Notes for Azed 2,617

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 2,617 ‘Jigsaw’

Difficulty rating: 5.5 out of 10 stars (5.5 / 10)

Note that the enumeration for 2 is incorrect – it should be (9)

The Jigsaw makes its fifteenth appearance overall and its sixth as a competition puzzle. Azed has generously given us the word lengths this time, albeit with one error. In the absence of relevant superpowers, quite a bit of blind solving is required before anything can be entered in the grid. Ideally here one would solve three of the four clues with nine-letter solutions, which would enable the grid-fill to begin. Sadly I didn’t have these, so I had to settle for all eight six-letter solutions and a couple of the ten-letter ones, which allowed me to make five entries with complete certainty. From there, progress became pretty straightforward. I’ll be interested to hear how other solvers rated the difficulty of this one taken as a whole.

Comments on selected clues are followed by the layout of the puzzle row by row and column by column for anyone who needs some extra help (or confirmation that they are on the right lines).

Setters’ Corner: For those who haven’t attempted to set a particular type of puzzle, it isn’t always obvious how hard (or otherwise) such a puzzle is to construct. With some varieties, such as Printer’s Devilry, the increased difficulty of solving is matched (or indeed exceeded) by increased difficulty of setting. The Jigsaw, however, requires minimal extra effort. You take a filled grid with a good mix of answer lengths, remove the numbers, and arrange the clues in alphabetical order of solution. You do need to check that there are no ambiguities (unlikely to occur with anything except four-letter words which differ by only one letter), and when writing the clues you should take into account the amount of blind solving which will be required – this is particularly relevant to the longer answers, several of which will be required in order to unlock the puzzle. Omitting the enumerations (answer lengths) is an option which will probably take the puzzle beyond the scope of some solvers but will please those that like something positively chewy to deal with. The considerations when setting a Carte Blanche are very similar.

1 Being directly juxtaposed, fixed A1 lino, trim within (10)
An anagram (‘fixed’) of AI LINO contains a word meaning ‘trim’ (in the ‘tidy’ sense).

4 Crone, sickly, given lead by bishop as guru (7)
The abbreviation for ‘bishop’ familiar to chess players ‘gives a lead to’ a three-letter word for a crone and and a three-letter word for sickly[-looking].

7 Extreme poverty making one submit to tonsure, one assumes? (8)
The subsidiary indication here involves a whimsical interpretation of the solution as a word meaning ‘to submit [someone] to tonsure’, which might similarly be imagined as ‘unlock’. Just to be clear, ‘making one’ is the link from the dictionary definition to the ‘alt definition’ (‘one’ being the solver), and ‘to submit’ is being used in the sense of ‘to subject’.

9 Cheer about what occurs regularly in amour contest (9)
A seven-letter word for ‘cheer’ is put outside (‘about’) a couple of letters ‘regularly’ selected from the word ‘amour’.

11 Tears strip off coxes going wrong way holding speed round island (10)
The word ‘way’ in this clue is superfluous, and a little confusing. An anagram (‘going wrong’) of COXES is containing (‘holding’) a synonym for ‘speed’ which itself contains the usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘island’.

13 Intentionally disregarding small fish (4)
This is a craftily disguised double-definition clue, the first definition leading to a (2-2) solution.

15 King following dance, not active, a cumbersome fellow (4)
The king is the sort that might be associating with the bishop at 4, and he follows a four-letter dance more familiar in its 4-4 (if not 4/4) form, from which the usual abbreviation for ‘active’ has been removed.

18 Falconer’s charge, first in annual programme released (6)
A seven-letter word for a calendar which shows the whole year at a glance for scheduling purposes is deprived of its initial letter (‘first of…released’).

19 Feverfew we put in collected blossom (7)
The letters WE (from the clue) are put inside the five-letter past tense of a verb meaning ‘to collect blossom’ which rather than a ‘use by’ date has a ‘use only on’ date.

20 Cages for hawks or gulls (4)
Two relatively obscure definitions, but the second one happens to be the same as the noises typically associated with the birds in question.

21 Shopkeeper went bust, awful snag with end of trade admitted (9)
Slightly tricky to parse, the wordplay has an anagram (‘awful’) of the last letter (‘end’) of ‘trade’ plus SNAG admitted into an anagram (‘bust’) of WENT.

22 Once in the country, evidence of mirth is restricted in storm (9)
A four-letter dialect form of ‘once’ has something that is clear evidence of mirth ‘restricted’ within it. The wordplay would work better for me if either the comma or the word ‘is’ were omitted.

25 Scottish husky? It follows needs around (6)
The letters IT (from the clue) follow a reversal (‘around’) of a word meaning ‘needy’; the answer being a Scots word.

26 Rake’s unshod relaxing inside cabin (10)
A neat clue has an anagram (‘relaxing’) of UNSHOD inside a four-letter term for a rakehell.

27 Rock showing two features of golf course? (8)
The first feature would be found in a bunker (no, not another rake) and the second on the green.

28 Sea fish dries out, hurried inside (8)
An anagram (‘out’) of DRIES has a three-letter word meaning ‘hurried’ inside.

29 It indicates tatties below mash, awfu lacking in crust (4)
A wordplay which is more straightforward than it looks, a bit of ‘crust removal’ from the words separated by a comma being all that is required.

(definitions are underlined)

Click on a row/column to reveal the clues which relate to its entries.


Row 1 (8,4) Clues 14 and 24
Row 2 (10) Clue 26
Row 3 (6,6) Clues 32 and 12
Row 4 (4) Clue 29
Row 5 (7,5) Clues 33 and 36
Row 6 (9) Clue 9
Row 7 (9) Clue 21
Row 8 (5,7) Clues 8 and 17
Row 9 (4) Clue 35
Row 10 (6,6) Clues 18 and 3
Row 11 (10) Clue 1
Row 12 (4,8) Clues 13 and 7


Column 1 (4,8) Clues 16 and 27
Column 2 (10) Clue 10
Column 3 (6,4) Clues 6 and 30
Column 4 (6) Clue 31
Column 5 (5,7) Clues 34 and 19
Column  6 (9) Clue 22
Column 7 (9) Clue 2
Column 8 (7,5) Clues 4 and 23
Column 9 (6) Clue 25
Column 10 (4,6) Clues 15 and 5
Column 11 (10) Clue 11
Column 12 (8,4) Clues 28 and 20


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16 Responses

  1. Jim says:

    For once, I rated this easier than you did, although luck was definitely on my side. I was struggling with the 9/10 letter confusion, but got 21 quickly and realised there was only one place it would fit with the few shorter words I had. Bottom-left was the trickiest.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      It was tricky to assess the toughness relative to other puzzles, given that the real challenge was blind solving enough clues to be able to start filling the grid. Since the majority of the clues had to be solvable without checkers, if the cells and clues had been numbered normally it would not have rated as a particularly tough ‘plain’, but the extra dimension added considerably to the difficulty.

      Have you considered the possibility that you might be getting smarter?

  2. Steve says:

    I presume that in 29 “awfu” should be “awful”, though that would mean a lack of symmetry in the “crust”?

    • Doctor Clue says:

      I’m confident that “awfu”(a Scots intensifier, roughly equating to ‘very’) is intentional, the idea being that it and the ‘tatties’ should indicate by association the Scottishness of the solution. Examples of its use in the Scottish National Dictionary show it with an apostrophe at the end, but the Online Scots Dictionary gives it in the form here (together with the fine superlative ‘awfuest’). Personally, I would have chosen the alternative form ‘awfy’, which is favoured by Oor Wullie. I’m sure Azed didn’t mean ‘awful’ as that would mean that not just the last letter was missing but also the comma which would have needed to follow it – and as you say it would have unbalanced the ‘crust’.

      ‘Neither awfu’ nor ‘awfy’ is in Chambers, but if the word is simply contributing visible letters to the wordplay that isn’t a problem.

      • Tim Coates says:

        In the 2014 edition awfy is an entry, but awfu isn’t.
        Also, I wonder if I was the only one to initially have Rose instead of Rhus for 24, brose being something like porridge.

        • Doctor Clue says:

          Hi Tim

          Thanks for that – I had been looking for awfu/awfy in the 2003 Chambers* (and not finding either), but I’m pleased to learn that ‘awfy’ is in the latest edition, given that it is heard far more often north of the Border than most of the Scotticisms in Chambers. I don’t have a problem with ‘awfu’ being used in this clue, but the fact that ‘awfy’ appears in Chambers surely makes it the better choice.

          *I do have WordWeb Pro with Chambers 2014 on my PC, but I just find my old ‘Chambers on CD-ROM’ (9th edition) so much easier to use.

          Regarding 24, I think I’d already got ROOPIT for 25, so ROSE wouldn’t have been an option. Four of the five words in the clue work well for ROSE, but ‘cooking’ to indicate BROSE would be much too vague, I feel, even in a plain puzzle.

  3. Sid says:

    Interesting challenge, benefitted from my usual 24 hour rest to get enough confidence to start filling the grid. A satisfying solve bar a couple of dodgy definitions.

    Incidentally your clue to 1) should have the numeration (10) not (4).

    Thank you for your blogs.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Sid, and welcome to the blog.

      Sounds like a good technique, empirically proven to be efficacious! Thanks for pointing out the error, now corrected – my template gives every answer a length of 4, so if there’s going to be a problem that’s how it’s likely to manifest itself.

  4. Hazel Ellis says:

    My husband and I initially thought this would be impossible, but once we’d got the answer to 10, we slowly began to fill things in that corner. The alphabetically listed answers certainly helped. We managed to complete the puzzle with no cheats at all, although we hadn’t fully understood the clever double definition in 13, so thank you for setting us straight on that one.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Hazel, and welcome to the blog

      Yes, the answer to 10 was the first one I wrote in. Not impossible by any means, but a tough puzzle, and completing it unaided is an achievement worthy of a celebratory drink…or cake…or even both.

  5. Much Puzzled says:

    Still struggling with this, but having cracked all four 10-letter solutions and one 9-letter answer, I found there were only 3 possibilities for the 10 and 9 letter intersections such that my 9-letter answer had to be one of the Across solutions. Knowing also that there was no 7-letter solution beginning with the second letter of my 9-letter answer, it was then possible to locate the correct position for it, such that two of the 10-letter answers fell into place.
    I have a long way to go and refuse to peek at any further hints, so will plod on regardless.
    The killer for me is Number 2 which I cannot disambiguate, even after you have corrected the letter count!

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Good luck! Let me know if you need any specific hints.

      • Much Puzzled says:

        A couple of hours later and I have actually managed to finish it – hurrah!
        As for Number 2 – well clearly my education was deficient in matters of marble; and “Corporation” was a toughie in 34!