Notes for Azed 2,581

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 2,581 Plain

Difficulty rating: 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

This was a puzzle which I felt would have been an ideal introduction for a solver new to Azed. Nothing too difficult, but a number of clever and entertaining clues.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 20d, “US decorative headgear, odd ones seen among the intimates (6)”. The wordplay is straightforward, the alternate letters of ‘the intimates’ giving us TENIAE. Referring to Chambers, we see that TENIA is given as a US spelling of TAENIA, the plural of which is TAENIAE or TAENIAS; several meanings are given for the word. This raises two questions of the sort which quite often arise individually though not so often together: (i) can the variant spelling apply to all senses of the word?, and (ii) can either plural form apply to any sense of the word. Assuming that the primary reference for the puzzle is Chambers (or is unstated), then the answer to both is an unequivocal ‘yes’. If the variant spellings and alternative plural forms are shown against the headword (as here), then from a crossword setting and solving perspective all combinations are valid. The situation is quite different if Chambers ascribes the variant to a specific meaning (eg POTT as an alternative to POT for a size of paper).

11a Scottish education, extensive but not good (4)
A five-letter word meaning ‘extensive’ without the usual abbreviation for ‘good’ (‘but not good’) produces a Scots form of a word for ‘learning’ (and, at a stretch, ‘education’).

12a Old dandy displaying refinement left one out (4)
A six-letter word for ‘refinement’ has the standard abbreviation for ‘left’ and the Roman numeral for ‘one’ omitted (‘left one out’), the result being an obsolete term for a dandy or swell. Both Chambers and OED list it under the same headword as a slang term for a halfpenny’, but OED adds ‘perhaps a different word’. It certainly predates the familiar adjective which has the same spelling.

13a King with charioteer almost starts to upgrade machine in resin (8, 2 words)
The abbreviation for ‘king’ familiar to Magnus Carlsen is followed by the six-letter Latin name of a constellation (known also by its English form ‘the Charioteer’) missing its last letter (‘almost’), with the initial letters of (‘starts to’) ‘upgrade machine’ bringing up the rear. The solution is divided (5,3).

28a Guru, one from W. India, accepting some outdated currency (6)
A four-letter word for a person from a former Portuguese territory on the west coast of India containing (‘accepting’) the abbreviation for a former unit of currency replaced by the euro produces a (3-3) word for someone who could potentially err and forgive at the same time. As indicated in the puzzle, the term is not in Chambers, and whilst I think ‘guru’ is slightly loose it’s not an easy word to define succinctly.

30a Forces in Turin trounced by some French (8)
The compound verb which forms the definition is nicely disguised here. The wordplay involves an anagram (‘trounced’) of TURIN being followed by a French word meaning ‘some’.

32a Partly alcoholic drink with dash of enzian in vat (4)
A three-letter word for a particular partly-alcoholic drink includes the first letter of ‘enzian’ (‘with dash of enzian in’), but you’d be wise to solve 19d before entering the solution to this one, because the central letters could be in either order. As it happens, ‘I before E except after C’ isn’t going to help.

34a Learner with gee-gee (steed) trained round course maybe in the saddle for bairn? (4)
An anagram of L (‘learner’) GG (‘gee-gee’) STEED is placed around a four-letter word which could be indicated by ‘course’ (or a road for travelling on horseback); the ‘bairn’ is there to indicate the Scottishness of the solution.

2d Crikey, having to shake off limey coming up – it’s boring for Scot (4)
A nine-letter (Cockney) interjection of surprise (‘Crikey’) has the letters LIMEY removed (‘having to shake off limey’) before being reversed (‘coming up’) to produce a noun representing something that a Scot might use to do a bit of boring. I did wonder whether the wordplay as written in fact indicates the correct steps, but I think it’s valid.

4d Oriental liquor – what’s that? Water’s coming up with it (6)
A charade of a four-letter word for an oriental liquor and a two-letter interjection which could be interpreted as “what’s that?”, the result being an eastern water wheel.

5d Evening primrose in a cemetery maybe? Last two clipped (6)
A three-word (2,1,5) phrase describing where something (perhaps those evening primroses) might be in a cemetery has the last two letters removed (‘last two clipped’).

8d Dividing wall right in the middle over river (7)
The usual abbreviation for ‘right’ goes inside an informal term for ‘the middle’ (ie the extent of Doctor Foster’s immersion on his final visit to Gloucester) followed by a three-letter word for a river or watercourse, often seen in barred puzzles in its standard spelling without the last letter, this variant usually being reserved for a drainage canal in fen country.

18d How to prepare fish reared about peak, prancing about (8)
A two-word (3,2) phrase which might form a (rather curt) instruction to the kitchen maid apropos a fish being readied for the kettle is reversed (‘reared’) around (‘about’) a three-letter word for a peak (or a sharp-pointed piece of wire).

19d Bottom fisher was mostly on the up in shifting trend (7)
WAS without its last letter (‘mostly’) is reversed (‘on the up’) inside an anagram (‘shifting’) of TREND to produce a hyphenated (4-3) term for something used to fish the bottom of a body of water. A more familiar word for the same item, differing only in its central letter, was the title of a 1950s American cop show memorably parodied by Stan Freberg in St George and the Dragonet, a great favourite of mine from my parents’ record collection.

23d Dinner for academicians out on a limb? (6)
The question mark at the end of this clue should be seen as applying both to the wordplay, a (2,4) representation of ‘dinner for [Royal] academicians?’, and to the definition.

27d What thibles do for porridge? (4)
A double definition clue with &lit overtones, ‘porridge’ in the second definition being used in the Norman Stanley Fletcher sense. I am more familiar with spurtles (very useful when making marmalade) than thibles, but it seems that the two implements are much of a muchness.

29d In Cannes this goes up and down – voilĂ ! (4)
A two-letter French word for ‘this’ appears both reversed (‘goes up’) and in normal form (‘[goes] down’), producing a Latin interjection equivalent to the French word at the end of the clue.

(definitions are underlined)

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