Notes for Azed 2,574
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 2,574 Plain
Difficulty rating: (4 / 5)
Another plain puzzle, a 13×11 grid, and plenty of tricky clues to unravel. There were several clues where the break between the definition and the wordplay was nicely disguised, and a few others that featured slightly questionable definitions, either of the solution or of an element in the wordplay.
Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 27a, “A club having French art pinched – bad luck?” (7). It’s a while since I’ve seen ‘art’ used in a clue as the second person singular present indicative of the verb ‘to be’; it’s a device which needs to be used very sparingly, but it can be handy when dealing with the letters ES (‘French art’ or ‘art in French’) or a solution ending -EST. An example of the latter would be a clue along the lines of ‘Box art master?’ for TEA CHEST.
10a Host excitedly making room for marriage bed may be more welcoming with them (7)
An anagram (‘excitedly’) of HOST containing (‘making room for’) a three-letter word for ‘marriage’; I hope that Azed is suggesting that what might make one’s bed more welcoming are items filled with hot water, but he could of course be thinking of the alternative definition of the solution in Chambers…
14a Be full of conceit, as a regretful miss before end of romance (7)
A charade of a two-letter abbreviation for ‘[such] as’, the four-letter name of Cole Porter’s ‘miss’ who regrets she’s unable to lunch today, and the last letter (‘end’) of the word ‘romance’.
15a Quite a lot of table talk that’s beyond ripe (4)
The entry is hidden in the clue but how are we to interpret the definition? Since the solution can only be a noun or a verb, I think we must assume that in the definition ‘ripe’ is itself a verb, so the indication is ‘not just ripen, but go beyond’.
16a Primitive organism, reverse of type that’s undivided inside (7)
A reversal of a four-letter word for ‘type’, more often used in the sense of ‘authoritative standard’, has a three-letter word for ‘undivided’ put inside.
18a On twice heading for promotion, study repeatedly (6)
A two-letter word for ‘on’ or ‘concerning’ much used by setters appears twice, followed by an informal term for an instance of promotion in the marketing sense. This seems a rather weak clue, not least because I don’t believe that the solution means ‘study repeatedly’, but rather ‘study one more time’ – ‘repeatedly’ means ‘again and again’, not just ‘again’.
20a Nimbler restricting din in a way, I’ve very active drum (9, 2 words)
A nice oblique definition, with the wordplay involving a six-letter synonym for ‘nimbler’ containing (‘restricting’) an anagram (‘in a way’) of DIN. The solution has two alternative spellings, but the ‘nimbler’ word doesn’t.
23a A copy making a comeback after jack boot (6)
Here a combination of ‘A’ and a four-letter verb meaning ‘copy’ (or ‘imitate’) is reversed (‘making a comeback’) after the usual abbreviation for ‘jack’.
25a Punt’ propelled thus, we hear, suffering extremes (7)
A homophone (‘we hear’) of a (2,5) phrase that describes how [a] punt would be propelled; the agent noun which is the second word of the phrase is not explicitly given by Chambers with the meaning which Azed ascribes to it here, but that meaning is shown in OED (and it seems entirely reasonable).
27a A club having French art pinched – bad luck (7)
The letter A is followed by a four-letter word for a club (invariably complete with a liberal helping of large spikes in the children’s comics that I used to read) around the two-letter French equivalent of the English ‘art’, specifically from the phrase ‘thou art’, ie the second person singular of the verb ‘to be’. The solution is hyphenated, (4-3).
30a Very old garment, only 50% well-organized (4)
A little care required here – it would be easy to conclude from the three checked letters that the missing letter was an ‘A’ and to move on. But there are two words which match the definition, one being an obsolete variant of the other; it is the obsolete form that we are looking for here (hence the ‘Very old’ in the clue, rather than just ‘Old’), and it forms the first half (‘50%’) of a word meaning ‘well-organized’ or ‘mentally composed’.
32a Was recording short of Welsh instrument of old (4)
A five-letter word meaning ‘was recording’ (or ‘recorded’) without (‘short of’) the usual (but not regularly seen in puzzles) abbreviation for ‘Welsh’.
1d Jay presenting gig with John (10, 2 words)
An odd clue this one, a six-letter word for a light gig being followed by what was originally a diminutive form of the name John, but an alternative version of the term for a Canada jay has ‘John’ as its second word. I’m very surprised that Azed didn’t opt for something like ‘Jay presenting gig with Benny?’
6d Antelope of Nigeria is this i.e. if wild (5)
A composite anagram, and quite a neat one: OF NIGERIA is a potential rearrangement (‘wild’) of the solution (‘this’) plus IE IF.
8d Locks bull to cut up? (4)
I don’t know about you, but the wordplay here caused me a bit of head scratching before I worked out that it was a two-word (3,3) phrase meaning ’empty talk’ (ie ‘bull’) with the word TO reversed (‘up’) removed (‘cut’). I’m not quite sure what the surface reading is supposed to mean.
9d One with sponsor lacking crust? Criminy! (4)
A six-letter word for a male child with a ‘sponsor’ (responsible, in theory at least, for their religious education) has its outer letters removed (‘lacking crust’) to produce an obsolete interjection which sounds more like an acronym for something antisocial or even illegal.
19d A cattle-robber at large? Could be one such belter (7)
A composite anagram &lit: the letters of A CATTLEROBBER when rearranged (‘at large’) could produce the solution (‘one such’) plus BELTER.
21d Hotel abroad? It’s occupied by evil spirit (6)
The word IT contains (‘is occupied by’) a four-letter word for an evil spirit, which is given by Chambers as Shakespearean, but the examples given in OED don’t support this. It was also the first name of Kate Twinset’s brilliantly-portrayed character in the recent crime series set in the (fictional, thankfully) Pennsylvania settlement of Easttown.
26d Callisthenics round wood revealing Will’s codpiece? (5)
A two-letter abbreviation for ‘callisthenics’ (often indicated in puzzles by ‘gym’) contains (’round’) a three-letter word for a type of wood (or the name of the tree whence it comes). While the definition is entertaining, I think it’s a bit of a stretch; the Shakespearean spelling of the word appears in As You Like It, where a timepiece is drawn from one (that would be worth seeing), and the word in its more usual form (without the ‘A’) is described as a bag that is ‘usually smaller than a sack’, which would probably accommodate a couple of dozen herring as well as a cod.
28d There’s nothing in a bit of sponge to nibble (4)
The usual letter representing ‘nothing’ is put inside a word for a bit of sponge on a stick…I really don’t think that ‘a bit of sponge’ on its own is sufficient here.
(definitions are underlined)