Notes for Azed 2,626

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 2,626 Plain

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

Another one that struck me as being very close to the middle of the difficulty range. The four 12-letter solutions crossing at the centre of the grid were an unusual feature, while the clues were for the most part an entertaining set including a couple of ‘&lits’. Even more unusual was the touch of wit in an unexpected place, the emboldened guidance section (does this bit at the foot of the puzzle which includes the recommended reference have an accepted name? If so, I don’t know what it is).

Note that there is a minor error in the clue for 2d (apparently confined to the online version), which should read ‘Trebles I placed under training of parson’.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 20d, “See carpet in hall for what’s spilt from salad bowl? (7)”. The wordplay has a three-letter word for a carpet inside the Latin word for a hall, but the point of interest here is the definition, “what’s spilt from salad bowl?”. The question mark suggests that this definition isn’t going to be found in a dictionary, and indeed the solution is simply a synonym for rocket, the herb found in many a Mediterranean salad. But in the salad, right, not spilt from it? Azed has taken something of a liberty here in order to enhance the surface reading, and I can’t help feeling that he’s gone a little too far – “what’s in salad bowl?’ or the like would be fine, but I think the ‘spilt’ thing goes beyond what is acceptable and would I believe be rejected by any barred puzzle editor.

1a Get the better of, where love is involved? (5)
An &lit to get things under way, with a four-letter word meaning ‘get the better of’ containing the usual single-character representation of ‘love’ (‘where love is involved’).

12a Grande passion, a trap for Jock with four involved (8, 2 words)
One that, like myself, you may well get from the definition and the last part of the wordplay, this in its entirety being a charade of A (from the clue), a three-letter Scots word for a mouth (‘trap for Jock’, not to be confused with a jockstrap), and an anagram (‘involved’) of FOUR. The solution is divided (5,3).

13a What’ll make you go dizzy, knocked back? (4)
Here’s the second &lit, the solution being a reversal (‘knocked back’) of something that would make you go dizzy.

14a Ship’s timber, fine bottom but not bow (7)
The usual abbreviation for ‘fine’ is followed by a word for a bottom (or at least a part thereof) from which the first letter has been removed (‘not bow’). The solution is permanently linked in my mind with the title of the 1970 comedy film written by and starring Ronnie Barker, which contains minimal dialogue but multitudinous sound effects, many of them rather coarse.

16a Boat people identifiable by a few short lines (5)
A double definition clue, the solving of which depends on you being familiar with either the boat-dwelling population of Canton or the Japanese verse form consisting of five lines and thirty-one syllables; those steeped in the language of the barred crossword may well know both.

18a Chapel: see one go here after church (7)
A nicely-disguised wordplay, which has a two-letter word for ‘one’  and a three-letter word for ‘[a] go’ following an abbreviation for ‘church’.

22a A little bit astray, he’s inside – one won’t be cured (12, 2 words)
A four-letter word for ‘a little bit’ is followed by a six-letter word meaning ‘astray’ into which the letters HE have been inserted (“he’s inside”). The solution is (5,7).

27a Business, one that’s died, parts relocated (5)
A five-letter word for something that is dead or ruined beyond recovery has its first three letters exchanged with its last two (‘parts relocated’).

29a Grand jug, feature of crest, purple (5)
The usual abbreviation for ‘Grand’ is followed by a word for a type of Greek wine jug

34a Cancel from bequest a reward reversed (5)
One of those clues where both the solution and one wordplay element are relatively obscure – the letter A (from the clue) is followed by a reversal of a word for ‘reward’ or ‘what is bestowed for merit’, giving a legal term meaning ‘to revoke the bequest of (a legacy etc)’.

5d Ambitious climber, not on watch, about to freeze (12)
A three-letter word for ‘not on’ and a six-letter word for a type of watch that has a case to protect the glass in the event of a fall from one’s horse are set around a word meaning ‘to freeze’. The solution is hyphenated, (6-6), and is not a term I remember coming across previously.

10d Rachmanite, wretch trapping tiresome fool, see, had up (8)
The wordplay here has a three-letter ‘wretch’ containing (‘trapping’) a four-letter slang term for an irritating fool together with the letter of the alphabet represented by ‘see’. 

11d Sweet wine: see message on gift to Katharine? (5)
One is asked to imagine the two words (2,3) which might be written on the tag attached to Katharine’s gift.

17d Wife of prince he shuts in most of zenana with one (8)
The element indicated by ‘zenana’ is usually spelt with an ‘e’ as the fourth letter, but here it is the alternative version with an ‘a’ in that position which is required. It is shorn of its last letter (ie ‘most of zenana) and shut inside a three-letter word for ‘[a] he’, the whole lot then being followed by the Roman numeral representing ‘one’.

25d See one who wrote poetically of love, what few will have avoided (5)
Once again we have ‘see’ as the name of a letter of the alphabet, this time followed by the English name given to the Roman poet hugely popular back in the day for his erotic poetry. The ‘definition’ reinforces the message in the notes section, and we know from his recent indisposition that Azed cannot be counted amongst ‘the few’.

26d Decorate with stones giving distinguished Turk a dash (4)
A three-letter word for a Turkish governor of a province or district (often spelt with a closing ‘y’ rather than the ‘g’ seen here) is followed by the name of a unit of measurement used in printing (though not, strictly speaking, a dash – that would need to be a ?? dash or a ?? rule).

(definitions are underlined)

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7 Responses

  1. Daron Fincham says:

    By gum ! What with 1a and the matching pair of 23 and 26 d , Azed really had a bee in his bonnet with this puzzle. Sorry. I’ll get me coat …

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Judging by 18a, 10d, 11d, 20d and 25d, he seems to have had not just a bee in his bonnet but a see as well 🙂

  2. Tim C says:

    I laughed when I got 25 down and then read the instructions. The other interesting one for me was 29 across. I knew the word but not that meaning. It’s also a word (from Spanish so the same etymology as this answer) used to describe hitting the soundboard of a guitar with the finger while playing to emphasis the beat. It’s hard to do but effective in flamenco guitar.

  3. Hazel says:

    We thought this was generally solvable but were a bit confused by the workings of 1 down… is it really “sometimes two first letters and sometimes just one” or are we missing something obvious? Also slightly unhappy about the answer we have put in for 4 down fitting the definition, which I assume is “cajolery”?

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Hazel

      No, you’re not missing anything re 1d – the ‘various introductions’ are indeed ‘introductions of varying length’. Not the best clue in the puzzle by a long chalk.

      In 4d, the definition is indeed ‘cajolery’, and Chambers gives one meaning of the answer that you I’m sure have (an anagram followed by a single-letter abbreviation) as ‘blandishments’, which I think is fine.

  4. Steve says:

    There’s an error in your reference to the online error 🙂 , it’s 2d. By the way, the printed version is correct and doesn’t include the extra ‘of’.

    Going by the much shorter time than usual it took me to complete it, I would score the difficulty as 1.5 or maybe 2. But it could be that luck played a part this week, thinking the right thoughts for most clues and not going off in the wrong direction.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Thanks, Steve – an error in a correction isn’t particularly helpful! 🙂

      I take your point about the toughness (or otherwise) – I certainly didn’t think it was above the mid-point of the difficulty spectrum, and on another day I might have given it 2 rather than 2.5.