Notes for Azed 2,639

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 2,639 Plain

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

A plain puzzle with a 13×11 grid which I would place pretty close to the middle of the difficulty spectrum. A good variety of clues, and a word at 12d which those of us whose chemistry studies were confined to the previous millennium may have struggled with.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 7d, “Took part in boat race in sound course (4)”. When writing homophone and reversal clues, setters need to be careful that they are not ambiguous – “Animal caught naked” could lead to either BEAR or BARE. The solution is generally to place the homophone (or reversal) indicator at one end of the clue, so that it can only apply to the adjacent word(s), eg “Naked animal caught” can only be a clue for BARE. Here the homophone indicator, ‘in sound’, is in the middle, but since one of the words delivered by the clue is five letters long and the answer is only four letters there is no ambiguity.


1a See a punch I swung, angry – my arm-ends are balled (13, 2 words)
The (8,5) solution comprises the letter of the alphabet named ‘see’, an anagram (‘swung’) of A PUNCH I, and a five-letter word meaning ‘angry’.

10a Re gland, see two adjacent parts transposed in a pig’s (8)
The letter A plus a seven-letter word for “pig’s” (or ‘of pigs’) has two adjacent letters swapped over (‘adjacent parts transposed’) to produce a word meaning ‘(of a gland) whose product is formed by the breakdown of part of its active cells’. The definition here may not be strictly accurate, but it’s good enough for me, particularly given that the word itself is something of a pig.

14a Aromatic rhizome left on dipping in dippy (4)
The usual abbreviation for ‘left’ and an archaic two-letter form of ‘on’ are ‘dipping’ into a word which more commonly these days is used to mean ‘in senile dotage’, but can also have a more general sense of ‘dotty’.

15a Peanuts, singularly wretched pay (6, 2 words)
An anagram (‘wretched’) of the singular form of ‘peanuts’ produces a (4,2) phrasal verb which is found in Chambers under the entry for its first element.

17a Restore revenue in Polish city (7)
A charade of a four-letter word used when retracting a correction to printed text and a three-letter slang term for ‘money’ (‘revenue’ seems a little bit of a stretch) gives us the name applied to a particular Polish city up until 4 October 1945, so strictly speaking the definition should be something like ‘old Polish city’.

23a Salmon in small boat, heated, trimmed in the same way (4)
Three-letter words meaning ‘a small boat’ and ‘heated’ have the same closing letter removed (‘trimmed in the same way’).

29a Losing heart she goes after bloodless turns, passing (6)
The word ‘she’ without its central letter (‘losing heart’) goes after a reversal (‘turns’) of a word meaning ‘bloodless’, producing a noun which is more familiar as a verb. The grammar of the wordplay, specifically ‘goes after…turns’, is slightly questionable – ‘turning’ would be more satisfactory, but the surface reading would then make no sense at all.

31a Crowning vegetable to cut back (4)
A six-letter vegetable has the letters TO removed (‘to cut’) before being reversed (‘back’).


1d American plant seen in two states briefly (6)
The two (American) states to be abbreviated are those where the Mamas & the Papas were dreaming and the lights went out for the Bee Gees. Incidentally, it seems that the relevant line from the song by the latter group was meant to suggest that everyone had gone to a ‘happening’ city in the state where the former outfit were based.

3d German dish, accompaniment for soup, not available? (5)
A seven-letter word for something that might be added to your soup has a two-letter word meaning ‘available’ (as soup might be in a cafĂ©) removed (‘not available’).

4d What’ll sell takeaway (no starter) for dropout? (6)
OK, I admit that I looked up ‘hinese’, but that was a momentary aberration. The place that will provide a takeaway, and which loses its first letter (‘no starter’), is as quintessentially English as Joyce Grenfell and tiddlywinks.

12d Newcomer joining table turned up in vain taking in a point (9)
The wordplay here has a reversal (‘turned up’) of a (2,2) phrase meaning ‘in vain’ containing (‘taking in’) the letter A (from the clue) and a four-letter word for a headland or ‘point’. The table which the solution recently joined is the periodic table, its admission being formally ratified on 28 November 2016.

22d Water rising in channel sounded warning? (6)
The water that’s ‘rising’ (ie reversed) is the sort that might be passed rather than drunk (unless you’re Bear Grylls), and the channel is the sort that would belong to a river.

26d Couple finally changing places in sign of approval embrace (5)
I can’t help feeling that ‘sign of approval’ here should be ‘signs of approval’ or ‘signals approval’, but anyway the last two letters of the resulting word must be exchanged (‘couple finally changing places’) in order to produce the solution.

(definitions are underlined)

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4 Responses

  1. Daron Fincham says:

    I would never had got 12

    • Doctor Clue says:

      A decidedly tricky wordplay for a solution that can to all intents and purposes only be found online. I’d be interested to know how Azed discovered it.

      • Jim says:

        Oganesson, Tennessine and Nihonium are the three newest elements. Their addition to the periodic table was reported at the time, but I suspect their fame is mostly due to numerous mentions on BBC Pointless and from trivia quizzes.

        • Doctor Clue says:

          Thanks, Jim – Azed is not renowned for his knowledge of things scientific, so the quiz route sounds a very likely one.

          When I was at college, kurchatovium was an element, Pluto was a planet, and Marathon was a chocolate bar…the last named had a brief revival in 2020, so perhaps there is hope for the others…