Notes for Azed 2,541
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 2,541 Plain
Difficulty rating: (1.5 / 5)
Nothing too difficult in this puzzle – a few tricky parses were more than compensated for by a few ‘gimmes’ and several very straightforward clues. Plenty of clues to enjoy, my favourite perhaps being 26a.
ScotsWatch: not a single Scottish word today, surely some kind of record.
11a Old fool making reverse of progress, see, in health resort (6)
The wordplay here indicates a two-letter synonym for ‘[to] progress’ plus the letter of the alphabet represented by ‘see’ being reversed inside a three-letter contraction of a ten-letter word for a health resort. I think Azed is stretching things a little here – whilst the full form can indeed describe a health resort, the informal contraction is invariably, at least in my experience (largely acquired, I must confess, from the Jennings books of Anthony Buckeridge), used specifically of the room at a boarding school that accommodates ailing pupils.
14a What shampoo ads promise is almost like shimmering head (9)
Another contender for clue of the week, here we have an anagram (‘shimmering’) of IS and the first three letters of (‘almost’) LIKE, followed by the four-letter word for a head[land] which is a frequent visitor to crossword grids.
20a Fungal mould with turning yellow (5)
A three-letter word for ‘with’, typically seen in place names or in combining forms indicating dual function, reversed (‘turning’) and followed by the usual two-letter heraldic term for the tincture yellow (or gold).
24a Being suspended, first and last just so, a stabbing pain (6)
Here we have a seven-letter word meaning ‘being suspended’ from which the first and last letters have themselves been ‘suspended’, ie dismissed (‘first and last just so’), followed by the letter A.
26a Old hat, most of splendid lining ripped (7)
A nicely compact clue, all but the last letter of (‘most of’) a word meaning ‘splendid’ (or wealthy) is placed inside (‘lining’) a four-letter word meaning ‘ripped’.
33a Sneered at some sides repeatedly suffering reverse (6)
Azed is pushing the envelope here, with two different three letter extracts from SIDES (‘some sides’) being reversed (‘suffering reverse’) one after the other (‘repeatedly’).
34a I’m a gent: lady has ——— with me around (4)
The definition here is ‘I’m a gent’. The wordplay starts to make sense when you replace the blank with the solution (let’s call it ‘xxxx’), and then read it as ‘A word meaning ‘lady’ comprises xxxx with the letters ME put round the outside’.
1d Like some chocs? Pleasing couple of bits (11)
The couple of bits are a four-letter word for a low-denomination coin and a three-letter word for the same coin derived from its copper colour.
5d Old coin I found in rusty fruit box upended (7)
You may, like me, work this out from the definition and part of the wordplay, but if you knew that a ‘lug’ was a box or crate used for shipping fruit then you either have a very wide vocabulary or transatlantic connections.
18d Produce critical edition in new collection, cutting both parts (7)
One of the weaker clues, I thought. The wordplay involves a six-letter word for ‘new’ followed by a three-letter word for ‘collection’, each having the last letter removed (‘cutting both parts’). Since the verb which forms the solution is transitive, the definition has to be ‘Produce critical edition in’, which is a tad questionable, frankly.
25d Mineral water replacing midday’s second of couple (6)
Here a four-letter word for ‘midday’ has a three-letter word for ‘[a large body of] water’ replacing the second of a matching pair of letters (‘second of couple’) to produce the name of a mineral.
27d Part of Santorini circle that’s thrust up toxic stuff (5)
It’s not relevant to solving this clue, but the Santorini circle is a largely submerged volcanic crater in the southern Aegean Sea, the visible parts of which form a circular group consisting of Santorini, Therasia and Aspronisi around the outside with Nea Komeni and Palea Komeni in the middle. If you think that I knew that without having to look it up, then you have no idea how poor my world geography is.