Notes for Azed 2,562
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 2,562 Plain
Difficulty rating: (2.5 / 5)
A 13×11 puzzle which seemed to be pretty close to the middle of the difficulty spectrum. I had a couple of minor quibbles, but nothing to get too het up about.
Setters’ Corner: This week I take my prompt from 9d, which (apart from the use of ‘produce’ rather than ‘provide’) is Norah Jarman’s brilliant first prize winner from Ximenes competition 743 (April 1963). A superb wordsmith, she won thirty-seven prizes in Ximenes and Azed comps between 1945 and 1983; when cryptic definition clues without supporting wordplay were allowed in barred puzzles she wrote some of the best (eg ‘Naughty type of Limerick’ for SPALPEEN, X202), but she was equally good at conventional definition/wordplay clues, such as the one reproduced here by Azed and
Surprisingly, she only achieved one VHC or better in Printer’s Devilry competitions, but the one in question was this extraordinary effort from AZ57 (April 1973):
Finally my personal favourite, Norah’s winning entry for Ximenes comp 1140 (November 1970):
1a Resinous stuff to polish from behind with spraying device on fashioned diptych (13, 2 words)
A three-letter word meaning ‘to polish’ is reversed, the sort of spraying device you might use when repainting a car comes next, and an anagram (‘fashioned’) of DIPTYCH brings up the rear, ccompleting a solution of the form (8,5).
10a Upset a bath with last of water in (7)
Using ‘a’ to indicate PER is a device often used by setters (myself included!) – here it is followed by a three-letter word for a bath with the last letter of ‘water’ inserted.
15a Mixture of strong beers packed quite a punch (6)
The second indication of the solution may not be familiar to younger solvers, but in the 1960s Henry Cooper was perhaps the most famous sportsman in England. Born in Lambeth in 1934, he started boxing in 1949 and in 1954 (together with his twin brother George) he turned professional. His first fight with Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) was the stuff of legend, Cooper felling Clay in the fourth round with a left hook to the jaw, a punch known as “‘Enry’s ‘Ammer”. The first person to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award twice, he was undefeated in British heavyweight title fights from 1959 until his final (highly controversial) defeat at the hands of Joe Bugner in 1971; it is unlikely that the gulf in public affection between the two fighters has been matched by two British boxers before or since. Following his retirement from the sport, he became one of the initial team captains on A Question of Sport, and he was much in demand for public appearances for the remainder of his life . He was awarded a knighthood in 2000, the only boxer ever to have received that honour.
17a Plunge in like active boxers? That’s invigorating (8)
ENEW (‘Plunge in’) is seen inside [the] RING (‘like active boxers’). Strictly speaking, ‘enew’ means to plunge into the water, but I think that ‘the water’ can reasonably be inferred,
19a Hanging of old, something that stops lives (5)
A three-letter word for a stopper (‘something that stops) plus a two-letter word meaning ‘lives’ make up an obsolete word for a hanging or tapestry taken directly from the French language.
28a Dramatic heroine given latitude in court bench introducing explosive stuff (7)
The usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘latitude’ is contained by a four-letter word for the judges’ bench (Français, encore) and a two-letter abbreviation for High Explosive. The solution is the first name of Mrs Grey, née DuBois, in Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire. The part was written for Tallulah Bankhead, but was originally played on Broadway by Jessica Tandy; Vivien Leigh took the role in the original West End production, and reprised it in the film with Kim Hunter, Karl Malden, and the little-known (at that time) Marlon Brando. Bankhead finally got the chance to have a crack at it in 1956 – the critics were divided over her performance, but Williams was impressed. Bankhead was something of a ‘character’ – her penchant for eschewing underwear caused so may complaints from audience members when she appeared in Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of our Teeth that Equity was forced to intervene, and when she appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat the director famously deliberated over whether he should refer the issue to the make-up or hairdressing department.
35a Imagines being found singly caught in pincers, feet damaged, tense (13)
Even in noisy surroundings this clue could plainly be heard shouting out ‘Azed’. ‘Imagines’ is one of the plural forms of ‘imago’, and therefore with ‘Imagines being found singly’ Azed is telling us that the definition is ‘imago’; the wordplay requires the standard abbreviation for caught to be placed inside an anagram (‘damaged’) of PINCERS FEET, with the abbreviation for tense at the end. Whether ‘X being found singly’ is the same as ‘the singular form of X’ I leave you to decide for yourselves.
1d The old scrawl on version of Serb bible inscribed by Catholic (10)
An anagram of (‘version of’) SERB BIBLE, containing a C for Catholic, but I don’t think that ‘inscribed by’ is legitimate to indicate insertion of what follows – it introduces the agent of the inscription, not the thing inscribed, for which ‘inscribed with’ would be required. The Claret Jug at Royal St George’s will today be inscribed with the name of the winner of the Open Championship, not by it.
3d Lacking a tin, dividing up fruit (6)
A ten-letter word meaning ‘dividing’ has the letters A TIN removed (‘Lacking a tin) before being reversed (‘up’).
7d Ride around this meadowland will get place affording best views? (4)
If the letters of RIDE were set around the solution, the result would be a place to get close-up views of action such as ‘Enry at 15 and the protagonists at 17 might have produced.
8d Part of Africa supplying dress, old, for taking away (4)
Two definitions sandwiching the wordplay, a three-letter word meaning [to] dress and the usual abbreviation for old. Arguably the second ‘definition’ is a second wordplay, since its enumeration is (2,2) rather than (4).
9d I produce something you can rattle up and down in a box (7)
A very slight variation on Norah Jarman’s classic clue from 1963, a two-letter designation of something that you might ‘rattle up and down’ in a motor vehicle is contained by a five-letter word for a box, the whole clue serving as a lovely indication of the solution.
22d Palm tree: excrescence on it is reduced by half (6)
A three-letter word for an excrescence (on a tree) more often seen with its last letter repeated is followed by (‘on’) IT and the letter I (‘is reduced by half’).
27d Cadenzas, maybe strong except for the end (4)
A five-letter word for ‘strong’ or ‘substantial’ has its final letter removed (‘except for the end’) to produce the Italian plural form of a word which could describe, inter alia, a cadenza (‘Cadenzas, maybe’).
29d State touching US state to the north (4)
The two-letter word which Chambers describes as ‘commercial jargon’ for ‘concerning’ or ‘touching’ together with the two-letter abbreviation for a particular (southeastern) US state, the combination being reversed (‘to the north’).
30d Pud that was iced initially found in napkin holder (4)
The first letter of ‘iced’ (‘iced initially’) is contained by (‘found in’) a three-letter word for an ornamental holder for a knife, fork or table napkin, often in the form of a ship (hence the name, the French word for a nave, derived from the Latin ‘navis’, a ship). A ‘pud’ is a word for a fist, as is the solution, but the latter is shown by Chambers as ‘archaic, hence the ‘Pud that was’, ie ‘Pud in the past’.
(Definitions are underlined)