Monday, March 22, 2010

What’s wrong with this clue?

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In November 2009, the word for the Times Clue Challenge was HAND OVER.

I sent this in:

Clue: To suspend, Enter + Shift Control (4,4) HAND OVER

Explanation: The surface refers to keys on a computer keyboard. 'Shift Control' is commonly used in combination with other keys, as application shortcuts to perform operations like resuming/suspending a transaction.

Definition: Shift control

Wordplay: H(AND)OVER

suspend = HOVER 
To…enter = c/c indicator 
+ = AND

When the contest result was announced, the judge's comments caught me by surprise. A flaw in my clue had slipped me entirely.

So, tell me cluenatics - what's wrong with the clue?

Update (24 March 2010): Thanks everyone for your feedback about the clue. Many of you sensed that there was something amiss in the definition – you were on the right track. Vinod hit bull's-eye, he points out the same error in his comment as the Times Challenge judge.

This is exactly what the Times Challenge judge had to say:

The definition is "shift control" but for the transitive-verb answer it needs to be "shift control of". That's unfortunate, because this is otherwise a nice clue, instructing the solver to enter AND (+) in HOVER (even if the phrasing "X, enter Y" is a bit stilted) while presenting on the surface a plausible suggestion for using a computer keyboard.

'of' is so often an innocuous connector that it is easy to overlook it. Yet it can make or mar a clue, as it did in this case.

Lesson learnt: To verify that the definition is accurate, try the substitution test. A sentence containing the answer should be unaltered in grammar and meaning when the answer is replaced with its definition.

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5 comments

Raghav said...

handover is a single word ? not 4,4
separable perhaps, but would that not alter the meaning ?

C.G. BHARGAV said...

Your clue should be for HAND OVER (4,4)
BUT is for (8).
Not sure though!

Chaturvasi said...

It is possible that the judge thought that the use of 'to' was not quite appropriate.
One enters A in B.

Vinod Raman said...

Can't find much wrong. If I really have to nitpick, the def. should be "shift control of". But that's just being playing party-pooper to an otherwise wonderful clue.

Shuchi said...

Thanks everyone.

The clue challenge feedback for the clue has been posted in the main article. Have a look!