Notes for Azed 2,585

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 2,585 Plain

Difficulty rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars (1.5 / 5)

I hope that you all had an enjoyable Christmas Day and that Santa brought you everything that you had asked for.

Our gift from Azed today is a plain puzzle which contains a lot of anagrams (twelve) but climbed a little closer to the middle of the difficulty range courtesy of a couple of tricky wordplays.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 14a, “Succinct drama is replaced by page (5)”. Here we are expected to replace the letters IS in a word meaning ‘drama’, but is Azed adhering to Afrit’s precept “I need not mean what I say, but I must say what I mean”? Personally, I don’t think so. If I wrote about “A collection of paintings one replaced with another”, you would be confident that the entire collection of paintings had been replaced. Only if a comma were present, so the statement read “A collection of paintings, one replaced with another”, would you understand that a single painting had been replaced. If the words were spoken, there would be a pause between ‘paintings’ and ‘one’ should the second meaning be intended. Can we infer that pause? Azed thinks so – “around start of communion say” in 24d is another example – but there is a growing school of thought (to which I subscribe) that says that clues like these don’t say what they mean.

1a Person imbibed decorated cup he had, seated on high table? (9)
A three-letter abbreviation for ‘person’ is contained (‘imbibed’) by an anagram (‘decorated’) of CUP plus a three-letter contraction of ‘he had’. The solution is shown by Chambers as hyphenated (2-7), and as far as I can discern it is what Mr Worthington, my Greek master many years ago, would have described as a hapax legomenon, appearing only in Keats’ description of a nightingale in Book 1 of Endymion. The definition here is therefore a bit of a stretch, but hey, it’s Christmas…

12a Favourite about finished, reverse of ideal change of fortune (9)
A three-letter word for a favourite containing (‘about’) a four-letter word for ‘finished’ (or ‘fully developed’), followed by a reversal (‘reverse’) of a two-character abbreviation meaning ‘first-rate’ (‘ideal’), originally written in the Lloyd’s Register of Shipping against the names of vessels which were in tip-top condition.

14a Succinct drama is replaced by page (5)
A six-letter word for a drama (the Commercial Union used to insist that they wouldn’t make the latter out of the former), with the letters IS replaced by the usual abbreviation for ‘page’.

17a When you see wife avoiding cooked bean, don’t eat it! (7)
The letters WHEN without the standard single-letter abbreviation for ‘wife’ (‘you see wife avoiding’) plus an anagram (‘cooked’) of BEAN, the solution being a plant of the nightshade family which fulfils no culinary role in well-regulated households.

19a Former trust: a relationship is lacking in it (4)
Another deletion clue, this time the letters IN IT are ‘lacking’ from an eight-letter word for a relationship.

32a Having crust that’s dry, one assumes? (5)
The solution, when read as (1,2,2), leads cryptically to the word DRY.

2d Power race, e.g. Fastnet? (5)
The usual abbreviation for ‘power’ is followed by a verb meaning ‘[to] race’. I once included in a LIstener submission a clue  which used ‘Vera?’ to indicate ALOE; this was (quite rightly) rejected on the basis that ‘vera’ is not a type of aloe, any more than ‘tartare’ is a sort of steak, so this was not a definition by example in the way that ‘setter?’ would be for DOG. Likewise, I’m unconvinced that ‘Fastnet’ on its own, even with the help of ‘e.g’ and ‘?’ can indicate Fastnet Lighthouse. I would say that I’d have preferred something like “Power race one’s seen at Fastnet”, but Fastnet isn’t a place either, it’s the name of a rock.

9d Girl pocketing key that’s this and this! (7)
I’m not sure that anyone other than Azed would have dared to produce this clue. A four-letter word for girl (of the sort that might be a-milking when delivered en masse at this time of year) contains a six-letter word for a key (of the Florida sort) with the letters AND  *******, where ******* is the solution (ie “key that’s this and”). The second ‘this’ describes a possible state of the key (of the door unlocking sort) prior to being pocketed, and is the definition (albeit a somewhat loose one).

18d Notice I’ll be brought in to direct with more consistency (8)
A two-letter informal term for a notice and the letter I are contained by (‘brought in to’) a five-letter verb meaning ‘[to] direct’. 

20d What’ll aid streamlining following publication? (7)
The usual abbreviation for ‘following’ plus a six-letter word for ‘publication’ produce a term for external fittings attached to a vehicle to reduce aerodynamic drag.

24d It smoulders in thurible, around start of communion say (6)
A five-letter word meaning ‘[to] say’ is placed around the first letter (‘start’) of ‘communion’.

26d Party thrown, dukedom’s ruined immediately (5, 2 words)
An anagram (‘ruined’) of DUKEDOM from which the usual two-letter word for a party has been removed (‘thrown’). The solution is a (2,3) Anglo-Indian expression.

27d What harvester grips and studies lifted round acreage (5)
The standard abbreviation for ‘acreage’ has a four-letter word for ‘studies’ reversed outside (‘lifted round’) it, producing one of many alternative spellings for a term applied to the handle or shaft of a scythe.

28d Like an anvil, more than half banged up (5)
The answer comprises five-ninths (‘more than half’) of a (2,7) phrase that the police would probably use, at least when communicating with the public, in preference to ‘banged up’.

29d Some Finns are found in South America having run away (5)
A Christmas feast of abbreviations to finish off the puzzle. The usual abbreviation for ‘are’ is contained by (‘found in’) abbreviations for ‘South’ and ‘America’, the latter having had the abbreviation for ‘run’ removed (‘away’).

(definitions are underlined)

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9 Responses

  1. Maggie says:

    Well, I’m stuck on 35a. Final one and cannot understand it. m?der?si? Have I gone wrong somewhere?

  2. Doctor Clue says:

    I generally try to avoid self-promotion on this site, but if anyone fancies sitting down with a glass of something and tackling a seasonally-themed blocked puzzle with clueing of a Ximenean nature, such a thing can be found on Big Dave’s site at NTSPP 620

  3. Steve says:

    Your comments about commas could be applied to the clue for 26d, the comma in this case shows something is missing. At first, I read it as “5 words”, which would have been interesting, to say the least :).

    • Doctor Clue says:

      I see what you mean! I hadn’t considered the ‘missing comma in enumeration’ issue 🙂

      Regarding the ‘missing comma in wordplay’ (1a being another example), I’d be interested to see whether other solvers are uncomfortable with it or whether I’m alone in my misgivings.