◀  No. 15982 Feb 2003 Clue list No. 1606  ▶



1.  Dr I. S. Fletcher: Hole in one’s after playing shot of round (anag. less O).

2.  V. Dixon: Source of beguiling light Romeo confused with east (fen + anag. incl. R; ref. Romeo and Juliet II, 2, and NATO phonetic alphabet).

3.  R. Phillips: Here melts the heart in soft serenade? (anag. of (so)ft serena(de), & lit.; ref. Romeo and Juliet).


D. Ashcroft: Rose, for example, not one often seen bunkered at St Andrews (anag. less one + R & A; ref. Justin R., golfer).

M. Barley: Source of light: gloomy, without it, you’ll find home inside (nest in fera(l)2, & lit.).

Mrs F. A. Blanchard: Fine Easter that is going swimmingly shows you the light! (anag. less i.e.).

Dr J. Burscough: Following unravelling, enter as light? (f + anag.).

P. Cargill: After one’s shocking round exits the hole with glassy look! (anag. less 0).

C. A. Clarke: Possible terrorist gang interned by a judge who’s reversed summarily – a loophole perhaps? (nest in a ref (rev.)).

M. Coates: Zip fastener for what may be held by sash (anag.).

E. Cross: Window typically painting sun on English nave (ancient) from eastern end (art S E nef (all rev.)).

H. Freeman: What’s almost awe inspiring? Knight and the dashing ‘Tres’ opening (N + anag. in fea(r); ref. England cricket openers Nick K. and Marcus Trescothick).

R. R. Greenfield: Summary fine requires change from nearest hole in the wall (f + anag.; ref. PM’s proposed on-the-spot fines).

C. R. Gumbrell: Oriel, for example, term for institution established in early part of fourteenth century? (n est. in f era; O. College, Oxford, founded 1326).

R. J. Heald: Hole in the wall vandalized after keeping money back (sen (rev) in anag.).

R. J. Hooper: Oxford detective Morse spending minimal time at New – could clue indicate Oriel? (Fen + anag. of (Mo)rse at; ref. Gervase F. in novels of Edmund Crispin).

Mrs S. G. Johnson: Fine poetic evening star lit window (f + ene + anag.; lit = drunk).

F. P. N. Lake: What may be French will do to admit sun when it’s clear outside (S in net in fera (Fr. = will do), & lit.).

Mrs J. Mackie: Craft seen disintegrating with first to go being spot on wing? (anag. less C; ref. loss of Columbia spacecraft).

C. G. Millin: Ox-eye? See English home rather than look among the flowers (flora with E nest for lo).

I. Morgan: At sea head for Far Eastern port (anag. incl. F).

A. Plumb: Opening iron sent flying at Royal and Ancient (Fe + anag. + R & A).

Dr T. Powell: Having thrown opening treble, what may be seen if darts hit bull’s-eye, say? (anag. less initial letters).

N. G. Shippobotham: For such as Casement see only half of Fenian tears flowing (Fen(ian) + anag.; ref. Sir Roger C.).

C. W. Thomas: Set in a frame? Could be I’m a —— (comp. anag. & lit.).

D. H. Tompsett: What can be each side of fireplace niche and of sunlit rotunda? (first and last letters, & lit.).

R. J. Whale: Force and enter as criminal here? (F + anag., & lit.).

G. H. Willett: Possible opening for inspectors following tense manoeuvring by leaders of Russia and America (f + anag. + R, A).


D. Appleton, Mrs P. A. Bax, E. A. Beaulah, J. R. Beresford, S. Best, C. T. Boarn, R. E. Boot, K. P. Boughton, C. Boyd, F. Brazier, C. J. Brougham, E. J. Burge, B. Burton, D. J. Carpenter, V. Chetcuti, R. Cohen, R. M. S. Cork, K. W. Crawford, Ms G. Crossley, P. A. Davies, R. Dean, A. J. Dorn, L. K. Edkins, C. D. S. & E. A. Field, W. P. M. Field, A. G. Fleming, R. J. Fletcher, Rev G. Floyd, N. C. Goddard, Dr R. W. Grant, J. Grimes, M. J. Hanley, R. B. Harling, V. Henderson, R. Hesketh, A. Hodgson, C. G. T. Hunt, B. Jones, E. Knight, J. P. Lester, J. C. Leyland, P. R. Lloyd, B. MacReamoinn, W. F. Main, R. Mankelow, D. F. Manley, K. McDermid, J. R. C. Michie, B. G. Midgley, T. J. Moorey, C. J. Morse, Ms S. M. Odber, F. R. Palmer, R. J. Palmer, R. Parker, W. Ransome, A. J. Redstone, C. Robinson, A. Roth, M. Rupp, S. Sharples, D. P. Shenkin, Mrs E. J. Shields, D. J. Short, B. Solomons, P. L. Stone, R. C. Teuton, K. Thomas, S. J. J. Tiffin, Mrs J. E. Townsend, J. R. Tozer, A. J. Wardrop, M. J. E. Wareham, F. Wheen, Ms B. J. Widger, D. C. Williamson, W. Woodruff, Dr E. Young.

The biggest entry for some time: 392 in all, with about thirty having ROOFS for ROOFY and a handful having ATONE for ATONY (Tone Blair? I don’t think so!). The puzzle was, I think, on the easy side, and this probably accounted for the large entry, but it’s always nice to welcome new competitors. There were 16 nominees for favourite clue, the most popular being those for SPAM and OBLOMOVISM. There are clearly many Monty Python fans among the ranks of Azed solvers, and several also recalled seeing, as I did, Spike Milligan ad-libbing his way through Son of Oblomov on the London stage in the sixties, to the exasperation of his co-star (Bill Owen, was it?) as he tried forlornly to stick to the script. Some said they couldn’t find NIDING in Chambers. See niddering and nothing. I think I was at fault in defining ‘ti’as a tonic in the clue to CURATIVE, since it can never be the key-note of a scale. My apologies to offended musicologists.
If I’d spotted the ‘fastener/refasten’ anagram for FENESTRA I might not have chosen it as the clue word. It offers such attractive possibilities that I would doubtless have gone for it myself when cluing the word. Alas, so did many competitors, with only slight variations of wording, so almost all failed to make the quoted lists. Those who foresaw this and opted for a different approach were wise to do so. Luckily there were plenty to choose from, it being a nice word for cluing purposes. I had great difficulty making my final judgement, though the top three rose to the surface quite early on in the process. (I hope I’m right in referring to R = Romeo as part of the NATO phonetic alphabet in my-note- to Mr Dixon’s clue. It’s familiar enough to be perfectly acceptable, but I didn’t know it had anything to do with NATO. Having hunted for the full alphabet I finally found it, so described, in Chambers Crossword Dictionary, along with Alpha, Bravo and the rest.)
I’m grateful for the many letters and emails I received on the origin of the saying ‘Fine words butter no parsnips’ (see last month’s slip). It has clearly found its way into (and sometimes subsequently out of) a number of collections of proverbs and sayings, with ‘fair’ and ‘soft’ as variants of ‘fine’ and other slight changes of wording, going back to the early seventeenth century, though none actually explain why parsnips came to be chosen. Literary references to it occur in William Wycherley’s The Plain Dealer and Waiter Scott’s The Legend of Montrose, and in his Oops, Pardon, Mrs Arden, Nigel Rees quotes a verse by John Taylor from 1651 which ends: ‘Great men large hopeful promises may utter,/But words did never Fish or Parsnips butter.’ All good fun. And on the subject of reference books I am pleased to learn that the word ‘appropriacy’ appears in the Collins English Dictionary, defined as ‘the condition of delicate and precise fittingness of a word or expression to its context, even when it is chosen from a number of close synonyms’. Precisely what clue writers should strive for at all times, I’d say.
I’d like to say more next time on the matter of abbreviations in anagrams, since my comments last month touched a raw nerve with one or two of you. I must here apologize to Mr H. Freeman, whose VHC clue to GENISTA/TEASING in No. 1,596 should have read ‘tarty’, not ‘tasty’, and thank those who spoke appreciatively of my Hamlet puzzle at No. 1,600.


The Azed Cup

Dr S. J. Shaw wins First Prize in competition 2603.

TERAS def. PRATT (Wrong Number)

After dismissing jolly, Starmer’s ordered to reveal what could lie behind dreadful Labour experience

This year’s honours table

The next Azed competition puzzle will be on

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All online Azed puzzles

Dr Watson reviews Azed 2603

From the archive

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First prize winner by J. F. Grimshaw in competition 904