The Crossword Centre Clue-Writing Competition

CCCWC March competition voters’ comments

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A clue to EXCALIBUR.
133 comments were received for this competition (from 10 competitors, 3 others)
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Comments on the competition
Several entries have confused Excalibur with the Sword in the Stone. This is a common misconception. As legend has it, Excalibur was the sword that was given to Arthur to replace the sword that had been taken from the stone, after the latter had been broken in battle. Excalibur was returned to the Lady of the Lake upon Arthur's death.
I really wanted to go with…

California liberal puts on faulty Durex (tip missing), revealing sword!

…but didn't think that would play well with this crowd.
It was not an easy word to cluweree. If definition is not camouflaged properly it can a dead giveaway. Most clues have used very direct definitions. Many have surface reading with direct reference to King Arthur.

Legendary sword, sabre, famous blade etc. fall in that category.Amongst the different ones the 'point of Art?' 50 really stands out.

Brand name or legendary brand were also good camouflaging definitions.

Comments on the clues
1. A club one Rex once wielded? Yes and no!
1.The definition is essentially "a weapon once used by a king – not a club" which is a bit vague.
2.Somewhat forced surface. Not sure which is the anagram indicator
3.What's the anagram indicator — "wielded"?
2. A legendary brand of unknown quality, one hears (9)
1.Good homophone clue. 1 point.
2.On the surface, it doesn't sound plausible that a legendary brand would be of unknown quality. Works fine technically
3. About to be surrounded, on reflection I left weapon half covered – in stone?
1.Attempted semi-& lit. but the first half of the clue isn't relevant to Excalibur specifically
2.Surface could be better.
3.An operator seems to be missing after 'surrounded' for this to be grammatically correct in cryptic reading
4. All aquiver, excitable Arthur could provide threat with this?
1.Don't like "all aquiver" much, but the clue is sound. NOT an "&lit" as claimed.
2.Clever compound anagram
5. Arthur's brand – example of non-fattening western curry
1.non-fattening = one calorie = ic is a bit far-fetched, and could equally well (or better) mean oc.
2.Bit of a stretch to get cal 1; why not 1 cal? And ex for example? But a good variant
3.Wouldn't one calorie be "1 cal" (not "cal 1")?
6. Arthur's brand new ex-Airmen's club has no gents!
1.1 point for the deceptive "brand new".
2.not convinced that men's = gents
3.6. Good hiding of "brand" and different meaning of "club" within surface.
7. Arthur's drawn blinds (9)
1.This clue needs wordplay
2.Clever idea, but does not work as a definition.
3.Not sure how the clue leads to a noun as definition
8. Beheaded king reportedly bore a legendary sword
1.Makes better use of the "calibre" homophone than most of the other attempts, although in the legends Arthur wasn't beheaded.
2.8. "bore" a better definition of calibre than most others, and well hidden.
9. Brand name that used to be set in stone?
1.The sword was set in stone, not the name.
2.I'd like to have seen some supporting wordplay to provide me with letters
10. Brand no longer worth being listened to
1.The obvious response being "was he ever?" Slightly awkward surface, since the natural phrase "worth listening to" can't be used here.
2.Nice construction, but needs a stronger definition to earn points
3.Surface sounds a bit odd, ie 'listening' to a brand
11. Crowning glory for freeing this?
1.This is more a general knowledge question than a cryptic clue
2.Seems rather vague to me.
3.I'd like to have seen some supporting wordplay to provide me with letters
12. Cudgel axe and club? I take a sword
1."Take" doesn't have any role in the wordplay, and the definition "a sword" is vague.
2.With an 'and' in the middle, the remaining letters after 'club' have to come as a charade and can't be treated as anagram fodder
13. Cutter ending up in an arm of the lake (9)
1.The last six words look rather forced
2.Reasonable cryptic definition although hard to solve, I think. 1 point.
3.Clever use of multiple meanings
14. Disused weapon is heard (9)
1.Calibre is a property of some weapons, not the weapon itself
2.I don't think calibre = weapon. Apart from that, "is" doesn't seem like the right linkword.
3.Don't see how calibre = weapon.
4.Calibre is not a weapon.
15. Dumped spouse I found in a club dancing with R Brand!
1.Good idea, but brand (or Brand!) alone is a slightly weak definition
2.Clever attempt, but definition is vague – it needs to be more than just another word for sword.
3.Good idea but odd construction
4.Good fun!
16. Excellent assumed name, not as dog letter might be described like this legendary sword.
1.Surface makes no sense to me, I'm afraid
2.I hadn't come across dog letter = R before, it seems a bit obscure. Can't see much sense in the surface.
3.Surface a bit contrived
17. Excellent cover story – "I've gone to the old city to get the king's sword."
1."I've gone" can only refer to the pronoun, not the letter I.
2.Can't agree that 'I've gone' equals 'I is(has) gone', which is what is needed
3.In cryptic, "I've" doesn't work for deleting I. I must go is preferable.
4.17. Lovely surface, but I would have liked a repetition of "old" in front of "kings…" or something similar to give it more points.
18. Fabulous brand of beer dropped from one's lips when kissing backside of old flame
1.I can't really envisage the surface reading, very bizarre
2.I don't like the indirect homophone (beer > Kaliber > calibre) and the humour is weak.
3.Can't make much of this surface
4.homophone (dropped…lips) is excellent. But use of "of" as link i.e. definition of wordplay is bad.
19. Fabulous strokemaker tops off Crucible max with flourish
1.Good misleading surface
2.A snooker player is not usually described as a strokemaker.
3.Very good try, but 'strokemaker' doesn't quite convince as a valid term in either snooker or swordplay unfortunately
20. Famous steel cross pinched by incurable criminal (name withheld)
1.Very nice anagram, the last two words are a little forced
2.Does a good job of swapping the N for an X to get achieve the anagram. "Famous steel" is a weak definition though.
21. Fighter pilot returns around 10:51, gets back massage, becomes legendary weapon
1.Could only happen in a crossword clue. Also 10 and 51 are inserted in different places.
2.Ingenious but unconvincing.
3.Seems the use of 'back' is iffy. In any case, the surface does seem a bit forced
4.21 Lovely wordplay. Could the last three words be changed to improve the surface reading? I don't know how, but it would be nice!
22. Former chaplain regularly used to polish up famous sword
1.Wordplay seems perfectly valid, although the definition is a bit humdrum.
2.Works fine, except if it was an 'Across' clue
23. Former lover with ability with mouth and legendary 'weapon' (9)
1.'By' or 'from' mouth, but not 'with'
2.Don't think "ability" is the same as "calibre", and the innuendo is laboured.
24. From stony confines this was liberated By one who then as king was celebrated.
1.Where is the wordplay?
2.The task was A STANDARD CRYPTIC clue, so a rhyming couplet will not earn any merit, and it is not cryptic.
3.Nice effort with the rhyme
25. Heard tell this old weapon no longer cuts the mustard.
1.I don't see the significance of the mustard, sorry.
2.Calibre is not an old weapon.
26. I curb an axle, like a magic sword in king's hand!
1.Throwing 'an' into the middle of the anagram material spoils the clue
2.Needs an anagram indicator, and the surface seems like gobbledegook.
3.Surface not so great
4."an" messes up your anagram. And where's the anagram indicator?
5.The "an" ruins it
27. I was heroically drawn direct from cold rocky burial
1.A clever and convincing clue making good use of one version of the Arthurian legend. 5 points.
2.Clever and original idea (but see Wikipedia on the question of accuracy)
3.Nicely done
28. Impassioned Rex: With a club, I hammered mythic sword
1.Surface lacks credibility – you'd need a hammer, not a club. Wrongly implies that Arthur created Excalibur himself.
29. In short, extra quality, they say, shows in legendary brand.
1.Reasonable clue but didn't quite make my points list.
2.Best of the brand/quality clues
3.Without "In short" the clue would have been much better and perfectly sound
30. It was set in stone that former captain would receive burial at sea
1.Definition "it was set in stone" gives solver a difficult task.
31. Legendary sword's formed club and axe I put before king
1.How can a sword form a club and an axe?
2.Didn't quite get the drift of the surface
32. Magical blade – former despot disemboweled, slain even with rough edge!
1.Expecting solvers to get c(zarin)a is a bit of a stretch
2.To get "czarina" from "despot" is asking the impossible. "Slain even" won't do for the even letters of "slain".
3.Asking a solver to get "ca" from "despot disemboweled" is a bridge too far.
33. Massage, lubricate, kiss, no time for a shaft!
1.A shaft is not a sword (and would be far too vague a definition even if it were) and this sort of humour is very feeble.
2.I like the inventiveness, but it's not an &lit.
3.Amusing one but a bit short on definition!
4.33. Fun, but not sure about the definition!
34. Murderous Alexi cleared by small sticking point and would be freed by King. (9)
1.Arbitrary names usually make weak clues.
2.Does "C" abbreviate "cleared"? Not seen this before.
3.Is "murderous" the anagram indicator? And who is Alexi?
35. Mythical weapon Blair excuse largely involved
1.Great anagram idea, but removal of SE needs to be more explicitly indicated
36. Old bore heard this legend in the King's Arms
1.Nice straightforward clue with a clever definition, but "told" instead of "heard" might have been even better. 4 points.
2.Best of the calibre homophones – nice and simple.
37. Old dog's a liberal legend, a kingmaker! (9)
1.There's nothing to indicate that A LIB needs to be inserted in EX CUR.
38. Old sword was of sound quality(9)
1.I don't buy was = ex
2."Was" does not equal ex, and "of sound quality" is dubious.
3.38 Simple and straightforward. Good!
40. Quality, it's said, once led the way – only a true king could have such steel
1.Wordplay OK, definition rather long-winded.
2.What is the role of 'the way'? Just seems to be padding
41. Romantic hero pulled this once talent was perceived
1.Nicely constructed clue. Perceived can mean heard but it's not very convincing as a homophone indicator. 1 point.
42. See a Liberal behind vote to stay in Europe? Steel as before
1.See for C needs a homophone indicator. "Steel as before" is an inadequate definition.
2.Nice historical reference if you remember 1975
3.42 Nice idea here – would have given more than one point for better last three words.
43. Semi-heroical king (Uther's first-born) managed to find his sword
1.Not sure what "semi-heroical" means. "Uther's first-born" for UB is unorthodox, but why not?
2.Don't much like indirect anagrams, otherwise a pretty neat clue
44. Skipping tea, lubricate axe shoddily – what's the point?
1.Surface reading is nonsense, I'm afraid.
45. Stone weapon? No, mythical blade from the same place dividing former state and ancient city. (9)
1.The first three words are only there to give context to "from the same place", making this very clunky.
46. Sword of State almost split old stone up
1.I don't think "sword" is good enough for the defintion.
47. Take edges off fireaxe and meld with club to create legendary weapon
1.Surface reading is not convincing.
48. Take exception to corrupt Blair protecting Sun – essentially a powerful hacker?
1.Nice wordplay, but it's not clear in the surface reading who or what the powerful hacker is meant to be.
2.Works quite well despite the many components, but I'm not sure about the 'hacker' part
49. The legendary Sabre, perhaps, gives extra quality to the Listener
1.Nice clue though it requires specialised knowledge, and it's unconvincing to suggest that Excalibur might have been a sabre. 2 points.
50. The point of Art?
1.Needs some wordplay
2.The Collins reference given doesn't support point = sword. Art could be any old Arthur.
3.Would have thought that the point would be the tip of the blade and not the blade itself
4.A beautiful definition but I like to see supporting wordplay. I need two bites at the cherry every time
5.A decent try, but you are defining only the tip of the sword rather than Excalibur itself (ie the sword as a whole).
51. Topless sex nearly led to libido being halved – extremely unpopular for famous blade (9)
1.I can't believe that topless sex would lead to a loss of libido.
2.Surface seems contrived, I mean who ever says 'libido was halved'?
52. Was once of a suitable steely character we hear, being King Arthur's protector?
1.Rather long-winded approach to the EX CALIBRE homophone.
53. Was this got direct from stone as told, thrown back, to foreign lake returned?
1.Not keen on the 'reversed homophone'
2.No-one could reasonably be expected to get IBUR from "Stone as told, thrown back".
3.Extremely complicated. Even with the explanation, I'm not sure I really get it
4.53 My favourite. Can the "thrown back" and "returned" repetition be avoided? I've tried and failed, but the poetic ring of the clue is nice,