Notes for Azed 2,673
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 2,673 Plain
Difficulty rating: (3 / 5)
I felt that this one was definitely a little past the middle of the difficulty spectrum. There may not have been any very tough clues, but there were quite a few tricky ones, including a couple which strayed close to the borders of fairness, at least by Azed’s high standards.
Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 5d, “Casks pouring out stream (6)”, where a simple anagram (‘pouring out’) of STREAM produces a word shown by Chambers as ‘hist’ (ie historical). Words thus qualified are not disused, but they are likely to be employed today only in a historical context, so ‘villein’, say, is most likely to appear in a discussion of the feudal system. The variant spelling of ‘cask’ for ‘casque’ (a head covering or helmet) is, however, obsolete – it is shown as such by Chambers. Is it allowable to omit the qualification of an obsolete word when it is defining a historical solution, on the basis that an old definition implies an old solution? I’m perfectly prepared to accept, say, an American spelling of a word to imply another Americanism, eg ‘color’ for ‘gray’, but this seems very different to me. Some editors don’t approve of the use of obsoletisms in definitions, arguing that ‘old cask’ should indicate that an old word for a barrel is required, not a word matching an old meaning of ‘cask’; I don’t subscribe to that view (it’s something often seen in Azed’s clues), but I do think that some form of qualification is needed here, eg “Casks formerly pouring out stream”.
6a Hunting dog? Much older one in sport (7)
A four-letter archaic (‘much older’) term for a hunting dog is contained by a word meaning ‘sport’ in the sense of ‘[to] wager’.
14a Bluff that’s most ingenious separated from rest (5)
A nine-letter word meaning ‘most ingenious’ is deprived of (‘separated from’) the consecutive letters REST.
17a Treat to sexual advances? Husband replacing second can (7, 2 words)
A glaring example of the ‘missing comma’ issue, here between the last two words of the clue. A very English (3-4) equivalent of the North American slang term ‘can’ has the usual abbreviation for ‘husband’ replacing the one for ‘second’. The definition of the (3,4) phrasal verb may look slightly odd, but because it is transitive something like ‘Make advances’ fails technically and ‘Make advances to’ fails aesthetically.
18a Old suckers and weeds (5)
The old word for people who are easily duped may not be familiar, but the word for ‘weeds’ will be if you imagine it as ‘weeds out’.
23a Scotsman’s pants, little height in the legs (5)
A rather nice imitative Scots word for ‘pants’ or ‘gasps’ is produced by putting the single-letter abbreviation (‘little’ being superfluous but harmless) for ‘height’ inside a four-letter word which shares all but one letter with the ‘legs’ which it indicates.
27a Processed ham, tinned, not tough – one bought to do the job? (6)
An anagram (‘processed’) of HAM and TINNED from which a three-letter word for a tough has been removed (‘not tough’). The definition is perhaps a little loose, but we know what Azed is driving at.
29a Rock at sea, ever avoided one by one (5)
Very similar to 14, here we have a nine-letter word meaning ‘one by one’ from which the consecutive letters EVER have been removed (‘ever avoided’). The answer has a nautical sense of ‘to sway, rock or bound’.
32a Like crude style of pop, lively, catching current fashion (7)
A three-letter word meaning lively containing (‘catching’) a four-letter word for the current fashion (almost exclusively seen in the expression ‘all the ????’), the result being an adjective describing a type of music that has gone through various incarnations since the 1960s; while Tom Robinson was singing in the late 70s that he was glad to be lively, The Clash were proudly affirming “We’re a ?????? band / We come from ??????land’.
3d Hummel overseas providing bit of elegance in ringtone (5)
The first letter (‘bit’) of ELEGANCE is put into an informal term for the sort of ringtone which has multiple melodies, making it so much easier on the ears of fellow train travellers. I ought to remember by now what hummel means, but I always have to look it up; this is an Australian version.
4d Sweet-smelling powder, once an advantage when sex is involved (6)
A four-letter word for an advantage (which I associate these days only with handicaps at horse racing – ‘horse x has a five pound ???? with horse y’) has the Roman numeral representing six inserted (‘involved’). I think this latter element is a step too far – I’ve no problem with ‘sex in Rome’ for VI, but straight ‘sex’ doesn’t seem appropriate.
6d Implant one inserted in reverse of strong horse above bone (7)
The Roman numeral for one is put into a reversal of a three-letter word for a short-legged, strong horse, and the combination is followed by a word for a particular part of the human body. Is it a bone? My limited anatomical knowledge tells me that that your thigh bone’s connected to it, and it’s connected to your backbone, but that’s a ??? bone, not just a ???.
13d What growing gymnosperms show, decay, hard, in mantles (10)
A common three-letter word for ‘decay’ and the usual abbreviation for ‘hard’ are contained by a word for the large, square mantles worn in ancient Rome, the plural of a seven-letter word.
16d Savage article, namely one forming leader (8)
A five-letter word for an article has the standard two-letter abbreviation meaning ‘specifically’ and a single-letter word for ‘one’ preceding it (ie it has the latter elements ‘forming [a] leader’).
19d Versatile opener? Grandmaster dispenses with his first around start of event (7)
The grandmaster here owes his lasting fame in large part to his 1972 World Championship match with Bobby Fischer which was set against the backdrop of the Cold War, albeit when a slight thaw had started to set in. After his surname has shed its first letter (‘dispenses with his first’), it is set around the initial letter (‘start’) of EVENT.
22d Watch of traditional design, one scaling heights? (6)
A single-letter word for ‘one’ is followed by a reversal (‘scaling’) of the name given to a region in the Levant which is often seen with ‘Heights’ following it.
26d Secret union (5)
This was a tricky answer to get without a letter or two, the ‘secret’ (adjectival) meaning from its first entry in Chambers perhaps being slightly more familiar than the ‘union’ sense under the second headword, but it’s, er, a near-run thing.
28d Parisian landmark? It was grand as part of artistic education (4)
The sort of landmark that Azed is referring to is exemplified by the one known locally as ‘La dame de fer’ (we had one of those back in the 70s and 80s, although she was a cheval of a very different couleur).
(definitions are underlined)