Notes for Azed 2,546

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 2,546 Plain

Difficulty rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

After last week’s Carte Blanche, here we have a plain puzzle somewhere in the middle of the difficulty spectrum, featuring some nicely oblique definitions. I get the feeling that Azed enjoyed setting this one.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 19d, “Jockey Lester, accepting tribunal’s conclusion, gives fresh account” (7). Verbs can be used in several ways to indicate anagrams; in terms of the syntax of the wordplay, participles (eg ‘changing’) are the most flexible and imperatives (‘change[!]’) the least. Hence the opportunities to use verbs in the imperative mood are relatively infrequent, but they can lead to some neat (and deceptive) surface readings, in which they appear to be nouns (often in an attributive sense, modifying another noun, as in ‘buffet car’ as a cryptic indication of ARC). Particular favourites of setters are ‘police’ and ‘school’ – ‘Police sergeant’ would indicate an anagram of ‘sergeant’, ‘School rules’ likewise of ‘rules’. Imperatives must be used with care, however; in practice, they will almost invariably need to be the first word in the wordplay.

A few examples. ‘School meal unsatisfactory’ is fine for LAME, but ‘School meal is unsatisfactory’ is not (the clue can be pre-processed into ‘Rearrange MEAL is unsatisfactory’, which is clearly no good). In general, only link words which suggest ‘in order to produce’ can legitimately be used, as in ‘Police escort for street trader’ (COSTER). The imperative need not be the first word in the whole clue – in ‘A few school leavers’ (SEVERAL) it is not – but usually¬† (as here with ‘Jockey’) it will be. Whilst this limits the use of imperatives, the capitalization of the first letter of the clue means that words such as ‘Doctor’ and ‘Harry’ can be used deceptively without having to ‘cheat’ with the initial capital – as in ‘Doctor Foster getting soggier’ for SOFTER or ‘Harry Potter spending time drunk’ for TOPER. Note how in the former example the participle ‘getting’ is sound while the indicative ‘gets’ would not be, and in the latter the participle ‘spending’ allows the imperative ‘Harry’ (=’Ravage’) to act on the result of ‘Potter-spending-time’, ie POTER; ‘Harry Potter spends time drunk’ is unsound (if you work through the wordplay you’ll see why). Similarly in the 19d clue, Azed cannot use ‘accepts’ to show the inclusion of the extra L, but the participle ‘accepting’ fixes the problem nicely.

12a April first traps bovine creature (7)
This clue has a solve-by date of next Wednesday, and features a two-letter bovine creature being ‘trapped’ by an Italian loanword meaning ‘first’.

13a Returning buggies maybe driven from tee at Turnbery? (5)
I did briefly wonder whether Donald Trump had changed the spelling of ‘Turnberry’ in a none-too-subtle attempt to fool the R&A, but I suspect that it is simply a misprint. The ‘maybe’ here belongs to the buggies in the wordplay, as it is a moot point whether the pared-down racing vehicles (which are travelling backwards in the grid) are ‘light, very basic vehicles’; the solution is a Scots past tense which could describe what someone on the golf tee did to the ball.

16a Beloved, if old tenor joined in – one such? (7)
A four-letter word for ‘beloved’ or ‘dear’ that has come to us from across the English Channel, with that barred crossword staple AN (an archaic form of ‘if’) plus the usual abbreviation for ‘tenor’ inserted (‘joined in’). The definition is ‘one such?’, referring back to the tenor in the wordplay.

28a Hard part of cell, on strike, leading to end of enterprise (7)
The question came up last week about how ‘lit’ could lead to IN, and one might similarly ask here how ‘on’ can indicate LIT. The answer is that one meaning of ‘on’ given by Chambers is ‘on the way to being drunk’, which approximates to ‘lit’ (‘drunk’). It is followed by a three-letter synonym for ‘[to] strike’ and the last letter (‘end of’) ‘enterprise’. I’m not sure why Azed put a comma between ‘cell’ and ‘on’, but perhaps I have misconstrued the intended surface reading.

31a Dried meat, food without stuffing in a way? (5)
The solution here is one of only two non-compounded words which feature the letter combination ‘fd’ (I’m sure you will know – just like I didn’t – that the other is ‘Wafd’), and a strange import from the Shetlands it is. The wordplay has the first and last letters of ‘food ‘ (‘food without stuffing’) placed in a Latin word for a ‘road’ or ‘way’.

1d Poet’s family shield that includes clubs on the spot (7)
A four-letter word for ‘that’ includes the usual abbreviation for ‘clubs’ and is followed by IN, one of the many meanings of which offered by Chambers is ‘on the spot’. The solution is a Spenserian spelling of the word for a shield on which a coat of arms is represented. The wordplay here is slightly flawed – ‘<word> includes C IN’ means that ‘C IN’ is contained in <word>, not just the ‘C’; ‘<word> including C IN’ could be interpreted either way at the setter’s discretion.

5d Arab covering to hitch to the ears (4)
A homophone indicator (‘to the ears’) which I don’t recall seeing before, the entry sounding like a verb meaning ‘to hitch’ in either a pulling up or a thumbing sense.

8d George is one working without control, independent in scheme (5)
If you’re more familiar with the film Airplane! than with aeronautical technology, then you may think of him as ‘Otto’ rather than ‘George’, but they could both (at a stretch, where Otto is concerned) be called ‘a —– working without control’. The last three words of the clue provide a straightforward wordplay.

9d Entertain American in almost half his home (5)
I initially thought the wordplay here might be relatively complex, but it turned out to be a two-letter representation of ‘American’ inside three-sevenths of the name of the country in which an American lives (‘almost half his home’).

19d Jockey Lester, accepting tribunal’s conclusion, gives fresh account (7)
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the ‘Long Fellow’ (Mr Piggott) is involved here; ‘Jockey is a verb in the imperative, and the fodder is LESTER, to be manoeuvred abround outside the last letter of ‘tribunal’. The definition is ‘gives fresh account’.

21d A tricky fence? Point for each (6)
Not a fence that I was familiar with, and the three-letter word given by the first part of the wordplay is more often indicated by ‘head’ or ‘prince’; the second part means ‘for each’.

22d Seaside clan, swimming? This with seals possibly can impart stings (6)
A composite anagram, though not perhaps one of the great man’s finest. A rearrangement (‘swimming’) of the letters SEASIDE CLAN could form (‘possibly’) the solution (‘this’)¬† plus SEALS; the definition is ‘can impart stings’.

23d Training requires such sustenance, spanning time (6)
Another sneaky definition combined with a friendly wordplay, here the definition is ‘Training requires such’, the important meaning of ‘train’ here being ‘to travel by rail’, a requirement for which would be, well, rails…

25d Show concern (as some do) when ring’s concealed in palm (5)
A two-word phrase (3,6) meaning ‘show concern’ (as in, say, ‘they show concern’), from which the RING at the end has been removed (“when ring’s concealed”) to produce the name of a palm tree genus. I’m not at all keen on the bit in brackets, which I think was intended to be helpful but would surely have been better as ‘like some people’ or similar).

26d Link husband added to necklace (5)
The definition here draws not on the first entry for ‘link’ in Chambers but on the second.

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