Notes for Azed 2,634

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 2,634 Plain

Difficulty rating: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

I got the feeling that Azed had enjoyed setting this puzzle, which I thought was close to average difficulty, perhaps just a smidgeon above.

Prompted by a couple of comments from correspondents, I have put together a set of tips for writing Azed competition clues (linked from the home page and also the Clinical Data section) – I hope that they may prove useful to those relatively new to the comps, but this is very much a ‘work in progress’ and I would welcome comments on them in order that they can be expanded and improved (not to mention corrected!) over time. 

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to take a look at clue 1d, “Right hand used in Pompeian artwork (not left) – unidentified material (6)”. Azed has included the word ‘Pompeian’ in the wordplay, thus enhancing the indication of MURAL (the city of Pompeii being famous for its frescoes), a word for which ‘artwork’ alone would be a little vague. The definition, ‘unidentified material’ might also be considered slightly nebulous, but since Chambers says that the material in question was introduced by the Roman general Pompey, and ‘Pompeian’ can also mean ‘pertaining to Pompey’, the adjective could also legitimately be seen as applying to the material. Is this what Azed intended? I suspect it may well have been.

11a Sandy’s stated condition for hairstyle (5)
A three-letter Scots (“Sandy’s”) word meaning ‘stated’ (a shortened form of a five-letter archaic, but more familiar, term) is joined by a word for a condition or supposition.

14a A king swathes heart of château in ‘lumpy’ coating (5)
The ‘king’ here is not an abbreviation but the Latin title given to the reigning king of England. The lumpy coating will be well known to anyone who’s ever tried to remove it.

16a Carol and Jackie, maybe, offspring (7)
This particular ‘Jackie’ is an artist of the martial kind, known for his slapstick fighting style. Also an operatically trained vocalist, he has sung many of the theme songs for the films in which he has starred. I must confess that I’ve never seen one of his films, but I’ve known about him for a long while since he’s namechecked in the song Kung Fu by Ash, which I learn from Wikipedia was used in the advertising and during the bloopers at the end of the American release of his film Rumble in the Bronx.

18a Spiritual leader, one caught in heated criticism, making comeback (5)
The Roman numeral representing one is ‘caught’ in a reversal (‘making comeback’) of a figurative term for criticism derived from the initial elements of the German word for an anti-aircraft gun.

20a What was dizzying? Appalling cost – well I never (7)
An anagram (‘appalling’) of COST is followed by a (1,2) phrase meaning ‘well I never’, the result being an obsolete term for a sense of dizziness accompanied by dimness of vision.

27a Old horse with pedigree? See harness frame (7)
A three-letter archaic word for ‘an easy-paced horse’ plus a four-letter word for ‘pedigree’ as illustrated in a branching diagram, the solution being a frame of wood or metal giving shape and rigidity to a particular piece of tack.

30a Chemical combination – page includes it for support (5)
When the solution is put inside PAGE (ie when ‘page includes it’) the result is a word meaning ‘support’ or ‘sponsorship’.

32a Give animation to wild ones, duly free of curbs? (6)
An anagram (‘wild’) of ONES and the word ‘duly’ from which the first and last letters have been removed (‘free of curbs’) combine to produce a transitive verb, which is why Azed has been careful to include ‘to’ in the definition.

2d There’s a smell endlessly round mobile lat or…this? (8)
Not exactly an &lit clue, but close to one. A four-letter interjection meaning “There’s a [nasty] smell”, from which the last letter has been omitted (‘endlessly’), contains (‘around’) an anagram (‘mobile’) of LAT OR.

6d By the sound of it you are in pub to prepare for tea (probably not!) (5)
The first of a pair of mildly outrageous clues. Nothing wrong with the wordplay, which has the two letters whose names sound like ‘you are’ being put inside a word for a pub. The definition, however, most definitely requires that parenthesized ‘probably not!’, because I for one would not like to sample the resulting beverage.

7d Azedders battling for preferment? It’s an old conspiracy (7)
And here we have a wordplay which could really only work in an Azed puzzle, leading as it does to a (4,3) phrase which might describe those who send in their clues for his appraisal.

9d Working at clothiers? Ah, toil with such snips maybe (5)
This is a composite anagram, where the letters of AT CLOTHIERS can be rearranged (‘working’) to form AH TOIL plus the solution (‘such snips’). You may say that these sort of ‘snips’ have nothing to do with clothiers, but because this isn’t an &lit clue that’s not a problem – the ‘snips’ in the clue is a conventional one-word definition of the answer.

17d Rusty flex around was annoying (8)
A four-letter word for a flex goes around another four-letter word meaning ‘was annoying’, the past tense of a colloquialism that originated in the US, meaning to annoy, worry or rile.

21d Crop in conveyance moved slowly (7)
A charade of a four-letter word for a crop entirely unconnected with harvesting plus a three-letter past participle of a verb which can mean ‘conducted’ and therefore (just about) ‘in conveyance’, and a surface reading which calls to mind a familiar autumn sight on the single-track roads hereabouts in rural Lincs.

26d Peak like this may be seen in Old Man (5)
A two-letter word meaning ‘like this’ is contained by the Latin word (hence ‘old’) for a man.

28d What’s left in loose earth raised in a fine stream once (5)
The solver has to address the question posed by the wordplay, the answer being the usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘left’ inside a reversal (‘raised’) of a word for loose earth of the sort that horses or cars might race on in America. The solution is the Spenserian past tense of an archaic word meaning ‘to flow in a slender stream’.

Few drops, more cleare then Nectar, forth distild,
That like pure Orient perles adowne it ?????,
And her faire eyes sweet smyling in delight,
Moystened their fierie beames, with which she thrild
Fraile harts, yet quenched not; like starry light
Which sparckling on the silent waues, does seeme more bright.

(definitions are underlined)

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5 Responses

  1. Crossguesser says:

    I’m surprised there’s no change being made in the deadline for entries, at least for clue-writing competitions that go to Azed.
    Aside from there being postal strikes this Friday and Sunday, there’s a massive backlog because of previous strike days. First class letters in some places are arriving two to three weeks late, and it’s no secret that posties are being told to leave low priority mail to one side so that other targets can be met.
    An arrangement for UK entries by email would be handy, although maybe Azed will extend his judging time, especially with a Christmas and New Year puzzle coming up in quick succession.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      A very good point. In the past Azed has certainly tried to make allowances when there were reasons to expect delays – regarding the Christmas 2009 comp, he wrote: ‘Given the patchy postal service resulting from the wintry weather I bent over backwards to accept as many entries as possible and still allow myself sufficient judging time.’ That said, he clearly isn’t going to wait forever, and as you say the competitions come thick and fast at this time of year.

      Since Azed is not prepared to accept email entries from UK solvers and I don’t believe that an alternative carrier will allow delivery to a PO box, I think the only thing to do is to get one’s entry off as soon as possible with a first class stamp, in the hope that it will at least arrive in the first wave of deliveries, whenever that occurs. He can’t start judging without at least something in his postbag.

      • Crossguesser says:

        I’m thinking about moving to Oxford. 🙂

        • Doctor Clue says:

          Yes, that is another option 🙂 . From the slip for 1667: ‘The recent [postal] upheavals in Oxford seem to have been resolved, though deliveries are now even later than they were before. It is purely coincidental that our first two prizewinners this month are both Oxford residents’.

          I suppose that Azed might be prompted to rethink his policy on email entries, but I think it’s unlikely.

          • Crossguesser says:

            Yes, I suppose he’ll just give us a bit more leeway privately. It’s a lot of extra work around this time of year for him as it is (albeit nothing like the days when he’d have two Xmas postbags of 500 – 600 entries each to check and judge!).