Notes for Azed 2,516

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 2,516 Plain

Difficulty rating: 3.5 out of 10 stars (3.5 / 10)

I thought this was a relatively tricky plain puzzle – although there was no particular clue (or clues) which stood out as unusually tough, several of the wordplays were deceptively constructed, with one or two teetering on the brink of fairness. Several ‘hiddens’ together with the usual generous helping of anagrams served to keep the difficulty rating to just a tad above average.

15a Actor’s muddled about line – clappers fallen silent? (7)
An anagram of ACTORS containing L, with the ‘fallen silent’ intended not to indicate that the word is no longer in use but that the sound of these clappers being deployed in religious dances would have been heard only in the ancient world.

24a Greek governor decreeing this reduces calendar by a month (7)
Neatly worded to ensure that the wordplay stands alone from the definition: decreeing NO MARCH does indeed reduce the calendar by a month.

30a Falling sick, pegged out, having toured most of the earth? (8)
‘Pegged out’ is DIED, and ‘most of the earth’ is SEAS. There are those among us who do not consider ‘touring’ as indicating containment – ‘to tour’ can certainly be used interchangeably with ‘to go round’, but not in the sense of ‘to go round the outside of‘.

32a Since old needs to put in means of draining fluid (6)
A crafty clue, both in terms of wordplay and definition. An obsolete word for ‘since’ (‘Since old’) requires the insertion of the word TO (‘needs to put in’), to produce a plural when one might have expected a singular from the definition (I know I did!)

35a Yank ate hen? That’s not the gas they treat it with over there! (6)
An imperative anagram indicator (‘Yank’) which Azed is quite fond of. If a gas had been used on the hen, it would have been carbon dioxide rather than ethane. There has been considerable publicity in recent times about the Americans giving their chicken a ‘chlorine wash’ to remove bacteria prior to sale, but this does not involve chlorine gas, rather a solution of chlorine dioxide.

2d Little old bag, last abandoned by string of characters (5)
This is SCRIPT (‘string of characters’) missing its last letter (‘last abandoned’), but Azed is being a bit naughty with the definition here, putting the obsolescence indicator (‘old’) in the middle of the descriptive element (‘little bag’). I’d have preferred something like ‘Little bag, in past time abandoned by string of characters…’.

9d Third of investment lost, put up for protection (4)
This is an investment of the military kind, a SIEGE, having had the third letter removed (‘third lost’) and then being reversed (‘put up’).

14d Look no longer, not left to tell the tale (4)
For me, ‘not left’ in a clue like this should indicate that the L is to be removed from what comes before; if it is to be removed from what follows, then there should be a comma after ‘left’. I know that a number of crossword editors share this view and would not have allowed this clue as it stands. Anyway, it is SPIEL from which the L must be lost.

19d Greeting with lifting of cap I answer in classical garb (7)
A charade of HI (‘Greeting’), MAT (TAM, ‘cap’, reversed), I, and A (answer). Since ‘hamation’ is a direct transliteration of a Greek second declension noun, it is reasonable to assume that the plural can similarly be transliterated as  ‘hamatia’

25d Rarely calling back up king deposed? That’s past (4)
REVOKING (the ‘calling back’ use of which is given by Chambers as ‘rare’) reversed (‘up’) and with KING removed. Since the ‘up’ precedes the ‘king deposed’, should it is fact not be GNIK that has to be ‘deposed’, REVOKING having already been reversed?  I don’t think we’ll go there…

28d Bears showing positive response if no longer in captivity (5)
Another wordplay which pushes the boundaries of fair construction – it’s YES (‘positive response’) [having] AN (‘if no longer’, ie an archaic form of ‘if’) ‘in captivity’.

29d Roué caught pinching sheila’s… (4) / 31d …rear, playing endless tease (4)
The final two clues last week were from the top drawer; these two are, I’m afraid, to be found nestling alongside the trousseau. The first is GOT (‘caught’) containing (‘pinching’) A (“sheila’s…rear”), while the second is an anagram (‘playing’)  of TEASE without the last letter (‘endless’). One of those situations where linking two clues using ellipses just doesn’t bring anything to the party.

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