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Diabolically Arcane

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19 July, 2014

Over a dozen Hopefuls plunged into last week’s H-challenge, making the job of judging a helluva headache. As a general rule, when it comes to clue contests, I’m in search of three things:

  1. zero wastage (where no surplus words clutter your clue);
  2. sleek surface stories;
  3. zest of originality – a fresh take.

In that regard, the Storm was well served by Hip-Hop with his/her Wiggle double:

WRITHE: Wiggle withholds right to end performance
WRITE: Wiggle initially sounded right for record

Neat work, though perhaps the stating of ‘right’ spoilt the sorcery, but I admired how the story was sustained. Another I liked hailed from Hippo:

BUMPH: Initially browser undercut rate of spam
BUMP: AFL controversy in club umpiring

Topical, tidy, with two strong tales. Just as The Hoff introduced a novel contrivance in his second clue here:

SHANK: Slice both ways?
SANK: Declined saner king offering?

And then there was elegance, and intricate packaging, of Orson Buggy’s couplet:

HAIRY: Handy overdraft, with no security?
AIRY: Open with the best lines

I could also mention Harbinger’s deft PUSH, A Is For Orse’s funny TROUGH, or Hornblower’s ARC, but in terms of concision, originality and deception, I had my heart heave for Hamburg:

LEASHED: Even illegal junk was tied down
LEASED: Sealed outlet?

No flabby words. Watertight narratives. Vibrant approaches. The combo won me. So thanks one & all for your handsome hobbyhorses, and congratz to Hamburg on winning Sue Butler’s H Factor. Let me know your snail mail, via email, and I’ll hastily hurl the hardback your way. Till next week.


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Text-speak is creeping into Scrabble. Where do you sit?
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