CCCWC February competition voters’ comments
A clue to TETRA.
16 comments were received for this competition
Move your mouse pointer over any bold clue number to see the clue.
A clue to TETRA.
16 comments were received for this competition
Move your mouse pointer over any bold clue number to see the clue.
|Comments on the competition|
|2. A swimmer is put right back into the drink : 5 points, good surface reading, nice play on "drink". 10. Fish in batter, decapitated and fried : 4 points, another good surface reading, with clear and reasonable anagram and removal indicators. 26. Offensive artist displays fish : 3 points, nice clue for TET, British clue for artist is so common in cryptics to be something we Yanks should understand. 22. Lawrence's skill returned with Spenser's plant : 2 points, surface reading is a bit obscure, but TE + (ART reversed) was a nice change. 40. Up late waiter? Not pilau, we ordered fish : 1 point, very clever anagram and removal operation, but I don't understand the intended meaning of "Up late waiter?" - strained.|
|I found this the most difficult of the competitions I've scored, as there are several clusters of very similar clues. I fear I may not be doing some very worthy clues justice, but here goes: First place, for 5 points, I award to Clue 34, which, while slightly wordy, is witty and original. Second place I give to Clue 11 (4 points), which has an excellent surface and a neat 'hidden' indicator. Third place (3 points) I give to Clue 32; I'm a little hesitant about how well known the film reference is, but overall it seems to work very well. I thought the best of the 'Offensive' clues was Clue 25, to which I give 2 points, and the best of the 'batter' clues was Clue 9, to which I award 1 point. Near misses for clues 24 and 39, which stood out for originality.|
| There were so many quite reasonable clues, that it was difficult to pick out the best , - until I realized that most were of the type that I had already rejected as being too banal when thinking about my own. To be fair, TETRA never was going to produce a good crop of anagrams or hiddens; and what is left but reversals, initials, and the odd variant!|
In looking for the out-of-the-ordinary, I strove to force clue 1: 'A fish to land with half this line' to say more than it did. The imaginary solver encountering it, would reasonably have expected to be given the slightest hint that it had something to do with versification, say another line to form a couplet, or even a reference to feet. The clue may well be tetrametric, but it is iambic too....so what follows from that? A pity that it lost the tide, - While starved it floundered, and then died. Hey! Can we have another do, - At the TINSEL/BAUBLE clue!
| Some general thoughts first. #22 was I think the only entry to pursue the plant option - unwisely, I believe, given that there seems a convention that Spenserian language must be signalled (why?) but that apart from the ubiquitous "Ed" no-one seems to have any cryptic way of doing so. A bland "fish" as the definition, unless qualified or concealed, strikes me as neglecting the sorts of opportunities for a misleading surface that most of the better clues have taken. And a concealed clue has to be really good to pass muster, given the friendliness of the letters. |
On specific clues - I think there is matter for debate about #32. I would solve it instantly (even not knowing of the fish, the letters hang together) but not understand it, not having seen the film. At what point does a setter's expectation of a solver's knowledge reasonably stop?
My favourites (top down) are
#37 Despite my comments above, "Tet" is I think justified by precedent (it was used without qualification, as here, in a recent Listener). The notion of offensive + gunners probably occurred to many of us - it's the "tank group" that makes the clue.
#11 As I said, a concealed clue has to be really good - and this is. Lovely evocation of childhood.
#21 I'm not so sure about the ! but the construction is admirable.
#5 Another clever definition. "Retro" is I think pushing it a bit, however
#12 I nearly decided against this on the grounds that "out" is not a verb in
the sense of going out. Fortunately a check revealed my error. Very elegant construction.
| Although TETRA offers many good possibilities for building the word from components, partial anagrams or as a concealed word, I felt that if the clue contained the simple definition 'fish' it made the clue too simple for a five-letter word, however good the surface reading might be. Thus, I ruled out 7-18, 18, 23, 25, 26, 30-33, 40 and 42.|
Clue 1 was spared on this score by its clever link to another definition. Similarly, clue 6 with its ambiguous 'fishy' and red nose reference survived the initial trawl.
Clues related to the fish definition that avoided the word 'fish', used oblique references related to tanks, scales, swimming, fishing, small fry, bite and net - with varying degree of success.
Of these, I found clue 5 with its 'chromatic scales', its additional clever 'four' definition reference and entire surface reading the most satisfactory, then clue 34. While clue 28 also had a good misleading surface reading, I found 'one in a tank' a little clumsy.
Of the clues that related solely to the 'four' definition I found clues 4, 20, 17 and 35 the most enjoyable.
I was unfamiliar with the definition used by clue 38, but found the construction somewhat insipid, despite the &lit, while clue 22's surface reading to get to Spenser's plant seemed a little contrived.
|This was a friendly word to clue, but the temptation to go for an obvious anagram or a hidden was strong, and many of the clues were just too easy. 34 managed a good misleading definition and 3, 9, 24 and 43 had nice surfaces, so they got my marks. A few comments on the rest: 1. Too many unwarranted exclamation marks. What has 42 done to deserve two? 2. I can't accept 'offensive' indicates 'Tet'. The other way round would be ok (just). 3. If you're cluing TETRA as a prefix, you need to indicate this clearly. 'Tetra-' may do the same job as 'four-' but 'tetra' doesn't mean 'four'.|
|21 - Excellent choice. 12 - Also turned my head. 32 - Well spotted. 40 - Good compound. 34 - Nicely disguised.|
| Am I alone in thinking this was a slightly dull set of clues? Maybe it was because the word itself leaves little to the imagination.|
I discounted 'four' unless the fodder made reference to a 'combining form' and not being a great fan of Spenser ... so really not much to do with it other than to use or define 'fish'. Any that did slightly more scored points in my book - without of course, tying themselves in knots. Clue 1 deserves special mention for being 'clever, clever' though the sharpest hook was 'fishy treat' - Simple! Also ran - clue 34.
|Short words should have shortish clues -- and yet it is often very hard to be sure of doing anything original in a short clue to a 5-letter word. Subtraction is often a good bet(as shown by the winner I've chosen) but a hidden clue has to be very clever to get away with it (and I don't think any here were quite good enough).|
| 5 pts: Clue 5 - Not the most fluent clue, but 'Chromatic scales' is really excellent 4 pts: Clue 9 - Much the best worded of clues using the 'batter' treatment 3 pts: Clue 43 - Very good &lit 2 pts: Clue 3 1 pt: Clue 11 - I would have preferred a comma to a full stop, and no exclamation mark, but otherwise very good wording|
29 - Another good &lit, but the definition reading isn't quite as smooth as clue 43.
34 - Needs a capital for 'Net' in the surface reading
16 - Almost very good but 'Hardly' is superfluous to the cryptic reading; clue 15, on the other hand, needs a question mark
| I think the few definitions of this word limited this competition just a bit.|
My 1st (five points) is, last but not least in your list, the 43rd of the 43. I'm not a fan of long composite anagrams but this is an excellent short one esp as the extra letters (WHO'S) are not extraneous and tie in very well with the word. 2nd (4 points) No 38 - a top quality &lit which read very smoothly. 3rd (3pts) No 9 just edging out No 10 (2 pts) which used the same idea. Finally 5th (1pt) No 36.
|1st= (3 points each): 24. "Odd glimpses of The Eternal that could come to those fishing on lake?" [not sure if the question mark is really necessary, but an old idea done very well] and 32. "Seconds from stifling Ken, Otto brazenly eats a fish" [remarkably fortunate but extremely clever] 3rd (2 points): 21. "It's great foremost in tank, less good battered!" [unnecessary exclam but a nice idea excellently done] 4th= (1.5 points each): 11. "Fish paste.Traditional sandwiches!" [messy punctuation - a dash would I think have improved it, but otherwise an excellent hidden, the best of several], 30. "Retrospective of paintings, etc, etc - no place for severed head of cow or confounded fish in tanks?" [too long and cumbersome, but a very good idea that just about works], 37. "Tank group offensive, supported by gunners" [rather banal wordplay but a very nice definition which is I think OK: is it the name of a group?] and 43. "Who's this we find swimming in fresh hot waters?" [almost a very good comp. anag., marred by the "hot", which suggests the water that comes from a hot tap]. 8th = (0.5 points each): 3. "Brilliant swimmer's caught in elaborate trap" [unexciting but sound] and 9. "Fish in batter topped with dressing" [quite nice, but the anagram indicator is a bit weak]|
| I chose number 32 as my winner for its flawless surface reading and clever allusion to the well known film. A very original treatment, making it stand out from the crowd. Excellent.|
'Hot' on its heels is number 13, using a clever technique to indicate 't' and 'r'. So well written I get hungry every time I read it!
| Well - not quite the glut of fishy treats I'd expected! I suppose it was too obvious - I certainly went through agonies of second- guessing, as I'm sure did at least forty others!|
Curiously the two that did stick with the idea failed (for me) in opposite ways. If 15's simple "Fishy treat" had been given a question mark, it would have been the perfect &lit! 16, on the other hand, having got that right, blew it with the superfluous "Hardly"! I wonder how many of us are kicking ourselves?
Similarly, in clue 18, "Ate trawler full of fish?" (with question rather than exclamation mark) would be perfectly adequate. What function does the "I" serve?
Over-complexity seemed to be the order of the day. Perhaps given the shortness of the word people were afraid of being too obvious - or of duplication. A case in point is Clue 7 - the additional definition was again superfluous. "Fish and tater stew" or "Tater stew for four?" would have been fine. Using both reads rather clumsily.
1st - 5 points - Clue 5: Chromatic scales are a feature of this 'retro' quartet? Without question! A perfect marriage of surface and cryptic readings
=2nd - 3.5 points - Clue 6: False red nose is a little fishy? A good example of the "less is more" approach
=2nd - 3.5 points - Clue 32: Seconds from stifling Ken, Otto brazenly eats a fish Very clever - though I'm not sure I'm entirely grateful for being reminded of that particular scene! ;-)
=4th - 1.5 points - Clue 11: Fish paste.Traditional sandwiches! More ghastly memories I'm afraid - I still get nightmares at the thoughts of Shippham's! (Are they still going, does anyone know?)
=4th - 1.5 points - Clue 13: Fish supper, sprinkled with just the right amounts of salt and vinegar Again - simple but elegant (and much more palatable than 11!)
|Seemed to be an abundance of exclamation and question marks this month. Personally I prefer a cleaner one line clue to the more complicated ones, e.g. Number 5 which had 11 words, an exclamation mark, a question mark and a set of inverted commas, which seemed excessive for a five-letter word.|
|TETRA offered lots of possibilities as a clue word. There were quite a few clues that had no serious faults in their construction, but were rather flat and humdrum or had feeble surfaces. On the other hand, there were disappointingly few that combined soundness with flair, several of the more interesting approaches being flawed in their execution, even if not always seriously so. In my book, "fish" as the definition needed the zest of an original surface or particularly neat and/or sparkling wordplay to make the grade.|
37. Tank group offensive, supported by gunners
Simple, but sound, wordplay, and a good (and (quite fairly) misleading) definition and surface. (Clue 28, which used the same idea, has a less convincing surface and includes a word ("counters") that appears to play no role in either definition or subsidiary indication.)
2 points each:
5. Chromatic scales are a feature of this 'retro' quartet? Without question!
The word "are" would have been better omitted or placed at the beginning of the sentence to produce a real question, but otherwise the clue offers sound wordplay and an original definition and surface.
11. Fish paste. Traditional sandwiches!
The neatest of the many "hidden" offerings, with a convincing surface.
40. Up late waiter? Not pilau, we ordered fish
I suspect that some will object to the fact that the letters of "pilau we" do not appear in the same order in "Up late waiter". Personally, I don't strongly object to this variant on the device - and I enjoyed the surface.
1 point each
24. Odd glimpses of The Eternal that could come to those fishing on lake?
An excellent idea, and the wordplay in the first five words is very deftly done, but the rest of the clue does not, unfortunately, quite live up to either. It's odd, since one "catches" both glimpses and fish, that the author should have chosen to use the slightly unsatisfactory "come to", which doesn't really suit the definition: "caught by" would have saved two words and been much more appropriate. And, as far as I can establish, tetra are typically river fish; "on lake" is thus neither really appropriate to the definition nor quite adequate to suggest Lake Galilee in particular.
26. Offensive artist displays fish
This has the edge on the very similar 25, because "displays" has possible overtones of Damien Hirst that "coloured" does not, producing a rather more convincing surface (even if "offensive" is arguably a rather strong descriptor, even for those who don't think much of Brit Art).
34. Site traffic reveals what can be got from net with a search on Amazon
An interesting idea for the surface, but less than totally convincing - would one really cite "site traffic" as the evidence for the variety of what is available on Amazon? And "what can be got from net with a search on Amazon" is both a bit long-winded and rather vague as a definition of "tetra".
0.5 point each:
38. Telecommunications equipment's to regulate ambulances, primarily
I'm not at all sure that TETRA is used "primarily" for regulating ambulances, which makes the &lit slightly dubious, but otherwise this is quite neat.