Notes for Azed 2,643
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 2,643 Plain
Difficulty rating: (2.5 / 5)
There was nothing particularly tricky about this 13×11 puzzle, but I can’t say that my passage through it was akin to that of a hot knife through butter, so I reckon it was somewhere close to the middle of the difficulty spectrum. Plenty of deviousness and deception, as we expect from Azed, but none of those wordplays with mildly questionable punctuation which have popped up on a few occasions recently.
Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 29d, “‘Sunny’ fellow enraptured with removal of bottom half (shed)”. Nothing too difficult about this clue, an eight-letter word for ‘enraptured’ having its bottom half removed to produce a man’s name. There are two points of interest, though, both relating to Azed giving the solver a little extra help. There was no need for him to include the parenthesised ‘shed’, but by doing so he tells us what that ‘bottom half’ is. More importantly, the clue illustrates a point on which Azed and I are in firm agreement – it is simply not sufficient to use ‘man’, ‘girl’ etc to indicate a random forename of the setter’s choice, any more than ‘food’ is an adequate indication of ‘tomato’ or ‘krill’. Azed generally either uses definitions by example, so here he might have written ‘Shankar, perhaps’, or else he qualifies the indication by reference to the ‘Some first names’ section of Chambers, so ‘Dulcie’ might be ‘sweet girl’ and the fellow we’re looking for here is ‘sunny’.
1a Once overworked crown’s somehow leaving king in a cleft (9)
I first encountered this word (in fact a variant spelling thereof) in an Azed a few years ago, and it’s one that’s hard to forget. In order to produce it, an anagram (‘somehow’) of CROWNS without (‘leaving’) the monarchical abbreviation for ‘king’ must be put inside a four-letter word for a cleft or a pronged instrument.
13a Poet’s come down a glen grasping start of idyll (6)
A (from the clue) and a four-letter word for a glen are put around the first letter (‘start’) of ‘idyll’, the result being a Spenserian verb meaning ‘to come down’ or ‘to alight’. This is not Edmund’s sole contribution to the puzzle…
18a Pub atmosphere feeding stale crusts to hard-working creatures (9)
…as witnessed by this clue, where the solution results from ‘feeding’ (introducing) a five-letter word for ‘crusts’ shown by Chambers as ‘Spenser, etc’ (hence ‘stale’) to a word for the sort of creatures who are axiomatically busy.
22a I’m backing out of jogs yielding ruptures (5)
A reversal (‘backing’) of IM (from the clue) is omitted from (‘out of’) a seven-letter word that isn’t actually synonymous with ‘jogs’ (’causes to remember’ is probably about as close as you could get), but which won’t, I think, give solvers too many problems.
23a Raw recruit returned to the French trenches (one of them) (5)
The ‘raw recruit’ whose three letters must be reversed (‘returned’) and put in front of the French for ‘to the’ will be more familiar to most solvers as a lout (although originally one was simply a boy or youth).
24a Endless sleep, drams drunk deep? (9)
An anagram (‘drunk’) of SLEEP missing its last letter (‘endless’) and DRAMS produces an adjective which could perhaps mean ‘deep’ when applied specifically to sleep.
25a A particular bean soup (5)
A double definition clue which is likely to demand recourse to Chambers, the ‘particular’ bean being a coffee bean (Collins gives it as ‘any of various seeds or dried kernels, such as a coffee bean’), but (much) more commonly a succulent fruit. Regarding the second meaning, the OED suggests that it is a corruption seen only in combined forms and does not list it on its own.
28a Labiate, unusually rich, suggesting type of bean? (7)
A three-letter word for catmint (‘labiate’) is followed by an anagram (‘unusually’) of RICH; the definition is a tad fanciful, hence both the ‘suggesting’ and the question mark, given that the adjective which results cannot strictly speaking be used to describe a shape.
33a Precious stone, stone that is including a bit of tourmaline (9)
A six-letter word for a fruit-stone is followed by the usual abbreviation for ‘that is’ containing the first letter (‘a bit of’) ‘tourmaline’. I’m glad that the clue didn’t read ‘Precious stone, one that is…’ since the second stone is not of the precious kind. ‘Stone, one that is…’ would have been ok, but the definition would then have been rather vague.
1d Unreasonable old rumpus in remote department (7)
A three-letter word for a rumpus is contained by another three-letter word meaning ‘distant’, the combination being followed by the usual abbreviation for ‘department’. The answer is shown by Chambers as ‘archaic’, hence the ‘old’.
3d Main character in epic plays, not the first (4)
A five-letter word for plays (of the theatrical sort) collectively has its first letter removed (‘not the first’). The character appears in a Sanskrit epic, traditionally ascribed to the Maharishi Valmiki, which narrates the life of Sita, the Princess of Janakpur, and ????, a legendary prince of Ayodhya city in the kingdom of Kosala.
6d One caring for the sick to roll up with number during Passover feast (11)
A three-letter word for ‘roll’ (as film cameras might) is reversed (‘up’) and followed by a specific number expressed as three letters within (‘during’, not an insertion indicator that I like) a five-letter word for ‘the ceremonial meal and its rituals on the first night or first two nights of the Passover’. The solution is hyphenated 5-6.
9d Outlet for meal I call up in Maine (7)
Another hyphenated solution, 4-3 this time, produced by putting I (from the clue) and a reversal (‘up’) of a word meaning ‘[to] call [loudly]’ inside the standard abbreviation for ‘Maine’.
11d Feature of Ford westerns the old master located on centre of plain? (4)
A correspondent asked the other day what the term ‘&lit’ meant when applied to a clue. This is not an &lit as such, but could be viewed as what Ximenes called an ‘offshoot &lit’ and is sometimes termed a ‘partial &lit’, where the whole clue provides the indication of the answer but only part of it constitutes the wordplay. I haven’t underlined the wordplay part, which has an obsolete shortened form of ‘master’ being followed by the middle letter (‘centre’) of ‘plain’, but it could certainly be seen as part of the definition. Incidentally, I reckon that ‘Feature of Ford films’ would have been valid, since John Ford is remembered primarily for classics of that genre such as Stagecoach and The Searchers, but again Azed has gone out of his way to steer us in the right direction.
19d Blooming noise of e.g. US breakers with tide coming in (7)
A term for the tide (as in expressions such as ‘the ??? was in’) is contained by a four-letter word for the roar of the surf, shown by Chambers as ‘now US’, which appears in TS Eliot’s The Dry Salvages:
The menace and caress of wave that breaks on water,
The distant ???? in the granite teeth.
20d Soft cloth one with money included in array (7)
A single-letter word for ‘one’ and a three-letter slang term for money much valued by crossword setters are contained by a three-letter word meaning ‘[to] array’ or ‘put in position’.
26d East-ender’s reputed to sink Scotch? (4)
The East-ender here is assumed to be a Cockney, and true to type he is dropping the aitch from a word meaning ‘reputed’, the solution being a Scots word for ‘[to] bury.’ I think the question mark is intended as a nod to those from north of the Border who would suggest (gently, I have no doubt) that Scotch and Scottish are nae the same thing at a’.
(definitions are underlined)