Notes for Azed 2,545
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 2,545 ‘Carte Blanche’
Difficulty rating: (4.5 / 10)
At last a non-competition special arrives, not an Eightsome Reels but a Carte Blanche, one which seemed to me about the same difficulty as a high-end plain. The hardest part of a Carte Blanche is getting started, but here I was able to readily solve the first across clue together with the second, third and fifth down clues, which enabled me to begin filling the grid. When solving a Carte Blanche, one should bear in mind that no entry can have two consecutive unches (unchecked letters) or more than a third of its total letters unchecked. In terms of grid symmetry, Azed’s statement simply means that the puzzle has normal 180-degree symmetry (my video on puzzle types goes into more detail about both symmetry and unching). At the end of these notes I have listed against each row and column the lengths of the entry (or entries) that appear in them. Oh, and the answer to the first across clue is (4-6); the possible (6-4) alternative isn’t in Chambers but would otherwise have been a plausible alternative.
Azed’s recent low scores on ScotsWatch have prompted me to ‘retire’ the feature, to be replaced by Setter’s Corner. Each week I will pick out a clue which I think may be of interest to new or aspiring setters, perhaps where Azed has avoided a common error or found an interesting way to sidestep a potential problem.
Setters Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 28d, “Name given to viral disease causing a lung part to heave” (5). Not the sort of word I much like clueing, but useful in that it is the only option for the pattern E?O?A, and a reversal (indicated by ‘causing…to heave’) of A LOBE (‘a lung part’) leads to a sound and concise wordplay. The trap for the setter here is the definition: ‘Virus’ or ‘Viral disease’ seem obvious, but wait – Ebola is not itself a virus, any more than Stockholm is a syndrome or Fibonacci a series. As you would expect, Azed has avoided the pitfall with ‘Name given to a viral disease’; ‘Stockholm’ could perhaps be ‘Capital linked to syndrome’ and ‘Fibonacci’ might be indicated by ‘Numbers man’. Note also that while ‘Jonathan, perhaps’ would be fine for ‘apple’ (a definition by example, Jonathan being a variety of apple), the appealing ‘Vera, perhaps’ is no good as an indication of ‘aloe’ – the plant is ‘called Aloe Vera’, it is not a type of aloe known as ‘Vera’. By the same token, ‘French, say’ would be valid for ‘language’ but nor for ‘dressing’.
10a Gnostic, mostly frank about striking success (6)
A four-letter word for ‘frank’ without the last letter (‘mostly’) contains (‘about’) a three-letter word for a striking success which might be applied to a theatrical ‘smash’.
11a Success, too old-fashioned, ends (5)
The old-fashioned (three-letter) word for ‘too’ is a familiar four-letter word meaning ‘in addition’ but without the O on the end. It follows a two-letter word for a success (not as striking as the one in 10a), the definition being ‘ends’ (a plural noun).
13a Hubble-bubble? Re-inhaling’s out when it’s not lit (8)
This parses as an anagram (‘out’) of RE-INHALING missing the letters IN (“when it’s not lit”, ie when it does not include a word meaning ‘lit’). The hubble-bubble in question has two alternative spellings which could be correct – the one to be entered ends in H.
16a Limit number in sum, number only mathematician can understand? (7)
I think this (‘number only mathematician can understand?’) is a wonderful indication of the solution, particularly given its Chambers definition! The wordplay involves a three-letter word meaning ‘sum’ containing a three-letter word for ‘limit’ (in the sense of ‘to restrict’) followed by the usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘number’.
18a Puffin music book I read without substance (8)
The hyphenated puffin is a charade of a four-letter musical genre plus a single-letter abbreviation for ‘book’, the letter I, and the word ‘read’ lacking the inside letters (‘without substance’).
29a Rose’s place, almost entirely in corner (6)
Two-thirds of a word meaning ‘entirely’ are contained in a four-letter word meaning ‘to corner’. The solution is a town in County Kerry famed for its annual music festival which takes its name from a 19th century song about a young lady of exceptional beauty:
She was lovely and fair as the rose of the summer,
Yet ’twas not her beauty alone that won me;
Oh no, ’twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning,
That made me love Mary, the Rose of ———.
31a Rake maybe in briefs but no neckwear (4)
An eight-letter word for ‘underwear, esp women’s brief panties’ has a four-letter (plural) word for ‘neckwear’ removed (‘no neckwear’) to reveal a verb which can just about mean ‘to rake’.
33a King, plus agé, to rule in olden days (5)
A single-letter abbreviation for ‘KIng’ (not the chess one) followed by a four-letter French loanword meaning ‘elder’ or ‘senior’, the whole being a Spenserian spelling of a familiar word for ‘rule’.
1d Deceived by the sound of it, taken in by partner mostly displaying muscle (11)
I really don’t like partial homophones, particularly when they are used to indicate a non-word, but here we have a five-letter string which sounds like ‘deceived’ put inside (‘taken in by’) a seven-letter word for a partner (such as the king in 33a might have had) with the last letter removed (‘mostly’ again, a repeat from 10a).
4d Diversion pa’s taken from Scottish peer (5)
A seven-letter word for a diversion has the letters PA removed (“pa’s taken from”) to give a Scots word meaning ‘to peer’.
6d Who’ll be beating time as rondo’s beginning? (7)
A tidy little &lit here where the people who might be beating time can be found by rearranging (‘beating’) the letters of TIME, AS and the first letter of ‘rondo’ (“rondo’s beginning”).
8d Fate in which old Scots poet switches parts (5)
A five-letter archaic Scots word for a poet has the last three letters moved above the first two in order to produce a much more familiar word for ‘fate’, in the ‘what goes around comes around’ sense.
19d Soaring tree, note – it may be in porcelain (7)
A three-letter tree reversed (‘Soaring’) followed by a four-letter term for a note or short letter.
21d Like a woodpecker pecking a bit of slat in pool (7)
A word for a pool more familiar to the French than the English, perhaps, is produced when a word meaning ‘Like a woodpecker’ (a bird of the genus Picus) contains (‘is pecking’) the first letter of ‘slat’ (‘bit of slat’)
30d Old gull died cracking crab’s shell (4)
A two-letter abbreviation for ‘died’ contained by (‘cracking’) the outside letters of ‘crab’ (“crab’s shell”), producing an archaic word for a gull.
Where the entries appear:
Across: Row 1 – a single 10-letter entry; Row 2 – a 6-letter and a 5-letter entry; Row 3 – (8); Row 4 – (4) and (6); Row 5 – (7) and (5); Row 6 – (8); Row 7 – (8); Row 8 – (5) and (7); Row 9 – (6) and (4); Row 10 – (8); Row 11 – (5) and (6); Row 12 – (10) [symmetry dictates that the last 6 rows will be the reverse of the first 6, similarly with the columns]
Down: Col 1 – a single 11-letter entry; Col 2 – a 7-letter entry and a 5-letter entry; Col 3 – (7) and (5); Col 4 – (7); Col 5 – (5); Col 6 – (4) and (7); Col 7 – (7) and (4); Col 8 – (5); Col 9 – (7); Col 10 – (5) and (7); Col 11 – (5) and (7); Col 12 – (11)