Notes for Azed 2,647

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 2,647 Plain

Difficulty rating: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

I felt that this puzzle, which didn’t strike me as being one of Azed’s very best, was of slightly above average difficulty. There were several clues where an unfamiliar solution was accompanied by an uncommon term in the wordplay, and a couple of others which were a little tricky to parse.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 14a, “Unit of money, ‘penny’ in Arabia (5)”. Nothing too difficult about this 1+2+2 charade leading to the name of a monetary unit in several countries, including some Arabian ones. Firstly, though, you may ask yourself why Azed has put inverted commas around the word ‘penny’. It’s because the word derives directly from the Latin denarius, which is translated in the New Testament as ‘penny’ – so it really is one. The clue could indeed have been written as just “‘Penny’ in Arabia”, which would have made it an &lit. The problem with this is that since ‘d’ is itself short for ‘denarius’, it would all be a bit incestuous, and the clue is much better as written, being an ‘offshoot &lit’ where the whole of the clue acts as the definition but only part of it constitutes the wordplay.

There is a second point – is ‘penny’ acceptable for D, given that it is over 50 years since decimalization? In a word, yes. There is a wealth of literature which contains the abbreviation and while it remains in Chambers it’s just as valid as ‘mark’ for M or ‘franc’ for FR.


11a What Indian women may wear about festival in spring (5)
The single-character abbreviation for ‘about’ in the sense of ‘in the region of’ is followed by the name of great festival or carnival of the Hindus, held at the approach of the vernal equinox, in honour of Krishna and the Gopīs or milkmaids; coincidentally, it is also the first part of a very familiar seven-letter word for any religious festival (now more generally applied to any time off for R&R).

18a Throw with the intention of wounding, showing vigour? Not on once (6)
The wordplay involves a four-letter word for ‘vigour’ and the letters ONCE (from the clue) with ON omitted (‘not on once’, which frankly is stretching the English language close to breaking point).

19a Like many in the senate house, before not being allowed out (7)
The senate house here is that of ancient Rome, and the wordplay is a charade of a two-letter word meaning (among many other things) ‘before’ and  term applied to students at Oxford or Cambridge who have been confined to college, either entirely or after a certain hour of the day. Better, at least, than being degraded, rusticated, or (perish the thought) expelled.

23a Gossip, as female getting round lows (7)
A three-letter word for a female is containing  (‘getting round’) a word for ‘lows’ which has nothing to do with depression and everything to do with cattle.

25a Hooligan giving the old man back pain (6)
A reversal (‘back’) of a two-letter word for ‘the old man’ (such as Lonnie Donegan’s dustman) is followed by a word for a pain (such as in Bonnie Tyler’s heart).

26a Caught immediately before tea? Take that! (6)
A straightforward 3+3 charade leads to an informal interjection which will forever be linked with the headline in The Sun of 4 May 1982, about which editor Kelvin Mackenzie later wrote in his own inimitable style:

At one stage, the Argentine military regime was offering what looked like faux peace talks. The Sun’s response came via the headline: STICK IT UP YOUR JUNTA. A classic, it became our catchphrase for the war.  We decided to put the whole paper on a war footing. News editor Tom Petrie became Commander Petrie for the duration. Reporters were given ranks from private to colonel. I stomped around the newsroom in sergeant major parody referring to colleagues as “horrible little people”. We invited readers to sponsor Sidewinder missiles. Joyfully it was reported that a missile fired from HMS Invincible with the words “Up Yours Galtieri” (the name of the Junta leader) had brought down an Argentinian plane.

The Sun journalists were a militant lot, and the day the Belgrano was sunk inevitably they were on strike. But the printers, a bolshie collection of overpaid and underworked half-wits, would allow me to produce the paper and turned a blind eye to a couple of execs giving assistance. It must have been around 10 o’clock on that May evening, while sitting on the news desk with assistant editor Wendy Henry, when it was reported that the Belgrano had been sunk. Hit with two torpedoes fired by our submarine, the Conqueror. On hearing the news Wendy, an excitable talent, shouted: Gotcha! With headlines I have always found that instinct trumps intelligence. So GOTCHA it was. 

30a American shrub from Haiti, its smell having a touch of arum (7)
The two-letter IVR code for Haiti is followed by a word for a smell, spelt in the American way (‘its smell’, ie the smell of an American shrub), and the first letter (‘a touch’) of ‘arum’.

32a Free literary style is associated with him in dialect (5)
A rather convoluted effort, a word for ‘literary style’ being placed after (‘associated with’) a dialect form of ‘him’. 


1d Overseas bowler demonstrating turn on the way down (7)
If you aren’t familiar with either of the two definitions here then a dictionary trawl (physical or electronic) may be required. The answer is also the surname of the founder (in 1843) of a group of Minstrels whose facial decoration would today be wholly unacceptable.

2d Partial weatherproofing in north America (6)
Another double definition clue, and quite a neat one, with the ‘partial’ being used in its sense of ‘partisan’. I’ve no idea why ‘north’ isn’t capitalized.

4d The French forced out of Spanish city creating a rumpus (4)
The masculine form of the French word for ‘the’ is ‘forced out of’ the middle of a Spanish city famous for bladed weapons, the result being a hyphenated (2-2) answer.

5d One doing housework switching ends became inefficient (6)
The word that must have its first and last letters swapped (‘switching ends’) can either describe the person doing the housework or something they would use to do it. Or the mildly mysterious name of a car which seems to have no connection with the activity.

7d Shut up about number turning up in the old west (6)
There might initially appear to be several options for the ‘number’ here, but it is the two-letter abbreviation for it which must be reversed inside a past participle meaning ‘shut up’ in order to produce a word from the 16th and 17th centuries for the place or direction of the sunset, very much along the lines of ‘occident’.

12d Having money invested in real crackers for cheese (10)
An anagram (‘crackers’) of IN REAL has a four-letter word for (ready) money put inside (‘invested’), the outcome being a particular sort of cheese.

17d Activity in bakery, except with children involved (8)
The usual two-letter abbreviation for ‘children’ is ‘involved’ in a synonym for ‘except’ that is rarely, if ever, seen these days. Byron was familiar with it, though:

For, ?????? Covent Garden, I can hit on No place that’s call’d ‘Piazza’ in Great Britain

It can also be spelt with an extra ‘i’, thus describing something the noble lord would surely not have allowed to happen to the pet which he kept while a student at Cambridge.

20d Malay Muslim in Australia briefly in love (7)
One where I had to work back from the solution and the three-letter abbreviation (‘briefly’) for ‘Australia’ to identify (and check) the Malay Muslim from the Philippines contained therein.

28d Mountain goat or deer, tail aloft (4)
A word for a male deer, most often seen these days in pub names, has the last letter brought to the start (‘tail aloft’). Several years ago I remember looking into the goats in question when there was a clue which could have led either to this one or to TAHR.

Capricornis ???? (it seems) is the Himalayan serow, a goat-like mammal of the Himalayas and Bangladesh, whilst the Himalayan TAHR (also known as the common ????, you’re still following me?) is Hemitragus jemlahicus, the sole survivor of the Hemitragus genus and a large ungulate related to the wild goat found in, among other places, the Himalayas. So neither is truly a goat, but both are, shall we say, of a goatish disposition, and both make their homes in mountainous regions. Thar you are then.

(definitions are underlined)

You may also like...

3 Responses

  1. Michael-10175 says:

    Two of the answers in this puzzle — 3d and 23a — are transliterations. For 23a, the second ‘s’ is necessary for the crossing answer, but that isn’t the typical spelling used in the transliteration of that word from the Yiddish — one would normally see a ‘z’ used in that position instead of an ‘s’. Similarly for 3d, the second ‘h’ would more typically be written as ‘ch’ to capture the guttural ‘ch’ sound in the original Hebrew. What are your thoughts on the use of transliterations, particularly in the circumstance where there isn’t a unique generally-agreed spelling of the transliterated word?

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Michael

      An interesting point, and a very good question, but one which I can only answer in the context of crossword puzzles. If a particular spelling is in Chambers, then it is acceptable; if it isn’t in Chambers, then it’s not. The presence of a word in the dictionary means that, rightly or wrongly, that word now ‘exists’ in English (or ‘crossword English’, at least). With specific regard to transliterations, I appreciate the inherent issues but am ill-equipped to comment further.

  2. JOHN ATKINSON says:

    The troops were ordered not to refer to Falklanders as Bennies after the somewhat slow-witted character Benny in Crossroads. Naturally, they then named them Stills. Because they were still Bennies.

    I found this easier than average, having completed the puzzle before coming here to savour your musings.

    I like the way Chambers says 24d “is wrong.”

    Thanks as usual. J.