Notes for Azed 2,533

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 2,533 Plain

Difficulty rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

A puzzle of slightly higher than average difficulty, I felt, including a few tricky wordplays and not too many ‘gimmes’. There wasn’t a great deal of competition for ‘clue of the week’, the award going to the neat &lit at 6d.

Note that once again the advisory text ‘Every word is in The Chambers Dictionary (2014)’ has been erroneously reproduced from the Carte Blanche puzzle 2,522 – it should be the standard ‘The Chambers Dictionary (2014) is recommended’.

10a Once exhausted in mood line retreats (7)
Inside a four-letter word for ‘mood’ (or ‘atmosphere’) a three-letter word for a line goes backwards (‘retreats’) to produce a hyphenated Spenserian term (2-5) meaning ‘worn-out’, though not in the sense of ‘exhausted’:

“And on his backe an uncouth vestiment
Made of straunge stuffe, but all to-worne and ragged”

13a Thick coat, black one pinched by crook (7)
To solve this without recourse to works of reference you either need to be familiar with the garment or be aware that a CROME is a hook or a crook, “especially a stick with a hook at the end of it, to pull down the boughs of a tree, to draw weeds out of ditches etc”.

15a Local troops? Many lost, nation gripped by call for help (6)
The name of a country (‘nation’) with the letters MANY removed (‘Many lost’) contained (‘gripped’) by a call for help, the whole being a dialect variant of a familiar word.

18a Bandages head of san applied to artist? Not so (6)
With its allusion to Vincent VG this would have been a COTW contender if ‘head of san’ didn’t sound so horribly dated. The letter S (the aforementioned ‘head of san’) is followed by the surname of a famous artist (with a full complement of ears) from which the letters SO have been removed (‘Not so’).

22a Dhobi service was carried out in local garden? (4)
The seven-letter ‘Dhobi service’ is a low-end offering that I associate with Mr Papadopoulos’s Walford launderette rather than the Raj, where something much more comprehensive would surely have been provided; though far be it from me to suggest that it would have been an appropriate term for a service provided by Pauline or Dot.  Anyway, it has the consecutive letters WAS removed (‘was carried out’) to produce an Indian word for a garden.

23a Colt maybe, what no cowboy could do without? (4)
This appears to be essentially a cryptic definition alone, unless anyone can show otherwise. Yes. a HOSS could be a colt, and (as Roy Rogers confirmed in song) every cowboy needs a horse, but I can’t find a subsidiary indication of the answer. Any offers?

24a On edge, a hundred runs short (6)
The wordplay here is somewhat strained, being a seven-letter word for a division or a county (‘a hundred’) missing the usual abbreviation for runs (‘runs short’); the solution means ‘[having been set] on edge’.

29a Interfere in sleep skipping piano pieces, we hear? (6)
O Azed, has it come to this – a partial homophone? Not something I like to see. The three-letter word for ‘sleep’ missing (‘skipping’) P for piano is fine, but although the homophone for ‘pieces’ is accurate in terms of pronunciation, the fact that it produces a non-word makes it unacceptable to me.

31a St Andrews student from Italy in first half of term (5)
The IVR code for Italy is put inside the first four letters (‘first half’) of an eight-letter word for a term, the result being a Scots word for a university student in their second year that was new to me, and appears to derive from a contraction of ‘semi bejanus’, half a bejan. A whole bejan is a freshman at a Scottish university, though why a second-year student is considered to be equivalent to half a freshman does puzzle me slightly.

33a Section of Baudelaire, not his first in speech units (4)
One of this week’s better clues, a five-letter term for particular parts of speech (‘doing words’, as they used to call them at school) losing the initial letter of ‘Baudelaire’ (‘not his first’) in order to produce a word which Baudelaire could have used to describe a section of his work.

2d Work loading Murphy’s spade, dotty (5)
I’m unconvinced by ‘loading’ as an insertion indicator, as the subject of the verb is the agent of the loading, not the thing loaded – I think this is clear from consideration of the passive form, where ‘loaded with’ is absolutely fine as a containment indicator, but ‘loaded by’ is not. What’s being loaded here is a LOY, a narrow Irish spade.

5d Imperial, fuzzy on chin, Henry trimmed – see monarch in it (7)
Not only is this clue rather ungainly, I also think that the use of ‘Henry’ to indicate H is decidedly questionable, given that SI units really aren’t keen on being given initial capitals; I can’t think of any context where ‘henry’ could legitimately have one. The wordplay involves an anagram (‘fuzzy’)  of ON CHIN without the H (‘Henry trimmed’), into which the standard abbreviation representing the UK monarch (the real one, not the deepfake one) must be placed (‘monarch in it’).

8d Place for smokers in the Wild Boar & Hart (8)
The letters of BOAR and HART are rearranged (‘wild’) to form the name of a Scottish town famed for its smoked haddock, and by association those that do the smoking thereof.

11d Face group of old wiseacres one short (not the last)? (8)
Kudos to anyone who derived the solution from the wordplay, rather than the other way round. I certainly didn’t. Not even close. The Seven Sages of Greece (also known as the Wise Men of Greece) were seven Greek philosophers who flourished during the 6th century BC. So here (bringing a little Latin into play) we have VII SAGES, but when ‘one short’ they become VI SAGES; and when their last letter is removed (‘not the last’) we get VI SAGE. Simples! Brewer’s lists the seven, together with a saying attributed to each:

Bias of Priene: ‘All men are bad’
Chilo of Sparta: ‘Consider the end’
Cleobulus of Lindos: ‘Avoid extremes’
Periander of Corinth: ‘Nothing is impossible to industry’
Pittacus of Mitylene: ‘Seize time by the forelock’
Solon of Athens: ‘Know thyself’
Thales of Miletus: ‘Who hateth suretyship is sure’

16d Given rise, I had task round college, well-defined (8)
Following the reversal (‘given rise’) of a contraction of ‘I had’, and containing (’round’) an abbreviation of ‘college’, is a five-letter word for a ‘task’ perhaps more often used to describe an allotted period of work.

19d Jock’ pinched, from seven days in the highlands occupying filthy hole (6)
The Scots word for a week (‘seven days in the highlands’) here is OUK; I know it because I wrote a clue for an alternative spelling of the word, ‘Repeated appearances of kagoul encapsulating week in the Cairngorms (4)’,  which proved much trickier than I expected.

27d Volume, old, kept in private room, an allurement (5)
I wasn’t convinced that an angler’s lure, which this is (often followed by the word ‘minnow’), could be described as ‘an allurement’, but the OED gives ‘allurement’ as ‘a lure, bait’, so it’s ok.

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