The Stickler Weekly – Clue-writing Challenge

My wife and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary yesterday. As a result, I’m giving myself a week off, but I thought I’d give fans a chance to get their hands dirty and write a few clues. I know most of you aren’t interested, but give it a go anyway. Even if you don’t end up posting a clue, I would like you to go through the process of trying to devise a clue.

I used to give my community college students the task of writing just one clue to open a window into my world. There’s no doubt they had a different appreciation of the art of clue-writing after trying to write their own.

Here are three words:




Submit clues here for one or more of these words, and feel free to comment on what’s posted but remember this isn’t easy, so be constructive and nice.

You’ll need:

A definition
Nothing else

Best of luck.

The Stickler Weekly will return next week along with last week’s solution.

The Stickler

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78 Responses to The Stickler Weekly – Clue-writing Challenge

  1. Michael Kaiser says:

    Restrain…A stoppage in the weather.

    • Arthur Maynard says:

      I would suggest a ? at the end. Otherwise I would be looking to put the stoppage inside rain.

  2. Richard Sternes says:

    Anyone else interested – I’m going with No 50 of September 8, 2014.

    • Wendy Simpson says:

      I’m with you, but can’t start until late tonight or tomorrow. Busy teaching again.

      • Richard Sternes says:

        Got stuck on 9d Wendy & Ian B
        Suspect you will be surprised by increase in Degree of Difficulty
        over the years.
        We are keeping up which is ***All Good***

        • Ian B says:

          Actually I’m finding #50 pretty difficult Richard! Haven’t spent as much time on it as usual though. Haven’t got 9d yet.

          • Ian B says:

            Richard, #50, 9d – Arrived at an answer from the wordplay, but I had to ask google to confirm it matched the definition.
            Thought 24a was cute.

          • richard sternes says:

            As always Ian, loved the Alphabet Soups (10a & 27a)
            Others of note 12a (also cute), 18a, 24a (for sure)
            3d (well – Aaah! memories of the poor ball-boy at US Open the other day who copped a full force Venus Williams serve – courageous lad, just grinned & bore it) – 5d & 17d.

        • Wendy Simpson says:

          Yes, 9d was a word I didn’t know. If I did it before, I clearly haven’t remembered it, or used it in my everyday vocab!

        • Wendy Simpson says:

          And, yes, the degree of difficulty has definitely increased, which is great-makes me work harder.

    • Ian B says:

      Sounds good.

  3. Richard Sternes says:

    Not so sure I will be demonstrating my cluing inadequacies for all to see.

  4. Steve C says:

    Happy anniversary David and Linda
    Restrain Arrest in disarray. (if I’m allowed to use part of the anagram as the definition) otherwise Hold back arrest in disarray.
    Separate Diced pears consumed apart.
    Aeroplane The Wright brothers invented a lone pear.

    • Ian B says:

      I like the diced pears one. Very concise.

    • Greg Mansell says:

      +1 for the diced pears.

    • Arthur Maynard says:

      Restrain I like the anagram but agree with the double up use of “in” being outside the paramaters.

      I don’t see an indicator for the anagram in aeroplane. If it is invented it is really part of the. Perhaps a lone pear created by the Wright brothers invention. The Wright brothers makes it a little to obvious for me.

      It is easy to criticise so here is my contribution to aeroplane
      Without question a role play left out with direction may fly.

      This includes a ploy I am not totally comfortable with, so I will be interested to hear responses.

      • Greg Mansell says:

        Arthur – so “without question” means remove the “Y” (sounds like “why?”). It probably needs a “sounds like” indicator to be fair to the solver.
        I was also tempted to use a device like DIRECTION = NE, but I was unsure whether it was Stickler-worthy. David?

        • Arthur Maynard says:

          Agree that there is no indicator. Good learning point here.

          Asking without question might work? Also not sure about the “left out” of role play because I had already used role play in the “without question”.

  5. Ian B says:

    Happy anniversary David and Linda! Ruth has offered the garden to come and shoot some ’30 years on’ wedding photos in the same spot : )

    Thanks for this week’s challenge. Here’s an attempt from me…
    Aeroplane: A roman emperor exiled new leader with ordinary sounding overseas travel option.

  6. Ian B says:

    Stress again? Put your feet up beside water falls.

  7. Jack says:

    Separate: Mixed vegetables deserve to be unmixed

  8. Ian B says:

    Rip, spear and eat to pull apart.

  9. Jack says:

    Aeroplane: Cupid’s weapon, unadorned, sounds like it should fly a great distance

  10. Steve C says:

    Restrain…….Check about stress
    Separate…….Tricky tease holding golf score is detached

  11. Greg Murray says:

    Aeroplane: Jumbo rope got tangled in a pathway.

  12. Ian B says:

    These are great! I think we need a ‘like’ button.

  13. Steve Ball says:

    Happy anniversary David & Linda. Party hard. 🎉🍷🍹🎈🍾

    Det…ach? (8)

    Sleep and shower in jail (8)

    Flyer about Opel Arena (9)

  14. Andrew Gibson says:

    Restrain =
    Uncoordinated trainers hold back progress.

  15. Richard Sternes says:

    Now I know I won’t be demonstrating my cluing inadequacies.
    Red hot competition here………

  16. Greg Mansell says:

    Section of duodenal pore ate up flyer

  17. Steve C says:

    Nice one Greg, I have one for Restrain,
    Part of Afghani art series came back to check.

  18. Steve C says:

    And while we’re on a roll,
    Distinct from a close par at eight.

  19. Greg Mansell says:

    Single chair holding Norm (head of Exxon)

    • Arthur Maynard says:

      Simple clue. I had to work to understand the parsing – overlooked the bracketed section, which had to be there for a reason.

  20. Greg Mansell says:

    * Control unruly rats bound by strap
    * A tangled rope presented by citizens of LA negates fighter, say

  21. Greg Mansell says:

    Hold back bewildered tears, appearing in band after losing $1000

  22. Greg Mansell says:

    Australian jelly is ordinary, I hear, after bubbly chocolate bar

  23. Greg Mansell says:

    People mover decapitated hero in a parking lane

  24. Andrew Gibson says:

    An opera Lena composed enables travel at height (9)

  25. Greg Mansell says:

    Part time in chaotic area after September

  26. Greg Mansell says:

    Control research process

  27. Greg Mansell says:

    * Withdraw drug after apes back traitor
    * Run rates agitated Ian (without a tie)
    * Australian jelly fighter, for instance

    • Arthur Maynard says:

      I like separate, but feel the order is incorrect. As I read it, the drug follows apes back which leaves the traitor at the end. It can be read drug after “apes back traitor”, so for me the jury is out.
      For restrain, I have “un” left over unless we take the initial for “run” which is a legitimate ploy.
      Like so many Australians, I like aeroplane jelly.

    • Greg Mansell says:

      A minor refinement to my second clue above:
      Run rates agitated Ian (not wearing a tie)

  28. Greg Mansell says:

    David, please give us plenty of notice before the next clue-writing challenge – so I can take a day or two off work. I’ve found it very distracting over the past couple of days (as you can probably tell).

  29. David Dickes says:

    for Separate: isolated as peer at party

  30. Arthur Maynard says:

    I left this as part of a reply to an early clue, but the blog has flowed on a long way.
    I have not had time to check out all the responses, so I will be back later.

    It is easy to criticise so here is my contribution to aeroplane
    Without question a role play left out with direction may fly.

  31. Arthur Maynard says:

    I am loving the variety and ingenuity of most of these clues. They just get better as people like Greg and Ian get more ideas. I look forward to seeing David’s comments.

    Now my contribution for restrain

    Set out in luxury car with storm, starting late to curb enthusiasm.

    Not certain about the comma though, perhaps it should not be there.

    • Greg Mansell says:

      …and perhaps David could let us know if any of the clues are Stickler-worthy?

    • Ian B says:

      I really like that clue, Arthur. It’s very clever, and tells a story. IMHO the comma works. Would ‘before’ in place of ‘with’ go better with the story? I am quite a novice at this.

  32. Andrew Gibson says:

    See! A part of the problem only will disunite?

  33. David Stickley says:

    Hi All,
    I’m able to see all the great clues and fantastic response, but I’m a little limited in being able to contribute actively. I’ll let you know why next week. Keep up the good work.


  34. Greg Mansell says:

    * Individual mushy peas placed in front of messy eater lacking energy
    * Rule established before appearance of Egyptian god in bridle
    * Ate gutted caviar, for instance, holding blueprint for transport option

    I need to stop NOW. This is taking up way too much of my time.

  35. Brian Dungate says:


    This month heard talk on getting divorced

    Hold bridle

    Craft flying near a pole

    • Arthur Maynard says:

      For me, the homonym is a bit off arate orate
      I like the double definition.
      Not sure about the indicator in the aeroplane. Is the plane a craft which gives flying as the indicator? Or is there the craft flying the plane.

  36. Arthur Maynard says:


    Perhaps Traviata by the way is uplifting

    • Arthur Maynard says:

      I think this would be better as

      Perhaps La Traviata for instance by the way is uplifting.

      The Opera deserves its full title and although it is an opera Itis not the only one, so it needs eg or similar.

      I am amazed at all the options for just 3 definitions. David has to provide around 30 each time he sets a puzzle, and he is a stickler for accuracy. Imagine being his proofreader!

  37. Greg Mansell says:

    Looks like we’re all clued out.

  38. David Queale says:

    Congratulations re wedding anniversary – hope you enjoyed your week off.

    Jumbo ate damaged orange preparing for shortened test.
    (test = NAPLAN)

    I now have a much better appreciation of the work you put into The Stickler!