliffe, G. I. L. Grafton, J. Grimes, D. Harris, D. V. Harry, R. Hesketh, M. Hodgkin, R. J. Hooper, R. Jacks, Mrs S. D. Johnson, G. Johnstone, L. & B. Keane, J. P. Lester, C. G. Millin, R. Murdoch, D. J. R. Ogilvie, F. R. Palmer, M. L. Perkins, G. Perry, T. G. Powell, W. Ransome, D. Reed, D. L. Roberts, Mrs L. J. Roberts, M. Sanderson, A. Scott, V. Seth, D. P. Shenkin, R. I. Sutherland, Mrs A. Terrill, F. J. B. Wheen, P. O. G. White, Ms S. Wise, A. J. Young.
Exactly 200 entries, with very few mistakes, mainly over failure to recognize PINSENT (SPINNET). I thought I was safe with (Sir) Matthew P., partner of and second only to Sir Steve Redgrave as England’s multi-gold-medal-winning Olympic oarsman, but I suppose any sport is a turn-off for some. One or two clued LITAI instead of LITAS, but this can only have been the result of faulty guesswork. I was also informed that (astonishingly) LITAS had been used as a PD competition clue word on an Internet site not all that long ago, a fact of which I was blissfully unaware. I think the vast majority of you were too. Some failed to find its anagram A-LIST, which is under the very first entry in Chambers as a compound of A.
This rich Christmas pudding of a puzzle seems to have been generally popular, if on the tough side, though I guess that the placing and thus the recognition of the different clue types was not too difficult. In a tight finish your favourite clue was ‘It’s liquor of a kind – tha/nks in large measure’ (PD) for TSOTSI, with 21 receiving one or more votes. The extended deadline, which I always give you at Christmas time, was also welcomed. Judging PD clues is always a tricky but pleasurable challenge, and I found much to admire in clues submitted. Lolita was much in evidence, understandably, and various inflected forms of ‘taste’ were widely used to deal with the -TAS part. I hesitated briefly over Mr Freeman’s browned greens, a possibly unlikely combination in the real world, but the neatness of the clue overall and the topicality of the undevilled version were to me irresistible. Congratulations to him and to all whose clues are quoted.
In response to one impassioned plea I shall for the time being continue to base my puzzles on the now-superseded 2003 edition of Chambers, but you must accept that since I have and use the 2006 edition (as I guess most of you now do) I will occasionally fail to notice that I have included a word introduced in the latter for the first time.
I was greatly embarrassed to discover too late that two other December puzzles appeared in the paper without my corrections to the proofs having been implemented. An apology for the second of these appeared the following week in Stephen Pritchard’s column in the main section, but he was unwilling to mention the first on the grounds that ‘no one has complained’. This strikes me as a wholly inadequate reason for not owning up to one’s mistakes, so I apologize on behalf of The Observer and hope against hope that it won’t happen again. I can now correct my own omission of Mr D. Williamson’s VHC to AUXESIS in the November competition: it was ‘Leaving the egg, developing “oiseaux” primarily show this?’ (anag. less O + s, & lit.).
Finally, I must thank all those many solvers who sent cards and seasonal greetings of good cheer to me and my family. Such messages are truly heart-warming and are fully reciprocated. Rest assured that I have no plans to ‘retire’ just yet.