Notes for Azed 2,522

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 on any aspect of the puzzle (including clues not listed below) either by using the comment form at the bottom of the page or, if would prefer that your question/comment is not publicly visible , by email.

Azed 2,522 ‘Carte Blanche’

Difficulty rating: 4.5 out of 10 stars (4.5 / 10)

I’ve never been a great fan of the ‘carte blanche’ puzzle unless there is a theme which justifies it – to make a plain carte blanche crossword you simply take a normal plain crossword and remove the bars and (unless you’re feeling very generous) the enumerations…job done! And given the amount of cold solving (ie solving without knowing any crossing letters) of non-enumerated clues that is required, the clues themselves have to be kept pretty simple, which tends to make them less entertaining. Apart from that, it’s a great type of puzzle. Anyway, in the words of Adam Ant, ridicule (or possibly Liverpool, I could never be sure) is nothing to be scared of, and the same applies to this puzzle. It did take me a little longer than an average-to-tricky ‘plain’, hence the difficulty rating.

I solved the first and last across clues along with the first two down clues, which allowed me to put the ‘frame’ into the grid. Working through the next few down clues enabled me to complete the perimeter and hang a few more stalactites from the top row, and I worked on steadily from there.

For those who would like a little help with the enumerations, they are as follows:

Across: 9 (two words), 6, 5, 9, 5, 7, 9, 5, 5, 9, 7, 5, 9, 5, 6, 9
Down: 11, 4, 7 (hyphenated), 4, 7 (hyphenated), 11, 4, 7, 4 (two words), 7, 11, 7, 7, 7, 7, 4, 4, 4, 4

The first across entry follows four barred-off cells, ie it is aligned to the right edge of the grid, hence the entry on the bottom row is aligned to the left.

Across Clues

Aid to east-west understanding I block before heading westwards (6)
This is I plus a three-letter word meaning ‘block’ or ‘squeeze tight’ plus an archaic two-letter word for ‘before’, all reversed (‘heading westwards’), the whole being a system for writing Japanese using the Roman alphabet.

Jock’s cautious, with being written out of score (6)
A six-letter word for a score in the numerical sense that has had the W (with) removed (‘written out’).

Gypsy fellow with a young salmon hiding inside dense thicket (9)
This is CHAL (‘Gypsy fellow’) with A PARR (‘a young salmon’) hiding inside, producing a solution which instantly brings to my mind the 1960s TV series The High Chaparral, which started out as a kind of Arizonan Dallas with added Apaches, but over time became a lot more amusing in an intentional way.

Carrion feeder, usually preferring gall to heart (5)
USU (an abbreviation for ‘usually’), with its heart (central letter) being replaced by a three-letter word meaning ‘to gall’ or ‘to chafe’.

Roy and Dennis maybe joined in secret palavers (7)

The ‘Roy’ is the late, great Roy Hudd, while the ‘Dennis’ is Les Dennis. Roy Hudd was brought up by his grandmother, who took him to the local variety theatre every Friday night. He was captivated by the musical halls, and became an authority on their history; his stage show in which he looked back over his life and career featured many songs and monologues from the halls, and I remember him saying that one of the first songs that his granny had taught him was The Hole in the Elephant’s Bottom. Well, it makes a change from Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and that kind of tosh. The first two verses go something like this:

My ambition’s to go on the stage
And now you can see that I’ve got on.
In the pantomime I am engaged
To play the elephant’s bottom.

Now the girls all think that I’m it
When they sit in the stalls I can spot ’em
And I wink at the ones in the pit
Through the hole in the elephant’s bottom.

Down Clues

Wheeze according to Sandy spattering end of hankie (4)
JAP is a Scots word meaning ‘a splash’ or ‘a spattering’, and the end of ‘hankie’ is an E.

A people in plains adjusted according to theories of philosopher / physicist (11)
This is an anagram (‘adjusted’) of PLAINS containing A plus a four-letter word for a ‘people’, and while the word ‘physicist’ is not strictly speaking erroneous, the chap (Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim) who gave his nom de guerre to the adjective is described by Chambers as ‘philosopher and physician’. His slightly more catchy monomial was probably an anglicization of ‘Hohenheim’ which his friends in France came up with.

S. Asian tree obscuring sun for grain crop (4)
The tree in question is the SUNDARI; unless you are familiar with this or the variant spelling of the grain crop then this is probably going to be one of the last clues that you solve.

Lass yields to pass if this – it makes miss sound like a legend! (4)
This clue bears some resemblance to Azed’s classic “My letters could make lad sad” for LASS, but here ‘lass’ becomes ‘pass’ if L IS P, and ‘miss’ pronounced with a lisp sounds like ‘myth’. Not quite in the same league as its illustrious precursor.

Pair of duck changing over to Scottish loch – something for oriental-style pan (4)
Two wordplays here, one involving changing over the EA in the middle of the name of a type of duck for AE, and the other involving a Scots form of ‘to’ being followed by L (loch). The whole is a Chinese weight much beloved of crossword setters for that ‘ae’ at its centre, the ‘pan’ being the sort found on a set of scales.

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2 Responses

  1. Little bony bits? i let on when it’s found in fine tobacco.
    CAPI??LL?

    Can anyone help

    • Doctor Clue says:

      The wordplay gives [I together with a four-letter word meaning ‘let on’ in the sense of ‘divulge’] inside CAPA, a fine Cuban tobacco. The solution relates to bits at the end of long bones, and the definition is to be found in Chambers under a slightly different headword (but there is a cross-referring entry for the singular form of the solution).

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