Notes for Azed 2,683

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 2,683 Plain

Difficulty rating: 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

I suppose we’d had a pretty good run of puzzles being published on the Guardian web site in a timely manner, so a glitch was probably due; I am indebted to Roslyn, who provided me with a scan of the puzzle (as of 20/11, finally available on the Guardian site). The number of today’s crossword has a certain significance to me in that our telephone number at home was for many years Redditch 2683 (until it was extended to five digits and became 62683). In the early days it was a party line, something which might sound like fun to those unfamiliar with the term, but actually meant that you would not infrequently pick up the receiver to make a call and find that the Marstons next door were already using the line.

 I did rather rush through it, but I’d probably say that the puzzle was slightly below the middle of the difficulty spectrum, the thirteen anagrams being a big help.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 18d, “Riverside plant? See me cutting bract (7)”. The wordplay has MI inside (‘cutting’) a term for a bract of a grass-flower, which could also have been indicated cryptically by ‘wan time’. I once submitted a clue for a puzzle in which ‘a’ in the clue had to be translated by the solver into AN; I wasn’t entirely happy about it myself, and I was unsurprised when the editor rejected it. Of course, the two words mean the same thing, but it is rather like using ‘raze’ to indicate RASE – they are actually the same word, so one cannot legitimately be used to indicate the other. I feel that ME and MI fall into the same category, since ME is simply an anglicized spelling of MI, and therefore I don’t feel that this clue really works.


1a Does one summon diners? Chorister’s good for starters (8)
An eight-letter word for a chorister (or, in truth, a singer generally) has its first letter replaced by the usual abbreviation for ‘good’ (ie ‘good for starters’). Incidentally, before Azed became, well, Azed he had sixteen Listener crosswords published under the pseudonym Gong, apparently a family nickname.

7a Sounds like murder? Motive, we hear (4)
A homophone for the sort of motive that is on occasion linked with impediment, and just the sort of definition you’d expect from Azed.

10a Company of folk came without morning legume (9)
A seven-letter word for a company of people or something in which to take a holiday (although ever since the one that my parents rented in Borth many years ago was overrun by ants I’m less than keen to do so myself) is followed by the word CAME (from the clue) missing the two-letter abbreviation for ‘[in the] morning]’ (‘without morning’).

12a Pick up fish, exchanging parts (5)
The last three letters of a word meaning ‘[to] fish’ are moved ahead of its first two (‘exchanging parts’).

15a Composer losing yen to compose (4)
The composer is Jean-Baptiste (formerly Giovanni Battista, with a slightly different surname), who was born in Florence in 1632 but came to Paris as a boy. A skilled composer, musician and dancer,  after much scheming he was eventually appointed operatic director by Louis XIV, and provided the scores for almost a score of operas.

20a Wagon in bend roars terribly, about to get stuck reversing (9, 2 words)
A one-letter ‘bend’, of the type often found under a sink or basin, is followed by an anagram (‘terribly’) of ROARS, containing (‘about’) the reversed form of a three-letter word meaning ‘to get stuck’ (or a product often associated with the Women’s Institute). The solution is (4,5) and describes something also seen as a bear or a ladle.

23a Local wanton aforetimes having fun a great deal (6)
A three-letter dialect term for ‘sport’ or ‘fun’ is followed by a familiar word meaning ‘a great deal’. The solution is shown by Chambers as ‘obsolete’, hence the ‘aforetimes’, although I think Azed meant ‘aforetime’, since ‘aforetimes’ isn’t, as far as I can establish, a real word.

29a Shame or pity enveloping what mercy conveyed? (5)
A three-letter informal word for a pity (“Azed not available online? Oh, it’s a ???”) is put around (‘enveloping’) an informal modern equivalent of the obsolete interjection ‘mercy’, expressing thanks (‘what mercy conveyed’).

31a One putting up with canon concerned with a great deal circulating (9)
The wordplay here involves the reversal of a 4+2+3 charade, comprising a canon in the sense of a rondo, that ubiquitous bit of commercial jargon meaning ‘concerned with’, and the same word for ‘a great deal’ that we had in 23a. I try to avoid using phrasal verbs that include a preposition to define agent nouns, and I leave it to the reader to decide whether ‘with’ is part of the definition.


4d Laplanders afflicted with onset of ailment internally (5)
A four-letter ‘obs or poetic‘ past tense of a verb meaning ‘to afflict’ contains (‘with…internally’) the first letter (‘onset’) of AILMENT.

6d Gross sporty type, head down somewhat (6)
A six-letter word for a sporty type (or the singular form of a term once used to address fellow sailors) has it’s first letter moved downwards a few places (‘head down somewhat’).

8d A goose, almost dead, heading straight for vessel at sea (5)
The letter A (from the clue) is followed by another name for the Hawaiian goose, from which the last letter has been omitted (‘almost’), and the usual abbreviation for ‘dead’. The solution is a 2-3 hyphenated nautical term, and I rather like the definition.

17d Clown, one known for his positive philosophy? (7)
The clown is, according to Chambers, one ‘of the white-faced, bungling type’, while the second definition refers to the forename by which Isidore Marie ??????? François Xavier Comte, the originator of the doctrine of positivism, is known.

19d Spotty and miserable, typical of self-absorbed generation, a drag (7)
A two-letter word which, when applied to ‘generation’ describes ‘the generation either of the 1970s, typically self-absorbed, or of the 1980s, typically greedy and materialistic’ precedes the letter A (from the clue);  the ‘drag’ which follows is an overland conveyance without wheels that would be pulled along.

21d Skunk, one left without offspring (6)
It seems a long time since this skunk, a favourite of a former correspondent and sometimes spelt with a C on the end rather than a K, has made an appearance – usually it is the solution, but here it forms part of the wordplay, being followed by a one-letter word for ‘one’ and the usual abbreviation for ‘left’. The answer is an odd sort of word, and I’m not sure whether the Chambers definition is correct; OED gives ‘non-sexual; producing only asexual progeny’, which sounds more likely.

22d I’ll follow Pakistani about to climb palm tree (6)
The letter I (from the clue) comes after (‘[will] follow’) a three-letter word for a member of a people inhabiting NW India and Pakistan, containing (‘about’) a two-letter verb meaning ‘to climb’ (in the sense of ‘rise’).

27d Romanovs primarily as covered in TASS possibly? (5)
I can’t help thinking that this &lit could have been phrased more appealingly, but anyway the first letter (‘primarily’) of ROMANOVS is contained by (‘covered by’) an anagram (‘possibly’) of TASS.  The whole clue serves as an indication of the solution.

(definitions are underlined)

You may also like...

4 Responses

  1. Jim says:

    I can’t see the logic for 2D. The ‘tribute mostly’ seems to mean knocking off the final ‘y’, then I think ‘is’ from the clue, but why the ‘t’? If it is ‘crafted with love’, why is it not ‘o’?

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Jim

      It’s an anagram – A TRIBUT(e) [‘a tribute mostly’] IS must be ‘crafted’ (ie anagrammed) with O (‘love’).

      The clue is what Ximenes termed an ‘offshoot &lit’, where the whole clue stands as the definition, but only part of it forms the wordplay.

      • Jim says:

        Ah! That’s better. I thought my tribute was a bit too close to the final answer. Apart from 32A, which felt a bit throwaway, I enjoyed this one. I got 7A on my first read-through, pleasingly.

        Many thanks.

        • Doctor Clue says:

          I enjoyed the puzzle as well (even if I had rather to rush through it due to its late arrival), and I agree about 32a being a bit weak – there are so many possible ways to hide that particular answer.