Competitions nos. 154A and 154B: results

There is something about the grand dame in Naomi Royde-Smith that means, when she sets a competition, she feels she must alter the disposition of the guineas on offer. In this case, in the A competition, she offers three individual guineas for the three best conundrums that end in the line ‘What should A do?’ Her report mentions no names other than the winners, but does make pronouncements on what not to do (one entrant had 26 characters from A to Z in the 250 words allowed). Two failed entries are quoted in full, but not credited.

Still, for the first time, T.E. Casson comes out first, although it’s his bad luck that, on this auspicious occasion, and on his 154th attempt, he earns a single guinea rather than two. The other two winners are Hutch and Guy Innes.


Casson’s entry, in case you missed it, is a sort of amalgam of the E.W.Hornung novels featuring the cracksman Raffles with the bodyline crisis. (Raffles had been created in 1898, and appeared in twenty-six stories and a novel between then and 1909 – but a British film The Return of Raffles had come out in 1932.)Hutch’s entry seems fairly conventional to me. But Innes’s entry is a witty send-up of the whole competition.

Alas for the B competition! Entrants had been asked to complete

Upon my plate his guinea-fowl;
I asked for guinea-fare.

But ‘a sad thing has happened’. The entry contains a misprint. It should have read

Upon my plate lies guinea-fowl;
I asked for guinea-fare.

The idea was to have a go at a waiter. Royde-Smith is certainly not giving any prizes out, but she allows one entry to be printed without any other reward:


Worth at least half-a-guinea, I’d have thought!



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