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14th October 2021, 00:47
I saw this article in the Guardian and thought some of you might find it interesting:-
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14th October 2021, 06:55
Thanks, Brendan. That was an interesting read - and a link within it took me to another piece, all about a recent (very difficult) Listener.
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norah (admin)

14th October 2021, 09:25
Brendan, will you please stop panicking me. I saw the heading and my heart sank, "now what does Brendan think I have I done wrong" was my first reaction.

You've no idea of the relief I felt when I saw it was nothing to do with me, ha, ha.
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14th October 2021, 10:23
Thanks Brendan, very interesting summary. The Alan Connor blog is generally very good, I just never remember to read it. I was also interested in the one about ‘letter banks’, not a device I’ve ever seen in use but I rather like it
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14th October 2021, 10:29
Thanks, Brendan.

I've always thought that if you are trying to persuade a participant to try a new activity you should emphasize its inherent similarity to the one they are familiar with ('The Hundred is just like T20 cricket, but more money for 17% less effort') , while if you are trying to persuade a spectator to come and watch something new to them you should emphasize the difference ('The Hundred is like nothing you've ever seen before').

When encouraging blocked puzzle solvers to try barred puzzles, I tend to stress the similarities between the two and urge them to start with a 'halfway house' in Azed or Mephisto. Alan Connor seems to have taken the other route, highlighting the complexity - and spectacular effects - which can be seen in barred puzzles at the far end of the spectrum.

Perhaps he's right - he certainly makes barred puzzles sound more exciting than I ever have. I'd be interested to know what a blocked puzzle solver who has never tried a barred puzzle made of the article.
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14th October 2021, 10:52
Hi Spoffy, I was new to barred grids this time last year and started with the Listener, not really knowing what else was out there. The article gave a more comprehensive view of the ‘barred’ landscape than I had previously. I’ll certainly look at Azed now (btw is it pronounced A-zed or Azed as in glazed?) as I like that there’s clue setting element which I’ve not seen in other puzzles.
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14th October 2021, 11:30
Oh yes, do give Azed a go. You may need to solve a few of his puzzles before you get fully onto his wavelength, but his clues are imaginative, witty and super-sound; the more obscure solutions can usually be worked out from the wordplay.

Jonathan Crowther's predecessors went by the names of Torquemada and Ximenes, both Grand Inquisitors, and his pseudonym for the last 49 years (A-zed, aka AZ) is a reversal of (Diego de) DEZA, another Grand Inquisitor.

The monthly clue writing contest adds an extra level of interest - some of the regular competitors are top setters, so winning a prize is not easy, but whether you are successful or not there's a lot to be learned from seeing how others have approached the word or phrase to be clued (the results are published on the excellent site around 10 days after the competition closes).
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14th October 2021, 11:52
Thanks, Spoffy. I know the &Lit site from the CCCWC competition which I enjoy entering but hadn’t made the connection with Azed and the archive that they maintain there, all very interesting.
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14th October 2021, 12:36
I tried a few Azeds over the years, but gave up and no longer have any interest in barred puzzles. I find the heavy reliance on Chambers unattractive; don't own Chambers and have no ambition to acquire a copy. Probably marks me as a cretin, but I'd prefer solving to be as much a "stand-alone" activity as possible.
The article was interesting, though. Thanks, Brendan.
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14th October 2021, 13:19
A few other thoughts specifically on Azed for those who may not be familiar with the puzzle:

It is available for free download every Sunday from the Grauniad web site (usually at midnight, but invariably by late morning). There is also an archive of past puzzles similarly available for download.

Every so often there is a 'special' puzzle which differs from a conventional puzzle but not to the same extent as a Listener, EV or Inquisitor.

Although it's difficult to win a prize in the clue writing comp, it's far from impossible. The first prize that I won came courtesy of a very ordinary clue in what happened to be a month of very ordinary clues. The main things to remember are that your clue must be grammatically sound and that in general you should avoid the obvious - if you've noticed a single-word anagram of the word to be clued, you won't be the only one, and Azed (the sole judge) will be pretty bored by the time he's read ten clues using the self-same anagram.

Each puzzle is reviewed in full the Sunday following publication on fifteensquared. For those who are starting out with Azed and need more immediate help, in addition to the this forum there is a site which provides notes on the current week's puzzle - it can be readily found using google.
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