AZED CROSSWORD 1940
SCANT def. SNEAP
1. P. F. Henderson: Reduce boob in first stages of cosmetic surgery (nip and tuck) (nip; anag. of first letters; boob vt.).
2. J. C. Leyland: Wanting seconds in asylum? Management, scandalised, snub starving Twist (snub; anag. of second letters).
3. M. Barker: Pinch: character Pecksniff takes to heart with hypocritical platitudes (pinch; s + cant; ref. Tom P. in ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’).
T. Anderson: Cutting East out, clubs then no trumps by South pinch a contract (pinch; s(E)cant, S + a in C NT).
M. Barley: Nip of Scotch – see Scots merry after such short? (nip; s + cant4).
T. C. Borland: Bradman ultimately held in check by dropping short (check; n in scat3; ref. Don B., bodyline series).
C. J. Brougham: Glaswegian merry after nip of Scotch? Hardly (nip; S + cant4).
E. Cross: Pinch trade from old gardener with inadequate supplies (pinch; (Trade)scant).
Dr I. S. Fletcher: Low sun – one making for nip round Norway (nip; S + N in cat).
R. Gilbert: A nip of Scotch about noon’s how tippling starts, leading to needing more (nip; S ca. n t).
D. Harris: Slight snuffle after a pinch of snuff (pinch; s + cant).
M. Hodgkin: To pinch butt is attempt to attract attention – ignore (pinch; can in st).
R. J. Hooper: Need to take words of such as politicians with a pinch of salt (pinch; s + cant).
P. D. Martin: To reduce boob sag choose nip and tuck initially (nip; anag. of first letters; boob vt.).
T. J. Moorey: A pinch of salt is needed by gents, given Harriet’s latest slight (pinch; s + can + t; ref. H. Harman’s recent remarks about male incompetence).
A. Plumb: Barely has time to nip to store (nip; can in ’s t).
P. L. Stone: Tight skirt squeezing out midriff though holding buttocks in check (check; skirt with can for kir).
Dr A. J. Varney: Scotsman’s merry after nip of Scotch? Hardly! (nip; S + cant4).
A. J. Wardrop: Slight snivel started by a pinch of snuff (pinch; s + cant).
G. H. Willett: It’s merry in the manse after a nip of Scotch? Hardly (nip; S + cant4).
A. J. Young: Want answers from politicians? Start by taking a pinch of salt (pinch; s + cant).
D. K. Arnott, D. Arthur, D. & N. Aspland, R. E. Boot, C. Boyd, Rev Canon C. M. Broun, Dr J. Burscough, C. J. & M. P. Butler, D. A. Campbell, P. Cargill, G. Chamberlain, B. Cheesman, C. A. Clarke, D. C. Clenshaw, M. Coates, A. Colston, T. J. Donnelly, C. M. Edmunds, J. A. Elliott, C. J. Ellis, A. S. Everest, C. D. S. & E. A. Field, A. H. Harker, R. Hesketh, Mrs M. Janssen, Dr A. Kitching, E. C. Lance, E. Looby, M. A. Macdonald-Cooper, B. MacReamoinn, K. Manley, P. W. Marlow, E. Marriott, Rev M. R. Metcalf, D. S. Miller, C. J. Morse, R. S. Morse, R. Murdoch, S. Parry, R. Perry, D. Price Jones, Mrs L. J. Roberts, Dr S. J. Shaw, N. G. Shippobotham, K. Thomas, D. H. Tompsett, J. R. Tozer, P. J. Wagstaffe, Ms S. Wallace, L. Ward, R. J. Whale, I. J. Wilcock.
187 entries, about a dozen with CRUSADOS for CRUZADOS, perhaps through not knowing the name of the Spanish film actor Penelope Cruz, a big box-office star. A few more included the definition of the wrong word in their clues to SCANT, a fault that regularly occurs in WN competitions, which do present quite a stiff challenge (‘fiddly to start, fiddly to work through, and fiddly to finish!’, according to one). Equal favourite clues were ‘Subject of Shelley poem, energy in early summertime? Phooey’ for MALARKEY (AEGLOGUE), ‘Rot’s beginning in bananas once bruised?’ for MARD (ONST), and ‘French mathematician at shed in poet’s shedding’ for FERM (CAST).
In choosing the clue word(s) I failed to notice that there is a distinct overlap in their respective meanings, which a number of you spotted and understandably exploited, i.e. by using the same definition word (e.g. ‘stint’) for both. I could hardly object to this, though it did rather evade the point of the exercise. One extreme example of this was the ultimately concise ‘S(tin)t?’ which I agonized over for some time before deciding it was just too outrageous for high honours. Of the many possible one-word definitions of SNEAP (its polysemy being partly why I chose it, of course) the most popular was ‘nip’, often with ‘Scotch’ in attendance.
I suppose I asked for it (see last month’s slip), but there were saes aplenty enclosed with this month’s entries. I don’t really want to get involved in regularly commenting on individual clues submitted, and I do try to cover major aspects of clue construction in the slips, though I recognize that not everyone subscribes to these and that newer solvers may have missed things discussed earlier. I shall of course respond to every query I receive that is accompanied by an sae, but please be patient.
Many of you have expressed concern at press reports about the uncertain future of The Observer. I have written to the editor John Mulholland to find out more and to pass on your concerns; as yet I have received no reply. The imminent demise of the paper has been predicted many times over the years, so I sincerely hope that the current crisis will pass like all the rest. Your loyal support is greatly appreciated.
I am also very grateful for the many thoughtful comments I have received in response to my query last month about the level of difficulty of my puzzles. The clear consensus is that if anything you find solving Azed puzzles easier than you did, though many concede that this may simply be the result of a growing familiarity with my style (or conversely that an increase in solving times may be the result of age taking its toll). Interesting (for me) was the view expressed by several that prizewinning clues often appear over-complex (though doubtless not to their authors). I accept that a whole puzzle based on such gems would be too rich a mix, but that is surely not the point. It is brilliance I am looking for in picking the winners from so strong a field, even if that occasionally results in a bit of extra deviousness. But I do take the point.