Notes for Azed 2,638
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 2,638 Plain
Difficulty rating: (2.5 / 5)
A pleasant solve, the difficulty seeming to me just a tad below average. The ‘possibly unfamiliar trade name’ is found at 19d, although it will not be unfamiliar to anyone who shares (or even exhibits a fraction of) my enthusiasm for a particular type of food.
Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 7a, “Eric, maybe, not employed in Lidl emporium (4)”. Azed quite frequently, as here, bolts a second definition onto a normal clue. This clue would work perfectly well without the first two words, but he has chosen to add a reference to a member of the Monty Python team and the co-creator of The Rutles. Modern crossword editors are apt to reject this type of thing, as much as anything because of the space constraints increasingly constraining printed puzzles, so although such a clue adds a bit of variety and gives the solver additional direction towards the solution I would in general advise steering clear when setting for newspapers, although clues with an extra definition – or an extra wordplay – are absolutely fine when it comes to Azed competition entries..
1a Drinks knocked back, including round, in early youth (8)
A four-letter word meaning ‘drinks [by licking up]’ is reversed (‘knocked back’) around (‘including’) a four-letter word for a round [thing]. The ‘early’ is there to qualify the definition ‘youth’, since the solution is shown by Chambers as ‘archaic’.
11a Peasants skin a chicken, to be stuffed with sage finally (9)
A four-letter word meaning ‘skin’ (or ‘to cut down’) is followed by A (from the clue) and a three-letter word for a chicken, into which the last letter (‘finally’) of ‘sage’ has been ‘stuffed’.
12a Transfer a lot in computer’s memory for arts degree (4)
The solution here is both an abbreviation for a particular type of arts degree and a word which Chambers defines as “to transfer a large array of bits between different locations in a computer’s memory.” I spent many years working in IT without ever coming across this word, but that is probably no great surprise as it turns out to be the name of a bitmap graphics terminal developed at Bell Labs in 1982. At that time I was working on PDP-11 telex systems and knew little of graphics devices. Hands up all those who remember telexes. Well, you must at least remember fax machines. No? You’re having me on. Anyway, the name of this particular device was derived from the second syllable of the term for the bit-block transfer operation that was fundamental to the terminal’s graphics capability. I have seen it suggested that the verb dates back to the 1970s, so it may already have been in use when the device was named.
14a Contract closed after shock (7)
A two-letter word meaning ‘closed’ (as a door might be) follows a word for ‘to shock’ or ‘to horrify’.
15a This opens in composition…as in opera maybe? (4)
A composite anagram &lit, where the solution (‘this’) plus OPENS when rearranged (‘in composition’) can potentially produce (‘maybe’) AS IN OPERA. The whole clue represents the definition.
16a French tradespeople aroused ire opening large works (8)
An anagram (‘aroused’) of IRE is inserted into (‘opening’) a five-letters word for large works, particularly of the written or filmed sort.
26a Manure to touch up a bit of horticulture (4)
The three-letter word for ‘touch’ required here (the ‘up’ has been added purely to improve the surface reading) has six entries in Chambers, the most common probably being ‘pretentious odds and ends of little real value, eg in an antique shop’. The ‘bit’ of horticulture is simply the first letter of the word.
32a Occupants of reptile house, close together, shut up inside (9)
A five-letter verb meaning ‘to close together’, most commonly seen these days as a related seven-letter adjective and applied to ranks, has a four-letter word meaning ‘shut up’ or ‘enclosed’ inside.
1d Music heralded our queen’s arrival – see special Arab coat (4)
A spot of general knowledge is needed here, the reference in the definition being to a brief but lively passage for oboes and strings from Handel’s 1749 oratorio Solomon that featured in the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony at the point where James Bond (Daniel Craig) went to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The wordplay has the usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘special’ being followed by the term for an outer garment made from a Syrian cloth of the same name.
4d Weakling, poorly raised, in endless poverty (6)
A three-letter word for ‘poorly’ is reversed (‘raised’) inside a four-letter word for poverty from which the last letter has been omitted (‘endless’).
5d It’s avoided in some diets, stuff with (unequal) parts switched (6)
A six-letter word meaning ‘[to] stuff’ has its last four letters exchanged with its first two, ie ‘with (unequal) parts switched’.
9d The French embracing love in Rome getting end away – they softened (8)
There’s a continental flavour to this clue, where a three-letter French word for ‘the’ is put around (’embracing’) the Italian (‘in Rome’) word for ‘nothing’ or ‘nothingness’ with its last letter removed (‘getting end away’). The past tense is used in the definition because the answer is shown by Chambers as not only ‘medical’ but also ‘archaic’.
18d Curved roof timbers, we her, forming a cross (4)
A homophone for a relatively uncommon six-letter word for curved timbers which, when deployed in pairs, support the roof of a particular type of house that should on no account be confused with the sort having an A as their third letter rather than a U.
19d Tea-time treat? It has middle of chocolate (double) coating on (4)
The wordplay here tells us that the solution (‘It’) involves two instances (‘double’) of the central character in (‘middle of’) the word ‘chocolate’ surrounding (‘coating’) that two-letter piece of commercial jargon meaning ‘on’ or ‘concerning’ familiar to all cruciverbalists.
24d Scottish institutes, after time belonging to that lot (6)
The five-letter word that follows the usual abbreviation for ‘time’ (‘after time’) is not an unfamiliar Scottish word that has the meaning of ‘institutes’ but rather a familiar word that is indicated by a meaning of ‘institutes’ known only to the Scots – this is a trick that Azed comes up with every so often, but I know from experience that crossword editors don’t like it (though I can’t see why, as it seems perfectly legitimate).
29d What may occupy base? Not much turns up (4)
A reversal (‘turns up’) of a (1,3) phrase meaning ‘not much’ or ‘very little’. It is left to the reader to take a view on the legitimacy of the definition.
(definitions are underlined)