Notes for Azed 2,586

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 2,586 Plain

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

A largely straightforward puzzle that sat somewhere below the mid-point of the difficulty scale, I felt.

May I take this opportunity to wish all readers a very happy New Year, and good solving in 2022.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clues 23d, “Put fresh front on shift, turned-up iron plugged in (6)”, and 25d, “Change address for number in former province (6)”. These clues are parsed below, but the discussion here centres on the solutions and their definitions, ‘Put fresh front on’ and ‘Change address for’. Chambers shows both the verbs as ‘vt’ (verb transitive) only, therefore in a sentence they must always take an object. A mistake that inexperienced setters (and sometimes not-so-inexperienced ones) make is to define a transitive verb using a verb or verb expression which is intransitive. So, for example, to define DESALINATE as ‘remove salt’ would be an error – ‘desalinate’ is a transitive-only verb and therefore the definition would have to be ‘remove salt from’; if in doubt, try the old setter’s substitution trick, replacing the solution with the intended definition in a sentence, eg ‘It is possible to desalinate seawater’. In the two clues from this puzzle, the prepositions are essential – something like ‘Replace front’ or ‘Change address’ would not be valid.

10a Man admits love with mum – one’s predictions are distinctly ‘earthy’ (7)
A four-letter ‘man’ (of good birth or refined manners) takes in (‘admits’) the usual single-character representation of love and a two-letter word for ‘mum’ (or ‘mother’) frequently seen in crosswords. According to the British Museum’s web site, the technique employed by such a person was “a popular form of divination (seeking knowledge through supernatural means) practised across the Islamic world. In Arabic, it is known as ‘ilm al-raml’, literally ‘the science of the sand.’ In this ancient practice, the position of randomly thrown grains of sand answered specific questions put to the geomancer by the client. Enquiries often concerned matters of daily life, such as the health of a child, infidelity of a spouse or success of a business dealing.”

12a Dog (origin unspecified) needing shampoo, rear half first (4)
A four-letter word for ‘shampoo’ (in truth ‘shampoo’ here is dangerously close to an definition by example) has its second pair of letters moved in front of its first pair (‘rear half first’) to produce the name of a dog belonging to a breed developed in Tibet and normally referred to as a (5,4), but here Azed has taken a bit of a liberty by dropping the name of the breed’s city of origin and indicating same with ‘(origin unspecified)’.

13a You may find gardener is transplanting red one? (7)
This clue and 9d are companion pieces. Both are composite anagrams, but this one is a ‘comp anag &lit’, where the whole clue stands both as the wordplay and as the definition of the solution. The letters of GARDENER IS can be obtained by rearrangement of (indicated by ‘is transplanting’) RED plus the solution (indicated in the wordplay by ‘one’). In ‘&lit’ clues, it is accepted that the definition can be on the loose side – I think it’s pretty clear here that we are looking for the name of a plant. Regarding its hue, whilst there is a variety called ‘Red Pixie’, as correspondent Azedophile points out below, this is a named cultivar of the species when spelt with a ‘y’ not, as here, with an ‘e’. However, further web research has revealed the following:

“The savanna surrounding the Waterberg Mountains is characterized by African beachwood (Faurea saligna), common hookthorn (Acacia caffra), red seringa (Burkea africana), Terminalia sericea, and Peltophorum africanum.”

Based on this, it would seem that the plant receiving the attention of Azed’s gardener could indeed be a ‘red one’. Whether ‘transplanting’ is a valid anagram indicator, however, is a moot point.

24a Sign of cold weather in part of mid-April? One’ll need a second coat (6)
A four-letter ‘sign of cold weather’ is contained by two of the three letters in the middle of ‘April’ – ‘part of mid-April’ seems a strange way of indicating these letters, but I can’t see anything unfair about it. I was slightly dubious about the definition, but since Chambers gives the solution as ‘a preparatory first coat of paint, etc’ it is absolutely fine.,

28a SA creature, not heading for the Cape? (5)
A rather cumbersome wordplay tells us to remove the letters FOR (‘not…for’) from the start of (‘heading’) a word for a cape.

32a Hand washer applied to edge of face for shave (7)
Here the second name of the man who according to St Matthew “washed his hands before the multitude, saying ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours.'” is put after (‘applied to’) the last letter (‘edge’) of ‘face’.

35a Prince maybe with bird, English, on deck relaxing, not plunging (12)
A three-letter name given by Shakespeare to the young Henry of Monmouth (later Henry V) is followed by a four-letter word for a type of slender sea-bird, the usual abbreviation for English, and an anagram (‘relaxing’) of DECK. The solution is hyphenated, (6-6), and describes a garment with a neckline which is far from plunging.

4d Old coat mostly turned up with nothing below collar (6)
A six-letter word for a peasant’s overcoat (shown by Chambers as ‘hist‘, hence the ‘old’) has its last letter removed (‘mostly’) before being reversed (‘turned up’) and put above the single letter used to represent ‘nothing’ (‘with nothing below’). The second letter of the solution could also have been an E, both the coat and the collar having alternative spellings which would be consistent with this, but since the letter in question is checked by the unambiguous 10a there is no problem.

7d Old poet, good on love, cause of global upheaval but not the first (4)
The name of a disease which has indeed caused, and continues to cause, global upheaval, has its first letter removed (‘but not the first’) to produce the English designation of the Roman poet who wrote the elegiac poems Ars Amatoria (‘The Art of Love’) and Remedia Amoris (‘The Cure for Love’). 

9d Gardenin’ has disinterred this local onion, red (5)
As in 13a a compound anagram is involved, but this time it is not an ‘&lit’. Here the letters of GARDENIN can be rearranged (‘disinterred’, in the sense of ‘brought out of obscurity’) to produce the solution (‘this local onion’) and RED. Why, you might ask, is this not an &lit, since the whole clue could stand as a definition of the solution. Yes, but the words ‘local onion’ play no part in the cryptic reading of the clue, so although the definition does not appear (as is usual but not mandatory) at the beginning or end of the clue this is still a definition + wordplay clue.

The composite anagram, where extra material is added to the solution in order to ‘balance the equation’ with the anagram fodder in the clue, is not a new thing (it has been around since the 1940s), but it is only seen in barred cryptics and makes relatively few appearances outside Azed puzzles and Azed competitions. There are many examples of ‘comp anag &lit’ clues to be found in the Azed Slip Archive, the classic example being Colin Dexter’s (albeit now somewhat dated) clue for WELL-TO-DO in comp 727, “It’s this Littlewoods could make you” (ITS WELLTODO = LITTLEWOODS). The non-&lit form of the composite anagram is generally viewed as the poor relation of its &lit sibling and as such is seen less much often in prize-winning competition clues; here is D Arthur’s VHC entry for comp 1611 (LEISLER, a type of bat): “This bat and pad if together confuse a slip fielder” (LEISLER + PAD IF = A SLIP FIELDER).

16d The heavens, timeless void about one (8)
A charade of a five-letter word for ‘void’ without the usual abbreviation for ‘time’ (‘timeless’), a two-letter bit of commercial jargon for ‘about’ much beloved of crossword setters, and a two-letter word for ‘one’. The solution looks like an adjective but is also a noun.

23d Put fresh front on shift, turned-up iron plugged in (6)
A four-letter word for ‘[to] shift’, in the moving quickly sense, with a reversal (‘turned-up’) of the chemical symbol for iron inserted (‘plugged in’).

25d Change address for number in former province (6)
The usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘number’ is placed inside an obsolete spelling of a familiar word which means ‘province’ (as in a field of study). Incidentally, I note that the term ‘wheelhouse’, used with a similar meaning, appears to have crossed the pond and be gaining a foothold in the UK. Personally, I’m not keen.

31d Settled in a form of worship – any absent? (4)
The letter A (from the clue) plus a six-letter word for a form of responsive prayer in public worship (or a long and boring list) from which the letters ANY have been removed (‘any absent’).

(definitions are underlined)

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2 Responses

  1. Azedophile says:

    Thanks for your round-up. In 13a, it appears that the unchecked letter could be an ‘e’ or a ‘y’. Surely it has to be ‘e’ to suit the requirements of the composite anagram – in which case I’m not entirely sure ‘the red pixie’ variety that you mention in this context would seem to apply. Or are the two interchangeable? Maybe it’s a booby trap set by Azed!

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Azedophile, and welcome

      You make a good point regarding the named cultivar – there was an unusually long delay between me solving the puzzle and writing the notes, during which time I forgot which spelling Azed had used (it was, as you say, the ‘e’ one), so I was looking for supporting evidence in the wrong place. And I don’t believe that the spellings are interchangeable in modern horticultural use. However, as luck would have it, I have found a quotation which I think gets Azed off the hook! I have updated the notes above.