Notes for Azed 2,615

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 2,615 Plain

Difficulty rating: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

This struck me as being a little above average difficulty, although I was somewhat distracted by having discovered during breakfast an ‘unfastened’ Cheerio – I’ve eaten a lot of Cheerios but never before have I encountered a straight one. I would preserve this potentially unique specimen (a ‘Cheeri’?) for posterity, but unfortunately I’d already put the milk on before I spotted it. I’m drying it out, but I suspect it may be beyond conservation. Anyway, this was an enjoyable puzzle, even if it did suggest a preoccupation with the word UP.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 16a, “Spenserian isn’t perfect (one featured in bulletin)? (5, 2 words)”. Nothing very interesting about the wordplay, a single-letter word for ‘one’ inside a four-letter word for information on recent events producing the (2,3) solution, but the definition poses a problem for the setter. How do you define a  (Spenserian) phrase meaning ‘was not’ that itself contains the word ‘was’? ‘With difficulty’ is the answer. But you can rely on Azed to find an answer, and he has used ‘perfect’ in its grammatical sense of ‘ denoting completed action’ to indicate that “isn’t” should be interpreted in its perfect form, ie ‘was not’. Job’s a good ‘un!

Across
1a System aiding ships, one tar’s deployed after direction-finder showing south not mobile (12)
A single-letter word for ‘one’ and an anagram (‘deployed’) of TARS follow a seven-letter word for a direction-finder in which the usual abbreviation for ‘mobile’ has been replaced by the standard abbreviation for ‘south’. As stated in the footnotes, the paper version of Chambers lists the (6-6) solution under the entry for its second half.

12a Durable skin turned up on annoying fly found round Arabia (8)
‘Up’ makes its first appearance, being reversed (‘turned’) and followed by the four-letter name of ‘a small but very troublesome Brazilian biting fly’ which contains the usual two-letter abbreviation for ‘Arabia’.

13a Chatterbox such as Violet? (6)
When appended to the solution, Violet produces the title of a 1945 satirical novel by Christopher Isherwood describing the making of a film of the same name, a melodrama set in nineteenth-century Vienna (home of the park sharing its name with the chatterbox). The book draws on Isherwood’s experience as a screenwriter on the film Little Friend (1934), directed by Berthold Viertel.

16a Spenserian isn’t perfect (one featured in bulletin)? (5, 2 words)
See “Setter’s Corner” above.

20a Avoid bypass, missing junction (4)
A five-letter word meaning ‘[to] bypass’ or ‘[to] sidetrack’ loses the single letter representing a type of road junction in order to produce the solution.

23a Before start of November reach for thick coat (5)
A neat clue, but one of those where both the answer and an element of the wordplay are relatively obscure. The four-letter word which must be put before the first letter (‘start’) of ‘November’ may not be unfamiliar in the sense of a vein of metallic ore, but I don’t remember coming across the meaning of ‘a reach of water’ before.

29a Angular unit, excellent, stylish, one installed (6)
A three-letter slang term of North American origin with a meaning very similar to ‘cool’ (ie ‘excellent’) is followed by a two-letter word for ‘stylish’ or ‘fashionable’ into which a single-letter word for ‘one’ is inserted (‘installed’).

30a Cattle in large area of land showing paralysis (8)
A four-letter biblical term for cattle is contained within a four-letter proper name applied to a specific, and very large indeed, land mass.

32a Scottish well, one with fish (5)
A (1,1,3) charade, the fish being the sort that could easily find itself being jellied.

Down
1d It was used in drawing blood, raising gallons in lesson (12)
A six-letter word for ‘raising’ (based on that two-letter word we’re starting to see a lot of) and the single-letter abbreviation for ‘gallons’ are contained by a five-letter word for a lesson or lecture, the outcome being a (7-5) hyphenated term for a vessel with an open mouth used in the operation of ‘cupping’; apparently where there was insufficient space for such a vessel to be used, the leeches would be summoned instead.

3d Left a meal in lifting up ornamental tray (7)
The usual abbreviation for ‘left’, A (from the clue) and a three-letter meal are all contained by a reversal (‘lifting’) of…yes, you guessed it, UP.

4d Sensation to do with possible misprint in Shakespeare (6)
A charade of a four-letter word for a sensation or commotion and that oft-sighted bit of commercial jargon meaning ‘to do with’ results in a word that appears in the Prologue of Troilus and Cressida (followed, of course, by ‘up’) and is now usually rendered as ‘sperre up’, ‘sperr up’, or ‘spar up’ (all in the sense of ‘lock up’).

5d Wound piercing surface part of Roman shield (6)
Be careful here – the combination of the wound and the Roman shield might lead you to a word ending in ‘-um’, but that won’t fit the  rest of the clue. The three-letter ‘wound’ is entering (‘piercing’) a word (more commonly seen in a four-letter form) applied to the lighter upper part of the continental crust (of the earth, nothing to do with baguettes), and the ‘of’ is part of the definition.

9d Gulf offering grand drive (5)
The usual abbreviation for ‘grand’ is followed by a word meaning ‘drive’ (noun or verb, your choice) to produce a term given by Chambers as ‘literary’ for something which ‘gulf’ is shown as signifying poetically.

19d Small ungulate, briefly on edge found shivering in hunter’s periphery (7)
A shortened form of (‘small’) ‘on’ and an anagram (‘found shivering’) of EDGE are contained by the first and last letters (‘periphery’) of ‘hunter’, the answer being a (3-4) ungulate which is not some strange hybrid, although its Latin name is Axis porcinus.

22d Worthless type, monkey turning up in courts (6)
A three-letter word for a ‘useless type [of person, invariably a chap, I think]’ is followed by a reversal (‘turning up’) of a three-letter capuchin monkey, producing the English  plural form of a word for a court of justice.

26d Shortened aperçu, possibly (5)
A nice &lit, the whole clue serving as an indication of the answer produced from an anagram (‘possibly’) of APERCU without its last letter (‘shortened’). Whether the solution here is likely to be shorter than an aperçu is something that need not trouble us.

(definitions are underlined)

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15 Responses

  1. Dennis Brooker says:

    Any hints on 17d

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Dennis

      17d – “Wife and husband gossip over American extended families

      This is a four-element charade, (1,1,3,2), with the ‘and’ and ‘over’ being there just to link the elements. The potentially unfamiliar bit is the three-letter ‘gossip’, more often a collection of anecdotes or small objects and commonly seen tacked onto the end of a person’s name (eg [Queen] Victoria). Hope that helps. To confirm your checked letters, I’ve shown them below.

      Click to show checked letters

      WHAN?US

  2. Mike Thomas says:

    Hi Just 11dn to go but I can’t seem to make it work. Mind you I must get a copy of Chambers. Life would be much easier! I have ‘Formerly undone’ as the definition, that 2 letter word that’s everywhere for ‘one’s ahead’ and around it (‘in’) a 3 letter word for a trophy. I have all the 4 intersecting across words and am pretty confident of those, so only 1 letter missing. Trouble is I can’t find my word anywhere! Am I on the right track? Thanks!

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Yes indeed – a copy of Chambers (paper or electronic – the iOS and Android versions are excellent) would definitely make things easier!

      Regarding 11dn, if your trophy is the sort that would be particularly appropriate for a snooker tournament, then you’ve got it all absolutely right. The answer is a Shakespearean past tense which occurs just the once, I believe (in Pericles, Prince of Tyre). Its parent verb, ending in E rather than T, is obsolete, but it does appear in the Collins online dictionary with a meaning of ‘cheat’. You can check your answer below.

      Click to reveal the answer

      POUPT

  3. Griff Everett says:

    PS My sympathies to Azed – hope he recovers soon

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Have I missed something…is Azed not well?

      • Steve says:

        The paper version says:
        “Azed No. 2,612 Winners
        Azed has been suffering from Covid. The results for competition No. 2,612 will be delayed accordingly.”

        • Doctor Clue says:

          Thanks, Steve – I don’t get the paper version and the Azed puzzle doesn’t feature in the digital edition.

          I wish him a speedy recovery, and so I’m sure do all other Azedistas.

          Incidentally, I see from Derek Harrison’s blog that John Tozer is recovering slowly from his recent heart attack, but it may be some while before he is able to resume his management of the excellent &lit site (in the meantime the Azed slips are being published at crossword.org.uk) . Again, I know we all wish him the very best.

  4. Griff Everett says:

    23a: first part of solution is common in that sense in East Anglia – sometimes in place-names
    32a: is not necessarily 1,1,3 – it can be 1,4 if ‘fish’ is taken as a verb

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Griff, welcome, and thanks for your observations

      I hadn’t checked the OED for the word in 23a, but the definition there – “A watercourse; an aqueduct, channel; an open drain in fenny districts. Now local.” – makes more sense to me (particularly in the light of your comment) than ‘reach of water’.

      Re 32a, Chambers (2014) doesn’t give the four-letter part as a verb so I don’t think the (1,4) parsing will work.

    • Cait says:

      Yes – I parsed 32a as 1,4 thinking the noun could indicate the verb fish – I couldn’t see how else to do it because I’d not picked up role of ‘with’ in clue. Makes sense on revisit.
      Was stuck for a while as I had an unparsed and more everyday word for squat in 10a – correct answer far more elegant although new to me.

      • Doctor Clue says:

        Ah, ‘squat’ as in ‘Squat right inside sofa’, I presume. The answer was new to me as well, and linked (through the noun) to the word ‘croupier’, originally it seems the term given to someone who went halves with a gambler seated at the gaming table and stood behind them offering advice (the ‘back seat gambler’).

  5. Mike Thomas says:

    22d not 23d?