Notes for Azed 2,637
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 2,637 Plain
Difficulty rating: (2.5 / 5)
First of all, let me wish all readers a very happy and healthy New Year, with plenty of good puzzles to enjoy.
This puzzle seemed to me to sit somewhere close to the middle of the spectrum, although I could probably be persuaded that it was marginally below average difficulty. It seemed to lack a little of the verve of some recent Azeds, but it was an enjoyable solve nonetheless.
Clue Writers’ Corner: This week sees a return to normal competition, the requirement being to provide a clue to the solution at 1d. Because this is a down entry, positioning devices such as ‘rising’, ‘above’ etc can be used, while those specific to across clues (eg ‘from the east’) cannot. Since the competition word is a noun, given by the OED as “One who is skilled in matters of eating”, it may of course be defined in clues by a noun or noun phrase (as in the asterisked definition), but other options are available. The word relates to a person, so pronouns such as ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘I’, ‘one’ and even ‘who’ are valid, for example ‘I know about food’ or “Who could help you with eating” – there are examples of this kind of definition in (among others) 12a, 21a and 30a here. Azed is also happy to allow clauses with an implied subject to be used – as he observed in the slip for comp 354,
“I’ve said before that an adjective is an inaccurate (because unfairly misleading) way of indicating a noun (and vice versa of course). I do accept however that a verb (in the appropriate person) can indicate a noun. ‘Barks and is man’s best friend’ defines DOG far more clearly than, say, ‘Furry and domesticated’.”
So something along the lines of “Knows a lot about food” would be ok here.
Although I generally advise against ‘obvious’ anagrams for short answers, with words of this length there are clearly gong to be a lot of possibilities, including those that involve a letter or two being added or subtracted, and I would therefore expect to see a lot of anagrams featuring among the published entries. For the most recent competition requiring a normal clue for a twelve-letter competition word, BOTTLE-WASHER in 2,534, only three of the successful entries did not include an anagram of some sort. With such words, the non-anagram possibilities are often in fact more obvious than the ones which involve anagrams (eg the use of the first and the last five letters of this week’s competition word).
One other tip when writing &lit clues for words of this sort: the last letter selection indicator ‘term’ can prove extremely useful, as in this clue for AXMAN – “Term for Hendrix, penned by American, avoided by Clapton?” [(hendri)X in AM(eric)AN]. It can also be used to add a missing letter to anagram fodder whilst at the same time introducing the definition.
12a One’s clumsy in company, breaking end off fine china (4)
The name of a Stoke-on-Trent pottery founded in 1770 and now part of the Portmeirion group loses its last letter (‘breaking end off’) to produce a slang term for someone who is socially inept. As the Tatler informed us in 1989,
Like all closed societies Eton has developed its own language. If you are a ‘goggy’, ‘zoid’, ‘????’, ‘gunk’, or ‘Wendy’, you are a social misfit.
13a Late addition after stodge: nasty stomach ache (6)
The ‘stodge’ which is here followed by the two-letter abbreviation for something added to piece of writing is not a noun but a verb, meaning ‘to stuff with food’.
14a Upper class requiring gossip about inherited estate (5)
The complexity in this clue relates to the phrasing of the wordplay, which reads as though it might have been generated by a Sinclair Scientific calculator. The letter used by Alan Ross to represent ‘upper class’ requires a four-letter word for gossip to be [put] about [it].
15a Protective covering for old horse, one pulling light carriage (7)
A double-definition clue, with the ‘horse’ from the first definition (given by Chambers as ‘hist’, hence the ‘old’) being picked up by the ‘one’ in the second definition, which on the basis of the four-letter word for a light carriage from which it is derived you might have expected to be a pony.
20a Tons included in half of tote, not wholly (6)
The usual abbreviation for ‘tons’ is included in the first five letters (‘half’) of a ten-letter word for a system of pool betting invented in 1867 by the Catalan entrepreneur (and co-founder of the Moulin Rouge) Joseph Oller, which these days is probably most closely associated with the state-controlled French gaming operator responsible for all betting on horse races in that country.
22a Lyle’s partner showing his bit in putt at eighteen (4)
Even by Azed’s standards, this is a bit of an odd one – two definitions and a ‘hidden’ wordplay, but the second definition requires ‘his’ to refer to a Scottish person, ‘his bit’ then indicating a Scots word for a small portion. Is it reasonable to expect the solver to understand ‘Lyle’ for that purpose (though not for the benefit of the first definition) to be Scots golfer Sandy Lyle? Perhaps, but surely ‘his’ relates not to Lyle but to “Lyle’s partner”. Is it then reasonable to assume their Scottishness by association? Nah.
30a Exhausted fellow in rush: what’ll cab in Wellington charge? (6)
A three-letter word for an exhausted individual (who might well be limp) is contained by a three-letter ‘archaic or poetic’ word meaning ‘to hasten’.
2d Head of SA clan maybe publishing firm answer (4)
The three initials of a publishing body first granted the legal right to print books by decree in 1586 are followed by the usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘answer’. The ‘maybe’ indicates that the resulting person might be the head of a South African clan – but might not be.
5d Cowboy’s charge? First for him, leading cavalier (7)
The ‘First for him’ indicates the initial letter of ‘Cowboy’, to be followed by a six-letter word for a knight, taken directly from the German language and shown by Chambers as ‘archaic’.
8d Consort of Queen Empress, maybe, champion of old (4)
The idea here is that the consort of a queen empress could be a king emperor, and those two words must be abbreviated to a single letter and three letters respectively. The clue could equally well have read ‘King Emperor, champion of old’.
10d Has forgotten king in layout with fellows in club (12)
The usual abbreviation for a king of the monarchical variety is contained by a four-letter term for ‘the layout of cards’, a word more familiar when followed by ‘en scène’, and the whole lot is followed by a seven-letter word for ‘fellows in [a] club’ (or ladies, but I see why Azed opted for the fellows here).
16d Heretic, a sailor imprisoned in punishment once (8)
The letter A (from the clue) and a three-letter “setters’ favourite” for ‘sailor’ are contained (‘imprisoned’) by an obsolete word for ‘punishment’ often indicated in puzzles by ‘long’.
24d Fond of sledging at the Gabba? Offhand after half-century (5
Those relatively unfamiliar with the vocabulary of cricket may not know that ‘sledging’ is the term applied to the making of remarks, light-hearted or otherwise, usually delivered to the batsman by a close fielder shortly before the bowler delivers the ball, and designed to put him off his stroke; the term is of Australian origin and derives from the phrase ‘as subtle as a sledge-hammer’, which it usually is. Here’s one of the wittier examples, addressed by Australia’s Merv Hughes to England’s Robin Smith:
“If you turn the bat over you’ll get the instructions mate.”
There are two recommended techniques for dealing with sledging – one is to ignore it, and the other is to give as good as you get, as in this dialogue between Australia’s Mark Waugh and England’s James Ormond:
Waugh: “What are you doing out here? There’s no way you’re good enough to play for England.”
Ormond: “Maybe not, but at least I’m the best player in my own family” [Mark’s brother being former Australian captain Steve Waugh]
25d Like Caesar, wretchedly tinged with gore, losing reign, undone? (5)
“Infamy, infamy” and all that…here we have a subtractive anagram, the solution being a rearrangement (‘wretchedly’) of the letters in TINGED and GORE after losing the letters of REIGN in any order that the setter wants (‘undone’).
27d Outsize bust? It must be held in for gym! (4)
The ‘bust’ in this clue is a frolic or spree, particularly the sort which involves the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
29d Lute string – note position when it’s plucked (4)
A two-letter anglicized name of a note in sol-fa notation (the one what Julie Andrews calls herself) is followed by a four-letter word for a position or location from which the letters IT have been removed.
(definitions are underlined)