◀  No. 21315 May 2013 Clue list No. 2139  ▶



1.  Dr I. S. Fletcher: You might see this used in mixed doubles (comp. anag. & lit.).

2.  T. Rudd: Hit the bowler with abandon? With this there’s a possibility (comp. anag. & lit.).

3.  J. P. Lester: A clumsy person, I’m not into limbo dancing (anag. less I’m).


D. K. Arnott: Bartoli’s art encapsulated by this one shot? (anag. less art I, & lit.; ref. Marion B., French tennis player, predominantly from the baseline).

D. & N. Aspland: What’s floated ball over? Laver ——, perhaps (comp. anag. & lit.; ref. Rod L., former Australian tennis star).

M. Barker: Familiar Coalition member’s making nothing of one party regarded as clownish (Lib with 0 for I; ref. Ukip).

M. Barley: Golf ball sent high … see it fall close to flag? (comp. anag. incl. g, & lit.).

M. Coates: See Hick toss ball up, missing wicket (bo(w)l (rev.)).

J. Grimes: Liberal old boy Nick’s changing sides by abandoning campaign group pitch (L OB; rob with l for r; lob(by)).

R. J. Heald: Descending stepwise, this is sure to lead you to ore! (3 alphabetic steps from o, r, e, & lit.; for l. = a step in a mine, see SOED).

R. Hesketh: On which South Africa may be seen missing boundaries of Graeme Pollock ((G)lob(e); ref. former SA cricketer).

G. Johnstone: Short length ball bowled Pollock (l O b).

J. C. Leyland: Latest from glib Nigel: No performing clown, I? Quite (anag. of last letters; ref. N. Farage).

W. F. Main: Loft is found by leaving entrance hall (lob(by)).

D. F. Manley: Pub oik Nigel ultimately delirious? It’s Ukip that shot up (comp. anag.; ref. N. Farage).

P. W. Marlow: Shot skied from baseline? I mark seed’s fine —— (comp. anag. & lit.; ref. tennis).

T. J. Moorey: Term for ball over Boris’s head (l o B, & lit.; ref. B. Becker).

C. J. Morse: You can get bowled by this for a duck ((b)lob, & lit.).

W. Ransome: Gentle chip played by Luke Donald, with lanky dude unusually withdrawn (anag. less anag.; ref LD & Bubba Watson in 2012 Ryder Cup match).

Mrs A. Terrill: Ball hit high in the air and opener’s gone for a duck ((b)lob).

R. C. Teuton: Offensive underarm waft sent up with a bit of loft? (BO + l (all rev.), & lit.).

S. J. J. Tiffin: No runs scored in extra effort to clear keeper (0 in lb (leg bye); ref. football).

J. Vincent & Ms R. Porter: Loft over Bryans’ heads? (first letters & lit.; ref. Bryan brothers, successful US tennis doubles partnership).

M. Wainwright: Both my feet are left injured by a low ball, Wallaby running away (anag. less anag.; clumsy person).


P. Bartlam, J. G. Booth, G. Borooah (USA), C. J. Brougham, Dr J. Burscough, C. J. Butler, C. A. Clarke, Dr P. Coles, G. P. Conway, P. T. Crow, V. Dixon, W. Drever, C. M. Edmunds, J. Fairclough, G. I. L. Grafton, J. Guiver, A. Hamilton, Mrs M. Janssen, Mrs D. B. Jenkinson, B. Jones, J. R. H. Jones, E. C. Lance, T. Locke, M. A. Macdonald-Cooper, G. Maker, L. F. Marzillier (USA), C. Ogilvie, D. J. R. Ogilvie (USA), M. Owen, A. M. Price, R. J. Sharkey, Dr S. J. Shaw, N. G. Shippobotham, P. L. Stone, P. Taylor, J. R. Tozer, C. J. A. Underhill, Mrs A. M. Walden, Ms S. Wallace, L. Ward (USA), A. J. Wardrop, N. Warne, R. J. Whale, G. H. Willett, J. Woodall (France), Dr E. Young.

205 entries, no mistakes. Favourite clue, of 20 nominated at least once, was, by quite a stretch, ‘A garden was ill-tended? Warn these gnomes perhaps’ (ADAGES). I’ve given you a fair number of four-letter words to clue over the years, but this was only the second three-letter word you’ve had. (The other was CAT in June 1989, No. 891.) I ration them strictly for obvious reasons – there were a few disgruntled mutterings this time – but try to ensure that they appear to offer reasonable scope for inventive treatment, e.g. by having multiple meanings. Inevitably, no doubt, with so few letters to deal with, composite anagrams, which by definition allow the writer access to extra letters, were popular, and none the worse for that. Sporting references (tennis, cricket, golf and football) were also well to the fore, as was ‘& lit.’ wording involving ‘parabola/parabolic’. I didn’t care for ‘highball’ meaning ‘high ball’ as a definition; the two are quite distinct semantically.
There were several comments on the above-average difficulty of the puzzle (counterbalanced to some extent by a lesser number describing it as largely plain sailing). As I’ve said before, I never consciously or deliberately adjust my style. Such variations seem to occur of their own accord, perhaps affected by the obscurity or familiarity of the words in the grid (though I did give you quite an easy clue to the outrageous MJOLLNIR!).
Mr Lester’s third prizewinner raised for me an interesting point. If he had omitted the first three words, would his clue have been acceptable, even improved, as an ‘& lit.’, a non-participant in limbo dancing being by definition someone on the clumsy side? I can think of other reasons apart from innate clumsiness for avoiding this particular activity (common sense being one of them!), so I might not have rated the clue so highly if abbreviated in this way. A question mark, or even, dare I suggest, an exclamation mark would need to have been added, I think. Comments welcome.
No time for more now. A regular competitor has asked me to spell out my views on the indication in clues of the origin and currency of words which the dictionary editors see fit to label in some way. This needs a bit of thought, so I’ll return to it next month (I hope – an earlier-than-usual summer (!) holiday in Brittany is looming).


The Azed Cup

C. J. Brougham wins First Prize in competition 2534.


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This year’s honours table

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From the archive

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First prize winner by R. H. Adey in competition 259