Notes for Azed 2,629

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 2,629 Plain

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

I felt that this puzzle was of at least average difficulty, though I could be persuaded that it was marginally tougher. I thought that the clues were of a good standard, although like last week nothing particularly stood out.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 30a, “Lentil meal a Levanter transported (9)”. A simple anagram clue, but there are two possibilities for the answer, a preparation of lentil and barley flour intended for invalids that was first given a name beginning with ER and then arbitrarily renamed with the first two letters being reversed, all during the nineteenth century. Is this a problem? Well, in general terms, setters should try to ensure that ambiguities are eliminated from clues by using wordplays which lead only to the intended answer. A common trap is the reversal clue where a single word is reversed to produce the solution – ‘Breaks twisted thong’ might be intended as a clue for PARTS, but it could equally well lead to STRAP. Here the solution is simply to change the word order, ‘Twisted thong breaks’ being unambiguous. The most important thing is that when there is ambiguity the solver must be able through the checked letters (as with today’s clue) to establish beyond doubt the intended entry – an ambiguity which can be resolved by checked letters is undesirable, but one which cannot thus be resolved is wholly unacceptable.

1a Corporation displaying striking power restricting one (6)
The appearance of ‘corporation’ in a clue should alert you to the likelihood that it will refer not to a business but to a belly, often translating into ‘tum’ when part of the wordplay. Here it forms the definition of a word formed when a five-letter word for ‘striking power’ contains a single-letter word for ‘one’.

11a Scotch liquor king left off enjoying as of old (4)
I was initially puzzled by the wordplay here, specifically the use of ‘enjoyment’ rather than ‘enjoy’, since it seemed that we were to remove the abbreviation for ‘king’ in a chess context from a five-letter word which once meant ‘to enjoy’ but now only occurs with the sense of ‘to endure’. However, it is actually the letters KING which must be removed from the eight-letter verbal noun derived from the aforesaid verb (ie ‘enjoying as of old’) in order to produce the answer.

13a Bad news for apiaries left our bee damaged in nourishment (9)
An anagram (‘damaged’) of the usual abbreviation for ‘left’, OUR, and the letter represented by ‘bee’ is put inside a four-letter word for ‘nourishment’, the result being a hyphenated (4-5) bacterial disease which would indeed be bad news for apiaries.

15a Old umpires may end batting (or bowling) round start of shower (7)
Azed from time to time does things which would not go down well with modern crossword editors. Here he includes a second anagram indicator, ‘bowling’, which in terms of the wordplay is completely superfluous, an anagram (‘batting’) of MAY END containing (’round’) the first letter (‘start’) of ‘shower’ being entirely sufficient.

17a Sunday lunch? It may include greens (5)
You may need to refer to Chambers for possible meanings of ‘greens’ in order to parse this double definition clue.

18a Being a renegade always restricts job with bank (8)
A two-letter word for ‘always’ contains (‘restricts’) a four-letter word for a job and a two-letter word for a bank of sand or gravel usually associated with glacial deposits and barred crosswords.

26a Is stuffing rubbish with minimum of sage? (5)
The ‘rubbish’ in the wordplay will forever be associated in my mind with Gerald Ratner’s speech to the Insititute of Directors on 23 April 1991, an illustration of the rule that while the public may have an inkling that your products might not be of the highest quality, you really don’t want to publicly confirm their suspicions. It is followed by the first letter (‘minimum’) of ‘sage’.

28a Stole recipe forming new centre of lecture (7)
A seven-letter word for a lecture has its middle letter (‘centre’) replaced by the usual abbreviation for ‘recipe’.

34a Sort of hollow marriage retrograde? One’s sure trapped in it (6)
A reversal (‘retrograde’) of a three-letter word for ‘marriage’ has a three-letter informal word for ‘sure’ (or ‘indeed’) ‘trapped’ inside it. The solution is hyphenated (3-3).

3d Crowns once placed on sovereign’s head? This shows admiration (6, 2 words)
The plural of a Shakespearean word for the top of the head (‘Crowns once’) is put on top of the first letter (‘head’) of ‘sovereign’ to produce a (2,4) phrase which is used (often ironically, according to Chambers) to express admiration.

4d Old gull making good after losing fish? (4)
Perhaps the trickiest clue in this puzzle, where the wordplay involves an eight-letter word meaning ‘making good’ or ‘patching up’ having the name of a fish from the cod family (and a setters’ favourite) removed. The solution is given by Chambers as ‘archaic’, hence the ‘Old’.

14d As to churning in stomach, not affected by the environment (9)
I learnt something here, having never (to the best of my recollection) come across the five-letter word indicated by ‘stomach’ being used with this meaning, the third stomach of a ruminant. Its many folds apparently resemble the pages of a (presumably large) book, and give rise to one of its other names, the manyplies. Interestingly, this meaning is not given by the OED, although it is shown by Wikipedia. What’s inside the word here is an anagram (‘churning’) of AS TO.

19d What makes one’s dog bark when old and saintly? (7)
This is one of those clues where Azed has come up with a rather involved wordplay in order to optimize the surface reading – the ‘What’ is effectively the solution, and the ‘makes’ equates to ‘is made from’. The wordplay proper consists of the five words in the middle, where “one’s dog” could equally well be “one’s cat” and the ‘bark when old’ indicates an old variant spelling of a word for ‘bark’ (ending with a ‘d’) which is now almost exclusively used to describe the peel or skin of fruits and vegetables.

21d Piston rising and falling – it limits erosion (6)
The same three-letter word for a piston appears reversed (‘rising’) and then in its normal form (‘falling’), the result being a seaside grass frequently used to counter erosion.

23d Cierge lit – to light one’s way up these? (6)
I suspect that the answer here may be the word for which Chambers offers the greatest number of variant spellings (12 including this one), but none of the others shares the same mix of letters, so unlike 30a there is no ambiguity. There are many anagram indicators which depend on the suggestion of inebriation, and ‘lit’ is one of them.

25d Game birds, number not appearing in transport (5)
A six-letter word meaning ‘[to] transport’ has the usual single-letter abbreviation of ‘number’ removed (‘not appearing’) to produce a term for a small flock of game birds.

27d Bacteriologist exchanging parts of entrails (5)
The first three letters of a word for certain entrails when prepared as food are exchanged with the last two, the result being the surname of a German bacteriologist who, rather like Dame Nellie Melba, had a dish named after him.

(definitions are underlined)

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5 Responses

  1. MaggieH says:

    Got them all except 11a. Sorry, even with your suggestion, I still can’t solve this.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Maggie

      The five-letter verb now only appears in expressions such as “I will **** no opposition”, while a noun with the same spelling usually proves to be ‘babbling’. Add an -ING and then remove -KING to produce a Scots word for a ‘liquor that comes off from anything or in which anything has been boiled.’

      Hope that helps!

  2. Jim says:

    Sulking a bit. I found 30A without difficulty, but the ambiguity for me was in 26A. Replacing P with M gives a word that Chambers defines as ‘a lie’ (rubbish), while still fitting the ‘Is stuffing’ part. 27D was then impossible, or would have been if not for the unusual letter combination at the end.

    My ignorance of cricket helped with 15A. I assumed the word without the S was the opposite of a night watchman, without considering the anagram indicator aspect,

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Jim

      The M-word was my first thought for 26A, but it would have meant the four-letter word and the solution being very closely related etymology-wise, something that Azed in general scrupulously avoids. I’m sympathetic, though, because it just about fits the clue.

      It’s something of a paradox that the enjoyment of a clue (particularly a deceptive one) often depends on an understanding the surface reading but the solving is usually made easier by ignorance of it. I must confess that quite often I solve an Azed clue by going straight to the cryptic interpretation and only appreciate the surface reading when I write the notes.

  3. Daron Fincham says:

    I took a while to find the answer to 3d in my 2014 Chambers !