Notes for Azed 2,675

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 2,675 Plain

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

I may have been guilty of overestimating the difficulty of last week’s puzzle (I’m still blaming that flu jab!), but this one was definitely towards the easy end of the spectrum. There were some nice clues, and not too much in there with which I would take serious issue.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 1a, “Shakespearean nonentity appearing in funny choir act, face to face (12, 2 words, apostrophe). Nothing particularly interesting about the clue itself, the wordplay involving a four-letter ‘insignificant person’ (according to the Bard) being contained by an anagram (‘funny’) of CHOIR ACT; the aspect that I want to look at is the enumeration. I was asked recently by a relatively inexperienced setter about enumerating an answer such as SOS or COBOL – should they be (1,1,1) and (1,1,1,1,1) or (3) and (5)? The answer to that is unequivocal – they are both shown by Chambers as words rather than abbreviations, so it must be the latter. The fact that they contain rather more capitals than most words is irrelevant – so do all grid entries!

However, I was tempted to mention at the same time the question of apostrophes, but (wisely) thought better of it. Here is what Azed has to say on the subject (from the slip for 1806):

I am [uncertain] about the best way of indicating words and phrases that include apostrophes, and my uncertainty may have led to some inconsistency. Is, for example, J’ADOUBE one word or two, KWOK’S DISEASE two words or three? Significantly, the old edition of Chambers Words, which excluded phrasal compounds, included J’ADOUBE among the 7-letter words. If I clue it, should I mark it ‘(7)’, ‘(7, apostrophe)’ or ‘(7, 2 words)’? I am inclined to go for the second of these options, but would welcome comments.

I don’t think there is any sort of consensus among setters or editors on this point, not least because it comes up relatively rarely – personally, I try to circumvent the issue by avoiding answers that contain apostrophes. It’s not a problem for setters other than Azed, because the editor will convert the enumeration to the house style. But it can’t be wrong in my opinion to include mention of apostrophes, such that MOTHER’S RUIN would be shown as (11, 2 words, apostrophe).


10a Park maybe revealing waste from mill (5)
The first definition here relates to the Scottish explorer who wrote a best-seller catchily entitled Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa

11a Section of Indian music, up to date, ageless (4)
The wordplay has a three-word French phrase meaning ‘up to date’ losing the consecutive letters AGE (‘ageless’).

18a Former partner is in past (briefly), to appear in earlier life (8)
The usual two-letter word for a former partner and the letters IS (from the clue) are contained by a rarely-seen four-letter abbreviation for the eight-letter name of a grammatical tense usually associated with the Spanish language.

28a Lustre on choice marble when it’s turned round (5)
The choice marble is not the sort that you might see on the Antiques Roadshow, more the sort of thing that Oor Wullie might have coveted. It is put after that familiar two-letter bit of commercial jargon meaning ‘concerning’ or ‘on’, and the combination reversed (‘turned round’) to produce a term which relates to the degree of brilliance in a diamond.

30a Cleansing fluid, rarely pleasant when coming from the backside (5)
In 2552, Azed clued the same word as “Injection of fluid, rarely pleasant, from behind”, which I think is nicer (though that may not be the right word). I have underlined the entire clue, treating it as what Ximenes called an ‘offshoot &lit’, where the whole clue represents the definition but only part of it forms the wordplay, although you could take the view that it is a conventional clue with just the first two words being the definition.

32a Greek colonist returning works hard round reserve (8)
A five-letter word meaning ‘works hard’ is reversed (‘returning’) around a word for ‘reserve’ in the ‘restrained formality’ sense often seen in crosswords and almost invariably indicated in this way.

33a Dug opening of tunnel behind grass (4)
The first letter (‘opening’) of TUNNEL follows an old US slang term for grass of the sort that one might have smoked at Woodstock, the definition being based on the entry for dug2 in Chambers.

34a Closure of bank, American, about to arrange credit (5)
The last letter (‘closure’) of BANK, plus  a two-letter abbreviation for the United States put around a verb meaning ‘arrange’ in the sense that one might arrange one’s hair.


6d Misfortune to do with former fit (7)
I have been familiar with the archaic term for a division of a poem since I set a puzzle based on Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, which is described as ‘An Agony in Eight Fits’ (my version was ‘A Problem in Four Fits’). The familiar five-letter equivalent follows that same piece of commercial jargon that was seen in 28a.

7d Mouldings, old, on first of printed series? (5)
The usual abbreviation for ‘old’ is followed by a combination of three letters and a number which would describe the first book in a series.

8d Old windfall, rotter, charlatan peeled (6)
A three-letter rotter and a five-letter charlatan who has lost his first and last letters (‘peeled’).

19d With liquid added I’ll make bean go further? (7)
I’ve never seen ‘make…go further’ as an insertion indicator, and I’m not sure that I want to see it again – the letter I is to be put inside the common name of a climbing plant of the kidney bean genus.

20d Despot maybe in (to him) foreign country describing part of sight (7)
The ‘despot’ yields the first name of a former President of Uganda, to be found here in a country formerly ruled by the Shah.

24d Singular rubies disguised bra in sort of stack? (6)
An anagram (‘disguised’) of BRA in the kind of stack found on a Scot’s roof, and a definition that surely only Azed could get away with. Chambers will confirm the poetic plural to which he is referring.

27d He’s nothing in Caledonia, put briefly (5)
An &lit, with the usual single-letter representation of ‘nothing’ being contained by a four-letter abbreviation for the eight-letter country poetically called Caledonia.

(definitions are underlined)

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. JOHN ATKINSON says:

    This was a strange but most enjoyable solve. The first read through yielded only the rather obvious 15a. It then took nearly 30 minutes for the next. Thereafter things went in quite quickly, so I went from thinking this almost impenetrable to agreeing with your rating.

    After reading comments from last week regarding solve time, I wonder if commenters would want to post their times as well as comments. That would be brain time, not elapsed!

    As an aside, in the 80s I was in a shoe shop in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, when the despot at 20d walked in. He immediately told me his shoes were hand-made in Jermyn Street in the 60s. One of my more bizarre experiences.