Notes for Azed 2,571

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 2,571 Plain

Difficulty rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars (1.5 / 5)

Another plain puzzle, which I thought was considerably easier than last week’s, albeit with a more generous helping of Scotticisms  than we have become accustomed to recently. There were a couple of tricky wordplays, but these were amply counterbalanced by the simple clues for the four ten-letter words around the perimeter.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clues 15a and 19d, specifically the definitions ‘They go up and down on catwalk’ and ‘We certainly won’t pull out’. Back in the day, clues which consisted solely of a cryptic definition were considered acceptable in barred puzzles, but by the early 1970s a subsidiary indication (‘wordplay’) had become a requirement. However, there is still a great deal of scope to use cryptic (or oblique, as I tend to call them) definitions in puzzles, and they can be particularly useful when indicating nouns which are difficult to define succinctly. Their use can make for very entertaining clues which provide a satisfying “D’oh” moment for the solver, but there are a couple of points to remember: firstly that although the oblique ‘definition’ will not be found in a dictionary it must offer a reasonable indication of the solution, and secondly that the  definition should combine smoothly with the wordplay – ideally the boundary between the two will also be disguised, although in the two clues here it isn’t. I can think of no better example for aspiring or improving setters than Richard Heald’s superlative clue for HACKETTE (AZ comp 2014), ‘Take the lead in Cinderella, playing girl who works in rags’, which ticks all the boxes quite beautifully.

11a Growing medium, not old, put out by inventor (4)
A six-letter word for an inventor (of words and phrases) has a two-letter word for ‘not’ – much used by barred puzzle setters but shown by Chambers as obsolete (‘old’) – removed (‘put out’).

11a Jock’s rolling wheelie, filled with energy (4)
See Drongo’s comment on this one below – the wordplay is straightforward, a three-letter word for a familiar site on British pavements commonly known as a ‘wheelie’ containing (‘filled with’) the usual single-letter abbreviation for energy, but there is a problem – that E could be placed in second or third place in the solution and in each instance would produce a valid spelling of a Scots word meaning ‘rich’ (ie “Jock’s rolling”). Those of us who applied the rule “I before E except after C” would have scooped the pool, but by luck rather than judgment. Anyone who entered the alternative version has my sympathy, particularly given that it is the ‘standard’ spelling.

16a Lock cleared of last fish (4)
The five-letter trademark for a type of high-security lock produced by a nineteenth century locksmith of the same name is missing its last letter (‘cleared of last’). Charles and Jeremiah Chubb started out as ironmongers in Portsmouth; in 1818 Jeremiah invented and patented the Detector, a near-impregnable lock. Any attempt to pick it resulted in the bolt being triggered in such a way that even the key would no longer open it, requiring the owner to release it with a ‘regulator’ key and then reset it with the standard key. The Detector became a byword for security, and was believed to be unpickable. Until, that is, an American locksmith, Arthur C Hobbs, turned up at the Great Exhibition of 1851 claiming that the Detector wasn’t half as secure as it was cracked up to be. In front of many witnesses, Hobbs picked the lock in 25 minutes; asked to do it again, he repeated the feat within 7 minutes, thus at a stroke destroying the absolute faith that the British public had placed in the Chubb lock. Hobbs subsequently (though with a great deal more effort) compromised a lock made by the other great English lock manufacturer, Bramah, thus opening up the British market to Hobbs’ employers, Day and Newell, and subsequently to a company that, trading on his overnight celebrity, he set up himself in the UK.

33a How-dye-do detected after school (7)
The usual three-letter abbreviation for ‘school’ is followed by the past active tense of a verb which can have a wide variety of meanings, ‘seize’ and ‘remove’ being two or the more obvious ones; the ‘detecting’ is in the sense of finding a fault or error in someone or something. Incidentally, I think an apostrophe is missing from the definition – it should be “How-d’ye-do”.

2d Sweet pastry, ornament in source of honey (7)
Azed doesn’t indicate that the (rather unlikely-looking) four-letter word for an ornament which is to be placed inside a three-letter ‘source of honey’ is archaic, but it is; a more familiar word with the same spelling is an interjection expressing pain.

4d Lead everybody after mounting skill in old game (8)
The chemical symbol for lead and a three-letter word for ‘everybody’ when placed after a reversal (‘mounting’) of a three-letter word for ‘skill’ produce the name of an old game in which the batsman has to strike a device which releases a ball into the air, whereupon the batsman must give the ball itself a whack.

5d Claw, not one found in part of French seaside town (8)
A five-letter word for the claw of an arthropod has a one-letter word for ‘one’ removed (‘not one’) before being put inside a four-letter word for a part in a theatrical sense. This clue is a good example of how the definition of a tricky proper adjective can be seamlessly integrated into a clue.

7d Sir H. Lauder’s turn? Not what he’s do round Scots city (4)
For the purposes of the definition, Sir Harry Lauder is there to indicate that the word is Scottish; in the wordplay, you need to remove (‘not’) a four-letter word for what Harry Lauder would do when on stage from the outside (’round’) of the name of a city ‘north of the border’. I don’t know why Azed has used ‘Scots’ here – in this situation ‘Scottish’ is surely correct, a view supported by Chambers. Younger readers may not know too much about Harry Lauder: born in Edinburgh in 1870, he spent ten years working in the mines but was already singing to entertain his fellow miners and performing in local music halls. He turned professional around 1894 and joined a touring concert party, but his journey to worldwide fame really started in 1900, when he appeared in London with an act which he had made comprehensible to a non-Scottish audience. His songs such as Roamin’ in the Gloamin and I Love a Lassie combined with his flair for comedy and his trademark Scottish costume – complete with twisty walking stick (cromack) – turned him into a huge worldwide star. Following a successful tour of the US in 1907, he returned the next year with a 15-piece orchestra, pipers etc who were taken around the country aboard a three-coach train, the “Harry Lauder Special”. He raised considerable sums for the war effort and set up a charity to support injured Scottish soldiers and sailors; he was knighted in 1919 for service to the Empire. It’s said that during the worst times in World War 2 Winston Churchill would repeatedly listen to Lauder’s recording of his song (Keep Right on to) The End of the Road in order to keep his spirits up. Lauder himself once said “I’m tellin’ ye, happiness is one of the few things in this world that doubles every time you share it with someone else.”

9d King with state requiring relief mostly? It’s given as solemn token (4)
A one-letter abbreviation of ‘king’ (in the chess sense) followed by a four-letter term for ‘[a] state requiring relief’ missing its last letter (‘mostly’).

19d Sprinter poorly dressed? We certainly won’t pull out (8)
The ‘poorly dressed’ requires a degree of pre-processing, just as ‘having retired’ in a clue might need to be translated into ‘in BED’; the sprinter is the four-letter surname of probably the only twenty-first century sprinter that most people could name.

23d Fate? One’s limited in preference when there’s no ice (6)
You might wonder whether this is some sort of &lit, but it is a conventional definition/wordplay clue where the wordplay references the definition – a three-letter word for ‘fate’ (‘one’) is contained by (‘limited in’) a six-letter word for ‘preference’ from which the letters ICE have been removed (“when there’s no ice”).

30d A wee bittie Scotch cheers – something with gin too (4)
Another Scots word, this one formed by putting a two-letter word meaning ‘cheers’ next to a two-letter informal term for a type of vermouth which is (or at least was at one time) often added to gin.

(definitions are underlined)

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4 Responses

  1. orange says:

    Dropping in to let you know of another meaning for 34A, missing from the Chambers app 🙄. It means to undo knitting one stitch at a time — to unKNIT.
    Compare this with FROG STITCH which means to RIBBIT, RIBBIT, RIBBIT back; thus if one unravels a complete knitting project, one has FROGGED it 🐸.
    I count myself as an expert in both! 😉

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Thank you – I shall try to remember that, not least because in a previous blogging incarnation I called myself Frogman (due to my attachment to amphibians rather than to knitting, about which I know next to nothing except that it always appears jolly tricky). I had a quick look at an online article which suggested that after a successful frogging one should reward oneself with a piece of chocolate or a cup of tea. That seemed like good advice, apart from the word ‘or’… 😉

  2. Drongo says:

    Stuck for a while because I inserted the ‘wrong’ version of the 14 across. A better clue would have led to the answer required.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Drongo, and welcome to the site.

      Ah, that’s unfortunate – I’d already entered 5d so I didn’t spot the ambiguity. Not good, particularly since the primary spelling given by both Chambers and OED is the ‘wrong’ one. I agree with you that the clue should have led to only one spelling of the word.