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George vs the Azed Clueing Competition – a two parter, BENNET and RECOLLET

An occasional (yet perversely popular) series about entering clueing competitions.  There were two very strange Azed competition puzzles in a row, the one themed around “Forty Years On”, and the April Fool’s Day puzzles with the clashing letters (I put in APRIL FOOL – I have no problem with being one).

Azed mentioned in the slip that BENNET was “not the most exciting word to clue”. In my note to Azed I echoed that – “A dry grass stalk?  There’s not much promising there”.  Most of the clues that made their way into the slip used literary references that didn’t come to be at all, so I went with the dry grass stalk…

Knight bit into twisted dry grass stalk (6)

Wordplay:  N(knight), E(bit) in BENT(twisted)

I didn’t think it was all that bad, but probably not the most inspiring clue in the world.

I seem to do best in Azed clueing competitions when I have no idea about the word beforehand.  I wouldn’t know what a RECOLLET was if he waved tracts at me telling me to detach from creatures and recollect in God.  So a complete blank slate.  TELLER reversed sounded like a good start, since it could be tied in to the definition.  Have to get a C and an O in there.  C can be Catholic which keeps with the definition and lots of things can be O – so here’s a HC-worthy clue

Narrator of catholic inside, in retrospect he aims for detachment (8)

Wordplay:  O(of), C(catholic) in TELLER(narrator) all reversed

Finally back in the world of HCs!  Woohoo – and in grand company with the Youngs, a Morse and four other USA based people.  USA! USA! USA!

Feel free to share other failed or unfailed clues, and remember next week should be the new competition puzzle!

George vs the Azed Clueing Contest – MISTREATMENT

Welcome back to the occasional series where I enter clueing competitions with mixed results.  I entered the Azed January competition but then forgot to save my letter so I can’t remember for the life of me what my clue was.  Not so that February jigsaw puzzle, which was kind of frustrating to solve with the incorrect clue and the incorrect clue length in one case, to the point where I thought maybe there’d only be three entries and I’d be in with a chance.

Don Manley may be mortified to discover that we had exactly the same idea for writing a clue for MISTREATMENT – take MISTRUST, remove the US and replace with EAT MEN.  DM did come up with a much more concise clue for this idea, which is why he gets a VHC and I get nothing.  Here’s my clue…

Suspect forcing us to become a cannibal, maybe in cruel action (12)

I was sorely tempted to put the wrong enumeration in as a tribute to the crossword, but thought better of it at the last moment.

I have to take my invisible hat off to the winning clue though!  Tracey Emin’s “Everyone I have ever slept with” was one of the lowlights of a visit to the Brooklyn Gallery of Art to see the Sensation touring display.  Although it was fun to have to go past protesters and be given pamphlets on how I was going to hell just to get in.  The main cause of contention was the Chris Ofili Virgin Mary picture with elephant dung.

Congrats to those who made the cut, and feel free to share successes and failures!

George vs the Azed Clueing Competition – APPLE-KNOCKER (In which I make the slip, but not for a clue).

Well my clue didn’t get in, but here’s an except from my note that accompanied the clue…

Interesting puzzle, this one – found the right hand side far easier than the left hand side, and the competition word was one of the last ones in.  I have surveyed several of my friends over here of various ages, and nobody has heard of the term or the definition.

So I got a little shout-out in the slip, but no love for the clue.  I found this a real struggle to make anything out of, but here was my clue – I think it may have stretched the rules a little too much (though a similar idea was employed in the third-place clue).

Damn Yankee, outspoken fan of political correctness (in short) (12)

Definition: Damn Yankee.  Wordplay is that shortening political correctness leads to PC, and an outspoken PC fan would be an APPLE-KNOCKER

I suspected the slip would be full of compound anagrams, and it was.  Maybe this upcoming year I’ll submit a clue of this type, but I’m honestly not that big on them.

I’ll confess – I couldn’t finish the Azed Christmas puzzle, so I didn’t submit a clue this time around.  If there’s a big call for it, I can put up  a post about the next competition, but I’ll probably just leave it out.  Got a clue that didn’t make the cut, or worthy criticism?  Feel free to leave it below!



George vs the Azed Clueing competition: ROBUST

Well this is a kind of a pointless post, as I had an error in my grid, thus disqualifying myself from the competition.

ROBUST was not a word that leapt out at me as being interesting to clue.  What’s funny is the first wordplay I thought of was BUS in ROT but couldn’t come up with a good clue to go with it.  Not so the case for R. J. Hooper, who came up with a really nice clue.  I laughed at 2 and 3 having the same wordplay.

I noticed regular reader Dr. E. Young had a nice clue as well.

My clue came from combing Chambers and finding BU as an abbreviation for “Bushels”, and another find that ROST was an alternative spelling of ROAST…

Stout old joint grabbing bushels (6)

to give BU in ROST with a definition of stout.  Alas, my little clue never saw the possibility of the light of day.

In honor of Azed’s request at the end of the slip, I’m thinking of sending my next clue in on a wet beer coaster.  What do you think?  Also feel free to share other non-slip clues.

George vs the Azed Clueing Competition – a three-pack!

Even though I haven’t been updating this section regularly, rest assured that I am still submitting clues of varying levels of competence to clue-writing competitions.

However I was ticked to see that I’d cracked it for another HC!  Mind you, it sounds like there were a pretty limited number of correct submissions, so that always ups the chance of winning.

October:  PERISHER with a definition for ESTIMATE

What a strange request – I had no idea what perisher meant, so I looked it up (sounds like I should have googled it).  I don’t understand the near-identical clues that won – is there a character called Perisher in Rogue Herries?  After peeking at the definition I racked my brain to figure out how to write a clue that got the definition word in.  I settled on a hidden word clue, since I could use the R at the end of PERISHER to work in RECKONING for ESTIMATE.  Here’s my clue

In diaper is he reckoning a pain in the butt? (8)

With a nice little American surface.  Azed judged it HC-worthy!  Woohoo!  I noticed a few familiar names surrounding me in HC-land; J. Biggin (if it is the J. Biggin I’m thinking of, didn’t realize you submitted!), P.F. Henderson (making a neat international contingent in the middle of the HCs).

September:  PARTY-POOPER

Many wordplay opportunities presented themselves, but my real challenge with this one was to come up with a definition that made sense with a surface.  I struggled with this one, and came up with…

Average sort almost on frayed rope, killer of joy (11)

Wordplay is PAR(average), TYP(TYPE shortened), O(on), OPER(anagram of ROPE)

No love from Azed in September.


I’ll give a hat tip to Tim Moorey – we were discussing what a tricky word to clue CATENATE was, and I had to rush to get a clue in before I left the UK.  He gave me an idea that I should think about a letter-replacement clue – I’ve not written many of those, so I went with a kind of a creepy surface for this one…

Chained priest, despite a perfect body for his old city (8)

Definition: Chained (as adjctive).  Wordplay is CURATE (priest) with A,TEN(perfect body) replacing UR.

No love here either, though I see Tim Moorey managed a HC, so lunch with me probably dragged his clue down as well.

Promise not to let this section go too long, as it’s been a popular addition – feel free to share your own clues, or criticism of mine.

George vs the Times Crossword Club Clue Challenge: SYLLABUS

NOTE: Well I biffed here.  Even though I had the clue written on my notepaper, I picked the wrong one out of the list of clues and comments.  Apologies to whomever submitted the original clue, if they are looking in.

Here was mine…

Maybe this will get lesser friends back on course? (8)

And Richard Rogan’s comment.

The idea here is that “lesser friends” would be “sub-allies”, however that would lead to the answer “SEILLABUS”, as the alternative form of the plural of “ALLY” (“ALLYS”) which the answer requires is not valid.

Well guess who has been in the US far too long where the plural of ALLY is ALLYS… and since American spellings (unless specifically mentioned) are a no-no I should hang my head in shame.  Doubly so.

Struck out again on this one, and I was hoping for maybe a place this time.  I’m not sure I like the clue that won, I did like the clue that placed second.

Here was my clue for SYLLABUS

Junior colleague’s backing curriculum (8)

And Richard Rogan’s comment…

The wordplay here is a reversal of SUB ALLY’S. I’m not sure the idea of a junior colleague is adequately conveyed by the term “sub-ally”.


I wonder if that means the clue is no good at all, or that “Junior” is not a good indicator for SUB, or if I’m going to reverse two elements of wordplay that I have to have more than just “backing” – for “backing” to apply to all the rest of the clue, then it has to be a single entity?

Head is spinning now…

George vs the Times Crossword Club Clue Challenge: DEAD-LETTER-BOX

I’ve been a bit slack at entering clueing competitions lately, but the deadline for this one was extended, so I thought I’d give it a go.  Initially I was trying to avoid an anagram, but I saw a possibility with an anagram indicator that I really liked for the surface.  Here was my clue…

Where Bond may find the message “Mobile deleted. Abort. – X” (4-6,3)

Richard Rogan’s comment:

A straightforward anagram clue. It really needs a question mark, as it only describes a possible dead-letter box scenario. I suppose \”mobile\” could refer loosely to a mobile telephone number rather than the actual phone, otherwise the message content seems rather implausible.

He’s right about the question mark (done in by punctuation!).  Not sure I agree with the second part, since mobiles, both the number and the phone themselves can be deleted.  Anyway, that was that – I liked the winning clue a lot.  Another for the wall of shame.

George vs the Azed Clueing Competition: THRENETICAL

Another month, another entry in the Azed comp without success.  Though this one was certainly to be expected, as I was told after sharing my clue with another non-successful entrant, that Azed does not like science, so of course stupid me went all chemistry with the surface. Here’s my clue…

Regretful frantic substiution of fluorine for thorium (11)

Wordplay:  Replace F with TH in FRENETICAL

More classic overthinking – anyone else notice that every single clue in the Azed slip this month is some form of anagram?  I figured “everyone else is going to do an anagram, let’s stand out by not doing an anagram”.

Wrong.  Twice.

Next Azed comp should be along this Sunday, so let’s see what fine mess I can make out of it this time!

George vs the Azed clueing competition: CHAMBRANLE

The streak continues, but I guess I deserved it this time.  I couldn’t resist seeing HAM BRA in the middle of CHAMBRANLE, a word I’d never used before, and kind of shoehorned my clue into getting HAM BRA in there… CNLE is not the easiest thing in the world to clue.

Here was my clue…

Cold, confused Len framed meat supporter in doorway feature (10)

Tomorrow is Azed competition day (I believe), so let’s see what I can come up with this week.  Feel free to discuss shortcomings of my clue or share other failures in comments.

Oh… I completely forgot the Times Crossword Club competition this month, so there won’t be one of mine in there.  The bar has been raised.

George vs the Times Crossword Club Clueing Competition: RUBBER CHICKEN CIRCUIT

Interesting competition this one – that was an unusual word to clue, I’d never heard of it, and the definition in Chambers was not overly helpful.

My first thought was “there’s no point in having a three piece charade for rubber,chicken and circuit using alternative definitions and throwing them together to make a five or six word clue”.  Of course I couldn’t have been more wrong, as that’s what the winning clue was!  Instead I opted for the tried and true route of clueing a long strange looking phrase and made an anagram of it.  Well most of it.

And did I get the smack laid down…

Here was my clue

Whistle stop tour recipe mixed kitchen rub with cubic rice (6,7,7)

Explanation:  Wordplay: R(ecipe) plus anagram of “kitchen rub” and “cubic rice”.

The suggestion was that I didn’t use an accurate definition (though it was the same definition as a runner-up), and the anagram material was unconvincing from the surface point of view (point taken there, I was trying to invent an insipid recipe).

Mind you, I’m not going to be too upset by this one, another of the runner-up entries clued the KEN in CHICKEN using “US State”.  I know Chambers confirms KEN as short for Kentucky, but I don’t think that’s in use anymore.

We’ll see what March’s competition brings.