Notes for Azed 2,595

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.

While I – of course – believe that the views presented are valid, I realize that (i) I am not infallible, and (ii) in the world of the crossword there are many areas where opinions will differ. I say what I think, but I don’t intend thereby to stifle discussion – I would encourage readers who disagree with the views that I express, whether in the blog posts or in response to comments, to make their feelings known…I shall not be offended!

Azed 2,595 ‘Looking Back’

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

The focus this week, I think, should be on celebrating Azed’s extraordinary achievement in having reached his golden jubilee, about which I will say a little more below. As for this puzzle, it will not linger long in my memory, and I hope I will not offend anyone by saying that it looked as though it has been thrown together in a bit of a hurry. The construction is pretty basic – take any ordinary puzzle, change some letters in the completed grid, and write clues wherein the definition leads to the old answer and the wordplay to the new one. But let’s be fair here – Azed has earned the right many times over to have a bit of an easy ride on his 50th ‘birthday’. Solving the puzzle wasn’t trivial, and I can’t say that I found it particularly enjoyable, but I was gratified to find that the message appeared without any glitches.

Underneath the notes on individual clues I have added a checklist of the letters (there could be none, one, or two) which have been displaced from the defined solution in each clue, followed (for those who may still be struggling) by the positions in the entries where the substitutions are made. Note that there is an error in the clue for 24a – the last three words should be ‘knocking off drink’ rather than ‘knocking of drink’.

PS When Azed refers to the misprints which deliver the message he is clearly referring to the letters in the grid which are indicated by the wordplay but not the definition. The message should become clear if you put a circle or similar in pencil round these letters in the completed grid.

Setters’ Corner: Having done the Mephisto every Sunday for more years than I care to remember, I started tackling Azed puzzles around 14 years ago. I was immediately charmed by their wit and ingenuity, at a level I had only previously seen achieved by John Graham (Araucaria) and Mike Laws, and even then with less regularity. From that point on, I was hooked; when I started doing a weekly blog of the puzzles two or three years later it only served to further increase my appreciation of their excellence.

For some time I had wanted to have a go at setting crosswords myself, but didn’t possess the confidence to submit a puzzle to a crossword editor, knowing it would probably get torn apart; the Azed clue writing comps, however, gave me the opportunity to submit single clues and then see how more experienced setters had tackled the same words. I realised pretty quickly that my initial lack of positive results was due in part to problems with soundness, a requirement which Azed regularly highlighted in his result slips, and consequently I started looking at clues very differently from how I had when I was just solving puzzles. Having overcome this issue, I met with some modest success which encouraged me to set and submit complete puzzles, so I have Azed to thank not only for a wonderful weekly cruciverbal treat of a remarkably high standard but also for getting my setting career started. Thank you! And I can tell you that I was greatly chuffed a couple of years ago when John Green informed me that one of the entries for a Listener puzzle of mine had come from the great man himself.

12a NY bum, male knife wasted, head cut off (6)
A two-letter word for a male is followed by an anagram (‘wasted’) of KNIFE without its first letter (‘head cut off’). The ‘NY’ indicates that the word to be misprinted in the grid is of US origin, and the ‘bum’ is the BTM rather than a hobo.

16a Garden shrub, single one, ordinary, found round fringes of Italy (8)
A five-letter word for a person who prefers to act on their own and the usual abbreviation for ‘ordinary’ are placed round the first and last letters (‘fringes’) of ‘Italy’.

22a Roundabout abroad is booming – about time (6)
A five-letter word meaning ‘is booming’ (thinking lion rather than business), containing (‘about’) the usual abbreviation for ‘time’; ‘abroad’ in this instance refers to North America.

24a Pin disposed of in knocking off drink (4)
A seven-letter word for ‘knocking off’ (in the stealing sense) has the consecutive letters PIN removed (‘disposed of’).

25a One of bases for mast with cap on shaped with copper lining (8)
The standard one-letter representation of ‘with’ is followed by an anagram (‘shaped’) of CAP ON which has the chemical symbol for copper inside (‘lining’). The ‘mast’ here is the sort that might be found on the forest floor.

28a Wild goat I’m surprised to see in bitter herb dish (7)
A two-letter interjection denoting surprise is contained by a five-letter term for a dish of bitter herbs eaten during the Jewish Passover.

click to reveal the five-letter element

30a JM’s appalled at having to hug girls regularly (5)
‘JM’ is John Milton, the word defined being his spelling of an adjective normally seen with an ‘H’ included. The wordplay has AT (from the clue) containing (‘to hug’) three letters taken at regular intervals from ‘girls’.

31a Scottish snob mostly irritated about the States (6)
A four-letter word meaning ‘irritated’ has its last letter removed (‘mostly’) before being placed around a three-letter abbreviation for the United States. ‘Snob’ is an Azed favourite, being an old informal term for a shoemaker’s apprentice or cobbler.

34a Ointment made with egg on inside, all over (6)
A three-letter abbreviation for a Latin word meaning ‘made’ or ‘did’ has a three-letter word for ‘egg on’ or ‘incite to fight’ inside, the whole lot being reversed (‘all over’).

2d Venetian painter replacing bit of pain with mark having quivery effect (7)
The seven-letter surname of a Venetian artist (with forenames Giovanni Battista) from the eighteenth century has the first letter (‘bit’) of ‘pain’ replaced by the usual single-character abbreviation for ‘mark’.

3d Kidney secretion on hand (5)
The wordplay here is a charade of the standard bit of commercial jargon for ‘on’ and a three-letter informal term for a hand or arm which has fishy connotations.

5d Typical of old hound to move swiftly catching sheep (6)
A three-letter word meaning ‘to move swiftly’ containing (‘catching’) a three-letter word for a sheep, the word defined being a Shakespearean term used to describe a dog having a pendulous upper lip of a particular quality.

8d A copper initially is often right in arguing from cause to effect (7, 2 words)
The letter A (from the clue) is followed by a two-letter abbreviation for a police officer of relatively modest rank (‘copper’) and the first letters (‘initially’) of ‘is often right in’. The defined solution is divided (1,6).

18d Make a mistake dividing bears, looking up pedigrees (7)
A three-letter word meaning ‘to make a mistake’ is put inside (‘dividing’) a four-letter word for ‘bears’ (in the sense of ‘weighs’ or ‘presses’) and the result is reversed (‘looking up’).

20d Wild ass, male, one admitting sloth (7)
The word for a male already seen at 12a is followed by the letters ONE (from the clue) containing (‘admitting’) a two-letter word for a sloth which will be familiar to regular solvers.

21d Uncle Sam going into origin, rising like a bird (7)
A three-letter abbreviation for a country (which has already put in an appearance at 31a) embodied by Uncle Sam is contained by a four-letter word for an origin (and the surname of the England test cricket captain, at least for the moment). The defined word is a heraldic term with which I was unfamiliar.

(definitions are underlined)


Checklist of displaced letters


1: the letter S has been displaced from the defined solution; in 6: the letter E; 11: R; 12: I; 13: I; 15: D; 16: C and A; 17: no change; 19: G; 22: Y; 24: no change; 25: A and R; 28: K; 30: A; 31: T; 32: E; 33: U; 34: E


1:  the letters S and E have been displaced from the defined solution; in 2: the letter R; 3: N; 4: T; 5: D; 6: no change; 7: T and T; 8: R; 9: R; 10: M and E; 14: V and I; 18: P; 20: M; 21: N; 23: C; 26: no change; 27: L; 29: O


Checklist of positions


1: the letter replaced is in position 1 / in 6: position 6 / 11: 2 / 12: 3 / 13: 3 / 15: 4 / 16: 5 and 8 / 19: 1 / 22: 6 / 25: 1 and 4 / 28: 4 / 30: 3 / 31: 4 / 32; 8 / 33: 1 / 34: 6


1: the letters replaced are in positions 1 and 12 / in 2: position 2 / 3: 3 / 4: 5 / 5: 6 / 7: 4 and 9 / 8: 3 / 9: 2 / 10: 1 and 12 / 14: 1 and 6 / 18: 5 / 20: 3 / 21: 6 / 23: 1 / 27: 3 / 29: 3

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13 Responses

  1. 🍊 says:

    Took me ages to get the mechanics ⚙️ of this! Thanks for giving the positions of the misprinted letters – you might not’ve been impressed, but I was 😉. I remember an Everyman, yonks ago, which had Christmas Everyman on the diagonals which I also found impressive.
    Would you tell me the uncrossed letter in 33A, please? I can make cases for it to be E or W, so an explanation would help too!

    • Doctor Clue says:

      I didn’t mean to sound churlish about the puzzle, it’s only that misprinting the letters like that to produce non-words in the grid seemed just a little short of what we have come to expect from the mighty Azed – the overall effect is very pleasing, though 🙂 .

      The wordplay in 33a involves three ‘quarters’, in the sense of cardinal points, followed by the usual abbreviation for English, being ‘held’ by the IVR code for Senegal. So the unchecked letter is an E. The definition is ‘translation exercise’, the un-misprinted solution being ‘an unprepared passage for translation’.

      • 🍊 says:

        Yam dow sowound churleesh a’ all; I must have a lower impression threshold!
        Thanks for 33A – it was thinking of NSEW that made me wonder if the missing letter was a W, even though it made an answer more akin to tinking than to translation.

        • Doctor Clue says:

          Bostin’ 🙂 . I’m not keen on seeing non-words in a completed grid, so in reaching my Shania Twain-style judgement I was probably unduly influenced by their profusion.

          Is there ‘wessing’ as well as tinking, or do errant seamsters favour a less delicate term?

          • 🍊 says:

            I’m imagining the lexicographers of the future tracing back the first usage of wessing to your blog! Far more impressive, I should think, than Azed himself entering your competition! 😏

  2. Steve says:

    That was a tough one but I got there in the end. It didn’t help that, as in other specials, I thought that the misprints message might be in the order of the clues :).
    In 11a, I can’t see how the letters IN are indicated by the wordplay. All I can see is that PIECE is unravelled round OL, the centre of ‘cloth falls’.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Easy it wasn’t. The ‘message in clue order’ theory also appears to be supported when you look at the misprinted letters in 1, 2, 3 and 5 down (there is of course a reason for that), although the misprint in 4d doesn’t fit.

      In 11a, the wordplay involves an anagram of PIECE, as you say, but it is put around O (the centre of ‘cloth’) together with a three-letter word for a waterfall (ie ‘falls’) – this word can be found in Chambers under its more usual spelling, with a double n at the end.

      • Steve says:

        Aha! Thanks, I should have seen that the clue says ‘centre’ rather than ‘centres’.

  3. Tim Coates says:

    1 down had me pondering for a long time, as the anagram (including the usual one letter for line) led to a solution where only one letter had changed. The final grid and obvious arrangement of the changed letters obviously meant that 2 letters were changed, even if one of them was the same as in the definition except being in a different position.
    I also kicked myself when snob appeared in 31 across and I didn’t make the link to shoemaker as I believe it was in a fairly recent puzzle and remember thinking at the time that I should remember it, which I didn’t.
    I got there in the end though. Now to think of a fitting clue!

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Yes, I was a bit confused by 1d at first – I even wondered briefly if the non-misprinted solution had somehow crept in at 1a.

      Was I a little hard on the puzzle, do you think? It just looked to me like a normal 12×12 plain that had been ‘tickled up’ in a bit of a hurry.

      • Tim Coates says:

        I think your observations were accurate, although if I had done it I know I would have ended up in confusion at which word was the unchanged one.

  4. sudokulover says:

    1a……isn’t it the 1st letter that’s replaced (not the 6th) ?

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi sudokulover, and welcome to the blog (though I wonder if long ago you may perhaps have left comments on my old, amphibious Azed site)

      Ah – what I had written was intended to indicate that the first letter in 1a should be replaced, but the way I had laid the list out – combined with the unfortunate misprint (!) of ‘positions’ for ‘position’ – meant that it was, to say the least, open to misinterpretation. I have tidied the lists up, added the word ‘in’ to the second pair in each one, and emboldened the clue numbers. I originally used semicolons as separators for the numbers list, but it looked appalling, hence the slashes. I hope it is a bit better now, but let me know if you think I could improve it.

      Thanks for pointing the problem out since the last thing I want to do is to confuse solvers further!