Puzzles, posts, news and general word-chat.

Diabolically Arcane

Bingo. You’ve reached David Astle dot com, a carnival of words, puzzles and more words. Welcome aboard, and have fun.

Loading tweet...


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.

comments powered by Disqus

Gargantuan News

Yep, my Gargantuan Book of Words is big & full of words. Not just English but secret codes, Papuan pidgin, Zulu worms, sound FX, funny goldfish, letter origami. You get the drift? It's big. It's fun. And it's out now


Gargantuan Book of Words

Sneeze words. Fake pasta. Viking slang. Gargantuan is a jumbo jumble of puzzles & games, mazes & quizzes, tailor-made for that wordy wonderkid in your life. Or anyone in love with letters, secret codes, puns, rhymes, emoji & all things languagey. More here 

read more +


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. 

read more +


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.

read more +

Recent Comments

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
See Results