Notes for Azed 2,612
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 2,612 Plain
Difficulty rating: (3 / 5)
Quite a tricky one, I thought, certainly a little way past the middle of the difficulty spectrum.
Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 24d, “Foreign gent erected guttering for Scots (5)”. The wordplay is covered below, the reversal of the Scottish guttering leading to the foreign gent – but why shouldn’t it be the foreign gent who’s being ‘erected’ to produce the gutters? The answer is that it equally well could be, and therefore the clue is ambiguous. This is far from ideal, requiring solvers to identify the second, fourth or fifth checked letters in order to establish the solution, and I’m surprised that Azed included the clue as it stands. If the intended answer had been the gutters, the clue could have read ‘Guttering for Scots foreign gent erected’, but it’s not so easy to get the reversal indicator away from the foreign gent. Something like ‘Scottish guttering erected for foreign gent’, with the wordplay/definition link removing any potential ambiguity, would probably be the best option without making material changes to the clue.
10a Lizard, large or small variety and tailless (5)
An abbreviation (‘small’) of ‘variety’ plus AND (from the clue) without its last letter (‘tailless’).
12a Father having trouble writing accompaniment for Indian? (8)
One of many alternative spellings for these crisp flatbreads results from a charade of a three-letter word for ‘father’, a three-letter word for ‘trouble’, and a two-letter abbreviation for a handwritten book which Azed often indicates by ‘writing’.
14a Stuff our country is short of and as of old (6)
The name of a country which many (though far from all) Azed solvers will consider ‘ours’, shorn of the letters AND (‘short of and’), is followed by the Latin word (‘of old’) for ‘as’ (normally seen followed by ‘infra’ or ‘supra’, if seen at all).
19a Love poetry set before HM editor lost? (8)
The usual single-letter representation of love, a five-letter word for ‘poetry’, and the cipher of Queen Elizabeth II combine to produce an obsolete (‘lost’) term for an editor.
20a E.g. Bunthorne, upset about these being distributed (8)
A crossword regular for ‘upset’ or (more often) ‘worried’ is put outside (‘about’) an anagram (‘being distributed’) of THESE. ‘Bunthorne’ is not the former Guardian crossword setter, rather the ‘fleshly poet’ in Patience from whom he took his pseudonym.
Am I alone,
And unobserved? I am!
Then let me own
I’m an æsthetic sham!
This air severe
Is but a mere
This cynic smile
Is but a wile
23a What’ll come from murder motive as reported? (4)
A homophone (‘as reported’) for a motive, and an oblique definition which requires a knowledge of collective nouns relating to corvids (such as conspiracies, parliaments, chatterings, scolds, mischiefs, and the one here).
25a Highland clamour, increasingly restrained, from the right (5)
A word meaning ‘increasingly restrained’, or ‘less interesting’, is reversed (‘from the right’) to produce a Scots word for an uproar.
30a Occupying lodgings mostly, ten awfully hard-up (8)
A two-letter word for ‘occupying’ is followed by a four-letter word for lodgings (once common but rarely heard these days) from which the last letter has been removed (‘mostly’) and an anagram (‘awfully’) of TEN.
1d One against exemplar of industry digs art possibly, fan of modernism? (12)
A one-letter word for ‘one’, the usual abbreviation for ‘against’, an ‘exemplar of industry’ from the insect world, and an anagram (‘possibly’) of DIGS ART combine to produce the hyphenated (5-7) solution.
2d Getting up, make space for former idol (5)
A reversal (‘getting up’) of a two-letter word meaning ‘make’ and a three-letter word for a space (the sort you have to mind when in London), producing an obsolete (‘former’) term for an idol.
4d Take on gardener’s enemy, something found in plant cells (6)
The usual abbreviation for ‘take’ is followed by (‘on’) the technical term for a small homopterous louse that sucks the juices from plants, usually accompanied by many small and thirsty friends.
6d Military caps raised, king ignored aid to road-holding (4)
A five-letter word for military caps as sported by members of the French Foreign Legion is reversed (‘raised’) and the abbreviation for ‘king’ that would be familiar to Magnus Carlsen removed.
7d Smoke rising round centre of verdure creeps over the border (6)
I initially thought that the ‘smoke’ which was to be reversed (‘rising’) around the middle letter (‘centre’) of ‘verdure’ might be the usual spelling of a term for a roll of tobacco leaves, but that didn’t produce a real word. However, a variant spelling, starting with two different letters, delivers the Scots word for unpleasant people (ie ‘creeps’).
16d Cavalry piece? Nelly’s holding on (8)
For this one you either need to know the name of the large calibre rifle once used by mounted troops which constitutes the solution, or the type of bird exemplified by a ‘nelly’. The latter, often associated with ‘storm’ (or ‘stormy’), is ‘holding’ the letters ON (from the clue).
23d Candied peel? This, aged, is misused in decorating (6)
A composite anagram of the friendliest sort. The letters of the solution (‘This’) and AGED can be rearranged (‘misused’) to form DECORATING.
24d Foreign gent erected guttering for Scots (5)
The plural of a Scots word for a roof-gutter is reversed (‘erected’) to produce the title given to a gentleman from a particular European country.
26d Nothing surmounts this compact for Danish conurbation (5)
If the usual single-letter representation of ‘nothing’ were to be placed before the solution here, the result would be the name of the third-largest city in Denmark. The clue might seem to suggest that the answer is a noun, but it is an adjective.
(definitions are underlined)