Notes for Azed 2,646
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 2,646 ‘Cherchez la Femme’
Difficulty rating: (4 / 10)
The last ‘Cherchez la Femme’ was 2,515 (PETRONELLA), although it was not a competition puzzle. On this occasion, I have to say that as soon as I saw that we were looking for an eleven-letter surname (which, it being the competition clue word, is almost certain to appear in Chambers) I correctly guessed the word. I find that solving a puzzle like this is simply a matter of proceeding as normal, entering answers as you get them (in pencil, with an eraser to hand), and then adding a second letter into the cells where clashes occur – so if the second letter of HALF clashed at its intersection with the third letter of STICK, I would put ‘A/I’ in the cell and write the ‘midway’ letter at the side of the grid (in this instance, E – AbcdEfghI). Once I’ve completed the puzzle and identified the name, I then replace the double letters with the ‘midway’ ones, so in the example I would write in an E, thus making the non-words HELF and STECK. I could have written in an E from the outset, but that can get very confusing, particularly if you’ve gone wrong! When solving the puzzle, always bear in mind that no entry is involved in more than one clash.
I felt that the puzzle was a bit tougher than an average ‘plain’, but certainly one of the easier specials. Right until the end I thought there was only going to be one clash in any given row, but that proved to be incorrect. For anyone who wants to do a quick check, I have listed the row/column coordinates of the cells where clashes occur below the notes.
Clue Writers’ Corner: A correspondent who started writing clues for the competition a couple of years ago recently sent me his entries for comment. Several of these illustrate common traps for Azed competitors and will be the subject of a separate post, but one point that arose related to the presence (or absence) of a full stop at the end of a clue. Convention indicates that a full stop is not required, but if you include one Azed will simply ignore it, likewise if you include the clue number or an enumeration (letter count). Azed’s tolerance extends considerably further, as witnessed by this comment from the slip for AZ285:
…it’s worth sounding again my regular note of warning to those who submit clues entirely in capital letters. It certainly makes for greater legibility (messy scribblers, please note!) but occasionally disguises a proper name which has to be read with a lower-case initial to give sense to the clue.
On the subject of punctuation at the end of a clue, don’t forget about the value of a closing question mark in three related circumstances – when the definition or wordplay element at the end of the clue constitutes a definition by example (as ‘a dish?’ in 9d here, a dish being just one example of the solution), when the definition at the end of a clue is not one you would find in a dictionary (eg ‘describing handbook?’ in 2d here), and in &lit clues where the ‘definition’ is more of a suggestion (eg D P Shenkin’s ‘One to shake up trite profs?’ for ESPRIT FORT).
Note that a clue for this month’s competition doesn’t have to refer to the person; other meanings of the word can also be used (for illustration, see the list of successful clues for CLEMENTINE in 2,279). If you’re going to use the person’s first name as the definition, don’t forget that it will be a definition by example and needs either a question mark or something like a ‘maybe’ to accompany it. Since the word does not appear as an entry in the grid, Azed would allow it to be treated as either an across or a down solution (though personally I would avoid clueing it as if it were a down entry).
1a Californian shrub maiden made room for in travelling carriage (7)
The usual abbreviation for ‘maiden’ (the cricketing term) is contained (‘made room for’) inside a six-letter word for a ‘light open carriage for one or more persons’ or a ‘travelling carriage’.
12a RC brother making point about passion (8)
The answer is constructed by putting a four-letter word for a point (such as a fork might have) around (‘about’) a four-letter word for ‘passion’.
16a Maize patty rail spits right out (8)
The rail here is of the avian kind, and it is ‘spitting out’ the usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘right’ (there are in fact two instances of it, and it is the second one which is lost).
27a What’ll clean the decks? Apply for round nozzle, saving time (5)
A three-letter word meaning ‘[to] apply for’ or ‘prosecute’ is placed round a word for a nozzle from which the standard abbreviation for ‘time’ has been removed (‘saving time’).
29a What’s assumed to be valid? It’s introduced by chambers (5)
Nothing too tricky about this one, the letters IT (from the clue) following (‘introduced by’) a three-letter plural meaning ‘chambers’ or gazunders, but I’m a little puzzled as to why Azed didn’t write ‘Chambers introduces it’; the apparently plural noun governing a singular verb in the wordplay might look odd, but for the purposes of cryptic manipulation the noun is treated simply as a singular character string, regardless of number.
31a Antitoxin possibly or antivenom, name lost (8)
An anagram (‘possibly’) of OR ANTIVENOM from which a word meaning ‘name’ has been omitted (‘name lost’); because the letters of this word occur consecutively in ANTIVENOM, there is no need for a second anagram indicator.
32a ‘Blind’ pouches, each taken into account in turn (5)
The usual abbreviation for ‘each’ is ‘taken into’ a three-letter abbreviation for ‘account’ and the whole lot reversed (‘in turn’).
2d Pair up in moderation, describing handbook? (5)
A three-letter word for a pair is reversed (‘up’) inside a two-letter word for ‘moderation’ that is also an interjection indicating surprise. The solution is hyphenated, 3-2.
3d This is a kind of Indo-European ‒ do please read carefully (5)
The wordplay here leads to a (1,4) phrase which might seem to be exhorting someone to read carefully (or to use a photocopier). There is a clash involved which makes finding the answer trickier than it might otherwise have been.
4d Sport lifted spirits, hearts included (6)
The ‘spirits’ here are manifested in the five-letter plural of a name for ‘an aniseed-flavoured spirit of Turkey and the E Mediterranean’; this must be reversed (‘lifted’) before having the usual abbreviation for ‘hearts’ included (in position 2). The ‘game’ is an Anglo-Indian hunting term.
5d It traps river fish, lines aloft in flowing Tees (6)
The ‘lines aloft’ indicate an informal US term for an elevated railroad, which must be placed inside an anagram (‘flowing’) of TEES to produce the 3-3 answer.
7d Before those paying to attend turned up, stand required (7)
A three-letter ‘usually literary’ word meaning ‘before’ and a four-letter word used to describe the number of people attending a game (often seen followed by ‘receipts’) are reversed (‘turned up’).
9d Number taken in by tragic heroine, a dish? (7)
The tragic heroine who ‘takes in’ the three-letter written form of a specific cardinal number was created by Leo Tolstoy and has been portrayed by, among many others, Greta Garbo and Vivien Leigh.
17d A stake placed inside tin may be plucked (7)
One of those clues with a relatively obscure answer and a relatively obscure element in the wordplay. The letter A (from the clue) and a four-letter word for a stake in gambling are contained by (‘placed inside’) the chemical symbol for tin. You may be surprised to see Azed indicating a noun using a verb, but 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’.
18d Granular deposit ‒ it encases a sweetbread (7)
In something close to a re-run of the preceding clue, here the letter A (from the clue) and a four-letter word for the sweetbread or pancreas (and the surname of the actor who played Perry Mason on TV) are contained by the two-letter abbreviation for a certain sort of appeal much appreciated by crossword setters.
25d Fatty school gets reduced by 50% (5)
I thought at first that we would be looking at the ten-letter name of a school from which the last five letters would be lost, but in fact the wordplay leads to a three-letter term for the sort of school attended by whales or seals, followed by the word GETS missing one half.
(definitions are underlined)
Clashes occur in the following cells
(row 1, column 4); (1,10); (3,3); (5,7); (6,12); (7,6); (8,9); (9,3); (10,7); (11,1); (12,11).