AZED CROSSWORD 1698
1. T. J. Moorey: Son admitted, see Tories falsely express tears over it (C + anag. incl. S; ref. David Blunkett).
2. R. J. Whale: It’s replaced so SR cite train cost rise? (2 anags. & lit.).
3. R. Jacks: What’s holding up railway? Awful skid on frost and ice – wrong kind of leaves (anag. less anag.).
M. Barley: Corset is tight: it provides support and prevents bulging (anag.).
C. J. Brougham: Mallard flew over this tree right away from row of guns (cross + tie(r); ref. steam locomotive).
B. Burton: Losing first part of argument, ostracise perversely a member giving support (anag. less a).
P. Coles: Tension on railways is maintained by this baffling cost rise (anag.).
N. Connaughton: A snugly embedded sleeper is a warm kipper, say (cross tie).
V. Dixon: Treatment for cold is to rest, mostly stay in bed (anag. incl. c, res(t); stay n.).
A. J. Dorn: Toss rice in excitement as supporter of couple, carrying train (anag.).
R. R. Greenfield: Supporter run over by train? We have to cancel match (cross tie).
J. P. Guiver: Corset is bust line’s support (anag.).
R. B. Harling: What’s found on US track shoe after dodgy race? (cross tie).
R. J. Heald: Train-bearer escorts one getting hitched (anag. incl. I).
J. C. Leyland: It’s soccer ground throwing out fanatic finally that’s thwarted supporter (anag. less c).
D. F. Manley: Is score, after break, over ton? That should secure the frame (t in anag.; ref. snooker).
P. W. Marlow: Dash of Coe stirs support at track (anag.).
P. McKenna: Engineering inspectors expressing new and positive support for railway (anag. less n, p).
K. Milan: Groundsel or statices all over the place – no thanks (anag. less ta; see groundsel2).
C. J. Morse: Ill-tempered match, with clubs sticking to different stories, leaves supporter thwarted (cross tie, c + anag.).
F. R. Palmer: Bad-tempered match, its score upsetting support from both sides (cross tie, anag.).
R. J. Palmer: Tight corset is requisite to dress lines without bulges (anag.).
D. H. Tompsett: Resist calories and the start of overeating madly – this prevents bellying (anag. incl. c, o).
R. Zara: Reorganisation of sector is required for member supporting rail network (anag.).
G. Alderman, D. Appleton, D. Arthur, E. A. Beaulah, J. R. Beresford, J. M. Brown, E. J. Burge, C. J. & M. P. Butler, P. Cargill, B. Cheesman, C. A. Clarke, G. Clyde, M. Coates, R. M. S. Cork, G. Cuthbert, N. C. Dexter, Ms A. Dickins, C. M. Edmunds, A. Farrow, W. P. Field, Dr I. S. Fletcher, R. Griffin, A. & R. Haden, A. & B. Harris, D. V. Harry, R. Hesketh, G. Johnstone, J. R. H. Jones, P. R. Lloyd, P. Long, Mrs J. Mackie, N. MacSweeney, B. Midgley, J. H. Moore, M. Moran, T. D. Nicholl, J. Pearce, Mrs E. M. Phair, Dr T. Powell, D. R. Robinson, N. Roper, M. Sanderson, D. Sargent, D. J. Short, P. L. Stone, Ms M. Vincent, A. J. Wardrop, F. J. B. Wheen, P. O. G. White, G. H. Willett.
244 entries, about 30 with ALLEY for ALLEE (‘Gardener spends months initially in garden path’). This can only have been guesswork; the clue is straightforward enough, even though MALLEE is an uncommon word. SAMIT also caused difficulty, more justifiably as Chambers only shows it at Saam, with a ‘dummy’ entry at Sami. It would perhaps have been kinder of me to indicate this in some way. Favourite clue of the month was the one for SHEEP-STEALER (‘Wicket missing, wethers asleep rashly? Then I can do my worst!’), with 26 receiving at least one mention. Is the exclamation mark necessary at the end of the SHEEP-STEALER clue, given my comments in last month’s slip? Probably not. I think I was trying to draw attention to the ‘& lit.’ nature of the clue, but on reflection this might have been done better by putting ‘Then’ in italics.
Some of you commented favourably on the structure of the grid, with adjacent 12-letter words at top and bottom. It wasn’t the first time I’ve done this, and I do like to attempt this sort of thing from time to time, but it’s gratifying when you notice it and say so. Many journals restrict their setters to a number of preset grids and I’ve always been thankful that The Observer has never imposed similar limitations on me. Constructing the grid always comes first for me in compiling a normal plain puzzle and though it’s not a lengthy process I do try to vary the pattern from week to week. Inevitably I will repeat myself, given the standard parameters, but I never do this deliberately.
I had fears that CROSSTIE might prove a little dull as a clue word but these proved groundless. (It’s puzzling that Chambers labels ‘tie’ as American but not ‘crosstie’, with the same meaning.) Corsetry was much in evidence, of course, and anagrams generally were popular. Mr Moorey’s first prizewinner was delicious: its combination of topicality and the part-of-speech switch of both ‘express’ and ‘tears’ necessary for the cryptic reading added up to a brilliant clue. I referred last month to the ‘surface reading’ of a clue. I do think it is important that in its literal reading a cryptic clue should generally appear to be about something that the reader can relate to in the real world. So a clue like ‘Frenetic Socrates, with iodine not angstrom, is a supporter’ allows the cryptic element to dominate to the extent that the finished clue is virtually meaningless, though grammatically sound. It is OK – indeed desirable – that the surface reading should mislead, by suggesting a line of thought in the solver’s mind which he or she later sees to be a red herring. Clues which fail to suggest anything that the reader can relate to are essentially uninteresting, and therefore weak.