Notes for Azed 2,623

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 2,623 Plain

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

The needle on the Difficultometer® went well past the halfway mark this week. There were several trademark Azed clues, and one or two which only he could possibly have got away with (22d – yes, I’m talking about you).

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 17a, “Red dye is one, when mixed (5)”. I’ve been solving a number of themed puzzles recently for blogging purposes, and I’ve encountered some anagram indicators that I didn’t care for at all (eg ‘sent’ and ‘stupid’). Generally speaking, I have no issues with Azed’s indicators, but I have a bit of a thing about ‘mixed’ on its own being applied to a single word or group of words. I just don’t that a single thing can be ‘mixed’ – I have no problem with ‘X mixed up’ or ‘X mixed with Y’. I think the get-out for Azed here is that he has always been of the opinion that a single series of words can govern a verb in the plural (ie ‘is one jumble’ can indicate an anagram of ‘is one’), so I guess he would argue that the words ‘is’ and ‘one’ can similarly be treated here as ‘is [and] one’, which makes ‘when mixed’ perfectly acceptable.

Across
11a Point in Ptolemaic system, as in variant of 10 (6)
A three-letter word meaning ‘as’ or ‘in the capacity of’ and taken straight from Latin makes its first appearance, inside an anagram (‘variant’) of the literal representation of ’10’. You could argue that this is an indirect anagram, and I suppose that technically you’d be right. Technically.

13a This horse I pen carelessly may be escaping (4)
A composite anagram, where the letters of the solution (‘this horse’) and I PEN can be rearranged (‘carelessly’) to form ESCAPING. The ‘horse’ is of a very different colour to the quadrupedal variety.

15a Cheese biscuit maybe Spooner’s swallowed with fizzy pop? (7)
Azed usually confines his Spoonerisms to the special puzzles devoted to the genre, but here he includes one in a plain puzzle. We have to put a word meaning ‘swallowed’ or ‘consumed’ together with the name of a particular fizzy drink that is ‘the Real Thing’, and apply the Spooner treatment to it.

16a Packs up loaves (5)
A double definition clue where neither is particularly easy; in the first sense the word would almost invariably be followed by ‘out’ in order to equate to ‘packs up’, and in the second sense we are looking at two slang terms, the one in the clue being Cockney rhyming slang via ‘loaf of bread’.

19a Poppet giving hint about somebody turned aside (10)
A five-letter word for an intuitive feeling (also given by Chambers as ‘hint’) contains a three-letter word for ‘somebody’ and a two-letter word for ‘aside’ which has been reversed (‘turned’).

23a Choir following words of old song stank (5)
The two-letter abbreviation for ‘choir’ is no problem, but it must be preceded by a three-letter archaism for the words of a song (put a -ty on the end and you have a more familiar word for a simple song), and the definition is based not on the past tense of ‘stink’ but on stank2 in Chambers.

24a With which ballet-dancer kicks off jump? (5)
An &lit, where the wordplay is a charade of the first letter of ‘ballet-dancer’ (ie ‘With which ballet dancer kicks off’) and a four-letter word meaning ‘jump’. The solution has an acute accent on the last letter, but diacritical marks are ignored in the language of the crossword.

29a Fragrant additive – some rock’s containing this, not half (9. 2 words)
A six-letter rock of the dark, igneous kind with an S on the end (“some rock’s”) is set around half of the word ‘this’. The solution is a familiar (4,5) term.

30a Stone square round Vincent’s home for a time – unlike his famous work? (8)
The normal abbreviations for ‘stone’ and ‘square’ (2 letters and 1 letter respectively) are set around the name of the city in France where Van Gogh lived for more than a year during 1888 and1889, and where his DIY ear surgery took place. The solution makes me, although probably no-one else, think of King Crimson, but relates also to Van Gogh’s painting executed in June 1889, depicting the view from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, just before sunrise, with the addition of an imaginary village. I hope you will excuse me for quoting a clue I wrote a few years ago, “Like Vincent’s night (large part of opening lines) (6)”.

31a Indication of some rock fan being bowled over? (4)
The question mark is a fair way away from the ‘fan’, but it is there to show that the latter is an indication by example, the word which must be reversed (‘bowled over’) to produce the answer being a fan specifically in the sense of a blade on a windmill. The solution is a term which could be applied to rocks that date to a certain period.

Down
1d Climber nipped by wingless fly complained (8)
The fly is a crossword regular, no wings and three letters, and it is the name given to various climbing plants of the pea family – itself often used to indicate the rather handy ‘ers’ in barred puzzles – which is contained (‘nipped’) by it to produce a word with an unusual combination of starting letters.

3d Grass turned up admitting need for bottle (7)
A three-letter word for an Ethiopian cereal grass is reversed (‘turned up’) around (‘admitting’) a familiar four-letter word meaning ”need’ or ‘deficiency’. There are two alternatives for the unchecked central letter, but one satisfies neither the wordplay nor the definition.

4d What waiters offer us after draughts? (5)
This clue could be viewed as an ‘offshoot &lit’, since the whole thing offers a definition of the answer (arguably no better than the first three words, though). The last three words constitute the wordplay, and very straightforward it is once you think about draughts being a game.

5d Fishy perhaps, as in a cubist’s doodle (10)
The second appearance of that three-letter Latin word for ‘in the capacity of’ (‘as’), here seen inside an anagram of A CUBIST. The indication of the anagram is rather strange.

8d Has wobbly movement? Not I! Not true if I’ve this (9)
This is not an &lit as such, rather a clue where the definition references the wordplay, an anagram (‘wobbly’) of HAS followed by a seven-letter word for ‘movement’ (which can on occasion be prefixed by tele-) from which the letter I has been removed (‘Not I’). The two negatives in the clue need to be taken into account, so Azed would indeed have wobbly movement if he had this.

14d Love to stretch out, hot, inside cover, one of many to be seen in tea plantation? (9, 2 words)
A charade of the usual abbreviation for ‘love’  a three-letter word meaning ‘to stretch out’, and the standard abbreviation for ‘hot’ is placed inside a four-letter word for a covering (perhaps of paint, maybe many-coloured), the result being a (6,3) item of headgear.

18d One undressed may turn red with this – O! (8)
This is effectively a composite anagram &lit, but I couldn’t bring myself to underline the ‘O!’ as it doesn’t contribute in any way to the definition. The letters of ONE UNDRESSED can be rearranged (‘may turn [into]’) RED plus the solution (‘this’) plus O.

22d Prone to sniffiness? John may make you this by the sound of it (6)
If you say out loud the word ‘you’ followed by the solution here, you will realize what sort of ‘john’ Azed is referring to.

24d Pro demanding money (5)
A second double definition clue, although I’m not sure that I like ‘demanding’ as a linking word. The pro is a fille de joie, and the money is the title of a 1980s sitcom featuring Timothy West.

25d Contraction gripping wife pressed from below (4)
Here you need to imagine a comma between ‘wife’ and ‘pressed’, so it is a three-letter word meaning ‘pressed’ (or ‘perched’) which is reversed (‘from below’) around (‘gripping’) the usual abbreviation for ‘wife’. The definition is certainly an unusual one – would ‘abbreviation’ be acceptable as a definition of USSR?

(definitions are underlined)

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10 Responses

  1. Mike Thomas says:

    Finished, thanks. Not so easy though. 24d has a 5 letter solution, not 4.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Thanks, Mike – my template has all the enumerations as ‘(4)’, and while I usually pick up my sins of omission during a pre-publication check, that one slipped through! Now fixed.

      I almost rated the difficulty of the puzzle as 4/5, but the absence of any really tough clues held me back. Overall, though, I’m not sure that 4 would have been excessive.

  2. Daron Fincham says:

    Thanks for explaining 8d

  3. Hazel says:

    Hello there again.

    Thank you for the blog, which has cleared up some of our queries. However, we are still struggling to understand 21 down. We have a word which fits, meaning “a bristle” but don’t understand the cryptic part. Could you help please?

    We really struggled with this puzzle today, to the point of not enjoying it much!

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Hazel

      I thought it was a very tricky puzzle, with no easy ways in to certain areas.

      Regarding 21d, the wordplay involves a word meaning ‘dressed’ (or ‘secured with a belt or girdle’) reversed (‘up’) inside the usual abbreviation for ‘sex appeal’ (ie ‘it’, the quality ascribed to Clara Bow, star of the 1927 film ‘It’ and subsequently known as ‘The It Girl’). The ‘Being’ at the start is there purely for the benefit of the surface reading and should be ignored (I’d rather that is wasn’t there at all). Hope that helps!

  4. Steve says:

    In your introduction, I think you may have been ‘talking about’ 22d rather than 23d.

  5. 🍊 says:

    Ta – just needed the uncrossed letter in 16A!

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