Notes for Azed 2,669

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 2,669 Plain

Difficulty rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars (1.5 / 5)

There were several answers that I wasn’t familiar with, but such was the accuracy of the wordplays (and the absence of obscurities therein) that I was able to complete the puzzle without recourse to Chambers. Combined with the friendliness of the long entries at the top and bottom of the puzzle, this suggests a difficulty rating significantly below average.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at  a clue from a non-Azed puzzle, “Could be Nissan parking is Cherry, perhaps that can see to it itself? (8)”. The answer is AUTOCARP [AUTOCAR + P], being a term for a fruit produced by self-fertilization, and there are a few points of interest here. The first is the use of ‘Could be Nissan’ to indicate AUTOCAR – Azed reckons that “barks like a dog and is man’s best friend” is OK for DOG, and I wouldn’t disagree, so that’s alright in isolation, but since ‘could be Nissan’ isn’t a noun phrase, adding the ‘parking’ to it is highly questionable. The biggest issue, however, relates to the definition. it’s a pretty horrible word to define accurately, and the setter has tried to do something interesting, so I’m prepared to accept that an autocarp, the result of self-fertilization, could be said to ‘see to itself’. What I can’t accept is the lone comma between ‘Cherry’ and ‘perhaps’ – this clearly tells us that the answer is a Cherry (or cherry) which can perhaps see to itself. The clue needs a second comma, such that the definition reads ‘Cherry, perhaps, that can see to itself’ – then we are looking at something which can see to itself, perhaps a cherry. When writing clues, it is important to check that in the cryptic reading the punctuation does not unfairly mislead the solver.

Across

9a Accepted bishop’s mild exclamation:‘Bedad!’ (5)
A single-letter abbreviation, a two-letter abbreviation for a title given to an Anglican bishop, and an expression of ‘surprise, joy, pity, complaint, objection, etc.’ (something of an interjection for all seasons) combine to produce an expression, the Irishness of which is not explicitly stated but is implied by the use of ‘bedad’ as the definition.

14a Speedster to drive round, holding on (5)
A three-letter word meaning (among many other things) ‘to drive’ reversed (’round’) outside (‘holding’) ON (from the clue) produces a (3-2) hyphenated solution.

18a Names from the past I’m among shortly making comeback (6)
The letters IM (from the clue) are placed inside (‘among’) a word meaning ‘shortly’ and the whole lot reversed (‘making a comeback’). The names are the sort that Romans had between their praes and their cogs.

19a Maybe ironic address to friend year after sack? (4)
The usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘year’ follows a word for a sack of a particular, woven material ‘used to cover a chest of tea, coffee etc’. The definition doesn’t seem quite right – the word (a favourite of Jim Strange in Endeavour) could be used when addressing a friend, but in that instance there would be no irony; that would come when Jim was addressing not Morse but a miscreant.

21a Application for military uniform left in money kept in accounts (6)
The single-letter abbreviation for ‘left’ is put inside the term for the bank money of account (as opposed to currency), producing the nickname of the character played by David Jason in Porridge, and the name of a product first used by the British Army to whiten Slade (as in the fictional prison) Wallace buckskin leather equipment in the nineteenth century.

26a Dim northerner needing to grasp difference ultimately between right and left (7)
A four-letter word meaning ‘to grasp’ or ‘to hold’ is followed by the last letter of DIFFERENCE (‘difference ultimately’) in between the abbreviations for ‘right’ and ‘left’.

29a Love making flip in second fruit tonic? (8)
A three-letter word for ‘love’ (in the sporting sense) is reversed (‘making flip’) inside the abbreviation for ‘second’ plus the name of a fruit. The definition is by example, hence the question mark.

30a Pear yielding dry unit (not vin) (6)
More fruit, this one comprising a three-letter word for ‘dry’ and a six-letter unit (of temperature) from which the consecutive letters VIN have been removed (‘not vin’).

Down

3d One bit of carpeting taken up in flat for hermit (7)
The Roman numeral for one and a three-letter word for a ‘bit of carpeting’ are reversed (‘taken up’) within a word for a place of one’s own, whether large or small.

12d Crushing formerly hurt struggling clubs in grip of problem (10)
An anagram (‘struggling’) of HURT precedes the usual abbreviation for ‘clubs’ inside (‘in grip of’) a word for a problem (as in ‘the ????? is…’). The qualification of the definition is incorrect – Chambers gives the answer as ‘dialect’ rather than ‘obsolete’ or ‘archaic’, so ‘formerly’ should be something like ‘locally’.

16d Prop not yet solid admits bloody lifting inside (8)
A five-letter word meaning ‘not yet solid’, as runny blancmange might be, has a three-letter word meaning ‘bloody’ reversed (‘lifting’) inside.

17d Flowers showing trouble rising in leaf divisions (8)
A three-letter verb meaning ‘[to] trouble’ is reversed (‘rising’) within a word for leaf divisions.

22d Bug, obscure, appearing on opening of speedwell (literally) (6)
A three-letter abbreviation is followed by the name (hence the ‘literally’) of the first letter (‘opening’) of SPEEDWELL.

27d A rag banned from local benefice as depravity (4)
An eight-letter word for the residence or benefice of a parson has the consecutive letters A RAG omitted (‘banned’).

(definitions are underlined)

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18 Responses

  1. RJHe says:

    I’m surprised you had to look elsewhere for something to write about in Setter’s Corner this week. I found a couple of things worthy of debate in this puzzle, namely:

    1) Is it poor form for a setter to use the same indicator (“circling”) in two consecutive clues (6dn and 7dn)?

    2) Are the linkwords “giving”, “forming” and “yielding” (in 20ac, 28ac and 30ac respectively) sound, or should they be “given/formed/yielded by”?

    I was also doubtful at first about his use of “showed” in 25dn, which appeared to violate his rule forbidding use of past tense verbs in wordplay. However, the major dictionaries say it’s a valid alternative to the usual past participle “shown”, which makes it OK.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi RJHe, welcome (back) to the blog, and hearty congrats on your recent success (number 23?)

      This week’s item in Setters’ Corner was, I must admit, already lined up prior to the appearance of 2,669. Each of the points which you raise applies in principle to a number of recent puzzles, and I will address them separately below.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      1) Is it poor form for a setter to use the same indicator (“circling”) in two consecutive clues (6dn and 7dn)?

      In a word, ‘yes’. Repeating any indicator (with the same significance) or any word leading to a specific abbreviation anywhere in a puzzle would be picked up and rejected by certain crossword editors. After I have written the clues for a puzzle (regardless of editor!), I always go though them and list out all the abbreviations, letter selection indicators, containment/insertion indicators, deletion indicators, reversal indicators and anagram indicators that I have used; I usually find four or five repetitions, and I fix them all. For no good reason, I don’t worry about using ‘in’ as an insertion indicator multiple times, and editors don’t seem bothered by its repetition either.

      Azed quite often ‘repeats’ – here we had ‘left’ = L in 21a and 26a, which I can just about accept, but the use of the same verb in two consecutive clues seems particularly weak. The ‘Eager hoe-down’ could equally well have been ‘involving’ the street; personally I would rule out ‘encircling’ as a replacement, as to all intents and purposes it’s the same as ‘circling’ (likewise ‘around’ and ’round’, ‘back’ and ‘aback’ etc).

      For me a duplication like this is a bit like an asymmetric grid (shameless plug: the subject of the first ‘musing’ on my new blog thread!) – it doesn’t make solving a puzzle harder, but it adversely affects my marks for both technical merit and artistic impression, and thus my enjoyment. I’m guessing from the question that you weren’t impressed by it either?

      • RJHe says:

        In a word, no – and like you, purely for aesthetic reasons, the clues in question being of course no harder or easier to solve had one of them used a different containment indicator. TBH I probably wouldn’t have spotted the repetition had the clues not been in such close proximity.

        I’d be interested to hear which (if any) of the three clues mentioned in question 2) you consider to be sound.

      • Monk says:

        I chanced upon an effective and foolproof means of eradicating such device repetition at the link https://onlinetexttools.com/find-duplicate-text-words . This link offers a handy tool when setting (as I do) in the tree-saving absence of pen and paper. Simply copy all clues (in ASCII form) and paste them into the left-hand box at the link, whose right-hand box will display all repetitions at the press of a key. I recently circulated this link to several setters and editors, the majority of whom welcomed its addition to their toolkit.

        • Doctor Clue says:

          Excellent tip – thanks, Monk! If I ever manage to come up with an idea for a new puzzle I’ll try it out… 🙂

        • Doctor Clue says:

          Prompted by your recommendation, I wondered whether something similar could be achieved in Word. I found a macro which which my negligible VB skills allowed me to tweak very slightly in order to act on the current selection rather than the active document, with all words being converted to lower case. It has an exclusion list, to which I have added ‘across’ and ‘down’, but other words could be tagged on; the code already ignored any sequence of characters that didn’t start with a letter. For anyone who wants to try it out, the text of the macro can be found at:

          http://www.clueclinic.com/wp-content/uploads/Check_Words.txt

          Create a new macro in word, import the text into it, select the part of your document that you wish to analyse, and run the Check_Words macro – a new document will be created that looks something like this

          about (1)
          2:14
          all (1)
          2:20
          altruist (1)
          2:21
          at (2)
          2:16, 2:18
          bring (1)
          2:15
          british (2)
          2:18, 2:21
          determined (1)
          2:15
          disheartened (1)
          2:13
          dismissing (1)
          2:14
          do (1)
          2:19

          where the number of instances is shown in brackets along with the page:line on which each occurs.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      2) Are the linkwords “giving”, “forming” and “yielding” (in 20ac, 28ac and 30ac respectively) sound, or should they be “given/formed/yielded by”?

      Although I have stopped using linkwords entirely in my own clues, I’m perfectly happy to see them being deployed by other setters; a correspondent requested that I include a list of appropriate words/phrases in the data section of the site, and it’s something I plan to do. However, in recent times (or so it seems to me – what do you think?) Azed has been increasingly pushing the boundaries of acceptability.

      To my way of thinking, there are a small number of bidirectional linkwords such as ‘and’ and ‘or’ (I’ve seen ‘with’ being used recently, but I’m not keen on it), while the rest lead either from the wordplay to the defined answer (‘for’, ‘to make’, ‘producing’) or from the definition to the wordplay (‘from’, ‘of’). I believe the three links that you mention in this puzzle are all ‘pointing the wrong way’. I particularly don’t like ‘forming’, which clearly indicates the creation of a whole, while ‘giving’ and ‘yielding’ I might wave through on one of my less pernickety days. Another Azed ‘regular’ that won’t be in my list is ‘needing’ (26a) – the answer doesn’t need to be produced in that particular way.

      • RJHe says:

        I’d be more inclined than you to accept ‘needing’ as a linkword, it being perfectly reasonable, I think, to see the definition as ‘needing’ the component parts of the wordplay – and there’s no doubting that it’s ‘pointing the right way’.

        As regards ‘giving’, ‘forming’ and ‘yielding’, to me they’re much of a muchness. They may indeed be ‘pointing the wrong way’ in the three Azed clues I mentioned, but in the case of one of them – 20ac “Murphy giving a hand alongside son” – I’d be inclined to argue for leniency. In the case of an A + B charade clue such as this one (or even an A + B + C + … charade), is it not feasible to imagine the definition part ‘giving’ (or ‘yielding’, or ‘forming’) the answer’s component parts side by side in a perfectly natural way? I think it is. However, I’m much more uneasy about the other two clues, where the wordplay involves insertion and subtraction. In my view, when the wordplay is more complex than a simple charade, the “D giving WP” construction becomes harder to justify.

        • Doctor Clue says:

          By gum, it’s a tricky one!

          I can’t see that ABCD ‘forms’ AB+CD or (BC in AD), although perhaps it could be considered to ‘give’ or ‘yield’ them. I’m not sure about the complexity of the wordplay being relevant as long as it can be seen as delivering on its own a sequence of characters that match the defined answer, but I do take your point – a two metre piece of wood could yield two one-metre lengths, but not three such lengths of which one has been lost, so subtraction (as in 30a) does seem particularly unappealing. But I may be getting dangerously close to conflating the cruciverbal world and the real one…

          I don’t feel that ABCD ‘needs’ AB+CD either, since ABCD can be formed in many other ways, although I’d concede that it’s borderline. Oddly, I think “Cats needing line in Irish festival” would be ok for 28a, since you could argue that the only way to get FELIS from FEIS is to insert an L, and “Cats left needing to enter Irish festival” might also work.

          For 26a, I’d have no problem with “Dim northerner? You need to grasp difference ultimately between right and left”, because that’s what the solver needs to produce the answer.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      For the benefit of other readers, the point about 25d is that an indicator in the past tense is not considered acceptable. So ‘lecturer bores class’ or ‘lecturer boring class’ would work as wordplays for CASTLE, but not ‘lecturer bored class’, which implies that the resulting state no longer exists (L ‘bored’ CASTE at some time in the past, but no longer does so). Likewise ‘class bored by lecturer’, where ‘bored’ is a participle, refers to an ongoing state and is fine, but ‘class was bored by lecturer’ is no good.

      In 25d, ‘showed’ in ‘lecturer showed in film’ appears to be the past tense of ‘show’ in the sense of ‘appear’, and should therefore be ‘shows’ or ‘is showing’. But, as RJHe points out, ‘showed’ is given by Chambers as an alternative to ‘shown’ for the past participle of the verb, so ‘lecturer showed in film’ could equate to ‘lecture displayed in film’. I would, however, much rather see “lecturer’s shown in film” than “lecturer showed in film”, which looks suspiciously like an error that Azed got away with.

  2. Cait says:

    Yes – I found it easier and parsed most of it. Thanks for parsing of 30a.
    I think 19a is used ironically like ‘pal’ when men challenge each other in public.
    14a confused me for a while until I realised the reversal. I was trying to make a male ram or certain act mean drive or drive round!🙄

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Cait

      I was probably being uber-picky vis-à-vis 19a, although the word wouldn’t, I think, be used in ‘to a friend’ and ‘ironic’ mode at the same time…or perhaps it could if one were addressing a friend with whom one had temporarily fallen out. The ‘Maybe ironic’ could have been omitted from the clue, but the surface reading would have suffered as a result.

      Regarding 14a, I can understand your puzzlement 🙂

  3. Mark Z says:

    I agree with your rating. I did this very quickly (by my usual standards). 9a is very clumsy, in my opinion. Nothing this week to make me chuckle or groan. Everyman was a bit more satisfying in that respect this week.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Yes, a certain lack of brio tends to mean less misdirection / craftiness and an easier, but rather less entertaining, puzzle.