◀  No. 7885 Jul 1987 Clue list No. 796  ▶


DISTHENE (Printer’s Devilry)

1.  E. J. Burge: Overhauling old fishing tackle, I’ve managed to check the ro/t OK.

2.  R. C. Dale: Few gems compare with the ruby-spinels (a r/are stone) (sard).

3.  C. P. Rea: A little bit of nonsense which if wor/n closed looks better.


M. Barley: A fast pro’s o/vers can scare, fully! (prosodist).

H. J. Bradbury: ‘Taking Guardian? Times? Express? – Delivery six p. each,’ says te/xt in a shop window (Botham, Dexter).

Rev Canon C. M. Broun: ‘Trusting o/ver – end in grousing’ – theme of the Bible.

C. A. Clarke: Brash Australian la/w champion crushing top-ranking opponent in dramatic court encounter (ref. Pat Cash, Wimbledon).

A. Clarkson: ‘Go/at’: brief answer one gives when children ask, ‘Where do little kids come from?

M. Coates: During zoo visit, save task – show ba/ck of the giraffe.

Dr V. G. I. Deshmukh: Again Martin Amis se/t play of ‘The Rivals’ – getting better (ref. Martina Navratilova, Wimbledon).

J. H. Dingwall: An inescapable expense when a shoe sol/ed – to repair it.

P. Drummond: Good gracious me! Lo/ver wants fortune.

S. Goodie: A ze/ro we dread when judgments appear.

J. F. Grimshaw: Traveller’s certainly not met ho/ver-flies before, he’s confessed.

P. F. Henderson: ‘Pain can make you go “O/w!”’ – Doctrine of a flagellant convert?

P. D. Hinchliffe: Being we/t, result of deciding to take the plunge.

G. Leversha: Australian la/w champion in court drama (ref. Pat Cash, Wimbledon).

M. A. Macdonald-Cooper: When we heard and sa/w ‘soft’ Roy, did Owen truthfully pale? (Troy, Dido; R. Jenkins, David O.).

N. Mellon: Co/ver failing catch in the deep?

C. J. Morse: What mend is covering o/ver failing light?

R. J. Palmer: Horace was a classic, a lo/ver, went in for romances.

D. B. Smith: A prior stops getting fines, having the crown of the hea/venly hairless!

Mrs I. G. Smith: Lendl – mis-se/rve of the champion faltering? (ref. Ivan L., Wimbledon).

D. H. Tompsett: Sighs Ball, ‘A/n amour! So don’t beat it, willow!’ (ref. The Mikado).

Mrs N. Turner: Secret of lush green: so/w seed.

M. E. Ventham: What is in Paris? Len i/s there.

A. P. Vincent: ‘We’re keeping faith in Go/wer’ – a selection promise.

M. H. E. Watson: Bra in wash? The liar! The min/x posed, revealing all.

Sir David Willcocks: The prefects be/at one in the ‘dorm’

G. H. Willett: A dry a/moral equivalent of a naiad.


R. Abrey, R. H. Adey, J. E. Andrew, D. W. Arthur, F. H. Ashton, Mrs Y. Bailey, P. F. Bauchop, E. A. Beaulah, J. D. D. Blaikie, R. E. Boot, Mrs A. R. Bradford, C. J. & M. P. Butler, P. A. Byrne, B. E. Chamberlain, E. S. Clark, H. Dazeley, N. C. Dexter, C. M. Edmunds, Mrs P. Edwards, O. M. Ellis, Dr J. C. Felton, M. Freeman, J. Gill, D. A. Ginger, N. C. Goddard, M. Goodyear, R. R. Greenfield, O. Greenwood, I. D. Hall, D. V. Harry, A. W. Hill, B. Iliffe, W. Jackson, Mrs D. B. Jenkinson, G. Johnstone, J. R. H. Jones, Mrs S. Jordan, Prof N. Kessel, F. P. N. Lake, A. Lawrie, M. D. Laws, C. W. Laxton, Dr R. Liddle, J. D. Lockett, H. R. Lockhart, A. Logan, C. J. Lowe, D. F. Manley, S. M. Mansell, H. W. Massingham, J. F. Mckee, Dr B. N. McQuade, J. R. C. Michie, C. T. Milner, J. J. Moore, H. B. Morton, R. F. Naish, N. Parrack, K. Pearce, B. Pike, H. L. Rhodes, J. M. Robinson, R. Rogan, L. G. D. Sanders, W. J. M. Scotland, Dr W. I. D. Scott, N. E. Sharp, W. K. M. Slimmings, D. A. Smith, F. Stevens, M. Stokes, P. L. Stone, F. B. Stubbs, G. M. Surguy, R. C. Teuton, Mrs J. E. Townsend, D. J. Waddams, Mrs J. Waldren, A. J. Wardrop, R. A. Wells, J. R. Widdowson, M. A. L. Willey, Mrs E. K. Williams.

360 entries, about two dozen incorrect, mainly through failure to spot LAER, which puzzled a number who got it right. The undevilled version of its clue was meant to read ‘To those who doubted his virtue in life some stelae reply’, suggesting memorial inscriptions posthumously restoring the reputation of one who had been much maligned in his lifetime – not too fanciful an idea or too outlandish a piece of prose, I think. Perhaps, on reflection, I could have bulked out the clue with extra verbiage to give a clearer idea of what I had in mind. It is never easy deciding how far it is reasonable to go in giving such pointers in PD. clues. Adding ‘Malay’ in the clue to ASSAILS (‘…in the main to proa’s sail swelling’) was certainly warranted, I think. It’s all, as so often, a matter of being fair but not over-generous to the solver.
Anyway, a welcome return for Printer’s Devilry, whose supporters far outnumber its detractors, it seems. Please don’t expect one too often – they take an inconscionable time to put together : not so much difficult as very slow, with the short words requiring as much thought as, and often more than, the longer ones because they usually offer a wider range of possibilities. Why 13 × 11? No special reason, though experience has taught me that when there is any sort of restriction on the type of words in the grid the ‘landscape-type’ oblong diagram gives the compiler a bit more room to manoeuvre. Judging P.D. competitions also takes longer than usual since most entries are basically sound, and one is reduced to the finer points of contrastive stylistic analysis and picking clues in which both devilled and undevilled versions read naturally and fluently. The easiest mistake to make when writing a P.D. clue is to create an unnatural undevilled version in order to achieve a natural devilled one. (One or two VHCs, and especially Messrs Bradbury, Macdonald-Cooper and Tompsett, came perilously close to this but the sheer inventiveness of their clues just tipped the balance in their favour.) The most popular idea by far was ‘sa/ver’ with none outstandingly better than the rest. Likewise no one really succeeded in using Dr Who’s Tardis quite right.
I must recount an extraordinary postscript to the last competition puzzle in which I somewhat frivolously concealed my own name. Mr Aubrey Crow, who did not know me by name and who has been solving Observer puzzles since the days of Torquemada in the 30s, wrote to ask why I had chosen to put the name of his grandson Jonathan Crow across the top row of the puzzle on the fifth anniversary of his death in the Falklands campaign. Needless to say I knew nothing of this and would not have thought to commemorate him in such a way without prior reference to the bereaved family. Yet it remains an uncanny and very poignant coincidence.


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

Latest  AZED  No. 2,709  19th May

All online Azed puzzles

Dr Watson reviews Azed 2603

From the archive

American Marines strain to contain combatants getting little thanks for everything provided in ops (12)

Third prize winner by T. J. Moorey in competition 1663