Notes for Azed 2,656

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 2,656 Plain

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

After the devilry of last week, a plain puzzle that seemed solid rather than spectacular, and was, I felt, around the middle of the difficulty spectrum.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 29a, “I must fill crack in minor joist (6)”. The wordplay has the letter I being inserted into a five-letter word meaning ‘[to] crack’ in the sense that one might crack a crossword clue, producing a term for a joist of secondary importance. The point of interest here is one of the classic grammatical traps for setters concerning verbs which require a different person in the surface and cryptic readings. In this instance, ‘I fill crack in minor joint’ seems obvious, but the cryptic reading requires a verb in the third, not the first, person, so ‘I fills crack in minor joint’, which is accurate but doesn’t read too well. The same issue applies to other words (eg ‘we’), because a wordplay element is a ‘thing’ and invariably needs to govern a verb in the third person. It is usually possible to work round the problem by selecting a form of the verb which is the same in both situations, typically with the aid of an auxiliary verb – as in the clue here, or the alternative ‘I will fill crack in minor joist’.


14a Trendy clothing outlet recalled period in Haifa? (4)
The fashion company whose name must here be reversed (‘recalled’) was founded Barbara Hulanicki, and its first shop opened its doors in Abingdon Road, Kensington, in September 1964. Its lasting fame was sealed, though, by the move in 1973 to the old Derry and Toms building on Kensington High Street. It rapidly became known as the ‘theatre of fashion’, but its popularity was not accompanied by financial success and it closed down in 1975.

How do you know which component in the clue is to be reversed to form the word indicated by the other? You don’t – at least one checker is required before you can enter the solution.

16a Bill left during tea dealt with while eating (7, 2 words)
A three-letter word for a bill of the sort that you might get in a restaurant and the usual abbreviation for ‘left’ are contained by (‘during’ – not an insertion indicator I like, but there we are) an anagram (‘dealt with’) of TEA.

19a King being absent to judge very stupid, needing to concentrate again (10)
A six-letter word meaning ‘to judge’ deprived of the chess players’ abbreviation for ‘king’ (‘King being absent’) is followed by a five-letter word meaning ‘very stupid’.

23a Wolf giving growl, endlessly noisy (5)
A five-letter word meaning ‘growl’ missing its last letter (‘endlessly’) and a single-letter abbreviation usually indicated by ‘loud’ (ie ‘noisy’) combine to produce the answer, which is not a noun, as the clue might seem to suggest, but a verb.

25a Rare herbs? Transposing last pair, better (5)
The plural of a word for a herb or vegetable shown by Chambers as ‘now rare except as combining form’ has its last two letters transposed, thus making a word which somewhat counterintuitively means ‘[to] better’. Checked letters aside, could it be the ‘better’ word which has its last letters interchanged? Yes, as with 14a, either interpretation is possible.

30a Cox maybe in difficulty with one in the bow getting slewed? (9)
The ‘Cox’ here is the man who made particle physics cool, and was at one time a rock musician. His first name is contained by a three-letter word for a difficulty or hindrance, the combination having the Roman numeral representing ‘one’ at the start (‘in the bow’). ‘Slewed’ here is the slang term meaning ‘drunk’.

31a Rigorous about brief response to one of PMQs – it’ll end here? (7)
A four-letter word meaning ‘rigorous’ or ‘strict’ containing (‘about’) an abbreviated form of a word for ‘answer’ (‘brief response’) produces the name given to the printed reports of debates in parliament. It was the surname of Luke, an English printer who printed the Journals of the House of Commons from 1774 until his death, and his son Thomas Curson, who added the name to the title of the official reports of parliamentary debates and proceedings in 1829.

32a What’s no good in Turkmenistan’s capital? Wrong, actually (5)
The usual abbreviation for ‘no good’ is contained by the name of the letter which appears as a capital in the word ‘Turkmenistan’. The sort of money indicated by the answer would be good there, although you’d need to have a lot for it to be much good.


1d Young star embracing love, right? It precedes carnival in WI (7, apostrophe)
A four-letter theatrical term for a juvenile lead contains the usual single-letter representation of ‘love’ and a two-letter abbreviation for ‘right’.

3d It may prompt a blessing, hence following raised palm (7)
A three-letter word for a palm frequently seen in South America and barred crosswords is reversed (‘raised’) and followed by a four-letter interjection meaning ‘begone!’ (ie ‘[get thee] hence[!]’).

6d Merriment immediately leading to energy in the midst of happiness (10)
A four-letter word meaning ‘immediately’ or ‘subsequently’ and (‘leading to’) the standard abbreviation for ‘energy’ are contained by (‘in the midst of’) a word for (extreme) happiness.

9d She may fit out Rose in formal attire (9)
An anagram (‘out’) of ROSE is contained by a five-letter word for a gentleman’s formal evening wear.

20d Nark near taken in by very good fabrication (7)
A two-letter word meaning (among many other things) ‘near’ is ‘taken in’ by another two-letter word, this one meaning ‘very good’, while a word for a fabrication brings up the rear.

21d Arty Yank is cut short, protected by English thrall classically (7)
A shortened form of ‘is’ (‘is cut short’) is contained (‘protected’) by the usual abbreviation for ‘English’ and a five-letter word for a thrall (or serf) in ancient Greece. The answer is a US spelling, hence the ‘Yank’.

24d Ligaments revealed in turning over a garden plot (5)
A (2,3) phrase for a garden plot or small piece of ground in South Africa is reversed (‘turning over’) , resulting in ligaments which restrain the motion of a part of the body.

27d Christian love rises to envelop one (4)
It’s not ‘nil’ that needs to rise and envelop a single-letter word for ‘one’, but a similar slang word also meaning ‘nothing’.

(definitions are underlined)

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6 Responses

  1. Daron Fincham says:

    For 24d could you point me to the South African garden in Chambers, please. I can’t find it. Thanks.

  2. Hilary Jarrett says:

    Surely the definition in 25A is ‘better’ not ‘rare herbs’? Hate to be picky when you give me so much help!

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Thanks, Hilary.

      Your restraint is appreciated! Basically, I was doing the notes in a bit of a hurry, and I’d got it into my head that the solution at 25a was the herbs, and written the explanation that way round. The answer could have been the herbs…but it wasn’t! Now sorted.

  3. Mr Hagget says:

    Re 32a: surely the answer would NOT be accepted in Turkmenistan, where one would need manats

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Mr H

      I believe that the manat is still subdivided into 100 of these, but since galloping inflation led to the introduction of the new manat at a rate of 5000:1 in 2009, a few of them would be worth the thin end of next to nothing.