Notes for Azed 2,570

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 2,570 Plain

Difficulty rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Quite a tricky puzzle, I thought, with not too many ‘gimmes’ and a solution across the top that took a bit of teasing out. I felt that Azed enjoyed setting this one, and there were some nice clues, although there were also a few where the surface reading didn’t quite convince.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 25d, “Military supremo at head of troops, rarely surrounded (5)”. The wordplay is straightforward, C-IN-C (Commander-in-Chief) being followed by T (‘head of troops’), and the solution is a word meaning ‘surrounded’ which is given by Chambers as ‘rare’ (hence the ‘rarely’). But there is another word in the clue, that ‘at’ between the two elements of the wordplay. We often see juxtaposition indicators in puzzles; on occasion they play a role in the cryptic reading, reversing the natural order of the elements in a charade (eg ‘is behind time’ to indicate TIS), but frequently they are there purely for the benefit of the surface reading and perform no cryptic role (eg ‘is on time’ to indicate IST). I don’t believe that there is any consensus on what juxtaposition indicators are acceptable – Chambers gives a meaning for many prepositions (eg ‘to’ = ‘beside’) that could be used to justify their use between wordplay elements X and Y to indicate either XY or YX. There are many such indicators that I am happy to employ, and a number of them are listed in the Clinical Data section of this site; there are others which I don’t like, in particular X ‘has’ (or X’s) Y to mean XY. The use of ‘at’ doesn’t appeal to me either – I suppose one could argue that the Chambers definition is so broad that it supports the usage, and someone who is “at the door” is in front of it – or are they behind it? – but you won’t be seeing it in a puzzle of mine.

1a Open fabric marker kept in series for amateur handicraft (12)
A five-letter open fabric is followed by a four-letter word for a marker (in the sense of a pointer) inside (‘kept in’) the usual three-letter abbreviation for ‘series’; having watched the Antiques Roadshow on many occasions I was familiar with a more common form of the solution, but can’t remember coming across this variant before.

10a Trouble getting in fish for tourist hotel (7)
My first experience of crosswords containing obscure words was gained by solving the Autolycus puzzle in the Birmingham Post each Saturday – I don’t know if the setter was a fisherman, but the various stages in the lifecycle of a salmon were very much front and centre. Here we have a three-letter word for ‘trouble’ contained by (‘getting in’) the term for a ‘young salmon up to two years of age, before it becomes a smolt’. I wonder whether the other salmon hold a party to celebrate the onset of smoltship? With cake…fishcake, of course.

14a Hawking may produce this subject in result (6)
A cryptic definition intended to misdirect the solver towards a famous physicist and cosmologist, and a wordplay that involves a three-letter word for ‘[to] subject’ (as you might subject someone to a test or a sword) inside a three-letter word for ‘[a] result’.

15a Spot roughly treated mostly round front of chin (6)
A six-letter word meaning ‘treated roughly’ without its last letter (‘mostly’) containing (’round’) the first letter (‘front’) of ‘chin’.

16a Wild buffalo? I appreciate that wafted aroma (7)
Here a two-letter informal interjection meaning ‘I appreciate that’ is followed by an anagram (‘wafted’) of AROMA.

23a Stomachs financial undoing, one involving millions (6)
A four-letter word for ‘financial undoing’ and a one-letter word meaning ‘one’ containing (‘involving’) the usual abbreviation for ‘millions’.

29a Old bird, one hiding its head, but not that one! (6)
The sort of bird which legend suggests might hide its head in the sand (which is not the bird that forms the answer to the clue – hence the ‘but not that one!’) does indeed ‘hide its head’ by having its first letter removed from sight.

3d Occasion, we hear, for a poet’s tears (5)
Azed thankfully uses homophones sparingly, and unless you are Inspector Clouseau you are going to be happy with this one, where the solution sounds like a word for ‘occasion’ (or ‘scope’, as in ‘there is scope for improvement’).

4d Mark, one seen on note becoming due (8)
This one may puzzle solvers outside the UK; the new £50 note issued by the Bank of England in June this year features a portrait of mathematician and WW2 codebreaker Alan Turing.

9d Light rain effective action cleared from street (4)
Here the usual abbreviation for ‘street’ is to be removed from a six-letter word meaning an ‘effective action, feat, achievement’ to produce a dialectal word for ‘light rain’. I remain unconvinced that ‘X cleared from Y’ can mean X with Y removed; ‘free from’ would I think be understood, or ‘cleared of’, but ‘cleared from Y’ means that something has been removed from Y, not the other way round.

11d Upright, active, this lot work making a point (11, 3 words)
A charade of a five-letter term for ‘upright’ (in the sense of a typeface), the usual abbreviation for ‘active’, and a five-letter word that could mean ‘this lot’, producing a (5,1,5) solution that includes a couple of accented vowels.

18d Old pavilions? Matches will include one (8)
Azed is not by any means averse to using a qualifier such as ‘old’ in a definition to indicate not that the solution is archaic or obsolete but that the particular meaning of the word qualified is itself antediluvian, so here the the solver should be looking at the entry for ‘pavilion’ in Chambers. The wordplay involves a six-letter word for ‘matches’ (in the sense of ‘reproduces’) containing a two-letter word for ‘one’.

21d Top lady exchanges lid for one to have a favourable effect (7)
A seven-letter ‘top lady’ (Queen Victoria, perhaps, but not the present Queen) has her first letter (‘lid’) exchanged for the Roman numeral representing ‘one’.

27d Salt cellar initially passed for junior cleric at bishop’s tea party (5)
The wordplay here is clear, the first letter of ‘cellar’ (‘cellar initially’) being removed from a six-letter term for a junior cleric, but what is Azed on about in the surface reading? Is he thinking of the cartoon published in Judy in 1895 featuring a bishop and curate at the breakfast table, or a remarkably similar one which appeared in Punch the following year? I can see that the salt would have been passed to the curate for him to apply to his egg (‘some parts of it are very good’), but where does the tea party come from? Please don’t say Boston.

28d Commotion with withdrawal of US has me mostly gripped in worries (5)
A four-letter word for a commotion has the letters US removed (‘with withdrawal of US’) and our setter’s name all but the last letter (‘me mostly’) put inside (‘gripped’). Seems topical, but it’s likely that the clue was written months ago unless Azed has had reason to rewrite it at the eleventh hour. I would have to say that the surface reading is pretty weak – have you ever heard anyone say that they were ‘mostly gripped in worries’? No, I didn’t think so.

(definitions are underlined)

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2 Responses

  1. Tim Coates says:

    Your guess is as good as mine with respect to 27d. Not Boston and not the more recent US political movement. Is it a coincidence that the last 3 letters are an anagram of “tea”? Perhaps I should ask Azed. Maybe fifteensquared will come up with something. It does seem to be a superfluous part of the surface.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      While the Wilkerson cartoon explicitly states “SCENE: BISHOP’S BREAKFAST TABLE” and features only the Bishop and Curate, the much more famous du Maurier version (“True Humility”) includes other characters and gives no specific indication that the meal being taken is breakfast. I feel sure that it is this cartoon to which Azed is alluding, hence the ‘passed for’ rather than the more natural ‘passed by’ in the clue. I can find no evidence, though, to suggest that boiled eggs were a common feature of a Victorian tea party, and the the cartoon seems invariably to be assumed to depict a breakfast scene.