Notes for Azed 2,645

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 2,645 Plain

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

An entertaining puzzle, with some neat clues. I would have placed it slightly below the middle of the difficulty spectrum, but the SE corner just nudged the level up a tad.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 27a, “I’m bowed, in rags, hobbling around Australia (7)”. When writing a clue for a word like this, one might look it up in Chambers and decide that the definition is going to be ‘instrument’ (or even ‘musical instrument’). This is fine, but it leaves very little scope for misdirection. The addition of ‘played like a fiddle’ in the dictionary entry should start you thinking, though. What about “One’s bowed” or “I’m bowed”? In the surface reading you can then get right away from the musical context, such that the definition appears to suggest someone who is bent forward with age. Azed has done this very nicely here, but it’s not that difficult if you know what you are trying to achieve – starting with a definition that allows you to lead solvers gently up the garden path is the key.


1a Money going into drink, leading to depression (4)
There are a lot of three-letter words for ‘drink’ into which the usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘Money’ could be inserted, including names of specific beverages (eg RUM), nouns meaning ‘a drink’ (eg TOT), and verbs meaning ‘to drink’ (eg LAP); it is one of the last type which is required here.

4a Negotiate screed, penning answer (8)
The wordplay has a five-letter word for a screed or long written passage (as well as a region or area) containing (‘penning’) a three-letter abbreviation for ‘answer’.

10a Gouty old French leader admits grip failing finally (9)
The leader in question was President of France between 1995 and 2007; having previously described the economic policies of Margaret Thatcher and John Major as ‘Anglo-Saxon ultraliberalism’, his own Gallic liberality clearly got the better of him, and in 2011 he was found guilty of diverting public funds and abusing public confidence. His surname contains (‘admits’) the word GRIP from which the last letter has been removed (‘failing finally’). My Ancient Greek O Level suggested to me that the resulting word had something to do with hands, and so it (a little surprisingly, since I had previously imagined that gout was specifically a ‘foot thing’) proved.

25a An old-fashioned carriage, line scrapped for bishop? (4)
The indefinite article is followed by a seven-letter alternative spelling of the name for ‘an old four-wheeled covered carriage, with a seat at the rear covered with a hood’ which must have the consecutive letters LINE removed (‘line scrapped’). The solution is what you would expect to see at the bottom of a letter from a particular Scottish bishop, not that I have ever received one myself.

30a Reel sailor’s to tighten with rope (5)
A tricky double definition clue, with neither of the meanings being familiar, I suspect, to your average land-lubber. ‘Fleet’ would have been another possibility, but not in a nautical sense.

32a Rats etc? See one of them I dealt with round old lair (8)
An ever-so-slightly indirect anagram, where the the letters RAT (‘one of them’) and I must be rearranged (‘dealt with’) around the usual abbreviation for ‘old’ and the sort of lair frequently encountered by crossword solvers.

33a Joe maybe disheartened as Mac’s well off (4)
I must confess that Joe’s surname didn’t immediately spring to mind. It forms something of a counterpoint to the protagonist in 19d, and once it has been deprived of its central letter (‘disheartened’) if yields a Scots word for ‘well off’.


1d Stupid one left with bungled prep right away after school (7)
The usual abbreviation for ‘left’ plus an anagram (‘bungled’) of PREP missing the single-letter abbreviation for ‘right’ follow the standard abbreviation for ‘school’.

3d Murphy that is discounted for seat (4)
An Anglo-Irish term for solanum tuberosum (‘Murphy’) has the usual abbreviation for ‘that is’ omitted (‘discounted’) to produce the solution. According to a 1972 edition of The Islander from Victoria, BC, 

We call them ‘spuds’. The Irish affectionately call them ‘??????s’ and they sometimes call mashed potatoes ‘poundies’.

4d Floor covering I’m lifting after so long (6)
A reversal (‘lifting’) of I’M follows an interjection meaning ‘goodbye’ (‘so long’) which originated in the nursery but passed into widespread (informal) use. It is also the name applied to Sir Richard Paget’s theory that language originated in an attempt to imitate the body’s gestures with the vocal organs. According to Wikipedia, Paget had a reputation as an ‘eccentric amateur’ scientist:

Sir Richard’s daughter, Pamela Paget (later Lady Glenconner), was often a subject of his experiments. Pamela’s nephew and Sir Richard’s grandson, Alexander Chancellor, wrote in his “Long Life” column in The Spectator that Pamela had broken her arm when Sir Richard encouraged her to throw herself backwards from the open platform of a London bus on Park Lane to demonstrate his theory that, due to air currents, one could fall horizontally from a bus travelling at a certain speed and land safely on the road. According to Lady Glenconner’s obituary in The Telegraph, Sir Richard had also filled his daughters’ ears with treacle (to simulate deafness) while testing his sign language system.

6d Drink, what teetotaller takes, giving up half? It may be painful for jogger (6)
As in 1a, we are looking for a three-letter ‘drink’, but here it is one of those tot-like nouns which must be followed by the six-letter word for a written promise to abstain from intoxicating liquor which has lost its second half (‘giving up half’).

7d Charm e’er denied a driver of pack animals (6)
The letter A (from the clue) and an eight-letter term for a driver of pack animals has the consecutive letters EER removed (“e’er denied”) in order to produce the solution.

8d Artist captivated by a Pacific climbing plant with bright blooms (9)
A very neat clue, where the usual two-letter abbreviation indicated by ‘artist’ is contained (‘captivated’) by a reversal (‘coming up’) of A (from the clue) and a six-letter word meaning ‘pacific’; the deceptive capitalization of a word, such as ‘pacific’ here, is generally considered acceptable, although setters try to avoid it where possible.

19d Trump (crucial) showing desire to catch up (7, 2 words)
The word ‘showing’ here simply links the definition to the wordplay, which comprises a four-letter word meaning ‘[to] desire’ (in an intransitive sense) and a reversal (‘up’) of a three-letter word meaning ‘[to] catch’. Azed clearly felt that ‘Trump’ alone was a little vague as the definition, given that we are looking for a specific trump which is a crucial element of the game in which it features.

22d State founder adorning flag (6)
The family name of the ‘state founder’ provided the first four letters of the name of one of the British North American colonies which he founded and which became one of the original thirteen states.

28d Wipe foredeck up (4)
The Chambers definition of foredeck, ‘the forepart of a deck or ship‘ (my italics), should help guide you to the plural noun which must be reversed (‘up’) to form the answer.

(definitions are underlined)

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11 Responses

  1. Cait says:

    Cheers. Completed 25a and 3d as only one letter to find in each and only one fitted definition in both cases. Guessed Murphy could only be one thing but not familiar with word from which you removed abreviation. Frustrating when both wordplay AND definition are unknown words.
    Same with 25a Was unfamiliar with bishob and carriage. Found bishop but couldn’t see carriage.
    If I was more logical I could have parsed both backwards when I found possible solutions – hindsight is a wonderful thing!🤯

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Cait

      There are a couple of ‘obscure solution/obscure word in wordplay’ clues in this week’s puzzle too. I’m not a fan, because there’s no way that one can realistically solve them unaided. I’ve no problem at all with obscure solutions as long as there’s nothing unfamiliar in the wordplay (or vice versa); in fact, I think there’s entertainment to be had from working out what the answer must be and then finding that it really is in Chambers…or, just now and again, that it’s not 🙂

  2. Peter Bissett says:

    I’m fairly sure I have the answer to 19 down (fits the clue, only two unchecked letters). However I can’t find the two-word phrase in my Chambers (admittedly rather elderly!), but I also cannot find the phrase on Google. Even at 72, my thirst for knowledge remains unabated, so I’d be very grateful if someone could explain it to me. Clearly a card game I’ve little knowledge of.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Peter

      I think you’ll find the (4,3) answer under the second word (a reversal of a word meaning ‘to catch’) in Chambers, right at the bottom of the entry. It’s a crucial feature of a card game called ‘catch the ???’ or ‘Scots whist’, and is referred to by Sir Walter Scott in Old Mortality. If you google “catch the ???” you’ll find out all you ever wanted to know about the game!

      Let me know if you can’t track it down.

    • Daron Fincham says:

      I had the same trouble!

      • Peter Bissett says:

        Thank you. I did find it at the very end of the Chambers entry for the second word, not, I have to say, a place I would normally ever look, so I live and learn. Despite living in Scotland for 68 of my 72 years, I have absolutely never heard of either name. I’d like to update my (12th.) Chambers. I’ve seen a few rumblings online about a 14th. Does anyone know if this is in any way imminent?

  3. MuchPuzzled says:

    Completed bar the one unchecked letter in 25A ! As per Chambers Word Wizard, it can only be ‘D’, ‘L’,, or ‘T’ – none of which make sense as, even understanding the wordplay, I can’t find the carriage or the wretched bishop! Are those possibilities correct?

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi MP

      Nope, it’s none of them. The carriage is usually spelt with six letters (no E on the end) and takes its name from a German city; the ‘wretched’ bishop takes his designation from the name of a city in the north-east of Scotland (cut down to the first four letters), and he appears in Chambers under the headword for the eight-letter city. Hope that helps.

      • MuchPuzzled says:

        Thanks for this, obvious now I can see it. Once again its a problem of using an old Chambers which doesn’t have the 4-letter bishop in it. Curious though how its not found by the online Chambers Word Wizard – even if you enter an anagram of it, it doesn’t generate it. Presumably a very recent entry to Chambers.

  4. Michael-10175 says:

    One of the difficulties I had in solving 28d is that I interpreted ‘foredeck up’ to be referring to a singular noun — I would not have had that problem if the clue had been ‘wipe foredeckS up.’ Are we OK with the use of a clue implying a singular word to actually be referring to a plural word, particularly where a plural indicator could easily have been used in the clue? Or does the Chambers dictionary include the plural noun in the definition of the singular foredeck?

    Perhaps a better way to clue it could be: ‘Wipe up what comes after the musical finale’ — referring to the segment of a musical theater performance after the end of the show during which music continues to play while the cast trots out on stage to receive group or individual applause, a use of the (arguably) plural word that can legitimately be referred to in a singular way.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Michael, and welcome to the blog

      I take your point, and the word to be reversed didn’t immediately spring to my mind either. But I don’t believe there’s a problem per se with a plural form indicating a singular form, and vice versa, where the two could be considered broadly synonymous – for instance, ‘guts’ and ‘courage’, which pass the substitution test: ‘That takes guts’ / ‘That takes courage’. I do think that the Chambers definition – ‘the forepart of a ship or boat, often used in pl‘ – justifies Azed’s ‘foredeck’, as it offers no evidence that ‘the bows [of the ship]’ would always be interpreted as ‘the two bows considered individually’ rather than ‘the front part as a whole’. That said, I probably wouldn’t have relied on the equivalence in one of my own clues.