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Diabolically Arcane

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Uncle Joe Wants You

2 August, 2011

In three weeks this blog will notch up its first anniversary: one year of puzzles, Storms, verbal nitpicking and general lexical carry-on. And to enter the spirit of this red-letter month, the latest Storm is looking at things Russian. Six words in fact, wonderfully obscure, and the real ordeal for your clueing prowess.

Da, that’s the challenge. To cook up an elegant clue for any the words listed. Plenty of Zs and Ks will make the task a mazurka, but I’m sure you lot will weave and jink in the best Bolshoi tradition. So comrades, here are your six:

KURGAN – prehistoric burial mound

PRISIADKA – a step in Slavic dancing where the dancer squats and kicks outward

RENDZINA – fertile lime-rich soil

SAMIZDAT – underground press; illegal text

VOBLA – dried roach (the fish, if you don’t mind!)

ZAKUSKA – caviar sandwich

Since every word owns a unique initial, feel free to enter your clues marked by that letter. For example, a clue for PRISIADKA may be posted thus:

P: Kick-to-kick in park, I said

Or for VOBLA, maybe V: During arvo, blacken cooked fish

See if you can do the samizdat – or better! This is a tricky Storm, but any shot is a good shot, as a Stolichnaya buff once told me. Deadline is 8pm Thursday, with Red Stars for the best clue per word, and an overall winner by weight of votes. One last thing, if you do tackle the full set of words, I’d love your end-game submission to be filed as one cluster, especially as Letters and Numbers is set to monster my next six working weeks. So c’mon comrade, moosh


Welcome to the new forum. Looks scary? It’s not. Feels iffy? It ain’t. The DisQus platform is here to block spam and lend us more chat options. That’s all. Please note, you don’t have to create a DisQus account to make a comment. If you do, however, it will speed your future visits. Be assured no details are abused, misused or reused. Let’s fight spam as one, and get back to the grand conversation. Thanks, DA

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Welcome all puzzle-lovers, including any chompers of the Wordburger book or app. (Check them out if you enjoy words & trickery.) And if you still crave more alphabet mischief, click on the burger icon above for a fresh serve.



Packed with games, pickles, codes and cheesy puns, Wordburger is your chance to be a champion puzzler in 20 quick bites. Ideal for wordy kids keen to open a new language door, or grown-ups who want to cut their cryptic teeth. Click here. 

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Riddles in song, in code, in pictures. From Ireland & Wonderland, Einstein & Pompeii. Riddledom reveals 101 wry questions from 50+ languages & shares their secrets. A book to unlock culture via conundrum. Order here.

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Cluetopia roams the planet – and century – to find fresh crossword stories in 30+ languages. From shipwrecks to hoaxes, Cluetopia is a holiday for the head. Buy here.

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Riddledom Rave

If you missed my riddle chat with Richard Fidler, then feel free to slurp the podcast at http://ab.co/1I9t1x5

Text-speak is creeping into Scrabble. Where do you sit?
OBVS I'm fine with it
Entrenched stuff - like LOL and OMG - but no more.
Words With Friends, maybe. Scrabble, no
Let the 'real' dictionaries decide first
Just the handy stuff, like FAQ and EUW
I mean, WTF?! No way
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