1 D. F. Manley (26 Hayward Road, Oxford OX2 8LW): Response from us all in the aisles, reborn with wretched sins set aside? (anag. less anag. & lit.).
2 Dr S. J. Shaw (1 Simfield Cottages, Langley Lane, Goosnargh, Lancashire PR3 2JS): Resounding ‘Thank God!’ is a possible outcome should Left and EU change following Article 50 (a L + anag. incl. l; ref. Brexit).
3 G. I. L. Grafton (Linderhof, Heath Road, Bradfield, Manningtree, Essex CO11 2XD): Round Lanarkshire’s borders, everyone musical regularly sampled H. Lauder’s song (L, e in all + alternate letters + H).
D. K. Arnott: Repetitive song entirely acceptable in recurrent bid to come first in Eurovision (all + U in hail + E (rev.)).
Ms K. Bolton: Rally yell? Hearts thereamong put together, united in a burst of hosanna (all el + u i’ a h).
T. C. Borland: Recognition of almighty VW failing provoked helluva wail (anag. less VW).
V. Dixon (Ireland): Resounding chorus of praise everyone’s backing, almost transported (myself included) (all + I in haule(d) (rev.); ref. AZ milestone).
Dr I. S. Fletcher: Religious response quite universal in reflecting praise with ecstasy (all + u in hail + E (rev.)).
R. J. Heald: Rejoiceful cry acceptable when interrupting priest, being inspired by God? (U in Eli in Allah, & lit.).
M. A. Macdonald-Cooper: Refrain from hymn in France that contralto shuns, penned by eminent person dismissing women ((c)elui in (w)allah).
C. G. Millin: Religious song with one Christmas, years away, recalled in God’s name (I (y)ule (rev.) in Allah).
T. J. Moorey: Right solution initially concealed, suspect all hail ruse and praise our great Creator! (anag. less r, s).
T. Rudd: Rendering God what’s due, ‘All hail!’ in Revised Version? (anag. less D, & lit.).
P. Taylor: Religious composition? Well, music’s regularly written in God’s name (alternate letters in Allah).
P. Tharby: Response by congregation starts off excellent litany, uplifting invocations in the name of God (first letters in Allah).
J. R. Tozer: Righteous expression’s something inherited along with an obsequious character? Not right (allel + U(r)iah (Heep)).
Mrs A. Walden: Rapturous shout acceptable in greeting famous singer making comeback (U in hail Ella (Fitzgerald) (rev.)).
A. J. Wardrop: Rabbi might say this every month, mostly in expression of joy (all Elu(l) I’ ah).
A. Whittaker: Replacement of EU? All hail! (What Brexiteers cried in June) (anag. & lit.).
D. & N. Aspland, M. Barker, M. Barley, P. Best, D. J. Bexson, G. Borooah (USA), R. Bowden, C. J. Brougham, C. J. Butler, B. & T. Coventry, W. Drever, J. Fairclough, Ms H. Green, M. Hodgkin, J. R. Howlett, E. Looby, P. W. Marlow, H. Freeman, M. Lloyd-Jones, B. Lovering, J. R. C. Michie, T. D. Nicholl, S. J. O’Boyle, C. Ogilvie, D. J. R. Ogilvie (USA), W. Ransome, A. D. Scott, I. Simpson, R. C. Teuton, J. Vincent & Ms R. Porter, L. Ward (USA): N. Warne, R. J. Whale, J. Woodall (France), A. J. Young, Dr E. Young.
134 entries, a dozen or so with GNAR for SNAR and rather more whose clues were disqualified as they did not begin with an R. I thought the acrostic would be easy to spot, and certainly didn’t mean it to cause undue puzzlement. It was merely to give you a little extra challenge as a way of marking my ‘sapphire’ moment. (John Tozer tells me he’s estimated the total number of competition entries over the period to be 191,493, ‘which probably puts the total entries for all puzzles close to a million’.) Favourite clue, of 15 mentioned, was ‘On a slope in Scotland I set off to whizz downhill fast?’ for ASKLENT, with ‘One cheers to know Mafeking remained so’ (UNTAKEN) in second place. Thank you for all the generous comments appended to your entries. Many of you have been solving and competing since Azed No. 1 in 1972, and this in itself gives me great satisfaction and pleasure.
Some said they found the puzzle unusually difficult, doubtless the reason for the low entry. As often, I think it was the short words that caused the most difficulty. Topical variations on the ‘All hail, EU’ anagram were so common that only a few were distinctive enough to make it into the quoted lists. In general, though, you coped well with a fairly unfriendly word.
With the death of Colin Dexter we have lost another distinguished member of the Old Guard. Until poor health and failing eyesight forced him to give up entering, he had been one of the most successful competitors in Azed, and earlier Ximenes, competitions, especially as a master of the ‘& lit’ clue. Since his first appearance in the slips in February 1957, he won 71 prizes (40 of them firsts) and 237 VHCs. If I had to pick a favourite from among his clues it would probably be ‘Item gran arranged family slides in’ for MAGIC LANTERN, a model of concision and wit. Colin’s obituarists have understandably focussed mainly on his hugely successful crime fiction, set in and around Oxford where as a near neighbour I got to know him and Dorothy as good friends. But in the crossword world (as competitor, author, broadcaster and sometime setter (he was Codex in the Oxford Times) he fully earned his place as one of the all-time greats and will be sadly missed.