The Apex 2016 puzzle

It’s the time of year when I put up the annual Christmas puzzle, circulated to a group of regular solvers in memory of Eric Chalkley – more details of the tradition here.  You might even set your calendar by me this year – it looks like I’ve hit exactly the same weekend as in 2016, though I’m putting the puzzle up on the Saturday rather than the Sunday this time!

It was generally considered a bit harder than some of its predecessors – though there were a few who found it straightforward enough.  You’ll just have to try it for yourself!

Remember that part of the puzzle is to determine a word to be clued.  The solvers then write a clue to that word, and these clues are circulated to everyone for voting.  My only job is to transcribe them accurately (which I think I’ve managed to do so far) – I don’t vote myself, although I do offer up a clue for consideration.  (And I don’t even spend months in advance using the fact that – necessarily – I know the word to be clued to hone an entry – I tend to scribble something down just after circulating the puzzle in mid-December, but before I see any other entrants’ ideas!)

This year’s winners are listed at the end of the solution notes.

We’re about to swing into May, and to enliven the first week there’s a Pedro Quick Cryptic in The Times on Wednesday 3rd in addition to the usual Friday Independent puzzles.  There’s an Inquisitor in the offing, too, but more of that next time.

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