Notes for Azed 2,614
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 2,614 Plain
Difficulty rating: (2.5 / 5)
The across clues in this puzzle struck me as being generally on the easy side, while the down clues seemed quite a bit trickier. Taken as a whole, I’d place this puzzle right in the middle of the difficulty range. There were a couple of ‘interesting’ anagram indicators, but not too much else with which I would take issue.
Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 35a, “Making hay with décor vary improvisation (8, 2 words)”. The wordplay involves a simple anagram (‘Making…vary’) of HAY and DÉCOR, but this raises a question: in the anagram fodder there is an E with an acute accent, while in the answer it is unaccented – is that a problem? The short answer to this is ‘no’ – it is universally (as far as I’m aware) accepted that diacritical marks are ignored, whether in cryptic wordplay or solution, so “I care desperately about first slice of lemon cake” is fine for ÉCLAIR. Note that this dispensation does not extend to definitions within the clue itself, ie ‘pâté’ cannot be used as an indication of ‘head’. Punctuation marks – and spaces, of course – which might appear to be part of, say, the fodder for an anagram can also be ignored, so “One’s blown?” would work for NOSE, with the apostrophe being discarded.
13a Jug, one with ice in it? (6)
The sort of clue that it’s best not to analyse too closely, the answer here immediately puts me in mind of Captain Virgil Hilts, the character in The Great Escape memorably played by Steve McQueen, and in particular the part of the camp where he spends a large proportion of his time. This in turn makes me think of the 1970s TV series Colditz, which featured a character (played by Anthony Valentine) called Major Mohn – I’ve always wondered whether this was meant as a joke along the lines of General Panic and Justice Thumbs…surely it can’t have been accidental?
15a Quick-witted slave, upright one caught in act (6)
There’s a bit of pre-processing to be done here, turning ‘upright’ into a five-letter word which is applied to upright (ie non-italic) type. Its three-letter abbreviation is then joined to the Roman numeral for ‘one,’ and the combination inserted into (‘caught in’) a verb meaning ‘act’. The slave in question is from Syracuse…or is he the one from Ephesus? Confused? You won’t be after this week’s episode of The Comedy of Errors… (anyone who didn’t watch Soap will have no idea what I’m talking about!)
19a Some foreign money forwarded in press (7)
A four-letter word meaning ‘forwarded’ is put inside a three-letter word meaning ‘[to] press (or ‘be situated’), producing the necessary in Lesotho.
23a Peerless and free, once saddled? (7)
A charade of a four-letter and a three-letter element, and the archaic past tense of a verb which might suggest being on horseback.
32a Drunk went begging after beer-money? (7)
This time the charade is 3+4, with the ‘went [or ‘was’] begging’ coming after the beer money (a gratuity); I tend to think of the verb which gives rise to the answer as being intransitive, but it has a transitive form, hence ‘drunk’ is fine as the definition.
2d Feature of patch worn by pirate? (6)
The ‘patch’ here is a vegetable patch. Nuff said.
4d I’ll be encapsulated by ‘a negative’? (5)
An &lit, where I (from the clue) is ‘encapsulated’ by A (from the clue) and the sort of negative that de Gaulle was wont to use when asked about Britain’s potential admission to the Marché Commun, the whole clue acting as an indication of the solution.
7d Artillery stuck in boggy ground, dangerous situation (6)
The usual two-letter abbreviation for the Royal Artillery is ‘stuck’ in a word which can mean ‘boggy ground’ but is now more often applied individually or collectively to the small plants which are often found growing in such terrain.
8d Indian tree topped old club in wood? (4)
Those who know a brassie from a niblick will surely be familiar with the five-letter club (no, Donald – not Troon, but close) which must be deprived of its first letter (‘topped’) in order to produce the name of an Indian tree.
11d Old desk because turning up in set, as is alleged (11)
The old word for a desk (which starts with the same three letters) is one that I once had to clue in a puzzle, and I haven’t forgotten it – together with a three-letter word meaning ‘because’ it is reversed (‘turning up’) inside a word having a meaning of ‘set’ (as in ‘inclination’) but more commonly used to denote a layer of thickness.
21d The old strain to invest a grand, maximizing assets (6)
An obsolete (‘old’) spelling of a word meaning ‘[to] strain’ or ‘endeavour’ is to be placed around (‘to invest’) the letter A (from the clue) and the usual abbreviation for ‘grand’. It seems the answer can also be used to describe broken coffee beans, the stuff that falls to the bottom of the barrel and is then sifted out.
22d Water flowing repeatedly within banks of Stour for edible mollusc (6, 2 words)
The two-letter dialect word for water that frequently flows in barred crosswords makes a double appearance here, sandwiched by the first and last letters (‘banks’) of ‘Stour’. The solution is (3,3), and a type of abalone.
24d Unlimited release featuring (say) ranch compound (5)
The first and last letters must be removed (‘unlimited’) from a seven-letter word which might describe a release featuring a ranch, and almost certainly would describe one featuring cowboys.
26d Place associated with saint, centre of worship (Polish) (5)
The simple wordplay here delivers the somewhat unlikely name of the city where Saint Augustine served as bishop and with which his name is often linked. Now Annaba in Algeria, it was an important place in ancient times and was for a few years the capital of the Vandal kingdom prior to the Vandalization of Carthage.
27d Sort of lavender, an aromatic plant cropped (5)
An alternative form of ‘an’ is followed by the sort of thing that could be Sporty or Scary (though not both at once), from which the last letter has been removed (‘cropped’). I don’t think that strictly speaking the term can be applied to a plant, only to an aromatic substance of vegetable origin, but I’m happy to let that pass. The answer is a another name given to the ‘Great Lavender or Spike’.
30d One on board denied work? Must be a mistake (4)
A six-letter word describing something that might be found on a board (or in a palace) is deprived of (‘denied’) the usual abbreviation for ‘work’, the result being the sort of mistake which in the Jennings books was often prefixed by ‘frantic’ (and possibly, on occasion, ‘lobsterous’).
(definitions are underlined)