The Crossword Centre Clue-Writing Competition

CCCWC May competition voters’ comments

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A clue to ELDERS.
120 comments were received for this competition (from 11 competitors, 2 others)
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Comments on the competition
A number of appealing ideas and solid constructions to choose from. To help adjudicate I set aside any clue using leader or leaders as it's a relatively week anagram.
Far too many went for the obvious ‘leaders’ anagram, and only 16 did anything interesting with it. Far too few tried a misleading definition, so those that did use one stood out.
Most clues struggled to get good surfaces.
I liked the attempts at composite anagram & lit. clues, though most of these did not indicate this quite right. Clues that did include 1 and 60. The "Leeds" clues were generally very good, but especially 62 with its misleading definition.

Clues 32 and 47 used interesting syntactic definitions for "elders" as a word appearing in a saying along with the word "betters" but I feel they needed to indicate this better. In that saying, the elders are the betters. For both reasons, a definition like "betters, they say" would be fairer.

When referring to a word syntactically as a word or string of letters it is a single object and matching verbs should be conjugated in the third person singular. This is illustrated by the following (bad) joke:

Pupil: "I is —"
Teacher: "You can't say 'I is' — you need to use 'I am.'"
Pupil: (doubtfully) "I am a short word."
No stand-out entries here in my view. I tended to ignore those who used LEADERS as not much moving of letters was required for the anagram. Some otherwise good entries were marred by poor syntax or unfairness (eg, superfluous letters in hidden clues).
Another bumper crop of entries around a fifth of which (mine included) used a variation of 'leaders / dealers – a' anagrammed. Great minds perhaps but not producing a stand-out original clue! A number of clues also provided a definition for 'elderly', rather than 'elders' which do not mean the same thing. As ever, there were, of course, enough very good clues, sufficiently different and appealing, to attract my votes.
Comments on the clues
1. ——— are seen as artful leaders (6)
1.Unbelievably long-winded explanation
2.The wordplay might be thought to lead to an anagram of LEDS. 16 and 25 have the same defect.
2. Bush Senior's Council of Advisors (6)
1.This sort of wordplay needs a ? at least
3. Church office holders, they are people born earlier (6)
1.Aren’t they just two meanings of the same word ?
4. Churchmen led astray by leaders of extreme right-wing sect
1.Good surface
2.Good clue but others were better.
5. Collection of extra-mature delicious Red Leicester sandwiches served up
1.Easy-to-read, with enjoyable use of cryptic device and a plausible scene conjured up.
6. Confused leader with no answer: one of the Pitts, perhaps?
1.What is the anagram? Where’s the ess?
2.Definition and wordplay are for ELDER singular
3.This is a clue for ELDER not ELDERS
4.The definition and wordplay lead to ELDER not ELDERS
7. Confused leaders drop initial aim to announce senior advisors.
1."initial aim" doesn't indicate first letter of aim; "aim initially" does
2."to announce" seems superfluous
8. Definitely a couple of articles from the continent, supplied primarily for seniors
1.Not sure you need the 'definitely'
9. Dirty Reds slew endless village leaders
1."Dirty" is not a great anagrind. Who are the "Reds" in the surface?
2.Surface doesn't really make sense
11. Doyennes from Stratford enjoyed her society (6)
1.Replacing "from" with "in" works better
2.Not convinced Stratford is Cockney
12. Eastender's fascinated by Bianca's bushes
1.Unlike 13, Bianca's is not fair wordplay to clue "ERS".
13. "Eastenders" gripped a woman's forefathers.
1.The accent indication is not clear or grammatical
2.Wordplay needs Eastender’s not Eastenders
3.I don't think "Eastenders" indicates Cockney – 12 is more accurate. Weak surface.
14. Eel wriggling on angler's other rod, ends up in bushes (6)
1.You have indicated EEL* + SRD*, not EELSRD*
2.Wordplay indicates 2 separate anagrams
16. Folk in care homes? Atrocious leaders are found wanting
1.Excellent clue. But I don't really like a=are, too 'crosswordy' for me!
2.One of the better ‘leaders’ clues
3.X found wanting = X is missing (something). You mean "leaders wanting are" in the wordplay which doesn't work in surface
17. Foolish leaders first of all ignore well-respected people
1.Should be ignored
2.Cryptic grammar not quite right – needs to be "ignored" or "ignore first of all"
18. Found in retreat, gorgeous red leafy shrubs
1.You are missing e.g. another "in" after "retreat" for wordplay
2.The wordplay is faulty: ‘found in retreat, x’ doesn’t mean ‘found in x in retreat’ or ‘found in retreat in x’
3.'In' doing double duty here.
4.The contents indicator ("Found in") overlaps the reversal indicator ("in retreat")
5.Good hidden word clue but others were more appealing.
19. Golfer Ernie gets sunburned doing a round in the trees
1.In the trees is where you won't get sunburned :)
2.Trees would surely shade him?
20. Having dismissed opening pair, perhaps slips are the ones bearing fruit? (6)
1.Such a good idea, but unfortunately 'bearing fruit' doesn't fit the cricketing context
2.Solid idea and construction with a plausible story-line.
3.Good, but not sure about "are" as a linkword
4.Best of the 'fielders' clues.
5.Nice idea but surface doesn't really work for me
21. In prime spots, Melody enforests trees
1.I get the impression the writer was determined to use 'prime spots' and had to force the rest, which weakens the surface
2.Ambitious wordplay but an unconvincing surface
3.Nice indicator. I think enforest is only applicable to land, the opposite of deforest. OED def of "inforest" supports this.
4.Surface makes no sense to me
22. Jewish authorities rejected in Bible's red letters
1.A clever construction but relies on a bit of very obscure knowledge
2.The definition is only an example and needs a "by example" indicator imho.
23. Labour's red leader retires to hug trees
1."Hug" really doesn't seem like a hidden indicator to me, but a containment one.
25. Leaders? Could be these are
1.ELDERS is one word; "these" refers to its meaning not the word
26. Leader's dropped a clanger, senior figures
1.Definition seems disjointed from rest of clue
2.Clanger doesn't work as an anagram indicator
27. Leaders maybe forgetting onset of Alzheimer's? (6)
1.The best of the Leaders anagram clues by far.
28. Leaders of empires, lords, diplomats, envoys, royals, statesmen (6)
1.An acrostic signalled by 'leaders' is obvious, so the rest of the clue needs to be topical or funny. And the examples given could be young!
2.This clue is too easy for a baby still in the maternity ward. It was so easy I got the answer before I looked at the clue.
29. Leeds Rhinos number 1 playing for seniors
1.Good anagram idea, if not quite as good as 42
2."Rhinos'(s)" indicates the R better and is grammatical. Still good clue
3.Different clue worth a mention.
30. Not amateur leaders, maybe ? (6)
1.I like the clue except for the anagrind.
31. Part of group that beheld erstwhile members
1.Too many superfluous words in hidden fodder. Definition is ambiguous
2.'Beheld' sounds out of place
3.Surface makes no real sense to me
32. Partners of betters see first of local derby races abandoned (6)
1.Perhaps 'starts' would be better than 'first' to indicate three initial letters?
2.Good to see a misleading definition
3.You need "see firsts" in the plural. IMO, the definition needs to reference that elders partners betters in a saying, somehow.
4.Surface unconvincing, 47 works better
33. Patriarchs – leaders without a plan
1.Plan is superfluous
34. Perhaps the trees are felled – zebras get noticed periodically?
1.Too convoluted – could have been "Trees felled, zebras seen periodically"
35. Poorly sheltered, the ——— suffer
1.Poor wordplay. The solution isn’t an anagram of ELDERS.
2.One anagrind too many!
3."Suffer" seems superfluous. 46 is neater.
36. Presbyters are led astray by turbulent affairs in Rome
1.Using Latin like this is unfair to most solvers
2.The indirect anagram is too much of a stretch
3.Anagram is indirect. While semantically it refers to many things, "presbyters" is one word/string, so "are" is ungrammatical for wordplay
4.'res' wordplay seems too indirect
37. Restyled short dress with belt in the middle – for grannies?
1.Original, amusing and well -structured.
38. Sad old remorse, no room for seniors
1.The surface reading doesn't make a lot of sense
39. Sambuca, a fitting libation for presbyters
1.The double jump from sambuca to sambucus to elder is a step too far
2.While the Latin for "elder" is the etymology for "sambuca" the latter isn't a valid definition for the former
3.There is no wordplay to lead to ELDERS.
42. Seniors making runs in Leeds ground (6)
1.Role of making ? Definition “making” wordplay doesn’t seem right
2.Definition is fairly obvious, but a nice anagram
3.It makes more sense to have "[wordplay] making [definition]"
43. Seniors turned bolshie after being shunted into annexes
1.How are 'els' building extensions?
2.I only find "ell" with two ells for the meaning of "building extension" in Collins and ODE and OED
44. Some of Sainsbury’s Red Leicester on the turn – are they past their sell-by date?
1.I really like this but maybe Leicesters would fit better with 'they'
2.Best of the hidden reverses
3.Having (rev.) hidden word begin at "s" after apostrophe feels wrong – word before is filler. Linkage b/w "on the turn" and def is great
4.Not sure if it should be "they" or "it"
5.Nice idea but not clue quite grammatical
45. The aged women coming out joining hands
1.The indication is too ambiguous – this is rectified by a comma after "out"
46. The doddery isolated in sheltered development?
1.Two anagrinds smoothly integrated!
2.The comp anag isn't really indicated – partially fixed by a "———" in place of "doddery." The "isolated" is confusing and not needed
47. The Queeen's following tips to Epsom Ladies' Day, getting those before betters
1.Clever use of tips and betters, but 'to' doesn't seem right. Maybe 'for'?
2.Good idea, ‘tips on’ might have been better for the surface reading
3.Typo in "Queen's". Your def is for "elders" as one (syntactic) object in a phrase so "those" is wrong grammar
48. The Spanish, German and principally Scottish church dignitaries
1.Sounds like the beginning of a sentence
2.Straightforward, good clue.
49. The Spanish reds supply body of a superior vintage
1.Very clever use of 'supply' and 'body' to get a lovely smooth surface
2.Clever definition
3.Novel approach, well-structured but def stretches it a bit.
50. The Spanish sun pulls in the German OAPs
1.Simply brilliant
2.Very good surface. I slightly prefer 49 for its misleading def
51. Theo Snelders is six-a-side goalkeeper for Seniors
1.I can't see the reason for Theo or six-a-side in the clue?
2.You indicate cutting into two (not taking only second half). Innovative "hidden" indicator. Why not: "Snelders is goalkeeper for Seniors"
52. These trees seen with wild reeds bordering lake.
1.Not sure about "bordering" as a containment indicator
53. They healed hearts in row over couples' rights.
1."Over" is extraneous and very misleading in the wordplay. The (semi-)& lit. definition is far too vague
54. Those in authority are seldom seen without a medal, curiously
1.Different enough approach to make a good clue.
56. Those who join kicked out with respect to them!
1.Def is okay, not ideal (missing verb), ditto use of past tense in wordplay. I really like "those who join"
57. Those who spark a connection that's lacking with the generations above?
1.Clever wordplay
2.A very nice clue, well-structured, disguised and sufficiently original with a good surface story.
59. Trees seen in gorgeous red leaves from the east.
1.Surface doesn't quite make sense
60. Under a new order honouring the onset of age, they would be leaders
1."Under" should be traded for "In." That aside, I really appreciate your fair and clear indication of a comp anag clue (& lit.)
61. Veterans return from Bayeux's red letter day
1.Good hidden clue but other clue types were more appealing
62. We’re getting on train heading for Retford and Leeds
1.Living in Worksop, this gets extra points for resonance. I always like a lit such as this with a deflection of meaning.