Notes for Azed 2,652
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 2,652 Plain
Difficulty rating: (2.5 / 5)
A 13×11 puzzle that struck me as being close to the middle of the difficulty spectrum. I didn’t think it was one of Azed’s very best, and a couple of clues seemed a tad unsatisfactory. There were, however, no |androids in evidence this time.
Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 13d, “Lady’s maid getting money that’s very little worked better (9)”. Quite a neat clue, where a three-letter word given by Chambers as meaning ‘a French five-centime piece; a tiny amount of money’ is followed by an anagram (‘worked’) of BETTER. It occurred to me (as I’m sure it did to Azed) that “Lady’s maid getting very little money worked better” would be neater still. However, ‘a tiny amount of money’ is not quite the same as ‘very little money’, the latter not equating to a very little sum of money, and Azed has chosen a wording which more closely matches the true sense of the word. I applaud the precision which Azed has deemed appropriate. That said, I think the point is a subtle one and some editors would have accepted the alternative form, which it would be hard to describe as unfair to solvers.
12a Bird you probably won’t see appearing regularly in the urinal (4)
I admit that my first though here was TERN, although I was a bit surprised about the extra L that the odd characters of the ‘the urinal’ delivered. Of course, Azed has ruled that option out by way of the definition, which certainly wouldn’t apply to a tern (I still vividly recall being attacked by an arctic one on the Farne Islands) but certainly is relevant to the correct bird, described by Chambers as ‘now probably extinct’.
14a One akin to goosefoot? It’s found amid the alien corn (5)
The letters IT (from the clue) are to be found contained by (‘amid’) the French word for ‘corn’ (ie ‘alien corn’). I make no apology for repeating Norah Jarman’s successful clue from Ximenes comp 1140:
20a … Live, including muggins, hackneyed stuff, old hat (7)
I don’t remember seeing ‘muggins’ used before to reference the setter, but here the letter I must be joined with a four-letter word for ‘hackneyed stuff’ before being placed inside a two-letter word meaning ‘live’. Often in Azed’s puzzles when two clues are joined by ellipses they are linked from a solving perspective, but here the ellipses are there purely to suggest a surface reading which spans the divide.
21a Reactionary so-and-so from Norway earned terribly old German money? (13)
The IVR code for Norway is followed by an anagram (‘terribly’) of EARNED and a six-letter word for an obsolete German coin, although the best known variety surely comes from Austria. The Maria Theresa ?????? is a silver bullion coin that has been minted continuously since 1741. All Maria Theresa thalers minted after 1780 bear the date ‘1780’. At least 400 million of the coins have been minted, and they are still being produced.
23a Salamis probably featured this meatier recipe, one cut (7)
In 480 BC, the Greeks defeated the Persian fleet off the island of Salamis in the largest naval battle ever fought in the ancient world. Numbers of the boats in question are a little sketchy, but it seems that the Greeks had about 370 of these vessels. while the Persians had…well, quite a lot. The Greeks would have you believe that it was 1,200, but they would say that – 600-800 seems a more likely figure, given that the Persian fleet had suffered a few strokes of bad luck, most significantly when losing 400 or so in a storm of the coast of Magnesia (where the milk comes from). Anyway, the Persians should have won, but they didn’t. The wordplay involves an anagram (not obviously signalled) of MEATIER R (‘recipe’) without the A (‘one cut’).
27a Poultries straying (apart from pair inside) lay away from brood? (7)
A couple of slight oddities here – the fact that the ‘pair inside’ POULTRIES which must omitted prior to being anagrammed (‘straying’) is not specified (I’m fine with that – there are only six possibilities), and the ‘from brood’ in the definition seems to fulfil no purpose other than improving the surface reading (I’m not so keen on that).
32a Native of New Mexico maybe, last character to attend advanced instruction (4)
Another slightly strange one. The last character (of the alphabet) is clear enough, but the ‘accompany’ sense of ‘attend’ is archaic, and ‘advanced instruction’ doesn’t seem to adequately indicate the remaining three letters (why not just ‘college’?). All suggestions gratefully received.
34a Energy to preserve? Torn about reverse of that, rarely holding back (8)
A four-letter word meaning ‘torn’ is put around (‘about’) a reversal of the usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘energy’ plus a three-letter word meaning ‘to preserve’. The solution is shown by Chambers as ‘rare’.
4d ‘Little’ girl in Rome played quietly above hall (5)
Azed rarely if ever uses a forename as a solution without giving some supporting indication, and here he tells us that in Latin the name means ‘little’. The wordplay has the usual single-character abbreviation for ‘piano’ (‘played quietly’) over the Latin word for a hall.
8d Fashionable, but lacking some French ‒ it mustn’t be forgotten! (5)
A three-word French expression meaning ‘fashionable’ is missing (‘lacking’) a two-letter French word for ‘some’, producing the name of a fort in Texas associated with an 1836 battle. Originally built as a Catholic mission for the purpose of converting Mesoamerican Indians living near the growing town of San Antonio, it was given its name by Spanish cavalrymen in honour of their home village, ????? de Parras. According to legend, when confronted by the might of the Mexican army, the rebel commander of the fort, William B. Travis, drew his sword and traced a line in the sand with its tip. He asked every man who was willing to defend the fort to the death to cross it. Only one man didn’t cross The battle became legendary almost immediately after it ended. The insurgents’ fatal refusal to surrender to the Mexican forces served to stimulate other rebels to continue fighting General Santa Ana and his army. In the month that followed the battle, the now-famous cry of “Remember the ?????!” was used to rally the rebels. Johnny Cash even wrote a song about it. Among those who lost their lives were Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett, giving me an excuse for repeating this favourite schoolboy joke: How may ears did Davy Crockett have? Three – a left ear, a right ear, and a wild front ear. I’ll get me coat…
10d Sailors in service as once watched which way they rowed? (7)
The ‘sailors’ here leads to the two-letter abbreviation for ‘Royal Navy’, which is contained by a five-letter Elizabethan (‘as once’) spelling of a word for service, more familiar with an A in fourth position rather than an E, and almost invariably seen these days only in a couple of expressions, in one of which it has the meaning of ‘role’ or ‘place’. The definition caused me to raise an eyebrow or two – I see what Azed is getting at (they could see where they were going when they did this), but it’s a bit of a stretch.
22d Proud as before, old copper is on top of the facts (mostly) (6)
The old copper is two letters long and the sort that the Detectorists might turn up (along with the ring pulls and scaffolding clamps); it’s followed by (‘on top of’) a word for ‘the facts’ from which the last letter has been removed (‘mostly’).
25d Zemindar’s fitted out men with this tailor (5)
A composite anagram, where the letters of ZEMINDAR are a potential rearrangement (‘fitted out’) of MEN plus the solution (‘this tailor’).
26d Herd maybe accepts old dialect that’s spread (5)
A biblical word for ‘cows’ (‘Herd maybe’) contains the usual abbreviation for ‘old’, the result being a term which was originally applied to the common literary dialect of the Greeks from the close of classical Attic to the Byzantine era, but has been extended to include any language or dialect in regular use over a wide area in which different languages or dialects are, or were, in use locally.
28d Attempt taking in old information from the US (4)
An informal word for an attempt (as in ‘a pound a ???’) contains…that abbreviation for ‘old’ we’ve just had in the previous clue! The answer is a slang term, originating in the US, for “up-to-date or ‘inside’ information, ‘low-down’”.
29d Sound unit, as it’s said, worked with machine? (4)
Azed falls into the trap here of the ambiguous homophone. We have know way of noing which is the soundalike (“as it’s said”) and which is the solution. It turns out that the answer sounds like the sound unit.
(definitions are underlined)