Notes for Azed 2,575

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 2,575 Plain

Difficulty rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

To follow last week’s tough plain puzzle, this week we have…a tough plain puzzle. There were several clues here for obscure words where the wordplay also included an obscurity, and a couple of minor errors, but also some nice clues to enjoy.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 6d, “Foundling home giving many hours with pal for Twist (12)”. The parsing of the clue is discussed below, but the point of interest is the capitalization of the word ‘Twist’, suggesting the surname of Oliver, when the wordplay demands the uncapitalized form ‘twist’. Whilst ideally a word which requires a capital letter for the surface reading but not for the wordplay would be placed at the beginning of a sentence, often making for a very pleasing deception, the unnecessary capitalization of a word elsewhere in a clue is usually considered acceptable, and the solver must allow for this possibility. However, the deceptive removal of a capital (eg ‘nice’ in the clue when the French city ‘Nice’ is meant, for instance in ‘nice day’ to indicate ‘jour’) is not allowed. The usual explanation of this apparent inconsistency is that while the noun ‘twist’ could on occasion be seen with an initial capital, eg at the beginning of a sentence or in a book title, the name of the French city could never, ever be seen as ‘nice’.

6a Intense longing a former athlete held in pulsating chest (9)
The letter A and the three-letter surname of a very famous British athlete are contained by (‘held in’) an anagram (‘pulsating’) of CHEST. The solution was the clue word for AZ comp 495, and you can see what the leading competitors came up with here.

10a I vary resistance, i.e. record ohm cut in a way (8)
Anyone who recalls the equipment they used in the physics lab at school might jump to the wrong conclusion here – the first four letters of the solution are the same as those of the more familiar word, but this one is an anagram (‘in a way’) of RECORD and OHM, the letter with the last letter removed (‘cut’). The ‘i.e.’ linking the definition and wordplay is there simply to enhance the surface reading.

13a Old poet, inferior, first of poetry written out in exercise book (5)
A six-letter term for a book providing an introduction to a subject (forever associated in my mind with Latin) has the first letter of ‘poetry’ deleted (‘written out’) to produce an archaic word for an inferior poet.

14a Queen once, suffering her fate? That’s fishy (8)
The Queen here is the fifth of Henry VIII’s wives, a former maidservant of Anne of Cleves, and her first name suffers the same fate as she herself did.

19a Fields by waterway where (one might assume) gondoliers are found (4)
Since Gilbert and Sullivan wrote an opera called The Gondoliers, it is reasonable to assume that gondoliers would be found IN G&S. I wonder if anyone took the IN GS to refer to the outside letters of the word ‘gondoliers’ – it seems to me, though, that what is IN GS there is ‘ondolier’ as the G and S simply can’t contain themselves (if you see what I mean).

22a Pa quitting field of play, once beaten (4)
This is a very tricky one, firstly because ‘padang’ is not a word in common use (not in the circles that I move in, anyway), and secondly because the solution is the archaic past tense of ‘ding’ rather than the past participle, so whilst it once meant ‘beat’ it has never meant ‘beaten’.

29a Fish among rocks, proceeding left to right? (8)
A three-letter fish (often seen in crosswords in its two-letter form) when contained by (‘among’) a word meaning ‘rocks’ (in the sense of ‘oscillates’) produces an entry which could mean ‘proceeding left to right’ but could equally well mean ‘proceeding right to left’, hence the question mark.

31a Geordie, first to last defenceless (5)
To work this one out you need to know that ‘Geordie’ was a term for a coal-pitman (by transference, I believe, from George Stephenson’s safety lamp, itself known as a ‘Geordie’); the first letter of the relevant five-letter word is moved to the end (‘first to last’), producing a botanical term meaning ‘unarmed’ or ‘destitute of prickles or spikes’.

32a Trees yielding sticky stuff India disgorged (5)
The sticky stuff is honey (a three-letter word for it), and ‘disgorged’ is used in the sense of ’emptied’ (the first time I can recall seeing this, but it seems just about ok) to indicate the first and last letters of ‘India’.

33a Journey regularly round length on Asian river, more than once? (8)
A three-letter word meaning ‘to journey regularly’ (most often seen these days in a transitive sense applied to “one’s trade”)  contains the usual abbreviation for length and the four-letter name of a river which usually seems to be allotted to Europe but apparently (we only did Africa and South America before I gave up geography at school so I’ve no idea about it) ‘flows through Russia and Kazakhstan in the continental border between Europe and Asia.’

34a One of twelve in US showing ermine off among leaders (9)
An anagram (‘off’) of ERMINE is to be placed inside a three-letter shortened form of a word for ‘leaders’ (or ‘those at the front’). The solution is a US term for a juror, derived from the type of writ under which one would be summoned.

2d Aniseed liquor turned up in tea, an Indian ‘fiddle’ (7)
If you don’t know that RAKI is an aniseed-flavoured Mediterranean spirit, you’ll have struggled to cold solve this one. The liquor is reversed (‘turned up’) in the usual three-letter word for ‘tea’.

3d Millions involved in endless festival, a lifesaver (7)
And this one requires you to be familiar with BELTANE, the name of an ancient Celtic anniversary celebration (of the beginning of summer) held on May-day, in connection with which great bonfires were kindled on the hills. It loses its last letter (‘endless’) and has the usual abbreviation for ‘millions’ inserted, producing an Australian word for the lifesaver who swims out with a line attached to their belt.

5d Concerning fish at sea caught by strong rope, it’s within regulation (12)
A two-letter word for ‘concerning’ and a five-letter word for ‘to fish’ (more accurately ‘to entice’ or ‘to lure as with moving bait’) are contained (‘caught’) by a word for a strong rope or chain. I can’t understand why Azed has included the words ‘at sea’, which are not only superfluous but misleading – ‘fish at sea’ would work for ‘trawl’ but not the word required here.

6d Foundling home giving many hours with pal for Twist (12)
In the wordplay, ‘for Twist’ needs to be read not as something to do with Oliver but as ‘for twist’, indicating an anagram of MANY HOURS together with PAL. The solution is hyphenated, (6-6).

7d Woman in historical costume? Glance in Shakespeare (5)
Not the first time that Azed has used ‘woman’ to indicate W, which is not supported by Chambers. If you mentally modify ‘Woman’ to ‘Women’, the clue is fine, the abbreviation being contained by a four-letter archaic term for ‘costume’ or ‘clothing’, these days invariably seen as a six-letter word with ‘AT’ at the start.

11d Being badly dressed in foreign country for closing dates of short visits (11, 2 words)
An anagram (‘badly’) of DRESSED in the French word for ‘country’ (‘in foreign country’) produces a wonderful expression that I don’t recall ever coming across before. According to Trollope in Young Love, a three day stay would be made up of ‘the rest day, the dressed day, and the [singular form of the solution]’.

18d This Quebecois, non-specified, property-owner is entitled to this (4)
A normal charade clue, but with &lit undertones. A two-letter word that would be used in Quebec for ‘this’ is followed by a two-letter abbreviation for ‘not specified’.

20d Little old boat, one lacking in nothing, housing a radio transmitter (7)
The word ONE without (‘lacking in’) the usual single-letter representation of ‘nothing’ is containing (‘housing’) a four-letter word for a radio transmitter, more often associated with the area covered by one, particularly in a mobile phone context.

30d Part of hammer extracting centre from nut? (4)
A five-letter nut has its middle letter removed (‘extracting centre’).

(definitions are underlined)

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2 Responses

  1. Tim Coates says:

    I got led down the garden path with 31a as my initial thought was that the last letter was ‘t’. Although Chambers doesn’t support this as “defenceless” it was close, and also the river associated with Geordies could possibly be spelled with an i rather than a y (except it isn’t), I ended up writing it in as the last letter was unchecked. I realised my mistake when I came here which revealed my rather wooly thinking.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      My first thought was also ‘Tiner’, but even allowing for an unusual spelling of the river’s name I couldn’t reconcile ‘defenceless’ with ‘inert’. The solution is a strange word that seems to end before it’s really got going.