AZED CROSSWORD 1700
1. R. J. Hooper: ‘In Foreign Office I’ve hit trouble,’ the PM bristles (I’ve in FO + clock shadow).
2. Dr J. Burscough: Appearing after poor shave, flocci – OK, covering of hair – when end of afternoon’s passed (anag. + dow(n), & lit.).
3. G. H. Willett: Eve’s imprint on Adam’s cheeks? It could play havoc with wedlock, if so (anag.).
VHC (extra prizes)
J. Baines: Show clean, not scraggy, face – I’d look very out of place (anag. less lean incl. v, & lit.).
M. Barnes: Mouldy owd ’Ovis loaf – check what might need trimming at teatime (anag. & lit.).
P. Coles: I shoved a cow and flock scattered, exposing a bit of stubble (anag.).
N. Connaughton: Dusky dial feature? (double mng.).
N. C. Dexter: Facial hair spoils chic looks – female avowed (anag. incl. f).
A. S. Everest: Countenance blackening of lovesick cad who is dissembling (anag.).
G. I. L. Grafton: Awful cad, sick of love, who lately acquired bit of fluff? (anag.).
R. B. Harling: What’s on face if shaved badly around middle of jowl? (o’ clock in anag. + ow, & lit.).
D. Harrison: What’s on face, if shaved carelessly round – beginning of whiskers (o’ clock in anag. + O + w, & lit.).
D. V. Harry: At start of festivities, flying about low, I’ve hood, sack and whiskers (f + anag. incl. c).
R. Hesketh: Tricky Dick’s vocal foe who is reason for his 1960 electoral defeat? (anag.; ref. Richard Nixon).
J. R. C. Michie: Cock avoids he-wolf prowling area of stubble (anag.).
C. G. Millin: It’s getting dark at teatime, fowl’s cooked and I have endless cold sadly (anag. incl. c).
T. J. Moorey: Time for a sound PM and Howard’s not right, somehow bristles with genial darkness? (five o’clock + anag. less r; ref. Radio 4 programme, Michael H.; genial2).
R. S. Morse: PM bristles, voice quavering amid shock of law being overturned (all about detention, primarily) (anag. in anag. incl. d).
R. J. Palmer: Bit of fuzz I have round face manifest before dark’s first set in (f + I’ve O clock + a. d in show, & lit.).
D. Sharp: Hair in untidy short down over his face (locks in anag. less last letters, & lit.).
D. H. Tompsett: Dusky chaps who’d flocks, a voice disturbed (anag.; ref. Christmas shepherds).
A. J. Wardrop: What plays havoc with few kids’ cool? (anag. & lit.).
R. J. Whale: Compliance in exotic food we lack, Hovis brown features around tea-time (C in anag.).
R. D. Anderson, T. Anderson, D. Appleton, D. & N. Aspland, M. Barley, J. R. Beresford, R. E. Boot, C. J. Brougham, E. J. Burge, B. Burton, Mrs M. J. Cansfield, D. C. Clenshaw, E. Cross, G. Cuthbert, A. J. Dorn, C. M. Edmunds, Dr I. S. Fletcher, S. Ford, H. Freeman, D. Gomm, Mrs E. Greenaway, D. Grice, J. P. Guiver, A. & B. Harris, P. F. Henderson, V. G. Henderson, S. D. James, G. Johnstone, J. P. Lester, P. R. Lloyd, B. MacReamoinn, W. F. Main, D. F. Manley, P. W. Marlow, G. L. McStravick, C. J. Morse, C. Ogilvie, F. R. Palmer, M. L. Perkins, A. Plumb, P. E. Radburn, W. Ransome, Ms L. Roberts, H. R. Sanders, M. Sanderson, D. P. Shenkin, R. G. Smith, J. R. Tozer, Ms S. Wallace, D. C. Williamson, A. J. Young, Dr E. Young.
245 entries, about twenty with ILIA for ILEA, and several more arriving too late for consideration. Favourite clue (just) was that for OTTAVA (‘Triplets from Pavarotti switched showing musical range’), with those for KOBOLD and UNROMANTICAL equal second and 21 clues in all receiving at least one mention. As a Christmas special it was generally well received, of about the right level of difficulty for the festive season, and revealing its secrets bit by bit as I’d hoped it would. The puzzle actually developed through a sequence of happy chances. My initial concern was to find a theme for No. 1,700 without bothering too much about its being the Christmas competition. Only after I’d settled on the ‘five-o’clock shadow’ idea and spotted the SHADOW BOXING/SHADOW CABINET compounds did I see a chance of working Christmas in, and only then did I find the more obscure SHADOW-MARK-WHITE-CHRISTMAS link to give me a reasonable number of unclued answers. The notion of including some misprinted clues with a related quotation came next, both to provide some additional fun for your Christmas puzzling and, if I could find the right quotation, to give you a bit of extra help in identifying the overall theme. Flute’s plaintive plea that he should not be required to play Thisbe was ideal for my purpose, both in what it says and because of the number of letters in it, exactly half the number of clues. Finally shadow = spirit gave me an appropriate title for the puzzle. I added the question mark because I felt that the connection between ‘shadow’ and ‘Christmas’, though logical, was somewhat attenuated.
This being, I think, the longest phrase I’ve ever asked you to clue (long anagrams apart) I was slightly worried that some would fmd the challenge uncongenial. There were lots of inventive ideas, however, and some lovely definitions – ‘PM bristles’, ‘job for Wilkinson’ (with suggestions of Jonny), and ‘afternoon nap’, to name but three. (The last of these was used as his complete clue by one competitor, but for me, witty though it is, such a misleading definition on its own is not enough. A truly cryptic element is also required.) Another promising ‘& lit.’ clue from a regular competitor failed to pass scrutiny of its syntactical structure: ‘It may need new shave if down almost covers face’ (o clock in anag. of shave if dow(n)). In the literal reading ‘It may need ... covers old face’ doesn’t work when what the writer intends to say is ‘It may need ... covering old face’ but cannot actually say this because it destroys the clue’s syntax.
Other agreeable things to emerge from the competition were reminders of Richard Nixon and his disastrously dusky jowls, and the discovery that there is a US rock band called Five O’Clock Shadow – fairly obscure, I’d say, since my rock musician son had never heard of them. I was greatly touched by the many cards and seasonal greetings you sent me and my family. My warmest good wishes to you all in return as we head into 2005. It has just occurred to me that I have been producing Azed crosswords for well over half of my life. Thankfully the creative urge continues undiminished, so if you’re still game ... (And a final apology for the extreme lateness of this slip. Computer problems.)