Notes for Azed 2,621

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 2,621 Plain

Difficulty rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

A plain puzzle that I thought was significantly above the midpoint of the difficulty spectrum and featured one clue that I would suggest was bordering on unsolvable without any checked letters – I would have upped the difficulty rating except that once the three checkers were in place it became a lot easier.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 17a, “Fellow with little English cheated (4)”. The point I wanted to make here is that as a setter you should look wherever possible to avoid the obvious treatment of a word (apart from anything else, the chances are it’s been clued that way before). Here there is a concise but dull three-worder, “Fellow English cheated”, but Azed has chosen to give us extra information about the scam, adding ‘with’ to join the wordplay elements and  using ‘little English’ to indicate the abbreviation, both perfectly legitimate. The result is a clue which is parsed identically but offers a much more interesting story.

12a Waste dump, upper surface on fire (6)
A 3+3 wordplay, with the second element element invariably being seen followed by ‘up’ and meaning ‘angry’ or ‘irritated’.

13a Everyone stays for personality, objectively? (6)
If everyone stays, it’s clear that…(4,2). The solution is hyphenated, 3-3, and is the sort of word that I try very hard not to include in my own puzzles because defining it in a clue-friendly way is basically impossible. Fair play to Azed – he’s done his best!

14a Gardener’s first novel bud (5)
The first letter from ‘Gardener’ is followed by the title of a novel – although there are a lot of novels out there, there aren’t too many that are (i) famous enough to feature in a puzzle, and (ii) have titles of just four letters. Actually, I can only think of this one.

18a Stable placed in grassy field, as is deliberate (8)
A four-letter word meaning ‘safe’ or ‘secure’ is placed inside a word for a grassy field, the poetic form of a six-letter term rather less conducive to versification. I couldn’t decide whether ‘as is’ could legitimately be part of the definition – it perhaps could, but it certainly doesn’t need to be.

23a Slogan relative with love inserted in part of threadwork (8, 2 words)
This is a tricky one, made easier by consulting Chambers with regard to both ‘slogan’ and ‘relative’; the latter is found to have a meaning of ‘a relative pronoun’, and it is the obvious three-letter relative pronoun which has the usual representation of ‘love’ inserted, before the combination is itself placed inside a four-letter word for ‘the threads stretched out lengthways in a loom’ (and a factor familiar to all Star Trek fans). The solution is (3.5), and immediately makes me (but almost certainly no-one else) think of Basil Brush’s stories of ‘Des P Rado’, and specifically the song (“He’s a brave, brave man” “Who?” “Des P Rado”) containing the line “And everywhere you go you’ll hear his *** *****”. Which in turn reminds me of the cartoon showing Basil being grilled by a member of airport security staff who is telling him “You say popular catchphrase, we say bomb threat.”

25a One such (though not born abroad!) (4)
I did wonder whether part of this clue was missing, the intended version being perhaps something along the lines of “Leading mobster? One such (though not born abroad!)”, I eventually concluded that since it works as it stands (after a fashion, at least), this probably is how Azed meant it to appear. Probably. But I’m sure it will draw some comment from solvers and will be mentioned in the Slip! Anyway, the surname of Alphonse Gabriel, sometimes known as ‘Scarface’, and probably the most famous organized crime boss of them all  (ie ‘one such’) loses the two-letter French word for ‘born’ (ie ‘not born abroad’) to produce a term for…an organized crime boss. If you got that one without checkers, you must be Azed!

29a What’ll demonstrate such attainment? By its sound, a musical group will, briefly (8)
As you may know, homophones are not my thing, but this was an entertaining one. A musical group is ‘a choir’ and ‘will, briefly’ is “‘ll”.

33a Group of stars to perform touring Carmen? (5)
I have a strong feeling that Azed has previously used ‘Carmen’ to indicate a group of people who provide a breakdown service for motorists, but I’d forgotten and therefore had to work it out all over again. In the wordplay there is a two-letter word meaning ‘perform’ containing (‘touring’) them. I don’t at all like ‘touring’ as a containment indicator, as there is no way that it has any sense of containment; ‘touring’ an area might mean travelling round it, but not in the required sense.

4d Major flow of water in Scots gully (5)
A clue with two definitions, the first referring to a ‘major flow’ that passes through France and Switzerland and the second to a gully on Scottish roof.

6d Bit of wood on old rocker (5)
A three-letter word for a ‘bit of wood’ (a reasonably substantial one) is followed by an old form of the word ‘on’ (‘on old’), differing only in its first letter. The answer is a rocking (but not rolling) stone.

8d Chaps captivated came across love token (7)
At minimum there surely has to be a comma between ‘captivated’ and ‘came’ in order to make the wordplay sound. I appreciate that it’s hard to make the surface reading work with elements used here, but “Chaps captivated came across” doesn’t for me indicate that a three-letter  word for ‘came across’ contains a three-letter word for ‘chaps’; “With chaps captivated, came across…” would be fine. Anyway, the whole lot is followed by the representation of ‘love’ already seen at 23a.

11d Don’t stop silly name being applied to saccharin (4)
I quite like this sort of clue, although I’ve found that crossword editors are generally less keen – the definition is sandwiched between two wordplays, the first being a (2,2) phrase meaning ‘”don’t stop” and the second having the usual abbreviation for ‘name’ being attached to the end of (‘applied to’) a three-letter word for sentimentality of the sickliest kind (‘saccharin’).

20d Martinets giving student hostel a going-over with head around (7)
Probably best not to analyse the wordplay too closely, but it’s clear that we need to put a reversal (‘going-over’) of a four-letter informal term for a communal sleeping-room (eg in a boarding school) inside a crossword staple that can be applied to either a headland or an Ethiopian prince (I guess context will usually indicate which meaning is intended).

22d Scottish snob unfashionable in his taste (6)
If you say “Snobs” to a group of regular Azed solvers, they will reply “Cobblers!”, and they will of course be correct. Here a three-letter word meaning ‘unfashionable’ is contained by  a Scottish (‘his’) word meaning ‘taste’ or ‘savour’, the result being one spelling of the Scots word for a cobbler.

24d Bantu woman’s one ‘eld in ‘igh esteem (6)
Why, you ask yourself, has Azed used ‘woman’ rather than “woman’s”? The answer is because the first element of the wordplay indicates a word meaning “[that] woman’s”, while the second part requires the aitch to be dropped (by analogy) from a term for someone ‘eld in very ‘igh esteem (of the sort Bonnie Tyler felt it worth ‘olding out for).

27d Lowers 50% of sail in vessel (5)
This one has &lit overtones, the last 50% of ‘sail’ being inserted into a three-letter word for a vessel, tube or duct (often with medical connotations) to produce a word which relates to the lowering of a sail.

(definitions are underlined)

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4 Responses

  1. Russ Bee says:

    The answer to 21d is clear but an element is not a compound unless I have missed something in the clue.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Russ, and welcome to the blog

      I was highly dubious about this one at first – my knowledge of chemistry may have faded with the passage of (many) years, but I know that the symbol for tungsten derives from its alternative name wolframium. What I hadn’t realised was that ‘wolfram’ was originally the name of a mineral (also known as wolframite), and was subsequently applied to the element extracted from it, already known as tungsten or tungstenum. So wolfram the compound and tungsten(um) the element came first, followed by wolfram the element. As Sir Humphry Davy wrote:

      “Tungstenum is obtained from a mineral known by the name of wolfram.”

      The entry in Chambers confirms the ‘compound’ sense.

  2. Cait says:

    With crossing letters and wordplay 22d could only be what it was – my mistake was assuming I knew what a snob was!

    11d became obvious from crossing letters and first part of wordplay but I couldn’t find a definition. My known universe has now collapsed – I thought definition HAD to be beginning or end – don’t think I’ve ever seen this done before. Is it just AZED or do others sometimes perform such deviousness?

    I gave up on 25a as nothing that fitted made sense to me – annoying to have one blank square!

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Regarding ‘definition sandwich’ clues, I think the risk of encountering one exists only in Azed, and possibly Mephisto. Crossword editors generally don’t seem keen on this type of clue, or on the ‘triple definition’, another variation that occasionally pops up in Azed. Since Azed puzzles aren’t edited as such, he can do pretty much what he likes – as witnessed by 25a which, while clever, was to my mind just too difficult in the form in which it appeared. I’ll be interested to see what the great man himself has to say about it!