Notes for Azed 2,627
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 2,627 Plain
Difficulty rating: (2 / 5)
An enjoyable puzzle that I felt was just a tad below average difficulty – no clue struck me as being particularly tricky, although there were quite a few that weren’t trivial, with generous dollops of deception. In the online version, at least, there is an error in 19d (I’ve double-checked that I’ve identified the right one this week!), where ‘sewn’ should read ‘sown’.
Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 24d, “What gallery displays in reproduction of it – see plaque (6)”. The ‘reproduction of it’ here indicates an anagram of a word that does not itself appear in the clue. Strictly speaking, this represents an indirect anagram, something which has been outlawed in crosswords since the 1970s, when clues such as this one from the Stinker in Weekend magazine were not uncommon:
“Changing course naturally involves work (4)” for OPUS, being an anagram of SOUP.
These days a clue such as this would be unacceptable, even in a libertarian puzzle – for an anagram of a word or words which do not themselves appear in the clue to be allowable, there must be an almost one-to-one relationship between the indication and the word to be deduced. So this Azed clue from a few years back for LUCRE, “Persistent source of evil, he escapes Poirot deviously?” [(he)RCULE*], is fine, as in my view would be “Intend replacement of French capital with euros initially” for ASPIRE [PARIS* + E(uros)]. The issue here is very much about fairness to the solver, and neither of these clues, nor the clue in today’s puzzle, seem to me in any way unfair.
14a Patten returned to home, leaving East (5)
A nice clue, with a surface reading that refers to Chris Patten’s stint in Hong Kong as its last governor. The wordplay involves a reversal (‘returned’) of the word TO (from the clue) plus a four-letter word for ‘home’, with the usual abbreviation for ‘East’ having been removed from the latter.
15a What could indicate lake for a ramble? (7)
A clue bearing Azed’s hallmark, where interpreting the solution as a (2,3,2) phrase could lead the solver to a word meaning ‘lake’.
20a Break for Shakespeare during Lent, reread slowly (10)
A little disappointing that the letters LENT appear consecutively in the solution, although the wordplay has a six-letter Shakespearean word meaning ‘break’, in the sense of ‘break in’ or ‘subdue’, inside (‘during’) an anagram (‘reread’) of LENT. One of my bugbears is the use of ‘during’ as an insertion indicator – I’ve never been able to see any justification for it, given that the word is only ever used in a temporal sense.
22a Fumaroles, thick, in sun’s gravelly ridge (10)
A three-letter word for ‘thick’ is inserted into a five-letter word meaning “sun’s” (or ‘of the sun’) and a two-letter term for a bank of gravel or sand to be seen with roughly similar frequency in glaciated regions, formerly glaciated regions, and barred crosswords.
25a Tiny sea creatures, run over, a doctor brought back (8)
Two single-letter abbreviations are followed by a reversal (‘brought back’) of the letter A (from the clue) and a word meaning ‘[to] re-equip and repair’, ie (just about, anyway) ‘[to] doctor’.
29a It could give sheep a real itch, with regular scratching (7)
An &lit, where the solution ‘could give’ (ie ‘is an anagram of’) SHEEP A REAL ITCH from which alternate letters have been deleted (‘with regular scratching’).
31a Touch may precede this form of elution (7)
The ‘Touch’ here should be interpreted as ‘the ball going into touch’.
33a Scottish sound from water edging river (4)
As here, Azed often uses ‘water’ to indicate the sort that might be passed. The definition is perhaps a slight stretch, with the answer and sound3 in Chambers having somewhat similar, though certainly not identical, meanings.
34a Nick (according to Walter) that is rejected by Peggy (4)
Another diminutive form of ‘Margaret’ has the pair of letters typically indicated by ‘that is’ removed (‘that is rejected’) to produce a verb coined by Walter Scott in a sense transferred from the name of a bird notorious for a particular habit. If someone was known as ‘Peggy’ would they also be known by the name here? Do we care? Probably not.
2d Ray with bit of luminance round shiny fabric (5)
The Italian spelling of the note anglicized as ‘ray’ has the SI measure of luminance placed around it.
4d Religious teacher, one with appropriate qualifications in a nave, given uplift (6)
I don’t recall coming across this meaning of ‘nave’ before, although that’s probably down to my memory rather than the length of my solving career. Anyway, here we have the two letters applied to someone with an advanced degree in divinity (‘one with appropriate qualifications’) contained by A (from the clue) and the three-letter word synonymous with nave2 after they have been reversed (‘given uplift’).
8d Dance from Hungary, one preceding prohibition age (8)
A four-element (1,1,3,3) charade, and a slow dance from Cuba in 2/4 time.
10d Fantasy? I’m surprised this is dismissed (4)
A two-letter word for “I’m surprised” is followed by THIS from which the letters IS have been removed (‘is dismissed’).
19d Last seed sown flowered like US corn (8)
Although the ‘US’ appears in this clue to indicate an American spelling, the use of the verb here to describe the blooming of maize or sugar-cane is itself largely confined to the US.
21d Old love before love turned arid, forming introductions (7)
A two-letter word for a former love is followed by the usual single-character representation of ‘love’ and an anagram (‘turned’) of ARID.
23d Teacher’s pointer to save, fine in place of rule (6)
A word meaning ‘to save’ has the standard abbreviation for ‘rule’ replaced by the one for ‘fine’; derived from the Latin word for ‘straw’, the solution is a small stick or pin used to point out the letters to children learning to read.
24d What gallery displays in reproduction of it – see plaque (6)
A three-letter word for what a gallery displays is contained by an anagram of the same word (‘reproduction of it’). The ‘see’ in effect means ‘the solver will see a word for’.
27d Earthy stuff rotund character removed from Swedish location (4)
A five-letter Swedish city has a ‘rotund character’ removed to produce a term for the light, loamy soil produced by the disintegration of a rock of the same name.
(definitions are underlined)