Notes for Azed 2,578

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 2,578 ‘Letters Latent’

Difficulty rating: 6.5 out of 10 stars (6.5 / 10)

No issues with the availability of the puzzle, no power cuts to stop me typing the notes, and a ‘special’ to entertain us. Quite a tricky one too – the clues were a little bit easier than in a standard plain puzzle, but the extra difficulty associated with the missing letters meant that this was still a stiff challenge. More than once I worked out what the entry had to be before I was able to establish the unmutilated solution. Note that there is an enumeration error at 27d, where the length of the answer before the deletion of letters is 7 rather than 6.

I have included notes on several clues, following which there is a list of the places in each answer from which letters have been removed.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 31d, “This marine deity, sad, hides under sea (6>5)”. The clue is explained below, but the question is whether a composite anagram of this form is valid in a puzzle where the ‘solution’ and the grid entry are different. With some gimmicks, the wordplay does not in fact produce the solution – this would be true, for instance, of a puzzle where the wordplay leads to an extra letter which does not belong to the grid entry; in such instances, the setter must be very careful to avoid any construction which implies that the solution and the result of the wordplay are equivalent (eg ‘wordplay’ is ‘definition’), because they are clearly not. I think this clue is unsound – the element ‘this marine deity’ can only refer to the unmutilated six-letter solution. In order to be acceptable, the definition and the term representing the grid entry (‘this’)  must be separated such that the former stands as the definition of the (six-letter) answer and the latter (comprising only five letters) is part of the composite anagram, eg “Marine deity: sad, this hides under the sea”. There’s no reason why a compound anagram can’t be used in a puzzle of this type, but not in the form that’s seen here.

1a Thinly sliced beef (say) in one Scots diner’s starter (10>7)
A four-letter word describing a class of food to which beef belongs is surrounded by a two-letter Scots word for ‘one’ and the first letter (‘starter’) of ‘diner’.

11a German squaddie nurses wound leaving front (11>9)
A six-letter word for a squaddie contains (‘nurses’) a four-letter word meaning ‘wound’ (verb or noun) from which the first letter has been removed (‘leaving front’). The solution is the inhabitant of a particular German city.

13a Button, round, was bright round front of vest (6>5)
The first ’round’ here indicates a single letter which is round in shape; this is followed by a three-letter word meaning ‘was bright’ (or ‘illuminated’) containing (the second ’round’) the first letter (‘front’) of ‘vest’.

20a Arch for instance circled by watches endlessly (8>7)
A two-letter abbreviation meaning ‘for instance’ is surrounded (‘circled’) by a six-letter word meaning ‘watches’ (or ‘catches sight of’) missing its last letter (‘endlessly’).

23a Disorganized rep having time to wander in theatre pit (8>7)
An anagram (‘disorganized’) of REP containing (‘having…in’) the usual abbreviation for ‘time’ plus a three-letter word meaning ‘[to] wander’. The solution is more familiar these days in the context of formal gardens.

26a Ogle lustfully before getting in gentle stroke (7, 2 words>6)
A three-letter word for ‘before’ much used by setters is contained by (‘getting in’) a three-letter word for a gentle stroke (and the name of a famous postman).

32a One processing with symbolic burden changed bases in European league (11>8)
An anagram (‘changed’) of BASES in the three-letter abbreviation for the Council of Europe (‘European league’); the ‘processing’ in the definition is used in the sense of ‘going in procession’.

33a Love of Rome? What Italian enterprises will welcome (6>5)
The grid entry is hidden in the clue, but the answer is not in Chambers – it is the Italian (‘of Rome’) word for ‘nothing’ (‘love’). I’m fine with the future tense being used in a wordplay where manipulation is required, but I think that ‘will welcome’ to indicate that the entry is already contained within the preceding text is stretching things. 

36a A bit of a yen to enter part of Canada without being posted (6>5)
A SEN is one hundredth of a yen, and it ‘enters’ the two-letter abbreviation for a part of Canada. There’s no doubt what Azed is getting at with the definition, though I’m not sure that it stands up to close scrutiny – ‘without being posted’ and ‘not posted’ don’t come to the same thing.

1d Senior administrator always on song (7>5)
A charade consisting of a two-letter word meaning ‘always’ followed by a three-letter word for a song, described by Chambers as ‘originally a poem intended to be sung’. It took me a while to work out what the unmutilated solution was.

2d Old smear Parliamentarian applied to previous king (9>7)
A two-letter abbreviation for a Parliamentarian plus (‘applied to’) a four-letter word meaning ‘previous’ and the abbreviation for ‘king’ relating to the throne rather than the chessboard. The solution is given by Chambers as obsolete, hence the ‘old’ qualifying the definition.

8d Working a lace dress (6>5)
A two-letter word representing ‘working’ is followed by a three-letter word for a lace (in the shoe sense), but I can’t square the first element with ‘working’ on its own. I wonder if the clue was intended to be ‘Working on lace dress’, which seems to me far more satisfactory.

9d Alluvial plain with misplacement of last conifers (6>5)
A five-letter Scots word for an alluvial riverside plane has its last letter moved up to second position (‘with misplacement of last’); thankfully the conifers in the definition are familiar.

12d Keats not upset over writing, the opposite of chaos (6>4)
KEATS has a three-letter word meaning ‘[to] upset’ removed (‘not upset’) and is followed by a two-letter abbreviation for ‘writing’ often used by Azed. The solution is more commonly spelt with an initial C.

25d Major Cambridge exam accepted clad in hooded jacket (7, 2 words>6)
If, like me, you didn’t know that a GREGO was a hooded jacket and therefore were uncertain what to place around the usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘accepted’, you may have had to work back from the solution, a (5,2) term in its original form.

28d Ancient letter caught inside old-style printing-press (6>5)
A four-letter word for an ancient letter contains the standard abbreviation for ‘caught’ (‘caught inside’). I suspect that the solution is not the entire printing-press, rather an element of it.

29d Tall grass: duck found under small one (6>4)
A single letter representing ‘duck’  following (‘found under’) a three-letter word for a ‘small one’ (or a ‘wee dram’ as the Scots would say).

31d This marine deity, sad, hides under sea (6>5)
A composite anagram, where the letters of the grid entry (‘This marine deity’) plus SAD can be rearranged to form (‘hides’) UNDER SEA. The solution is given in Chambers under the headword for a type of sea-nymph, the daughter of this fellow.

(definitions are underlined)

Letters removed:

Across: From 1 the first, fifth and sixth letters must be removed prior to entry; 6 – letter 1; 11 – letters 1 and 6; 13 – letter 5; 14 – letter 2; 15 – letter 5; 16 – letter 2; 17 – letter 4; 20 – letter 7; 23 – letter 2; 26 – letter4; 30 – letter 2; 32 – letters 2, 9 and 11; 33 – letter 2; 34 – letters 2 and 6; 35 – letters 4 and 9; 36 – letter 1; 37 – letter 8.

Down: 1 -letters 1 and 4; 2 – letters 1 and 8; 3 – letters 1 and 8; 4 – letter 5; 5 – letter 6; 7 – letters 2 and 4; 8 – letter 5; 9 – letter 3; 10 – letter 4; 12 – letters 2 and 5; 18 – letter 8; 19 – letter 2; 21 – letter 5; 22 – letter 6; 24 – letter 2; 25 – letter 5; 27 – letters 2 and 3; 28 – letter 2; 29 – letters 3 and 6; 31 – letter 6.

The quotation comes from Robert Burns’ The Jolly Beggars (1799), and is alluded to by RL Stevenson in Chapter VII of Kidnapped.

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2 Responses

  1. Doctor Clue says:

    It’s a type of puzzle that is pretty tricky when there are several obscure solutions in which the ‘latent’ letter occurs more than once. I certainly didn’t feel that my rating overstated its difficulty.

    To me the word for the hoodie sounds more like the name of a ring doughnut from a certain ubiquitous bakery. Vegan, of course.

    I love the icon which has replaced your name! Much better than Prince’s ‘symbol’.

  2. 🍊 says:

    “have characters to lose” indeed!
    Thanks for getting me started – I really struggled with the mechanics of this and have a notepad next to me covered in words with and without the omitted letters. Your list of the missing letters was invaluable.
    Though the correct word for a hoodie is good to know, I’m more likely to use 13.