Notes for Azed 2,696

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 2,696 Plain

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

Having received a scan of the puzzle from Roslyn in time for breakfast, I made a quick start on this puzzle, but when it came to the bottom half in particular I thought there were some tricky parsings that raised the overall difficulty at least to the halfway mark. I wonder if it might even be slightly above the mid-point. Anyway, it was an entertaining solve.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 12d, “Is at MGM flicks after wine? It affects viewing badly”. The straightforward wordplay has an anagram of IS AT MGM following a four-letter sparkling wine which will be familiar to all solvers even if they’ve never touched a drop, and the surface reading is nice. The problem is that the latter is achieved only through the use of ‘flicks’ as an anagram indicator, and a look in Chambers confirms that while ‘flick’ can mean ‘to move or touch lightly and quickly’, it exists only in a transitive form. So you can flick a speck of dust or a Subbuteo man/lady, but you can’t just flick. One might argue that the OED gives an intransitive sense of ‘to move with quick vibrations’, but the OED offers all manner of meanings which crossword solvers cannot possibly be expected to know or be able to track down. Sometimes when writing clues one has to accept that there is simply not a word (here an anagram indicator) which can legitimately fulfil the required cryptic role in your proposed clue without destroying the surface reading, and that is the time for a complete rethink. Don’t be tempted to submit a clue which you know in your hear doesn’t work.


7a Hooter signalling special police (5)
The usual abbreviation for ‘special’ is followed by a four-letter word for ‘police’. Chambers might seem to indicate that the answer on its own is not sufficient to satisfy the definition, but others sources suggest that it is.

13a Silly tailor about to make mess of bright summer wear (10, 2 words)
An anagram (‘silly’) of TAILOR containing (‘about’) a four-letter word meaning ‘to make a mess of’ or ‘to hack about’ produces a (5,5) garment which some might feel should never have been allowed outside Honolulu.

14a Fencer no longer confident, pierced by delinquent? (8)
A familiar four-letter word meaning ‘confident’ contains (‘pierced by’) an informal term for an offender, of which a delinquent could be a youthful example (hence the question mark).

15a Meal of foreign brand (discontinued) (5)
A three-letter meal (and drink) is followed by a foreign word meaning ‘of’ (‘of foreign’) to produce a term for a resinous piece of pine used as a torch (ie ‘brand’) not seen since Elizabethan times (‘discontinued’).

26a I’m turned out in fur, long, outworn (4)
It might cross your mind that this could be a double definition clue, and had it started “I’m turned out in feathers…” then it could have been. But as it stands the wordplay involves a six-letter type of fur associated with the nobility having the reversed form (‘turned’) of IM removed (‘out’). The ‘outworn’ indicates that the answer is past its best before date, being shown by Chambers as Spenserian.

27a Favourite sweet’s middle in pecan nuts, a craving (9)
A three-letter word for a favourite and the middle letter of SWEET are contained by an anagram (‘nuts’) of PECAN.

29a Last in boozer moving forward, part of mass (5)
A word for a habitual heavy drinker has its last letter brought forward, producing ‘a phrase formerly interpolated in different parts of the mass’. Is that ‘part of mass’? Probably close enough, although some suggestion of that ‘formerly’ would have been good.

32a I’ll enter sale – pipe down (5, 2 words)
The letter I (from the clue) is contained by (‘[wi]ll enter’) a (chiefly Irish) word for a sale by auction, a homograph of which means ‘ a hypocritical, affected or perfunctory style of speech or thought’. The (3,2) solution is an instruction no doubt frequently heard in H. J. Heinz’s Wigan plant.

33a Member of strict order requiring waterproof before liturgy (8)
A charade of two four-letter words, the first being a traditional Japanese garment made of straw and combining pretty good rain protection with a rather poor fire rating. The second part is a word not just for a liturgy but also for any sort of religious ceremony.


2d Little old boat, not once having a portable phone installed (7)
The two-letter obsolete form of ‘not’ frequently indicated in cryptics as ‘not old’ or ‘not once’ has the letter A (from the clue) and a four-letter informal term for a mobile phone (derived from what it connects to) inserted (‘installed’). The answer is more frequently seen describing an engine housing, the basket of a balloon or the gondola of an airship, but the long-obsolete meaning of ‘a little boat’ is the original one.

3d Filling stations? There’s fury when their supply is out (7)
A four-letter word for ‘fury’ has a word for what filling stations supply (given by Chambers as ‘N American, Aust and NZ’, but hardly unfamiliar in the UK) surrounding it (‘out’) to produce the word that in times not so long gone we regularly used when talking about places to fuel up the car.

4d Pod of a kind, pieces breaking the whole (6)
A three-letter term for the sort of pieces that are regularly handled by Magnus Carlsen is contained by (‘breaking’) a word for ‘the whole’ (or ‘everybody’). The answer appears in Chambers under a longer headword which has the same six letters at the beginning.

6d Caper may yield this injury – one falls after it (8)
A charade in three parts, comprising a four-letter word for injury, a single-letter word meaning ‘one’, and the three-letter spelling of a word for a waterfall (ie ‘falls’). The ‘caper’ is wild rue, a plant of the bean caper family.

8d Bilious? Have break, day off, cold before and after (6)
A seven-letter ‘break’ (from work, say) with the consecutive letters DAY removed (‘day off’) is both preceded and followed by the usual abbreviation for ‘cold’ (‘cold before and after’).

10d Head of department showing improvement when it’s cut (4)
A six-letter word for ‘improvement’ or ‘gain’ is deprived of the consecutive letters IT (“it’s cut”).

18d Endless time installed over in Paris as head of order (8)
Here we have to imagine a comma between ‘installed’ and ‘over’, since the three-letter French word for ‘over’ (‘over in Paris’) has a word for ‘time’ missing its last letter (‘endless’) inserted (‘installed’).

21d Cornish salt appearing as fool in lake (7)
A three-letter fool (of the sort once sought out on schoolchildren’s heads) is contained by the name of a lake regularly seen in cryptic crosswords. The word for the salt suggests that it ought to be Irish rather than Cornish, but it turns out to be a green arsenate of copper found in both places.

22d Against cuts provided by a single body, not terribly important (7)
The usual single-letter abbreviation representing ‘against’ goes inside (‘cuts’) a word meaning ‘that joins together’ (one of those adjectives which Chambers doesn’t define and of which the meaning is far from obvious, a source of frustration to setters).

25d Instrument trio finally lacking in harmony (6)
A nine-letter (musical) instrument has its last three letters removed (‘trio finally lacking’) in order to produce the solution.

28d Bits of ordure regularly alternating with matter in Glaswegian drains (5)
The ‘bits of ordure’ which must be regularly interspersed with a three-letter word for the sort of matter that might be exuded are the word’s first two letters. The draining refers to the removal of the water in which the neeps and tatties (say) have been cooked.

30d Remove crusts of foreign bread in exotic sandwich (4)
A four-letter foreign word for ‘bread’ (not French this time) plus the word IN have the first and last letters (‘crusts’) removed.

31d Mac’s lightweight entity, numskull shedding what he’s known to wear? (4)
I first of all thought that what the five-letter numskull was having removed was the letter that might be seen on his headgear, but on reflection I concluded that it was his ‘cap’ which was to be taken off. Either way, the result is the same, being the Scots word for a familiar unit of weight. I cannot see the word ‘numskulls’ without thinking of the six characters (Alf, Fred, Luggy, Snitch, Brainy and Blinky) who worked in the various departments that comprised “our man’s” head in the Beezer comic strip.

(definitions are underlined)

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3 Responses

  1. Hazel Ellis says:

    I don’t suppose you could post a link to the scan here please?