Notes for Azed 2,535
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 2,535 Plain
Difficulty rating: (3.5 / 5)
I thought this puzzle showed Azed on good form, containing plenty to enjoy and very little with which to take issue. Above average in terms of difficulty, but with enough easier clues to get the solver started. An unusual feature for a plain puzzle was the presence of fully-checked five-letter entries at 3d/24d. A generous helping of first-class clues – I couldn’t readily pick a favourite, but I thought 11a, 16a, 29a, 30a, 1d, 5d and 24d were all appealing in their different ways.
ScotsWatch: A total of 3, as the solutions for 3d/19d and part of the wordplay for 28a. That sets the standard – will Azed be able to beat it in future puzzles?
1a Adhesive as once used to fill stain (7)
UT is the Latin for ‘as’ (now seen only in phrases such as ‘ut supra’), and here is it used to ‘fill’ a five-letter verb (more often seen as an adjective) meaning ‘to stain’. Whether ‘as’ needs to be qualified with ‘once’ is an interesting question which Azed has clearly answered in the affirmative.
11a What needs to be held in both hands for oven (4)
The usual two-letter representation of ‘what[?]’ is held between the one-letter abbreviations for each hand to produce an annealing oven or furnace.
13a Backing band includes knight, rather hard up (7)
A four-letter word for a band (in the ring sense) contains (‘includes’) a three-letter word prefixed to the name of a knight, the whole thing being reversed (‘backing’) to form a word meaning ‘rather hard up’. I was pleased to see ‘rather’ being used here in the sense of ‘somewhat’; whilst I know that comparatives are tough to define without using either another comparative or ‘more’ (eg ‘bigger’ = ‘larger’ or ‘more sizeable’), I don’t like to see ‘rather’ used as an alternative to ‘more’ – ‘rather large’ and ‘larger’ simply don’t mean the same thing. I’m slightly less pleased about the grammar of the wordplay – since it is not just the band which is backing but the band-round-knight combination, the use of ‘includes’ is an error; it should read ‘Backing band including knight…’ (or ‘Band including knight backs…’).
16a Something akin to a swift beer towards closing time? (6)
I do like a well-disguised break between definition and wordplay, and we have one here. The last four words constitute the wordplay, and involve a three-letter (poetic) word for a time of day being applied attributively to a three-letter (colloquial) term for a drink, usually of beer.
18a Stop dropping in for a mild smoke (5)
Azed has included the word ‘mild’ to the detriment of the surface reading in order to more accurately indicate the solution, but I’m not sure it will help anyone who isn’t familiar with either the name of the mild cigar or CLARINO, an organ stop imitating the sound of a clarion.
26a Soft loaf I cut with raised pattern (6)
The name of a type of light, soft loaf with the letter I removed (‘I cut’) to produce a word (which has an acute accent on its last letter) meaning ‘with raised [or apparently raised] pattern’.
29a Deny extra editing work on the paper may keep this? (7)
If there is extra editing work to be done on the paper it may keep the ‘sub-editor beyond the usual time’, ie it may keep — —-.
30a Mark refuses tot initially – being on it? (Charles has one) (4)
A wordplay and two ‘definitions’ here. Mark is the first part of an author’s nom de plume; the letter T (‘tot initially’) must be removed from the other part to produce the solution. The solver must infer the first definition from ‘being on it?’ (the reason for refusing a tot), while the second definition refers to an old name for the Plough.
1d Qualified lawyer, subordinate plonker? It could be fatal (11)
The ‘qualified lawyer’ is a two-letter abbreviation for ‘Bachelor of Law’, and it is followed by a five-letter word for ‘subordinate’ and a four-letter word for a ‘plonker’ (or a smacker). The definition is somewhat loose, but perfectly fair given the precision of the wordplay.
2d Malagasy native? Supporter of La Maison probably (5)
Just as the English house (or at least parts of it) could be held up by the wall, so the French one (‘La Maison’) could be held up by — —.
7d Walk round lake? It’s familiar to geneticist (6)
The ‘walk’ here is the French word for ‘an avenue, walk, or garden path’ [Oxford comma added to Chambers definition – I wouldn’t want to fall foul of those who are refusing the ‘foreign’ vaccine and insisting on the Oxford one].
19d Onset of disease in the early wheat, causing stir in Scotland (6)
A clue where unfamiliarity with the Scottish uproar requires at least passing knowledge of the spring wheat whose gluten-rich seeds yield a flour used to make pasta, and whose name must be set around the letter D (‘Onset of disease’).
20d Being unwell shifty ‘ob’s kept inside (6)
‘Kept inside’ a three-letter word for ‘shifty’ is a four-letter term for a rustic from which the initial h has been dropped (implied by ‘ob, ‘hob’ missing the aitch at the start).
23d Aussie plonk, ordinary accompanying local banger (5)
A four-letter Australian term for an old, worn-out car (‘local’ [ie Aussie] banger’) – also an American term for a flop – followed by O (ordinary), the result being a word that might be used down under to describe cheap wine.
25d When it’s getting late, everything imbibed in it is toxic stuff (5)
A slight sense of déjà lu here vis-à-vis 7d, this one involving a less poetic seven-letter term for the close of the day (‘When it’s getting late’) having its first and last letters removed (‘everything imbibed in it’). I’m not too keen on ‘imbibed’, which describes an action rather than a state, being used to suggest contents; I appreciate that it’s a relatively subtle point, but I think ‘everything contained in it’ or similar would be preferable.