Notes for Azed 2,625

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 2,625 Plain

Difficulty rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

This puzzle seemed to me to sit very close to the middle of the difficulty spectrum. A 13×11 grid, which is by no means unusual for Azed, although the presence of two three-letter words came as more of a surprise. Some nice clues in there, though perhaps nothing truly outstanding.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 29d, “Disciple holds one up in sanctum sanctorum (4)”. Nothing too difficult about the wordplay, a three-letter synonym for ‘disciple’ being put around A (‘one’) and the whole lot reversed (‘up’). It’s very rarely that I select an Azed clue in order to demonstrate a trap for setters that Azed has himself fallen into, but here we have an instance – ‘Disciple holds one’ is fine for SOAN, but as the clue is worded the ‘up’ can only refer to the ‘one’ (not the whole lot) and since a reversal of A is still A, ‘Disciple holds one up’ also leads to SOAN. In order for the ‘up’ to refer to the result of the preceding elements, a participle phrase is required, so here the clue needs to read ‘Disciple holding one up in sanctum sanctorum’.

Across
12a Jock’s husky, no good when fed nothing (5)
A four-letter word meaning ‘no good’ (or at least ‘bad of its kind’) is ‘fed’ (contains) the usual single-character representation of ‘nothing’.

14a Former commander at sea, one having pain trapping his foreign counterpart (7)
A single-letter word for ‘one’ and a three-letter (French) word for pain are put around (‘trapping’) a term for a Muslim ruler or commander, ie the counterpart of the ‘commander’ (but nothing to do with ‘Former’ or ‘at sea’).

16a Monkey? One accepted in place of clue (4)
You could argue that this is an &lit of sorts, although I wouldn’t be inclined to agree. The wordplay references the definition ‘Monkey’, wherein a three-letter word meaning ‘clue’ must be replaced by…well, it could be a single-letter word for ‘one’ or the usual abbreviation for ‘accepted’, take your pick. I would have preferred “One’s accepted’ to “One accepted”.

17a Beside river in spate? Less than half – but it’s fairly high (3)
A short answer, but a lengthy clue featuring a definition preceded by two wordplays, the first a charade of a two-letter word meaning ‘beside’ and the standard abbreviation for ‘river’, the second involving a seven-letter word for a spate or rushing stream losing its last four letters (‘less than half’).

22a Learner lacking in courage making pass (5)
The usual abbreviation for ‘Learner’ is removed from (‘lacking in’) a slang term for courage.

28a Cold wind returning, accounting for young pampas creature (4)
The usual abbreviation for ‘cold’ is followed by a three-letter word for ‘wind’ (particularly a light breeze) which has been reversed (‘returning’). The solution does not feature in some earlier editions of Chambers.

29a Secluded spot, acceptable after retiring certainly (4)
Here we have a two-letter informal word meaning (among many other things) ‘acceptable’ reversed (‘after retiring’), plus another informal word meaning ‘certainly’ .Parsing this clue may be made a little trickier by the fact that the second word can mean both ‘acceptable’ and ‘certainly’.

31a Trouble cutting off furlong round Grand Canyon (5)
A five-letter word for ‘trouble’ with the usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘furlong’ removed (‘cutting off furlong’) is put round a single-character abbreviation for 1,000 (‘Grand’). I will leave the reader to decide whether a ‘grand’ and the abbreviation here come to the same thing (but I think that in common usage they probably do).

Down
1d Old Harry, eccentric, that may reveal winning number (11, 2 words)
A charade made up of another name (one of many) for the Devil (‘Old Harry’) and a four-letter term for an eccentric. The solution is actually given by Chambers as a single word.

3d African people turned up round edge of equator (5)
A four-letter word meaning ‘turned’ is reversed (‘up’) around the first letter (‘edge’) of the word ‘equator’.

4d Making awkward progress dropping bling – it’s not real (4)
A nine-letter word for ‘making awkward progress’ has the letters BLING removed (‘dropping bling’). I can’t escape the feeling that a little more polishing might have produced a really nice clue here, but I could be wrong.

5d Mother and children lacking nothing on which games are played (7)
A three-letter term for a mother is followed by a five-letter word for ‘children’ from which the usual one-letter representation of ‘nothing’ has been extracted (‘lacking nothing’), the result being a word derived from the Dutch language for the setting of a jeu de dames, and one which I don’t remember coming across before.

6d Franco-US artist supplied by fellow serving drinks (not his first) (5)
My knowledge of the art world is not extensive, and it certainly didn’t encompass the artist born Armand Fernandez in 1928 who, according to his Wikipedia entry, ‘moved from using objects for the ink or paint traces they leave (cachets, allures d’objet) to using them as the artworks themselves. He is best known for his Accumulations and destruction/recomposition of objects.’ Suffice to say that I won’t be investigating his back catalogue.

8d Raptor having a catch under wing (6)
A (from the clue) and a three-letter word meaning ‘[to] catch’ follow an American term for a wing of a building that has a particular shape.

13d Some cows’ll follow you wanting nothing – like a rash? (6)
A Scots word for ‘cows’ that is no stranger to the barred crossword follows the letters YOU from which that familiar representation of ‘nothing’ (for the third time of asking) has been removed. Note that Azed has (as you would expect) avoided the trap of writing ‘Some cows follow’, since in order for the wordplay to be grammatically sound this would have to be ‘Some cows follows’; the future tense, where the singular and plural forms are indistinguishable, once more comes to the rescue.

19d Typical of theologian, allowing some obscurity (7)
A three-letter shortened form of a six-letter word meaning ‘allowing’ is followed by a meteorological phenomenon that (perhaps when viewed through itself) might just about mean ‘obscurity’.

(definitions are underlined)

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6 Responses

  1. Daron Fincham says:

    I often have to Google the names of historically real people that I am unfamiliar with in AZED puzzles. Just wonder why on this occasion he has mentioned that a proper name is to go in the grid when the clue so obviously requires that. More often he never alerts us to the fact that there are proper names among the solutions.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Daron

      It’s an interesting point that you make.

      Azed generally goes out of his way to alert solvers to answers which may be hard to find in Chambers, eg when a two-word phrase is listed under its second element. With proper nouns, the accepted convention in barred puzzles is…that there isn’t an accepted convention, not least because historically there has been no suitable auxiliary reference which would span, say, cities in Italy, characters in Shakespeare and classical composers. So generally proper nouns are not flagged, on the basis that Rome, Lear and Beethoven will be known to all.

      Here he clearly felt that the name would not be widely known (I think he was right) and that even the ‘Franco-US’ qualification was not sufficient. I’ve not known him namecheck Google before, but he has in the past referred to solutions that could be ‘verified on the Internet’. And in 2,415, for example. he stated that ‘Two proper names may be unfamiliar to some’, these being the poet Dannie ABSE and the biscuit OREO.

      The other point of interest is that at long last the principal reference has been updated from Chambers (2014), the one from which a number of words were accidentally omitted, to Chambers(2016), the printing with these words reinstated.

  2. Tim Coates says:

    I found this fairly straightforward but I’m still puzzled at how “beside” is a definition for 17 across, or does it define the first 2 letters followed by the usual single letter abbreviation for river?

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Tim

      Whoops – not sure what I was thinking of when I wrote that one up! You are quite right, I meant ‘two wordplays and one definition’ rather than vice versa. Now corrected, thanks.

      • Tim Coates says:

        In that case, is river doing double duty? Grammar is not my best suit. Chambers has the 7 letter word as “n. a rushing stream” and “in spate” as “(of a river) in a swollen, fast flowing condition”. Doesn’t ‘in spate’ need to be qualified by ‘river’ to mean the 7 letter word?

        • Doctor Clue says:

          I’m confident that Azed intended ‘spate’ alone to represent the 7-letter word, with a pause implied between ‘river’ and ‘in’, the latter being a passive part of the second wordplay. The double wordplay is meant I think to equate to something along the lines of

          [The solution is given by] ‘beside river’ [and is also] in ‘spate – less than half’

          ‘In spate’ would certainly not work as an indication of the 7-letter word