1 M. Barley: Hobbit and term for lightweight blade? That’d be this, possibly (comp. anag. incl. t, & lit.).
2 W. Drever: Hobbit deficient in height, character central to J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel (anag. less ht incl. l, & lit.).
3 A. Gerrard: Breviary is liturgical book primarily. None, Prime, Tierce, etc – this can be used in those (first letters + 0; ref. fencing terms).
J. A. Butler: ‘Britain is lagging behind others’ – leaders spell out effective article for riposte (first letters).
R. Gilbert: Sting? That was his ‘extra’ in life (lb in bio; ref. B. Baggins’s sword).
J. Grimes: What makes this blade bold red? Blood dribble, possibly (comp. anag. & lit.).
E. Hall: Is it sharp, pointed, penetrating? What Boris wrote concerning Churchill’s absorbing life’s bunkum primarily (l, b in bio; ref. BJ’s biography of Churchill).
R. J. Heald: Barbie doll clothing line to replace Mattel’s original brand (bimbo with l for M; ref. US manufacturer of Barbie doll (qv)).
J. C. Leyland: Obbligato’s not half off-key – it needs to be sharp for Don Quixote? (anag.).
P. W. Marlow: Steel making almost significant Liberal British leader in opposition (bi(g) + L, B, o; ref. David S.).
P. L. Stone: Broad’s first over bagging leg-before whipping one past blade (lb in B o incl. I).
K. Thomas: Could this qualify wit in parliament? Pointless activity in lobbies shows otherwise (anag. less E, S; ref.ʻrapier wit’).
S. J. J. Tiffin: In place of advertising fat-free brands might include this (billboard less lard).
J. R. Tozer: One has a point hoarding, with shortages of lard in parts (bil(l)bo(ard)).
Mrs A. M. Walden: In Tolkien’s Hobbit you might see this character sink to the ground (comp. anag.).
Ms S. Wallace: Cook slices of beef in batches – loin or blade (anag. of first letters).
K. & J. Wolff: Sticker and twisted ribbon removed from jacket lapel’s hip (anag. of (r)ibbo(n) l).
D. Appleton, D. & N. Aspland, T. Borland, A. Brash, C. J. Brougham, Mrs S. Brown, A. & J. Calder, M. Coates, P. Cole, E. Dawid, J. Fairclough, Dr I. S. Fletcher, H. Freeman, G. I. L. Grafton, A. H. Harker, J. Hood, G. Johnstone, M. Jordan, L. Keet, D. F. Manley, P. McKenna, T. J. Moorey, D. Price Jones, S. Randall, Dr S. J. Shaw, A. J. Shields, J. Vincent & Ms R. Porter, A. J. Wardrop, R. J. Whale.
136 entries (ten or more received well after the closing date), no noticeable mistakes. None, that is, except for my own howler in describing Omaha (a city in Nebraska) as a ‘state’, rendered all the worse because I made the same mistake in AZ No. 564, as one competitor gently reminded me. Echoes of ‘Idaho’, perhaps? Unforgivable, nevertheless. The lowish entry may have been on account of the above-average number of uncommon words in the grid. A fair number said they’d found the puzzle tougher than usual anyway. Favourite clue, of 20 mentioned at least once, was ‘Aristophanes? Poet’s played about with his Frogs like this’ for RANA, which for many recalled a classical education from long ago. A comp. anag. that gave me more than usual pleasure, I admit.
No complaints about the clue word. Tolkien’s diminutive hero inevitably figured widely in clues submitted, and though I have always remained impervious to the saga’s enduring appeal, I couldn’t let personal prejudice get in the way of assessing clues that made use of the connection. What I didn’t know was that B. Baggins called his sword ‘Sting’. I found the Chambers definition of BILBO (‘a rapier or sword’) less than helpful. To me, a rapier is a type of sword, specifically one for thrusting favoured by fencers, i.e. with a sharp point rather than a cutting edge. I felt I had to accept any of the many definitions of the generic ‘sword’, of which there are many of course, even those that did not conjure up rapiers in my mind.
More about Chambers editions soon, I hope. I’m afraid I may have misled you by referring in a recent slip to the 14th and 16th editions, when what I meant was the 2014 and 2016 editions, i.e. the 13th edition and the 13th edition (revised). And an apology to Mr Marlow for having omitted his name from the recent annual list of runners-up as it appeared in the paper, though it was there in the relevant slip.