Notes for Azed 2,622
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 2,622 Plain
Difficulty rating: (2.5 / 5)
This struck me as being a puzzle of average difficulty which in terms of entertainment was also around the middle of the Azed spectrum. There were a couple of minor errors, but nothing that should have spoiled the enjoyment of solving it.
Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 14a, “Like devout Muslim, endlessly, if such after conversion (5)”. Nothing too difficult about this clue, an anagram (‘after conversion’) of IF SUCH missing the last letter (‘endlessly’). But hang on! If the clue read “…in such, endlessly”, this interpretation would be correct. Surely “…endlessly, if such” tell us that it is the word ‘if’ which is to be deprived of its end? In favour of Azed’s construction, ‘if such’ is a single phrase, and its elements are not separated by any punctuation marks; if we are happy with ‘rather rare in the middle’ in 13a then we certainly shouldn’t have a problem with it. I think it’s fine, although personally I wouldn’t be entirely satisfied with “Endlessly, lad is seen drifting, devoid of purpose” for IDEALESS, but the issue is very easily fixed by moving the ‘endlessly’ after the word ‘seen’.
11a Personal article? Fool’s beginning at the end (4)
A word for a fool, or at least someone who’s not the sharpest bend in the road, has the first letter moved to the end (‘beginning at the end’) to produce a hyphenated (2-2) abbreviation used in journalistic circles.
12a Keep on about repair, men needed (4)
A seven-letter word for ‘repair’ has the letters MEN removed (‘men needed’), the result being a verb that means ‘to instil by constant repetition’, probably more familiar in its alternative form without the closing letter.
13a Hamburger’s additive often, rather rare in the middle (4)
Not my favourite clue by any means – the wordplay is straightforward, and the term Hamburger is indeed used to describe a native of Hamburg, but the word ‘additive’ has a very specific meaning, and it isn’t the one that’s required here.
18a Sandwich made with e.g. kipper involving oven (7)
Since I had just tucked into two slices of Warburton’s finest (nicely browned, with butter and home-made marmalade), the answer here leapt readily into my mind. The wordplay has an item of attire which might be prefixed by the word ‘kipper’ containing (‘involving’) the sort of oven once much housed in Kent and Sussex.
23a Enter (dropping in), frequently breaking extremities from behind (7, 2 words)
A three-letter word for ‘frequently’ of the largely poetic kind is inserted into (‘breaking’) a word for those extremities which are themselves attached to the lower extremities, and the whole lot is then reversed (‘from behind’). Since ‘Enter’ is not synonymous with the answer, but rather with the answer when followed by ‘in’, the ‘(dropping in)’ is there to redress the balance.
30a African minstrel expending love within? It was true on screen (4)
Those with even a passing knowledge of John Wayne’s cinematic performances will probably have got the answer before working out the name of the African minstrel who has surrendered the usual single-character representation of ‘love’ (‘expending love within’) to produce the word needed to accompany ‘True’ in the title of a 1969 film.
34a Maid, around end, awfully lined, showing resolve (12)
A three-letter (obsolete or dialect) word for a dairymaid contains (‘around’) both a four-letter, er, word for an end and an anagram (‘awfully’) of LINED.
2d Spun pulu found in flax, yielding sedative (8)
Here we have an anagram (‘spun’) of PULU inside an obsolete (though not flagged as such) word for flax which I always forget (it could also be indicated by ‘thread’). Whether the answer can legitimately be defined by ‘sedative’ (or ‘yielding sedative’) is a moot point – Chambers gives the solution only as an adjective, the meaning of which is clarified by OED as ‘resembling a bunch of hops’, so that’s no good, but OED also shows it as an alternative spelling of the seven-letter noun, so it’s probably just about ok.
3d Old Scottish porter judge preferred to English (5)
The 18th century Scottish porter makes regular appearances in crosswords, and we assemble him here by putting a four-letter word for a magistrate in Muslim countries on top of the usual abbreviation for ‘English’. I’m not particularly keen on ‘preferred to’ being used to mean ‘set ahead of’, but it’s certainly not unfair.
4d Non-religious believer avoiding our circuitous path around lives (5)
Here’s we have one of those missing commas. Well, actually we don’t have it, but it needs to be imagined between ‘our’ and ‘circuitous’, such that the wordplay translates as a word for a circuitous route, missing the letters OUR (‘avoiding our’), being set around a two-letter word meaning ‘lives’.
8d Mouldy old tart woman scrapped (4)
A five-letter tart (of the fille de joie variety) has a single-letter abbreviation for ‘woman’ removed (‘scrapped’). This is an abbreviation known only to Azed, and one which he uses surprisingly often – the legitimate abbreviation is for ‘women’ or “women’s”, in a clothing context. As here, ‘wife’ is almost invariably a sound alternative.
15d Member of wind section hit seventh note in vivace (9)
An informal three-letter word for ‘hit’ (also meaning ‘obtain’) and the seventh note in the scale according to Julie Andrews are contained by an approximate translation of the Italian ‘vivace’. I think ‘veloce’ might be more accurate, but it wouldn’t work in the surface reading.
22d Writing I’m assigned to brought up what links religion and the law (6)
The two-letter abbreviation frequently indicated by ‘writing’ in Azed puzzles is followed by the letters IM (from the clue) and a preposition meaning ‘assigned to’, the entire charade being reversed (‘brought up’) to provide the solution.
25d Like old undyed cloth, say, in mostly pale or dull (5)
The two-letter abbreviation often used to mean ‘say’ is contained by a word meaning ‘grey’ or ‘dull’ from which the last letter has been dropped (‘mostly’). I think the inclusion of ‘old’ is an error – although fabrics are not exactly my thing, I believe that the word is in current use.
26d Where was he? Laying lines in track (5)
The two-letter abbreviation for ‘lines’ is contained by a three-letter word for a track, the result being the name of a bobble-hatted character created by Martin Handford. In the US, he has a different name, which shares the first three letters. Finding him became progressively harder – in the first book he occupied on average a whopping one square centimetre (or thereabouts), but by the fourth book he had been reduced to a miserly 0.2 cm2, while the number of surrounding characters had increased nearly fourfold.
28d Put down-payment on grass by outside shed (4)
A comma needs to be mentally added between ‘grass’ and ‘by’, since a six-letter word for a type of grass must lose the peripheral letters BY (‘by outside shed’).
(definitions are underlined)