1 A. J. Wardrop (5 Hillymead, Thornton Hill, London SW19 4JJ): Who could be ex-President, one replaced by Pence? (Truman with p for an, & lit.; ref. Mike P., VP).
2 Dr E. Young (68 Beech Lane, Earley, Reading, Berkshire RG6 5QA): In me is Mr Putin’s ‘alter ego’? (comp. anag. & lit.).
3 Dr S. J. Shaw (1 Simfield Cottages, Langley Lane, Goosnargh, Lancashire PR3 2JS): Should ultimate power go to his head, he could start provoking the Russians and upsetting Mexico (initials with p moved up, & lit.).
M. Barley: Sound one’s let slip from backside (t(one) + rump, & lit.).
J. G. Booth: A fart making the régime undo medical program initially (first letters; ref. Obamacare).
C. J. Brougham: Top Yank in USA, Republican within (R in tump; top vtr).
Dr I. S. Fletcher: Paramount regularly reduced to Twitter (anag. of alternate letters, & lit.; twitter = palpitate).
G. I. L. Grafton: Tweeter, not content with one giving judgement, venting anger (T(weete)r + ump(ire), & lit.; ref. T’s dismissal of certain judges).
R. B. Harling: Politician pursuing half-truths? (tru + MP & lit.).
D. V. Harry: Yank in Washington holding seat of power (r in tump, & lit.).
R. J. Heald: This oddball getting elected may satisfy Mr Putin! (anag. incl. in, & lit.; oddball adj).
R. J. Hooper: Brick one set on a new wall (2 meanings).
B. Jones: Twitter’s most prominent ass? (T + rump, & lit.).
D. F. Manley: Up with morts? So this has been blasted? (comp anag. & lit; ref. the last t.).
P. W. Marlow: Property mogul can be reviewed poorly, e.g. —— (comp. anag. & lit.).
S. J. O’Boyle: US pro’s turning in a winning card if putting in Augusta’s dead centre (tramp with u for a (ace)).
I. Simpson: I may be portrayed as oddball in office (tip with rum for I, & lit.; office = tip/hint).
P. L. Stone: The old game competing for tricks, aged whore’s set about it (trick = prostitute’s client; cf. strumpet).
R. C. Teuton: A little gas released from the rear (t(He) rump, & lit.).
J. Vincent & Ms R. Porter: The leaders of today’s Republicanism, unfortunately: Mike Pence and —— (first letters).
T. West-Taylor: One elected after half-truths deceive (tru + MP, & lit.).
D. Wilyman: One may have form in tugging at the front bottom (t + rump, & lit.; ref. T.’s notorious ‘pussy’ quote)
P. B. Alldred, D. Appleton, D. & N. Aspland, M. Barker, P. Bartlam, T. C. Borland, J. M. Brown, Dr J. Burscough, A. Chamberlain, D. Carter, C. A. Clarke, M. Coates, P. A. Davies, V. Dixon (Ireland), W. Drever, J. Fairclough, J. Grimes, M. Hodgkin, G. Johnstone, E. Looby, M. A. Macdonald-Cooper, Ms R. MacGillivray, J. R. C. Michie, K. Milan, C. G. Millin, T. J. Moorey, R. J. Palmer, J. Parke, M. J. Pursey, A. Plumb, S. Randall, W. Ransome, T. Rudd, N. G. Shippobotham, A. J. Smith (USA), P. A. Stephenson, L. Toole, J. R. Tozer, Mrs A. M. Walden, L. Ward (USA), R. J. Whale, A. Whittaker, R. Zara.
218 entries, no mistakes. Favourite clue, of 18 receiving one or more mentions, was (perhaps unsurprisingly) ‘Mawkish bits of Trump speak?’ for TWEETS, a long way ahead of ‘Part of cabin aft is remaining when ——’ (AISLE). And yes, it was a bit mischievous giving you TRUMP to clue. Only after I’d chosen it did I see that Will Drever had chosen DONALD TRUMP for the cluing competition in a recent issue of the Crossword Club magazine, though that of course presented a different challenge, not least because of the many lexical meanings offered by the single word. Few if any of the clues submitted suggested that the Donald has any support among Azed competitors. I hope you all share my fervent hope that Mr Wardrop’s winner proves prophetic, and the sooner the better. Meanwhile we wait in nervous trepidation for the effect his style of presidency will have on global affairs. (There was of course no obligation to involve DT as the definition in your clue, though the great majority found this irresistible.)
Anyway, I had a lot of fun going through your submissions (one or two of them virtually unprintable!). The challenge was to produce a clue which wasn’t too obvious, and many of those not mentioned above fell into this category, though otherwise sound enough. The abbreviation POTUS, which I’d not previously come across, turned up several times.
A couple of regulars kindly responded to my recent appeal (in the MASON slip) for an explanation of the phrase ‘on the square’ in connection with membership of the Freemasons. It seems that the square referred to is an L-shaped instrument (a set-square?) used by stonemasons to assess the squareness of cut stones: ‘in order to support all the blocks around it, each stone block needs to be perfectly straight and all angles right angles’. So the phrase refers to the trust and support masons lend each other: a man who is ‘on the square’ is honest, reliable and firm. How the phrase differs in meaning from the similar ‘on the level’ is less clear, though doubtless masons know.