Notes for Azed 2,600

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 2,600 Plain

Difficulty rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

I thought this was an enjoyable puzzle which hovered around the middle of the difficulty scale. Some very nice clues, none of the repetition (as far as I could see) that had raised its head in several recent puzzles, and not a lot for me to quibble about. Overall one of Azed’s best in recent times.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clues 32a, “English ploughed furrows, cold inside? Rifts according to the Scots (6)” and 30d, “After end of monsoon as of old harrow watercourses (5)”. Each of these clues uses a trademark Azed device – in the first we might assume that ‘Rifts according to the Scots’ is pointing us towards a Scottish word for ‘rifts’, and in the second that ‘as of old harrow’ indicates an old word for ‘harrow’, but of course we would be wrong. In the former clue, we are looking for a familiar word defined by the Scots word ‘rifts’, and in the latter for another common word equivalent to the archaic interjection ‘harrow!’. I rather like this application of a classification to the definition rather than the word defined, although I know that it is not to everybody’s taste – I used something similar myself in a puzzle and the editor was, shall we say, less than enthusiastic…

1a See subordinate with time for a break learning to earn a crust (11)
A nice one to get us started, being an anagram of SUBORDINATE with the usual abbreviation for ‘time’ replacing the letter A (‘time for a’) and featuring a literal definition of the solution. You may  wonder why Azed has added that ‘See’ at the beginning of the clue, but if you try out the wordplay after removing it all will become clear.

11a Strong drink artist tipped over more than half of historical document (8)
The usual two-letter abbreviation taken to represent an artist is reversed (‘tipped over’) and followed by six of the ten letters which make up the name of a famous historical document. After the unfortunate spillage referred to here it probably needed to go in the wash. From the Wham! Annual 1968 – Q: Where was the M**** C**** signed? A: At the bottom. 

21a I’m surprised to be keeping near drunk as aid to retaining balance (7)
Here we have a two-letter interjection meaning “I’m surprised” containing (‘to be keeping’) a two-letter word meaning ‘near’ and a three-letter word for ‘drunk’.

25a Old couple not active in the household (5)
The sort of household which might be à trois has the usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘active’ removed (‘not active’) in order to produce an archaic word meaning ‘[to] couple’.

31a She’s sometimes lazy, coming from the country, opening tin (5)
A three-letter abbreviation for a particular country is inserted into the chemical symbol for tin, the result being a name which when preceded by ‘lazy’ is a term for a device most often seen these days (in my limited experience, anyway) on the large round tables in some Chinese restaurants. A form of dumb-waiter, some claim that the name derives from its invention by Thomas Jefferson in response to the complaints of his daughter (whose name you can guess) that she always got served last and therefore left the table hungry; others give the credit to Thomas Edison, who also had a daughter with the relevant appellation. It seems more likely that the name was simply chosen as a marketing ploy in order to give it general appeal, as reflected in an advertisement in a 1917 edition of Vanity Fair for a ‘Revolving Server or Lazy *****.  

33a Set of bells, including start of octave, rings well (6)
The ‘start of octave’ which is included in the four-letter word for a set of bells tuned to each other is not the letter O but rather the syllable representing the first note of the scale (now usually replaced by ‘doh’). The definition is neatly disguised, and although you might argue that ‘rings well’ ought to indicate a verb rather than a noun, Azed has always been of the opinion “barks and is man’s best friend” is a valid definition of ‘dog’, so here you just need to infer an ‘it’ before the ‘rings [a] well’.

34a Fungicidal compound, litre distributed? I’ll have none inserted (7)
Here we have an anagram (‘distributed’) of LITRE into which is inserted the name of our setter (‘I’) when reduced to two letters and the usual single-character representation of ‘nothing’ or ‘zero’. The grammar of the wordplay strikes me as a bit of a stretch, but I’m not complaining.

35a Mixed dish to bring on, going round – cut edging off (4)
A (4,3) phrase meaning ‘to bring on’ has the letters CUT removed from the outside (‘cut edging off’) and is reversed (‘going round’). The result is the name given in Spanish-speaking countries to an earthen jar or pot used for cooking, but it is also applied to a dish of meat and vegetables cooked in such a pot.

4d Being full, here’s dish lad’s left for particular one (5)
One of the few clues in this puzzle that I wasn’t too keen on involves a five-letter word for a dish of vegetables or herbs in which the letters LAD have been replaced by a three-letter diminutive of a particular man’s name (‘particular one’, ie the name of a particular lad)…

7d Scribbled blog in base? Base indeed (7)
…and this is the other one I wasn’t too enthusiastic about, simply because I don’t think that ‘base’ is sufficient to indicate the E which follows an anagram (‘scribbled’) of BLOG IN, even though I’ve seen it used in this way many times before. Yes, e is the base of Napierian logarithms, but any number seems to me equally valid as a ‘base’; I’d be happy with ‘log base’ as that certainly narrows down the likely options. I wouldn’t have any problem with ‘transcendental’ for e, as the only other transcendental that springs to mind is pi.

8d English Queen about reign formerly: ‘My colours will not fade‘ (9)
I thought initially that Anne might be the English Queen required here, but it turned out that she was simply a compound of a three-letter abbreviation for ‘English’ and a one-letter abbreviation (as used by E Windsor rather than M Carlsen) for ‘Queen’, and needed to be set about a Spenserian spelling of the word ‘reign’.

9d What may be part of radical combination, ideal for singer? (7)
A (3,4) description of something with which any singer would like to be blessed, and the name of a chemical compound which is the result of a couple of methyl radicals combining with a carbonyl group, or something along those lines. Yes, I do have a chemistry degree, but (a) it was a long time ago, and (b) I wasn’t very good at it.

15d Underwear of a kind, wedding kit for the groom? (9, 2 words)
A charade of a five-letter term for a wedding and a four-letter word for something the groom would almost certainly wear on his wedding day produces a name used largely in the US for a one-piece undergarment extending to the ankles, more commonly known in the UK as ‘combs’.

22d Shift: did Abraham return this after time away? (4)
It seems entirely reasonable that at some point during his 175 year span Abraham would have taken a break from his travels and returned to the place of his birth. I’m slightly surprised that Azed didn’t italicize the word ‘this’ in the clue, since it certainly needs to be stressed when reading the wordplay.

24d Rising stink left one in a kerfuffle (6)
A four-letter word for a stink (and the name of a famous bear) is reversed (‘rising’) ahead of the usual abbreviation for ‘left’ and a single-letter word for ‘one’.  The (4-2) solution derives from a French exclamation (spelt with a U rather that a second O) accompanying a quick or sudden movement, which has come in English (with the spelling here) to mean commotion or ballyhoo.

26d Verses composed by young females incorporating literal extremes (6)
The wordplay here has a four-letter word for ‘young females’ containing (‘incorporating’) the first and last letters of the alphabet (‘literal extremes’).

(definitions are underlined)

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8 Responses

  1. Jim Duggan says:

    My heart sinks when I see the word ‘Aussie’ in an Azed clue; the words are never familiar from my years of living there, do not appear in my Australian dictionary, and are seldom recognised by my Australian friends. I see the damaged leg, and can guess a word that implies a prang, but the unchecked letter leaves me slightly uncertain.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Jim

      Yes, I think that similarly many of the ‘Scottish’ words in Chambers are unfamiliar to most Scots. I also suspect that a fair proportion of the ‘real’ Aussie words have already reached the UK, courtesy of Neighbours and the like (chooks, rellies etc). Not to mention lamingtons.

      The first part of 13 is a slang term for a jail (ie ‘nick’) which is in the Big Red Book and is shown by the Chambers Slang Dictionary as being in use from the 1990s onwards. As far as I’m concerned, though, it’s one of those things that I wheel out to the roadside every week or so.

      • Jim Duggan says:

        My thanks. I was torn between that and the jungle incident referred to in a song by Jethro Tull. My sleep tonight is now assured. J.

      • Jim Duggan says:

        Your mention of ‘relies’ reminds me of the arbitrary divide in Aussie agent nouns between the -oes and the -ies. Amongst ‘tradies’, parliamentarians are ‘pollies’, lawyers ‘sollies’, and firefighters ‘firies’, but their blue-light colleagues the ‘amboes’ join William Booth’s ‘salvoes’ to watch David Attenborough ‘docoes’.

        • Doctor Clue says:

          Brilliant – every one of them completely gender-neutral and pleasingly disyllabic. I like ‘salvoes’ best though 🙂

  2. JOHN ATKINSON says:

    10 came to me immediately after posting. Always important to rethink an initial reading of a clue. I was looking at chance being the solution!

  3. JOHN ATKINSON says:

    For 7d I simplistically read base Base as describing e being the bottom of the first base, with Base doing double duty.

    Still struggling with 10a despite having all the crossers.

    Weather is warming up here in Chicagoland. Soon be time to get the boat back in the water.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi John

      ‘Base’ for E is a crossword regular, and I don’t think that Chambers helps by showing e as ‘the base of the natural system of logarithms’, g as ‘acceleration due to gravity’, e as ‘the eccentricity of a conic section’ , R as ‘electrical resistance’, L as ‘learner (driver)’ and H as ‘hard (on lead pencils)’. I won’t accept ‘base’ for E or ‘gravity’ for G, while I’ve no issue with ‘learner’ for L or ‘hard’ for H, but I think that the two in the middle should be shown as ‘eccentricity (of a conic section)’ and ‘(electrical) resistance’, because the additional text is there to provide context and its presence is not vital.