The Crossword Centre Clue-Writing Competition

CCCWC April competition voters’ comments

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A clue to OPEN.
141 comments were received for this competition (from 12 competitors, 2 others)
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Comments on the competition
If there are too many almost identical clues it becomes extremely arbitrary to choose, so I'm afraid I removed all shOP ENtrance hiddens and NOPE anagrams before considering the rest. It doesn't necessarily mean they were poor clues, just uninspired. Does this happen more with a very short word to clue?
Lockdown surfaces I also felt were too specific to make a lasting good clue. And as ever there's no excuse for a meaningless surface.
Hidden clues with redundant words 9, 28, 44 are not good practice.
Also I personally feel it's unacceptable to be too indirect, not just with anagrams, which is a big no-no, but with removals (eg 8, 18). Even 4 which is another nice idea, just fails this one.
A bumper number of entries for a short word with a multiplicity of meanings brought out a wide range of clueing techniques including plenty of hidden clues, double (or more) definitions, and all in ones.
Judging these requires fairness to be applied to all entries but, equally, will be subject to our own individual reading of the quality of the clue. Personally, I eliminated any entry where the surface story made no sense or strained belief and any where the cryptic grammar was faulty (eg first letter indicators lacking a necessary preposition; words used in the surface story redundant in the cryptic grammar). Of the rest, I gave my points to the ones with originality and disguise displaying a level of difficulty for the setter and solver.
Comments on the clues
2. A fair selection returned by a biased one (not half!) (4)
1.Nepotism<>a biased one. Is this a lurker or a deletion? No real need for both.
3. A welcome sign in shop entrance
1.Very smooth and natural
2.Open's written on the sign but it isn't the sign, according to dictionary. Otherwise good clue
3.'welcome' is redundant
4. Affair destroying relationship? Not if marriage is this!
1.Wordplay is clever but too difficult
2.Such a good idea! But affair for operation? Hmmmmm
3."destroying" sounds more like an anagram indicator than a deletion indicator
5. Ambiguous…nope!
1.non (nope) ambiguous is the opposite of open?
2.Probably the best of the short anagrams
6. Available work space
1.It's concise and technically perfect but won't make anybody laugh or cry!
2.Isn't "workspace" usually one word?
3.workable clue
7. Bellhop enjoys hiding in plain sight
1.Send him back to the USA
8. Bid first for forgotten poetry rewritten by original poet
1."Original X" doesn't give first letter of X. "Rewritten by" doesn't mean "overwritten by". Loose def.
2.Original definition. It's spoilt by 'rewritten' and I'm not sure one should indicate P by 'original poet'
3.Oversee<>overlook, even though oversight carries the right sense. P selection lax.
9. Bob Hope never hosted this golf tournament!
1.Not keen on past tense wordplay. The cryptic reading applies in the present.
2."Bob" is extraneous
3.A great clue but Bob doesn't serve any purpose. Unless one regards BobHope as an entity…
4.The hidden word indicator shouldn't be in the past tense
5.Nice context; "this" golf tournament needs a little more distinction
6.What's Bob doing here? Past tense awkward in cryptic reading.
10. Bolted? Nope
1.No anagrind
11. Captain returning positive for maiden to begin to appear
1.'Captain' = 'Nemo' would be just about acceptable en clair, but reversed with a substitution is too indirect.
2.What does the surface actually mean?
13. Copenhagen stores free of restrictions
1.Topical and probably the best of the hidden clues
14. Currently a sign rarely seen in shop entrances.
1.a more topical twist to win the "shop entrance" category.
15. Deceitful? Nope
1.No anagrind
2.Just shaded by no 5
16. Even go up teeny cut
1.'Even' alone doesn't mean 'even letters of'
2."Even X" doesn't mean "even bits of X." I don't understand the surface
3.Letter selection not accurately indicated. Definition questionable. Surface meaning unclear.
17. Every other character in underplot turned round, undisguised.
1.Surface a bit unnatural
2.What's an underplot? Subplot?
18. Exposed bust and bottom after stripping (4)
1.While technically fine, the wordplay has so many ambiguities that it would be frustrating to verify OPEN unaided.
2.I don't think this is fair on the solver!
3.Nice try but a stretch too far with 'bust' for me.
19. Frank leads orchestras playing every night
1."Leads X" doesn't mean "leads of X"
2.Letter selection not accurately indicated.
3.Preposition needed in cryptic grammar after 'leads'
20. Frank's oddly Orphean (4)
1.I don't think 'oddly' quite works for 'odd letters of'
21. Frank's working without training (4) of the franks
2.'without' = 'outside' doesn't do it for me any more
3."Without" archaically means "outside" like "I left the bins outside" not in the sense of surrounding
22. Free content of online porn going up
1.Original hidden clue
2.Ever so slightly unnatural surface, but very imaginative and cheeky
3.Picky, but something free can't go up without first imposing a charge.
4.Nice surface
23. Free from Europe now?
1.I love the tone of this clue!
2.Where is the hidden clue indicator?
24. Free love – it's mightier than the sword
1.Stand out clue for me – the (brief) mantra of the 60s! Original and well-disguised clue.
26. Head of PPE goes missing: there's no holding back spread
1.Cryptic grammar needs "it" after "holding" which ruins surface. Nice topicality
28. "I hope not!" hides a secret that everyone knows
1.To be strict, definition is for "open secret" not "open"
29. Jimmy sometimes played at St. Andrews of the golfing clues
30. Leader of outrageous American prison is exposed
1.'outrageous' jars – surely there is a better 'o' word?
31. “Lift restrictions” starts off public euphoria at end of lockdown
1.Letter selection not acurately indicated: starts off obscene public etc, or similar?
2.pse see comment on no 33 – cyptic 'of' missing after 'starts'
33. Manifest comprises initials of passengers embarking now
1."Of" is unfairly doing double-duty; "initals X" doesn't mean "initials of X" even if X begins with "of"
2.'of' seems to be doing double duty here
3.Letter selection not accurately indicated: initials of obese passengers etc, or similar?
4.cyptic grammar 'of' missing after 'initials' if existing 'of' is being used for its first letter – additional 'o' word needed
5.Well-worked initials
34. Misanthrope never surfaces, with human contact few and far between.
1.Definition doesn't sound right somehow
2.Surfaces a stretch as containment indicator. Few and far between needs a plural.
3.The definition is too indirect and vague
35. Move in with otolaryngologist? (5)
1.Not a clue to OPEN!
2.Nice idea, but clueing the wrong word.
3.Is this a clue to OPEN or ENTER?
4."ENTER" was not the clue word but the prompt to enter the competition. Creative clue though
6.You're thinking of an otorhinolarygnologist.
36. No jail doesn't have a lock!
1."No" for "O" is probably a bit too indirect
38. One policeman about to smuggle crack (4)
1.I enjoy a clue that could be a headline to a story.
2.hidden word indicator in wrong place
3.Good surface, and reversing hides the obvious nicely.
39. Patience exhausted, stopping working for free (4)
1."Exhausted" means "used up" not "contents are used up" – the ketchup is exhausted, not the ketchup bottle
2.'Stopping working' sounds clumsy, too many ings. Could have been 'stops'
3.Has a reasonable story and works for me
40. Peony needs replacing. Why not, when it's straightforward?
1.‘Why’ is not Y
41. Permitting all to come out in public widely spaced (4)
1.Great surface. Not sure about definition 2
2.Topical and using 4 defs allows a reasonable story to be told
42. Postpone or possibly stop tournament
1.From this wp I wouldn't know to remove "stop" and then rearange "pone".
2.Nice idea, but doesn't quite say what the solver needs to do.
3.Further consideration if "this" tournament
4.Implicit anagram not really indicated. Need to indicate "anagram of definition + fodder X = Y" more explicitly
43. President is abducted by one rebel general (4)
1."X rebel" doesn't really indicate "anagram of X"
2.Not sure about "rebel" as an anagram indicator
44. Public confined inside forever? Hope not!
1.What is ‘forever’ doing in this clue?
2.Is "forever" really allowed to be there?
3."forever?" is extraneous
4.Very nice, but 'forever' seems to be there purely for the surface reading
5.good hidden indicator
6.What's forever doing here?
7.'forever' is cyptically redundant
45. Remove cap from end of Biro before writing
1.A slightly different way of using ‘pen’ puts this clue above other similar ones
2.Writing = "the pen", the article is quite important in this case
3.Reads nicely as a cohesive instruction, although writing is not synonymous with pen. So, …then write instead of …before writing, perhaps.
4.pen does not equal 'writing' (but write and writer)
5.Lovely surface, cleverly done.
46. Repeatedly postpone sports during return to kick off
1.inventive but "sports" confuses the WP?
2.The first three words and definition are superb. I don't think "during" is quite right, and while there is a clear topical theme in the surf
3.During seems to be padding. Return: what part of speech is intended?
4.Clever device to hide letter sequence. Surface not quite perfect for full marks.
47. Set around nine polar bears free
1.Nice surface and clever use of ‘bears’
2.Very clever use of 'bears'
3.Great wordplay. Decent surface
48. Set free after one actively seized power.
1.Like the idea. Surface doesn't quite cut it.
49. Shop entrance has to display this.
1.Not really, it's not a requirement.
50. Sign working stores place externally
1.Some nice double meanings
2.P & E unindicated selections (or idiosyncratic abbreviations).
3.Open's written on the sign but it isn't the sign, according to dictionary. Otherwise good clue
51. Spend this to go destroy public access.
1.Destroy (imperative?) doesn't work as anagram indicator after fodder.
52. Take off top in public (4)
1."Take off top of" equals "open" in your example – you need the "of"
2.Neatly put together
53. "Take the top of a jar," said Frank (4)
1.Presumably meant to be 'off'? In the Sunday Times comp recently a good clue lost out because of a spelling error!
2.Should "of" have been "off"?
3.Very clever, but surely "of" needs to be OFF
4.Make that 2 defs, with (admirably succinct) wordplay in between. Bonus definitions can seem like padding (as here) where WP included.
54. This note or that one, not even Orphean Choirman hits harmonic.
1.Not even is ropey as selection indicator. Function of choirman anagram unclear. Hits doesn't work as anagram indicator. Ingenious idea.
55. To be frank, this could cause writer's block.
1.My favourite, full marks!
2.Writer's block is just too specific and not related to no pen whereas ' writer difficulty' would have earned points
56. Two pairings playing together in top English golf tournament (4)
1.Playing together suggests something other than juxtaposition.
2.I like "pairings" but "playing" suggests an anagram, ruining the wordplay.
57. Unoccupied work space
1.Workable clue
58. Vacant expression when referring to book which is easy to read
1."Open" is part of the expression, not the whole expression "(an) open book"
2.Does the 2nd def work? The figurative open book collapses in on itself when applied specifically to a book.
59. Vulnerable and old shut inside with no end date
1.2 defs surrounding WP feels like padding. Works pretty well without 'Vulnerable and'. 'Old, and shut etc'?
60. Willing to accept twopenny piece (4)
1.Clever use of unusual pronunciation to hide the obvious
61. With zero confinement? (4)
1.Like the idea. Perhaps could use a more polished surface.
62. Word displayed in shop entrances (4) def – 'pent' and 'hope' are also a 4 letter words displayed in the clue
63. Word you may see in shop entrance
1.Very similar to mine, so I particularly appreciate this clue
2.Pse see comment for no 62
64. Working? Nope, broke!
1.Anagrind doesn't work (broke doesn't equal broken)
65. Yawning contest?
1.I just like the word yawning for open then the sensible second definition.
2.Creates a potential story and disguises the defs
66. Yawning in public
1.Neat double def.
2.I just like the word yawning for open then the sensible second definition.
3.Just shaded by no 65