Notes for Azed 2,576
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 2,576 Plain
Difficulty rating: (2.5 / 5)
Well, after a delay caused apparently by the PDF file being ‘mislaid’ by the Guardian, the puzzle finally arrived online on Monday morning, I felt it was a little easier than its two immediate predecessors, but there were a couple of tricky wordplays that, together with a generous helping of hyphenated solutions, I felt ensured that it did not fall below an average difficulty rating.
Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to briefly discuss the enumerations in clues, specifically relating to entries consisting of multiple words and hyphenated expressions (of which there are several in this puzzle). In a blocked puzzle, an entry such as ‘LET GO’ would be shown as (3,2), while in a barred puzzle it would be (5, 2 words); in a blocked puzzle LOVE-IN would be (4-2), but in most barred puzzles, including Azed, it would be shown as (6). The barred puzzle enumerations are less helpful, but of course this is balanced by the number of checked letters in the solution – in a blocked puzzle, often only half the letters in an entry are checked, while in a barred puzzle no more than a third can be unchecked (there is an anomaly, in that some barred puzzles allow eight-letter entries with three ‘unches’, but Azed always limits the unches in an eight-letter word to two). Apostrophes in solutions create something of a knotty problem in enumerations, however, which will be discussed the next time Azed includes one in a puzzle.
1a Fixed metal case yielding choice wine, lot disposed of by compact group (12)
A charade of a four-letter word for ‘choice’ (and the nickname of PG Wodehouse), a six-letter (red) wine with the letters LOT removed (‘lot disposed of’) and a five-letter word for a compact group, producing a (7-5) hyphenated solution.
11a In the manner of noisy pet showing reverse of appeal running round yard (5)
A reversal (‘reverse’) of a four-letter word for an appeal containing (‘running round’) the usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘yard’.
16a Music club, a real find, very remote (5)
A nine-letter word for a ‘real find’, with the consecutive letters VERY removed (‘very remote’).
20a Many in 16 will, and tick 15! (4)
The wordplay here is a charade of a two-letter informal abbreviation of a six-letter word meaning a very short time (ie ‘tick’) and a two-letter interjection with a very similar meaning to the solution of 15a. The ‘definition’ refers to the solution of 16a, although I think the organizers of such events might be a little taken aback if ‘many’ of the attendees started to do this.
23a Like Mariana’s whereabouts, month before arrangement of date (6)
The reference in the definition is to the grange where Mariana was to be found in Measure for Measure, in the poem Mariana by Tennyson, or (my personal preference) in the superb 1851 painting by John Everett Millais.
26a As before discharge useless female performer, tramp inside? (8)
A seven-letter word for a female performer or reciter has the letters USE removed (‘useless’, a whimsical deployment of the word) and a four-letter word meaning ‘[to] tramp’ inserted (‘tramp inside’). The ‘as before’ indicates that the solution is obsolete (it may have been coined by Milton, as Chambers suggests, but it was in use as recently as the nineteenth century).
28a Like a semiconductor, installation for 20p (in full)? (5)
What I suppose you might call a ‘semi-indirect hidden’, where Azed has helpfully included the ‘(in full)’ to indicate that the hiding place is an expanded version of ’20p’.
30a Some foreign money backing third team? (5)
A (4,1) expression which might (hence the question mark) designate a third team (or perhaps the third set of tracks on a double LP) is reversed (‘backing’) to produce a Ghanaian monetary unit.
34a Wild zeal? Report without it included, making one cross (7)
An anagram (‘wild’) of ZEAL with a five-letter word for ‘report’ or ‘rumour’ from which the letters IT have been removed (‘without it’) inside (‘included’).
3d Philosophical work, thoroughly serious one I ingested (8)
A two-letter word meaning ‘thoroughly’ and a three-letter word for ‘serious’ (or ‘sorrowful’) with a two-letter word for ‘one’ plus the letter ‘I’ inserted between them (‘ingested’).
4d See me zip up for US fight (5)
A two-letter alternative spelling of the note anglicized as ‘me’ is followed by a reversal (‘up’) of a three-letter slang term for ‘nothing’ (ie ‘zip’), the whole being a (3-2) hyphenated US expression.
7d Musicians together recognized as steel, endlessly toothful (7)
A four-letter word for ‘musicians together’ and a three-letter word for ‘recognized’ combine to produce a (4-3) piece of workshop equipment which might slightly fancifully (but entertainingly) be described by the last three words of the clue.
13d Mantle once removed with maiden, celebrates about it (9)
Here the ‘once’ does not indicate that the solution is archaic, rather the particular use of ‘mantle’ in the definition. The wordplay involves a three-letter word for ‘with’ (typically seen in place names or facetious job titles) together with the usual abbreviation for ‘maiden’ around which a five-letter word for ‘celebrates’ is placed (‘celebrates about it’).
22d Finely woven, to reach as of old round tailored shin (7)
Here we have a three-letter obsolete form of the verb ‘fetch’ (‘to reach as of old’) containing (’round’) an anagram (‘tailored’) of SHIN.
29d The sound of noisy birds making one curse? (4)
A homophone (‘the sound’) of a four-letter word for some noisy (black-and-white) birds, more often seen in a seven-letter form, and what Chambers delicately calls a ‘term of imprecation’.
31d Helpless ass scratched loaf (4)
As in a recent puzzle, Azed asks the solver (using ‘scratched’) to remove a word (here ASS) from the fringes of another (a seven-letter synonym for ‘helpless’) to produce the solution, without giving any indication that the ASS is to divided prior to deletion or using an expression (eg ‘stripped off’) which suggests this. The ‘loaf’ in the definition is a verb.
(definitions are underlined)