Notes for Azed 2,568
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 2,568 Plain
Difficulty rating: (2 / 5)
Perhaps a smidgeon easier than last week’s puzzle, but still I felt very close to the middle of the difficulty spectrum. Although 13×11 grid are certainly not the norm for barred crosswords, Azed uses them every few weeks in place of his ‘standard’ 12×12 size to give a bit of variety.
Hearty congrats are due to Richard Heald on retaining his title as the top Azed competitor – I make that the eighth time that he has been at the summit, either singly or jointly, in the past fourteen seasons. He consistently writes imaginative, entertaining and beautifully-constructed clues, and his success is well deserved.
Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 18a, “Pet having a suitable doctor brought in clipped as a proviso (6)”. Nothing too complex here: CAT (‘Pet’) has A VE(t) inserted (‘suitable doctor brought in clipped’) to produce CAVEAT. Slightly unusually, the insertion and last letter deletion indicators are effectively combined (‘brought in clipped’), but it was the ‘suitable doctor’, referencing the pet/cat, which got me thinking. This clue is fine, a vet is a suitable doctor for a cat, but what if the ‘pet’ had turned out, say, to be not ‘cat’ but ‘pamper’; a vet would be no more ‘suitable for a pamper’ than any other doctor (and possibly less so, depending on what their most recent work had involved, I’ve seen All Creatures Great and Small). If we evaluate the hypothetical clue serially, then ‘pet’ has already turned into PAMPER before we get to the ‘suitable’, so could the solver still be expected to associate the ‘suitable doctor’ with ‘pet’ in that situation? Think carefully, because if the answer isn’t ‘yes’ then there is a problem with 19d, as the ‘holy scriptures’ in the definition aren’t the same ones that are referenced in the wordplay. Poisonally (as Catarella would say in Stephen Sartarelli’s translations of Andrea Camilleri’s brilliant Montalbano novels) I think they could.
12a Gill spreading wings, with full range to pick from (8, 3 words)
It is only when you get to gill5 in Chambers that you find the “two- or four-wheeled cart for carrying timber”, which is ‘spreading’ (inserted into) a four-letter word (taken straight from the Latin) for ‘wings’.
21a Acute anaemia, not universal in expressionist style (6)
The seven-letter word for the ‘Wild Beast’ style of expressionist painting of which Matisse was an exponent has the usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘universal’ removed (‘not universal’) to produce the solution.
26a Simon’s chance encounter I’ll abandon for possible primate once (6)
What Simple Simon met when on the way to the fair without the I (“I’ll abandon”) provides the missing link. I’m not sure that ‘encounter’ can represent the person or thing encountered rather than the event, but I can’t think of word which does!
28a Shelter after rain’s beginning, not the first for mowers (4)
The first letter of ‘rain’ (“rain’s beginning”) is followed by a word meaning ‘[to] shelter’, more commonly seen suffixed by ‘-ing’ and describing the thing that does the covering or sheltering; the solution is ‘a second mowing of grass in the same season’ and is an alternative spelling of a five-letter word.
31a Churchman abandoning work, a mistake (4)
Here a six-letter churchman ‘abandons’ the usual two-letter abbreviation for ‘work’. Quite a lot of repetition in this puzzle, ‘abandon’ also appearing in 26, ‘colt’ in 15 and 29, and ‘old’ in 23 and 25.
3d Without extremes of cunning, such a situation is hopeless (5)
A seven-letter adjective meaning ‘cunning’ has its first and last letters removed (‘Without extremes’) to produce the hyphenated (2-3) solution.
4d Expert airman rising in foremost position, showing what’s distinctive on wing tip (6)
The wordplay here is straightforward, a three-letter word for an ‘Expert airman’ being reversed (‘rising’) inside (‘in’) a three-letter word for ‘foremost position’, but understanding the definition requires the knowledge that a wing tip is ‘a brogue shoe in which the toecap extends backwards and to the sides, suggesting the shape of a bird with outstretched wings.’ Prior to today, I did not possess that knowledge, and it is likely that within the week it will have left me again.
5d Religious schools (hard to find!) were on edge? (7)
They are indeed hard to find in the printed editions of Chambers, because they are listed under the ‘cheder’, the singular form of a variant spelling. Users of electronic versions of Chambers should have no such problems. The wordplay is a three word phrase (3,1,3) loosely equating to ‘were on edge’.
7d Pair of stipules wild sorrel has on inside (5)
Solving this clue without checkers would mean being familiar with either the solution or OCA, a South American wood sorrel, which has a two-letter preposition meaning ‘on’ inside.
19d Holy scriptures: version thereof is Roman one (6)
The ‘thereof’ refers back to the ‘Holy scriptures’ which forms the definition, and the wordplay is thus a charade of a two-letter abbreviation for a version of the Scriptures (but not the ones which form the solution), a three-letter Latin word meaning ‘is’ (‘is Roman’) and a single-letter word meaning ‘one’.
20d Napkins to twist up (6)
The letters TO (from the clue) are followed by a verb meaning ‘twist’ or ‘swing round unexpectedly’ which is reversed (‘up’).
22d Paddy, soaked. succeeded coming first (5)
A five-letter word meaning ‘soaked’ has the usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘succeeded’ moved into the leading position (‘coming first’). The surface reading doesn’t work properly – it needs ‘in’ or a comma following ‘succeeded’, but either would render the wordplay unsound.
23d Old snake may be in this cage (5)
The letters IN when followed by the solution (‘this cage’) produce an archaic (hence the ‘old’) word for an ungrateful person, ie a ‘snake’.
25d Alms required endlessly – see the old assemble (5)
A six-letter word for ‘alms’ with its last letter missing (‘endlessly’) makes an obsolete verb meaning ‘assemble’.
27d Farmstead flourished – as fed with this salt beef? (4)
A composite anagram to finish off with, where the letters of FARMSTEAD when rearranged (‘flourished’) can produce AS FED plus the solution (‘this salt beef’).
(definitions are underlined)