The Azed Slip isn’t something I contribute to, although in the past there has been the occasional temptation. I also don’t have a problem with the strict Ximenean principles applied to submissions – but I do think that sometimes it goes too far.
Some message board commenters have called into question the validity of the following clues, which many have recorded as among the best ever written:
Bust down reason? (9) Answer: BRAINWASH
Put criminal into custody (7) Answer: CAPTURE
The ‘argument’ centres on the use of transitive/intransitive verbs and I’m sure that expert linguists will point out that the clues suffer from small technical inaccuracies. But is that really the point?
Cryptic clue-writing is a creative process but the end result isn’t supposed to be artistic perfection; the most popular setters will tell you all they’re after is providing fun for the solver, and the pursuit of that will often involve the taking of small risks and liberties.
How many of the greatest clues would be consigned to trash if we stuck absolutely rigidly to the minutiae of grammar and syntax? How much enjoyment would be lost?
I’m not saying that strict linguistic adherence would eliminate great, guffaw-inducing clues. They would still be written – but there would be far fewer of them. If setters sat back from every clue they wrote and tried to pick tiny holes in their grammatical construction, the amount of effort would be enormous. And frankly we don’t get paid enough!
The crosswords in your daily cryptic must be open to adventurous clues where the emphasis is on how much pleasure the solving process will provide. Any effort to instil grammatical perfection will reduce the amount of fun and thus the number of (especially new) solvers who want to experience the amazing fun that can be had with our beautifully unique language.