Notes for Azed 2,618
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 2,618 Plain
Difficulty rating: (2.5 / 5)
I thought this one sat fair and square in the middle of the difficulty spectrum. One or two tricky clues were balanced out by a generous serving of hiddens and straightforward anagrams.
Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clues 12a, “Tsotsi, artful, hugging stunner given latitude (6)”, and 29d, “Orderly schoolkids cut pot (4)”. In each instance, solvers must identify abbreviated or shortened words indicated in the clue: in 12a, ‘stunner’=>KO, and in 29d, ‘orderly schoolkids’=>croc. In my view, this can only be valid if the abbreviated form itself has the required meaning, eg ‘jewellery’ is fine for TOM (rhyming slang for ‘tomfoolery’) but ‘foolish behaviour’ is not. I was doubtful about both the clues here, but a quick check in the OED showed a couple of examples which put the second clue in the clear, including this one from Josephine Tey:
An ordinary sort of girl, after all. Not the sort you would notice in a croc.
The first one, however, is a stretch – Chambers gives KO as an abbreviation for ‘knockout’ or ‘knock out’, and as a verb and noun with exactly the same meanings. But while I would have no problem with ‘stunner’ for ‘knockout’ (in the ‘Cor what a stunner!’ sense), or indeed ‘stun’ for KO, a KO is not a stunning blow (that would be a ‘knockout blow’) and therefore I don’t think that ‘stunner’ is a valid indication of KO.
1a Anything Scottish showing style, first to last (5)
A five-letter word for ‘style’ (particularly a characteristic one, often associated with artists) has its first letter moved to the end (‘first to last’).
10a Bachelor careless about desk as container for articles not currently needed (9)
A two-letter abbreviation for a particular sort of ‘Bachelor’ and a three-letter word meaning ‘careless’ are set around (‘about’) a four-letter desk, which I think of specifically as a type of pulpit. The solution is hyphenated (6-3), the first word being journalistic slang for paragraphs of merit only for filling up the columns of a newspaper or magazine (from the name of the false prophet in Numbers 22-24).
12a Tsotsi, artful, hugging stunner given latitude (6)
Here we have a three-letter word meaning ‘artful’ containing (‘hugging’) a two-letter abbreviation for a word which can mean ‘[a] stunner’ and the usual abbreviation for ‘latitude’.
13a Mugs for fresh brew (5)
In this double-definition clue ‘mugs’ could be a noun or a verb, although in the verb form it is usually combined with ‘up’. The second definition leads to a Scots term.
16a Regarding golf shot, one going in, I have supposed (10)
The standard bit of commercial jargon for ‘regarding’ is followed by the sort of golf shot which would be made considerably more difficult if the hole had been filled with concrete, into which a single-letter word for ‘one’ has been inserted (‘one going in’); a shortened form of ‘I have’ brings up the rear.
24a Foreign birds creating match with coating switched (4)
A word meaning ‘[to] match’ has its first and last letters exchanged (‘with coating switched’) to produce some birds which you would surely be disappointed not to see on a trip with the former Thomson Airways.
25a Means of examining altered plans involving courtyard (10)
An anagram (‘altered’) of PLANS is put around (‘involving’) a word for the sort of courtyard that might be home to your barbie (or Charlie oven if you’re really in the vanguard of alfresco culinary fashion).
31a Screed maybe I loaded into truck (6)
The letter I (from the clue) is ‘loaded into’ a synonym for truck2 in Chambers, as in the truck system (whereby goods were supplied in lieu of wages) and (less obviously) the phrase ‘to have no truck with’. The OED gives one meaning of screed as ‘a harangue’, which combined with the ‘maybe’ serves to make the definition fair.
1d Bort’s mixed with another stone, nothing American (vulgarly loud?) (12)
An anagram of BORTS is followed by a four-letter [gem]stone, the usual representation of ‘nothing’, and a two-letter abbreviation for ‘American’. The solution is a non-standard spelling of a familiar word – it may be tempting to enter the common form, but there is no justification for it in the wordplay. Incidentally, I’m not overkeen on ‘mixed’ alone being used as an anagram indicator when applied to a single word or group of words – ‘<word> mixed up’ yes, <word> mixed with <word>’, yes, but ‘<word> mixed’, not for me.
The word Bort is inextricably bound together in my mind with the Simpsons’ visit to Itchy and Scratchy Land where Bart cannot find a novelty licence (or license, if you insist) plate with his name on.
2d/3d Pound the beat, as copper with Lord Mayor regularly intervening… (5) / …Appearing under hat, mostly straw (4)
When Azed includes ‘connecting’ ellipses in a pair of clues, you can be confident that some element of the first clue will be shared with the second. Here it is the Lord Mayor, whose two-letter abbreviation not only provides letters 2 and 4 (‘regularly intervening’) of the entry at 2d but also follows ‘hat’ without its last letter (‘hat, mostly’) in the wordplay for 3d.
4d Show off whirling atlatl’s like…i.e. unleashed (8)
I’m not quite sure how one is meant to interpret the surface reading here, but Azed clearly felt that “atlatl’s” rather than “atlatl” was required. This means that the wordplay must be interpreted as “an anagram (‘whirling’) of ATLATL contains (‘has’, shortened to “‘s”) LIKE [with] IE omitted (‘unleashed’)”.
5d Sedative that cuts a pain (6)
A two-letter abbreviation for ‘that’ as used by early printers, along similar lines to ye representing ‘the’, is inserted into (‘cuts’) the letter A (from the clue) and a three-letter word for ‘pain’ or ‘sickness’ taken directly from the French language.
7d Church primate to the French, in his mitre? (7)
A charade of three elements in a (2,3,2) formation leads to another French (hence the ‘his’) word, exemplified (hence the question mark) by a mitre.
11d Cabin No. 3 gives this accommodation (5)
A ‘hidden’, but not as we know it. The hiding-place (which gives ‘this’ – ie the solution – accommodation) first has to be revealed by changing an abbreviation and a figure into words.
17d Violet, possibly a Scot with meagre English (8)
A three-letter first name often indicated in crosswords by ‘Scotsman’ or the like is followed by a four-letter word for ‘meagre’ and the usual abbreviation for ‘English’.
22d Old watch in lazar-house losing time (5)
In 2,614 we had “Time kept by watch formerly in old clinic (6)”, and here we have the companion piece in which the time must be lost rather than kept.
23d Master letting wowser in, making allowances (6)
I don’t know if Azed has used ‘wowser’ before to indicate a fanatical opponent of intoxicating drink, but I don’t recall it. Anyway, the two-letter wowser is ‘let in’ to a South African term for a master or overseer, the result being allowances in addition to ordinary pay.
26d They get to work after rumination, when a way of working comes up (5)
A reversed (‘comes up’) charade of a two-letter word for ‘when’, A (from the clue), and a two-letter abbreviation for a ‘way of working’ often used by the police in TV series (and probably in real life as well).
(definitions are underlined)