Notes for Azed 2,682

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 2,682 Plain

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

I found the difficulty of this one quite hard to assess – there weren’t too many ‘gimmes’, and a certain amount of general knowledge was required, but there weren’t too many tough clues either. All in all, I’m inclined to place it smack in the middle of the spectrum. The note regarding the verb form at 17a not being in Chambers puzzled me a little, since it’s in my copy of Chambers (2016), as well as being in all of the (several) electronic versions of Chambers which I have.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 22a, “Loop of thread reflected whiff (4)”. In basic reversal clues where a word read forwards is the same as another read backwards, it is important to tell the solver which part of the clue is the wordplay, usually by putting the reversal indicator at one end of the clue so that it can only apply to the word or words next to it. Hence rather than ‘Finish returning receptacles’ for POTS, which could equally well be a clue for STOP, one would write something like ‘Returning to intercept vessels’ [STOP< = POTS]. For STOP, the clue could be ‘Prevent vessels returning’ [POTS< = STOP]. Here the ‘reflected’ could equally well affect the ‘loop of thread’ or the ‘whiff’, and the clue is therefore ambiguous. Although moving the indicator to one end of the clue wouldn’t work well, the alternative approach of using a ‘one-way link’ could have been employed, eg ‘Whiff reflected in loop of thread’. Incidentally, the whiff word is shown by Chambers as a ‘rare variant’, and it really should have been indicated as such.


1a Outhouse deserted in cut-price holiday giving bank protection? (12)
This one took me longer than it should have – I was thinking along the wrong lines for that ‘cut-price holiday’, a seven-letter noun which contains a four-letter word for an outhouse and the usual abbreviation for ‘deserted’. The solution  is hyphenated, 4-8.

13a An Irish girl admits touching former sweetheart (6)
The indefinite article and a three-letter Irish slang term for a girlfriend (who, after three years, presumably gets inspected annually for defects) which contains (‘admits’) that ubiquitous piece of commercial jargon meaning ‘concerning’ (‘touching’).

15a Not exactly a trans, offering list in exchange? (7)
I am much happier to accept ‘offering’ as a link between definition and wordplay than ‘requiring’ in the reverse direction (see 4d). The ‘list’ refers to list2 in Chambers, and the four-letter ‘exchange’ within which it is contained involves something being exchanged for money. I wonder if Azed considered other slightly more risqué definitions? Probably best not to think about it.

20a Chinese idol he omitted from jokes (4)
A six-letter word for ‘jokes’ or ‘teases’ has the consecutive letters HE omitted.

24a Wooded vale, gloomy – complain at leaves (6)
A three-letter word meaning ‘gloomy’ is followed by a five-letter word for ‘complain’ missing the consecutive letters AT (‘at leaves’).

30a Part of dog’s home is entertaining – look around (5)
If one reads this clue in the conventional definition plus wordplay way then the definition doesn’t seem right – the word that is formed by putting a three-letter word meaning ‘is entertaining’ inside an interjection meaning ‘look!’ is the full name of the place where a particular breed of dog was originally developed, so “dog’s home” is sufficient as the definition (or perhaps “Part of dog’s name”). It did then strike me that the clue could be read as saying that part of the name of the dog’s home is the three-letter word, and that it is completed by putting the two-letter word around it, ie the definition is indeed just “dog’s home”. This would be an extremely unusual way to phrase a clue, but you never know…

32a Hebridean location wherein you’ll find wood pigeon? No question (4)
When a Scottish (not stated, but loosely implied by the clue) word for a wood pigeon has the single-letter abbreviation for ‘question’ removed (‘no question’) it produces the name given to a group of six islands in the Outer Hebrides.

33a Course eaten, I’ll be puzzled about recipe (7)
An anagram (“‘ll be puzzled”) of EATEN I containing the usual abbreviation for ‘recipe’ produces the the name of a course which becomes a focus of the nation’s attention around the end of March/beginning of April. “Course eaten, I’m puzzled about recipe” would seem much more natural, but this would fail when it came to the wordplay, which would require “Course eaten, I are puzzled about recipe”.


4d Vac being over, most of what follows requiring special case (7)
The wordplay here involves a four-letter informal word for ‘holidays’ (‘vac’) preceding (‘being over’) the word for what comes between one vac and the next, from which the last letter has been removed (‘most of’). Some time ago a correspondent asked if I would provide a list of ‘link words’ that can be used to join the wordplay and definition parts of a clue, eg ‘producing’. Although I very rarely such words (or phrases) in my own clues, I do plan to create such a list at some point. The problem, as this clue demonstrates, is that one setter’s view of what is acceptable will not accord with another’s, and the issue is exacerbated by the fact that Chambers gives so many meanings for prepositions such as ‘of’ that there is almost certainly to be one which can be chosen to justify its use as a link word. Considering the use of ‘requiring’ (‘calling for’, ‘necessitating’), I am prepared to accept that ‘<solution> requiring <wordplay>’ is just about ok, but I can’t see how ‘<wordplay> requiring <solution>’ (as here) can be valid – 4+(4-1) ‘equals’, ‘is’ or ‘produces’ 7, but it doesn’t ‘require’ 7 in any sense that I understand.

8d Youngster? That’s one so run wild, the noo (4)
This would be a very neat composite anagram &lit were it not for the need to indicate that the solution is a Scots word, hence ‘the noo’ being tacked on the end. The letters of the solution (‘one’) and SO RUN can be rearranged (‘wild’) to form YOUNGSTER, and the whole clue serves as an indication of the answer. Another approach would have been to use a Scots word as the anagram indicator – something like “Youngster? That’s one so run red-mad”.

10d What’s in a shambles unless cold and bust, to consume (11, 2 words)
A four-part charade consisting of a three-letter word for ‘unless’, the standard abbreviation for ‘cold’, a four-letter word for a bust in the sculptural sense, and a familiar word meaning ‘to consume’. The solution is (7,4).

19d Glandular substance revealed by study inside senior (7)
If ‘study in a wordplay doesn’t deliver CON it usually leads to the three-letter word which here is contained by a French adjective meaning ‘elder’ or ‘senior’.

21d Drugs? One of them is found in rising sports venues (7)
The single-letter drug of choice for setters and ravers is here contained by a reversal (‘rising’) of a word for sports venues usually seen in a different form which shares the same first four letters.

23d 50% ill on the briny – suffering this? (6)
You may, like me, find yourself working back from the answer to determine what the six-letter word of which 50% forms its first half is. It probably more often appears in its sense (albeit archaic)  of ‘nothing’.

25d Ease like this is showing as tenant (6)
If you replace ‘like this’ in the clue with the solution (split up 4+2) then the wordplay will make more sense.

27d Jock’s mood almost completely rising and falling (5)
The three-letter Scots word for a mood will be more familiar to former Ingres database administrators (ok, that’s just me then) as the abbreviation for a ‘tuple id’. It is followed by a word meaning ‘completely’ from which the last letter has been omitted (‘almost’).

28d Human resources regularly alternating with university independence (5)
Not one, not two, but three ‘universities’ are alternating with the standard abbreviation for ‘human resources’.

29d Old flirt that is expelled from club (4)
The club is not a niblick, nor is it a brassie, although like the latter it contains the usual abbreviation for ‘that is’, and it is this abbreviation which must be ‘expelled’.

(definitions are underlined)

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16 Responses

  1. Andy says:

    Many thanks, it was staring me in the face !!

  2. Andy says:

    15A has me stumped, obviously a word I’ve never heard of and can’t find I Chambers, have got every letter apart from the second one. I’m new to Azed but enjoying it every week.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Andy, and welcome to the blog

      Good to hear that you’re enjoying Azed’s puzzles.

      The answer for 15a is an informal portmanteau word and a relatively recent addition to the language, but it’s been in the last few editions of Chambers. The checkers should (in alphabetical order) be A,E,E,L,M and S, and the ‘list’ (=a border) is a HEM.

      Hope that helps

  3. Michael10175 says:

    While I quite agree with your concerns about the ambiguity in the clue for 22a, I don’t understand the POST-STOP example that you’ve offered.

    You wrote: “Hence rather than ‘Finish returning mail’ for POST, which could equally well be a clue for STOP, one would write something like ‘Prevent mail returning’. For STOP, the clue could be ‘Returning mail to lodge’.”

    But wouldn’t the correct pairing there be POTS and STOP, and not POST and STOP? Reversing (returning) STOP doesn’t result in POST.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Whoops! Absolutely right, and well spotted – thank you. The examples will be rewritten forthwith! I was just priding myself on the fact that it was several weeks since I’d made any silly mistakes, and we all know what pride precedes…

  4. JOHN ATKINSON says:

    Well, that was a struggle at first. Initial read-through yielded only two across solutions and no downs. I got there in the end and in hindsight realised I should have finished my coffee before starting. 1a should be in a Carry-On film.

    Having never seen or heard the “senior” at 19d being used in English, I wonder if an indicator of it’s origin is required. I knew the word from my (failed) French A-level days.

    The usual thanks and respect for your comments. J.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi John

      I wasn’t sure about the difficulty of the puzzle as a whole, and I did mark a lot of clues as being potentially worthy of comment – on reflection, I think my rating might be an underestimate.

      ‘Carry On 1a’? I like it. ‘Carry on 1d’ might have worked in Scotland.

      Regarding the ‘senior’ word, the fact that it’s in Chambers means that it has been at least partially assimilated into the English language, but it is qualified as ‘Fr’. When setters use AMI (similarly qualified in C) they would normally indicate it by ‘French friend’ or the like, while Chambers gives no such qualification for words like ‘hauteur’ and ‘maillot’. My strong feeling is that headwords shown as French (just like those shown as Scottish) should be indicated as such, and thus the ‘senior’ here should be ‘Parisian senior’ or the like.

      • JOHN ATKINSON says:

        Agree. Unfortunately, over here many people think they have a right to have a ‘Carry on 4d.’

  5. Dave says:

    Many thanks

  6. Dave says:

    I can’t work out the last word in 34A. I assume it’s an anagram of ‘all hushed tie’. I have ‘hail the ?u?es’. Is this right?

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Dave

      It’s quite hard to find in the printed Chambers. I shan’t beat about the bush, given that you’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities – it’s in Chambers under the entry for DOOL[2] (an alternative spelling of that third word), and is hard to find elsewhere, although googling the entire phrase throws up a few matches in documents about the Scottish language.

  7. Bob says:

    Struggling with definition for 1D, can you help please?
    Thanks (and for the site)

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Bob

      The last three words of the clue form the definition, and the word is to be found in the printed version of Chambers under the entry for a word spelt the same except that it has an A as the second letter rather than a U (there is a referring entry with the spelling used here). The A word is given by the online Collins but not the U one. The wordplay is a 2+5 charade. Does that help?

      • Bob says:

        Thanks, I have the answer but can’t match it with the definition so still stuck I’m afraid?

        • Doctor Clue says:

          Ah, I take your point. The definition in the clue is ‘stalk in Scotland’ and that given by Chambers is ‘a cabbage stock’ – ‘stock’ here is used in the sense of ‘the hardened stem or stalk of a plant’ (OED) and has nothing to do with soup. OED gives the answer as ‘the stalk or stem of a cabbage’ (Scot/N Eng), which is much clearer, while Collins has ‘a kale or cabbage stalk’ (without any geographic qualification).