AZED CROSSWORD 2220
A twelve-letter ‘Christmas cracker’
1. D. K. Arnott: Solitary Christmas – a little snooze, a little canned Mosel (free from M&S), a little cake (NAPOLEON/LONESOME; NAPONOELSOME; Noel some; nap on (M)o(s)el).
2. R. J. Heald: Christmas can bore perhaps without constant source of fine wit as in ‘crackers’ of Jonathan’s creation (SWIFTIAN/NATIVITY; SWIFTINAVITY; anag. incl. f; tin + (c)avity).
3. T. C. Borland: Nuts roasting, I might play carols this month, having time off TV full of glitz (ORGANIST/TINSELLY; ORGAINSTELLY; anag.; inst + (t)elly).
VHC (extra prizes)
T. Anderson: Choosing cocktail jewellery, till’s beginning to ring and ring (EARRINGS/GIN SLING; EARRSINGLING; 2 defs.; ear3 + r, sing).
D. & N. Aspland: Star entering stable a long time back, Christmas carol said, lit up a king (STALLONE/LEONIDAS; STALNOELIDAS; eon (rev.) in stall; Noel + anag.).
M. Barley: Guiding light in sky leads to new King very long ago, accompanying trio of astronomers all the way (LODESTAR/STRAIGHT; LODEASTRIGHT; anag. + R; ast + right).
Ms K. Bolton: Pop’s caught clumsy travellers on sloping roof with front of sleigh stuck in snow, now dropping its contents? (CHAMPERS/PRESENTS; CHAMREPSENTS; c ham reps; re + s in pent + s(now)).
A. Everest: Deliverer in sheltered yard suddenly appearing in need of gentle Christmas delivery helper to hold back ungulates from the East (REINDEER/REDEEMER; REINREEDEMER; reed3 + emer(gent2); rein + deer (rev.)).
Dr I. S. Fletcher: Christmas scene one can back? Crucially not all uphold mother missing last vacancy (MAINTAIN/NATIVITY; MAINANITVITY; a + tin (rev.) + vit(all)y; ma + inanit(y)).
R. Gilbert: Light that guided the Magi perhaps and many a miserable wretch, vision in which art’s redefined instantly (LOADSTAR/STRAIGHT; LOADSRATIGHT; loads rat; anag. in sight).
J. McGhee: Sounds like you’ll plan food for Christmas Church function in Edinburgh – rather boring there (YULETIDE/TEDISOME; YULEDIETSOME; ‘you’ll’ + diet; diet + some).
T. J. Moorey: Fireworks displays fizz on Santa’s introduction behind field (CHAMPERS/SERPENTS; CHAMPRESENTS; 2 defs.; champ + re S).
C. J. Morse: Fabled Wise Men pursuing one goal found finally in one Being true selfhood (IMAGINED/IDENTITY; IMAGIENDTITY; I + Magi + end; (foun)d in I entity).
R. J. Palmer: Bearer of Christmas gifts stopped around manger finally – Eastern monarchs about to regard Saviour (REINDEER/REDEEMER; REINERDEEMER; r in reined + E; deem in ER × 2).
G. J. H. Roberts: Drink, cheeks stuffed with a ready meal, tree, emptied pies and nuts, crackers, giving gifts (CHAMPERS/PRESENTS; CHAMREPSENTS; MRE (qv) in chaps; anag. incl. ps, ns).
Dr S. J. Shaw: Tip of nose in Rudolph’s headgear lights eastern worker in bay window (ORIENTAL/LANTERNS; ORIEANTLERNS; n in antlers; ant in oriel).
I. Simpson: I’m a little child sitting by a tree/I’m synonymous with joy/First of all attend to stocking crammed/I’m like The Snowman’s little boy (CHARMIAN/ANIMATED; CHARAMINATED; ch. + a ramin, see Names in C.; ate in a(ll) mind).
P. A. Stephenson: Perhaps they move Santa about during day before Christ’s remembered, with hearts lifted all round (REINDEER/REDEEMER; REINDEREEMER; re in d ere; reme(mb)ered (rev.)).
P. L. Stone: Bubbly chap with red clothing marks day going south to wondrous premises delivering a million gifts (CHAMPERS/PRESSIES; CHAMSPRESIES; m, s in chap re(d); S + anag. less m).
J. Vincent & Ms R. Porter: Head of Selfridges desires a bit of peace before end of December – bargain hunters especially tore apart section for gifts! (SHOPPERS/PRESENTS; SHOPESPRENTS; S + hopes+ p + r; esp. rent s; ref. ‘Black Friday’).
L. Ward (USA): Having rump and most of those Scotch bottles after hot stews, I’m stuffed on Christmas Eve and warble around crib and little King (HARICOTS/STOCKING; HARISCOTKING; H + aris + cot(c); cot K in sing).
M. Barnes, D. J. Bexson, C. J. Brougham, Dr J. Burscough, J. & B. Chennells, C. A. Clarke, W. Drever, P. Evans, R. Hesketh, J. C. Leyland, C. Loving, D. F. Manley, P. W. Marlow, L. F. Marzillier (USA), P. McKenna, J. R. C. Michie, C. G. Millin, A. Plumb, Ms A. Price, S. Randall, N. Roper, T. Rudd, C. Short, R. C. Teuton, J. R. Tozer, Mrs A. M. Walden, A. J. Wardrop, N. Warne, A. Whittaker, Ms S. Wise, R. Zara.
173 entries, no mistakes: a bit disappointing for a Christmas competition. The puzzle itself you seem to have found not too testing, having once mastered the preamble, but the clue-writing challenge may have proved too daunting for some. The judging process was certainly protracted, each part of each double clue needing to be carefully unpicked and then assessed for soundness before I could sit back, as it were, and judge the whole thing for readability and inspiration. As well as commenting favourably on the puzzle as a whole, for which I was grateful, a few made helpful suggestions as to how the clue specifications could be improved, in case I use the format again. New ideas for Christmas themes are increasingly difficult to dream up, but if I do return to this one it won’t be for quite a while. Sighs of relief all round, perhaps.
In asking you to choose your own clue words (a late decision on my part), I thought I was giving you a certain amount of extra help, though it’s possible that the wider freedom of choice simply added to the task you were faced with. It certainly added to mine! The range you came up with was understandably wide: of those that were used more than once the most popular were REINDEER/REDEEMER and CHAMPERS/PRESENTS. The ‘Christmas flavour’ I asked for could be in either or both of the words chosen, or in the wording of the clue itself, or in both of these: all were equally acceptable to the judge. Favourite among my own clues was ‘Those encouraging sailor to be in French street, genuine sport when it’s going after women’ (ABETTERS/STERLING; ABETRESTLING). As I think most of you realized when concocting you own clues, it was necessary to indicate unambiguously at least once the order of the central jumbled letters, to enable the words to be entered once solved. So, for example, a pair of separate anagrams for the two words would fail to indicate the correct order for the central jumble. A few otherwise promising clues were flawed in this regard.
That apart, the biggest (and possibly toughest) challenge was, I think, to produce overall wording that was both smooth and convincing.
Anyway it seems to have been an enjoyable seasonal special. My thanks to all who competed, and my best wishes for the new year to all Azed solvers. More next time (I hope) on your response to the points I raised in the December slip.