Notes for Azed 2,539

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 2,539 Printer’s Devilry

Difficulty rating: 7 out of 10 stars (7 / 10)

Last seen in April 2019, Printer’s Devilry is back. For those who haven’t encountered a PD puzzle before, a few bits of advice:

  • Forget about wordplays and about definitions – the solution is just a sequence of letters that happens to form a real word
  • Remember that the ‘break’ will be part-way through a word in the clue
  • Look for a word that seems strained or out of place (eg in 10a, ‘To a crude and slovenly American, muck’, the word ‘muck’) – this is where the ‘break will almost certainly be
  • Read the clue carefully, trying to understand what ‘story’ Azed is telling and how it might be completed
  • Remember that punctuation may have been changed – both added and subtracted – from the undevilled (full) version
  • Bear in mind also that spaces can sometimes be added and removed in other parts of the clue – this only happens on three occasions in the current puzzle
  • Start with the shorter entries (six letters or less) – they are almost always the easiest; the long ones may sometimes involve working back from the answer

A stiff challenge, but fair (apart from the incorrect enumeration of 5d). I thought 25a, 28a , 4d, 22d and 24d were nicely done, and I admired the way Azed managed to cope with the difficult long entries at 5d and 15d. A few notes on individual clues are below, followed by a list, should you need it, of where the break points come in each clue.

6a Being home, she can’t wait for lessons to end (5)
One of the two clues where the word spacing has been changed from the complete (undevilled) version: ‘s<space>he’ has become ‘<space>she’.

17a My wife doesn’t like to cook it, straight from the river (6)
The fish that Azed has been catching are members of the carp family beloved of crossword setters, sometimes spelt without an E and sometime (as here) with one.

28a Was the Ramsbottom lad prodding that, live? Mistake (6)
The punctuation around the last three words of the devilled version needs to be completely ignored in this clue which is pretty straightforward if you are familiar with Marriott Edgar’s wonderful monologue ‘The Lion and Albert’, made famous by Stanley Holloway. His rendition can be heard here, and I make no apologies for reproducing a small extract from the story about Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom’s visit to Blackpool zoo with young Albert, their son:

There were one great big lion called Wallace
Whose nose was all covered with scars;
He lay in a somnolent posture
With the side of ‘is face on the bars.
Now Albert ‘ad ‘eard about lions –
‘Ow they was ferocious and wild;
To see lion lyin’ so peaceful
Just didn’t seem right to the child.

32a A well-informed person can grasp such things while ignorant (5)
Ideally the undevilled version of the clue should be a piece of English prose, but here it involves some ‘telegraphese’; the word ‘an’ must be inserted after ‘while’ in order for it to read smoothly. A clue like this would be marked down by Azed if it were submitted for a competition – the emphasis should always be on the undevilled version reading naturally as a sentence.

33a Delicate nymphs find the attentions of oversexed siting their tolerance (7)
If you were thinking ‘satyrs’ then you’re on the right track, but here we are looking for some elderly ones, aka sileni.

1d During space odyssey would astronauts ever need to? Real!(4)
Knowing the name which Arthur C Clarke gave to the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey is key to getting this one sorted out.

5d Wretched folk with the sun blazing; for all it’s worry, spell continuing endlessly (10)
Foul! The solution is actually two words, (7,3) – if like me you spent time trying to work out how the only 10-letter word that fits with the crossers could possibly work (which involved the unlikely sequence of letters ‘xrry’), then you have my sympathy.

7d Make sure you pick the right men in the woods! (6, 2 words)
It’s fairly clear what sort of thing you need to be careful about picking in the woods (other than men), but we are looking here for a particular type, beginning with the letter M.

15d These are tired old jokes from the past, admired (9)
A tricky one this – thinking of another word for ‘joke’ which might be slotted into ‘past’ (where the break must surely be) should help get you there.

18d In Mozart’s opinion, Figaro must outwit his master (7)
If you remember the last PD comp, this is an easy starter. The list of successful clues can be found here, and will give newcomers to PD puzzles an idea of what Azed is looking for when judging the competitions (in essence a silky-smooth undevilled version, a devilled version that makes some sense, and a clue that as a whole guides the solver to the solution).

21d Who took control after shocking event in the senate that way (6)
The reference in this clue is not to the new American Secretary of State, rather to one of the Second Triumvirate who took over in Rome after Julius Caesar fell victim to infamy.

27d I’ve solved crosswords for years – is this my first getting up to scratch? (4)
Here we have to think “If someone’s been solving crosswords for years, what might the logical next step be for them in a cruciverbal context?” The word ‘this’ seems superfluous and, indeed, slightly distracting.

Breaks in Clues

The points where the text which has been removed must be reinstated are shown below. Note that there a punctuation changes between the undevilled and devilled versions in a number of instances; note has been made of the clues where these changes are most significant (and therefore most deceptive).

Across: 1 – com/ing; 6 – ho/me [change in spacing elsewhere]; 10 – m/uck; 11 – lo/ok; 13 – pleas/ing; 14 – selec/t [change in spacing elsewhere]; 16 – was/ted [change in spacing elsewhere]; 17 – i/t; 18 – m/ad; 19 – pa/d; 23 – l/ively; 25 – b/urns; 28 – li/ve [significant punctuation changes]; 29 – pos/ies; 30 – T/ony; 31 – b/y [significant punctuation changes]; 32 – ignora/nt; 33 – si/ting.

Down: 1 – Re/al [significant punctuation changes]; 2 – wav/er; 3 – wine/ry [significant punctuation changes]; 4 – l/ist; 5 – wor/ry [significant punctuation changes]; 7 – m/en; 8 – bo/ard; 9 – l/ed; 12 – min/e; 15 – p/ast; 18 – op/inion; 20 – wor/ker; 21 – wa/y [significant punctuation changes]; 22 – w/ry [significant punctuation changes]; 24 – Thi/n; 26 – cas/t; 27 – g/etting.

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3 Responses

  1. orange says:

    Nearly had to ask for 17 and 15d, but fixing the error in 19 made a big difference!

  2. orange says:

    I was chuffed to have completed last week’s without referring to your hints. Far _too_ chuffed, it appears, as I have fallen flat on my bed of hubris (is that possible?) as I’m unable to get going with this one.
    Thanks for restating the rules — I was struggling to see what PESTO had to do with ‘vaulting above tunnel entrance’ in the example — and for pointing out where the missing words are to go.
    I _think_ now, that I have 32 as MUSCA ~ ignoraMUS CAnt. If this is correct — do please tell me — then I shall sally forth 😉
    Stay safe!

    • Doctor Clue says:

      A Printer’s Devilry is a whole different challenge and should not be allowed to overshadow your earlier achievement. Truth be told, the only thing that makes it doable is the fact that Azed makes each little ‘story’ as helpful as he possibly can. So in 32, which is indeed MUSCA, when he says ‘X can but…’ then the ending is almost certain to be ‘Y can’t’, and if, as in 9d, you see a word like ‘laddie’, you can expect that a similar 6-letter word of different gender will appear later on.

      This was a tough puzzle (indeed someone on one of the forums asked whether anyone had managed to complete it without help), and the change of mindset required from a normal cryptic just makes it tougher. But there are plenty of clues to admire, particularly the ones for the longer words (which are indeed devils to write), and it’s worth sticking with…may you sally forth to success 🙂

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