Notes for Azed 2,513 to Azed 2,515
There are usually one or two points of interest in an Azed puzzle, and here we pick them out for comment. Please feel free to add your own questions or observations.
Azed 2,515 ‘Cherchez la Femme’
Difficulty rating: (4 / 10)
A welcome return for ‘Cherchez la Femme’, the first since 2,279 (Clementine) and, I believe, the ninth in all. I solved the puzzle in the normal way, marking non-tallying letters as they cropped up, and when the grid had been filled I was pleased to see that there were ten such clashes. When I started the puzzle I had in my mind (for no good reason other than the length of her name) that Persephone might emerge, but when I evaluated the clashes a different lady appeared; she does not feature in the ‘Some first names’ appendix of Chambers, although she can be found in the main dictionary, having given her name to a Scottish country dance. Although the clashes made the puzzle a little harder than a ‘plain’, the clues were decidedly generous, with no less than fourteen whole or partial anagrams along with four ‘hiddens’.
The clashes occur at the intersections of the following: 1a/1d; 11a/6d; 14a/8d; 15a/4d; 19a/20d; 22a/18d; 29a/24d; 31a/17d; 33a/28d; 35a/10d.
7a Trump’s extremes are retrograde – Republican initially very pleased (4)
A reversal of TP (“Trump’s extremes”) A (are), with R (Republican) put in front (‘initially’). ‘Republican initially’ cannot be indicating the first letter of ‘Republican’, as the wordplay would then give APTR.
12a Strain wrong for toughened glass (5)
SILE (a dialectal word for ‘strain’) followed by X (‘wrong’).
25a Tails on suspect operative supported by agents covering (6)
TE (the ‘tails’ on the words ‘suspect operative’) plus G-MEN (‘agents’). Do I like ‘supported by’ in an across clue to mean ‘followed by’? I do not.
31a Tint for the hair, pink, not ordinary but trendy (5)
ROSE (‘pink’) with IN (‘trendy’) replacing O (ordinary).
6d Rock overturned a circus vehicle (4)
GIB (‘[The] Rock’, ie Gibraltar) reversed (‘overturned’) and followed by A, the vehicle being one that might have been seen in the Circus Maximus or suchlike.
28d Like victims of robber on foot (4)
A neat clue, made trickier by the clash in position 3. RE (‘on’) + FT (foot), the whole being the past participle of the archaic word ‘reave’, meaning to rob. Note that Azed will indicate words which Chambers shows as obsolete (‘gone out of use’), but not those shown as archaic (‘not absolutely obsolete but no longer in general use’).
30d This day is a festival for some (4)
And a nice &lit to finish, the name of a Hindu spring festival which when prefixed to DAY produces a word originally used to describe a consecrated day or a religious festival.
Azed 2,514 Plain
Difficulty rating: (2 / 10)
Three ‘hiddens’ and several straightforward anagrams, when combined with a complete absence of those naughty little clues that Azed has a habit of serving up for four-letter entries, made for a pretty mild challenge. The fact that there were no ‘obscure wordplay for obscure solution’ clues helped too.
6a Round check collars, bent in the old style (5)
This is O (’round’) being ‘collared’ by CURB (‘check’) to produce an archaic adjective meaning ‘bent’.
12a I’ll replace Rex in an old lady’s embrace, making love rarely (5)
A MATRON (‘an old lady’) with I replacing R (Rex), the solution being given by Chambers as a rare term for love-making. Azed of course avoids the trap for the novice setter of using ‘I replace Rex…’, which would make the wordplay syntactically unsound (it would need to be ‘I replaces Rex’) – the future tense usually represents the best way to avoid this particular snare.
24a After breather I put on simple wraparound (5)
The requirements of the surface reading have made the wordplay here a little messy. ‘After breather I’ is sufficient for ‘LUNG I’, with the ‘put on’ being at best superfluous.
1d Middle of bra in its place gave way suddenly (5)
The middle of bra (R) is in its (ie the bra’s) place, BUST.
2d Special treatment year after senior citizen admits commotion (5)
The idea of ‘obotherapy’ as a specialized form of musicotherapy does have appeal, but it is POTHER rather than BOTHER which is ‘accepted’ by OAP here before having a Y appended. ‘Bother’ in the sense of ‘trouble’ is an uncountable noun, so it could fit a definition such as ‘disorder’ (‘there was a bit of bother/disorder’), but not ‘commotion’.
20d Speciality of Agen once, long fed on contact sport (5)
PINE (‘long’) is ‘fed on’ (ie consumes) that old staple RU (Rugby Union), producing PRUINE, a 17th century spelling of ‘prune’. Many a prune has been exported over the years through the port of Agen; bursting with energy, fibre, vitamins and minerals, the “pruneaux d’Agen” were frequently carried on board the ships of the Navy, and I suspect that without them the regular Army would have been, well, a bit less so.
23d Shot worth little, moving first to last of course (5)
The wordplay here is a little strained – the cryptic sense would ideally be something closer to ‘course, first moving to last’, indicating that the first letter of ROUTE should be moved to the end. The reference in the definition is to archery.
26d Some aspiring manager, one employed by Hoover? (5)
The Hoover in this ‘hidden’ that wraps up the puzzle is John Edgar of that ilk, the first president of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Azed 2,513 Plain
Difficulty rating: (3 / 10)
A pretty standard grid with normal unching. Not too much of note in the clues, either.
33a Feature of coastline where imp goes for seashell (5)
A good example of the Azed ‘reverse cryptic’, requiring the solution to be read – with suitable spacing – as part of a statement (or the answer to a question) in the cryptic part of the clue. In this instance, where the IMP goes in order to produce LIMPET (‘seashell’) is IN LET.
5d Indian merchant? One favoured tree climbing (6)
I’m none too keen on clues for obscure words that use an obscure word in the wordplay. Here, ‘climbing’ with the ‘A IN’ (‘one favoured’) is NUB, obsolete slang for the gallows; ‘tree’ is an archaic term for a gallows (one could argue that the two are not the same, but they’re pretty close.)
20d Storm: what’ll one do about damaged map? (7)
This is RAGE (what a storm will do) around an anagram (‘damaged’) of MAP. The pre-processed version of the wordplay “what’ll storm do about damaged map?” doesn’t entirely convince in a cryptic sense – I’d much prefer “what one’ll do about damaged map”, the surface of which seems quite satisfactory.
25d Rock resident, ancient character brought up on principle of thrift (5)
OGAM (‘ancient character’) reversed (‘brought up’) on T – the interest here was in the use of ‘principle’ to indicate the selection of the initial letter from a word. Since the first definition of ‘principle’ in Chambers includes ‘source’ and ‘origin’, it seems perfectly fair, and the construction appears in one published Azed competition clue. It has therefore been added to the relevant table in the Clinical Data section of this site.
29d Indicating a complete lack of hospitals (4)
I’m not sure why Azed chose this wording – surely something along the lines of ‘Completely lacking’ would be better for SANS. ‘Indicating a complete lack of’ seems very weak.