Notes for Azed 2,700

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 2,700 Plain

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

With this puzzle, Azed brings down the curtain on his twenty-seventh century while furnishing us with the second offering of what is, quite remarkably, his fifty-third year. I couldn’t decide whether this one was in the middle of the difficulty range or just below – the high proportion of relatively obscure answers has persuaded me to go with the upper rating, although as usual the wordplays were such that all the unfamiliar solutions could at least be pencilled in without recourse to Chambers.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 27a, “Shoot up in academy cleverly (4)”. You might wonder why I have selected for comment one of the most straightforward clues in this week’s puzzle, a ‘reverse hidden’ (or ‘rekrul’, the reverse of ‘lurker’) leading to a botanical term for a young shoot. I see no problem at all with a section of text being reversed in a clue of this sort using a ‘down only’ indicator such as ‘up’, eg ‘Selection of horses I rode up slope’ for RISE [(hors)ES I R(ode)<]. In today’s clue, though, we are not being told to extract a substring and then reverse it, but to reverse ‘academy cleverly’ before extracting the substring. For ‘up’ to work in this instance, we would have to imagine ACADEMY CLEVERLY being written vertically before extracting the required four letters. Since the words appear horizontally in the clue, I see no reason why we should do that. Could the clue be saying that when the solution entered in the grid is reversed (‘up’) it appears within ACADEMY CLEVERLY? I’m far from being convinced. Therefore while I don’t think that the clue could be described as unfair, I don’t think that it’s entirely sound. So what about the down clue ‘Chap going west in Toyota Corolla’ for CAT [(toyo)TA C(orolla)<]? Absolutely fine as far as I’m concerned – the clue ‘as written’ leads to the answer, and whether it is then entered into an across light or a down light is surely irrelevant.


5a Jock’s rusty old blade, very black, buried in clay rock (7)
As it happens, the two letters representing ‘very black’ could be applied to my ‘weapon of choice’ for tackling Azed (I’ve gone through a few of them over the years), although the designation would these days usually be written as ‘2B’ (or not, if you’re Shakespeare). The clay rock in which these letters are ‘buried’ is the sort that got fracked.

13a A biscuit a day (in short) limits ailment (6)
The shortened form of the name of a specific day of the week contains a familiar term for an ailment.

16a Sate e.g. spoilt sheik with barrels in wild bash (10, 2 words)
Here we have an anagram (‘spoilt’) of SHEIK followed by the usual abbreviation for ‘barrels’ contained by another anagram (‘wild’), this time of BASH. I’m not sure that sate3 in Chambers is an example of the (5,5) solution, as suggested by the ‘e.g.’, but the two things are certainly similar.

25a Type of clover range that includes an annual herb (10)
A five-letter word for a mountain range contains (‘includes’) A plus the name of an annual herb which might be used to flavour a pickle of the sort familiar to Ned Flanders.

31a Low old square, well worn at the edges (6)
The usual abbreviation for ‘square’ has a five-letter word meaning ‘well worn’ (or ‘hackneyed’) surrounding it (‘at the edges’).

33a Sacred shrine one came across about rear of naos (7)
The letters ONE (from the clue) and a three-letter word meaning ‘came across’ are reversed (‘about’) ahead of the last letter (‘rear’) of NAOS.


2d Darkness coming up, hold navy or stop (8)
A four-letter ‘literary and figurative’ word for ‘darkness’ is reversed (‘coming up’) and followed by a two-letter interjection meaning ‘hold[!]’ and a two-letter abbreviation for a particular navy. Chambers offers thirty-six varieties of organ stop, many (like the one here) named after a particular instrument.

3d Ballet movement is dismal with leg slipping around (8)
The letters IS (from the clue) and a three-letter word meaning ‘dismal’ have an anagram (‘slipping’) of LEG surrounding them (‘around’).

4d Look tired after Scotch? Mater, squiffy, left off scolding (4)
The wordplay here involves a nine-letter adjective meaning ‘scolding’ (and a noun broadly equivalent to ‘harridan’) having an anagram (‘squiffy’) of MATER removed from it (‘left off’). There are various ways to interpret the definition for a Scots word for ‘yawn’, the intended reading probably being something along the lines of ‘Look tired, perhaps, according to Scots’.

7d I’m typical of small fry and may get attached to pop (or art) (4)
Attaching the answer to ‘pop’ and ‘art’ will produce seven-letter words coined in the second half of the last century which could put one in mind of Damon Albarn/Noel Gallagher and Tracey Emin/Damien Hirst respectively. 

8d Alibi broken, dividing cake up? Bob has two of them (9)
An anagram (‘broken’) of ALIBI is inserted into (‘dividing’) a reversal (‘up’) of a term for a large, thick slice of cake (mmmmm). ‘Bob’ does indeed have two of these, and those who remember Carry on Camping would probably say the same about Babs.

9d Most of boodle needed for lounge (4)
All but the last letter (‘most’) of an informal term for money (ie ‘boodle’) is needed to provide a word meaning ‘[to] lounge’.

22d Argument for not running hot-foot (6)
A three-letter word meaning ‘argument for’ and an anagram (‘running’) of NOT combine to form an informal term meaning ‘hotfoot’ (no hyphen, according to Chambers) or ‘quickly’. 

23d Husband aiming for rising sun’s rays (6)
A three-letter word for a husband and the reversal of a two-letter word meaning (among other things) ‘aiming for’ are followed by the usual abbreviation for ‘sun’. I saw a comment on a crossword forum the other day where a solver said that they ‘quite like clues with a bit of clever misdirection’. For me, it’s close to being an essential element of a good clue.

28d What Caribbean cook often turns to, a minced beef ma left out (4)
The wordplay here involves the letter A (from the clue) plus the five-letter word from Indian cookery for minced beef deprived of the consecutive letters MA (‘ma left out’).

29d Seabird? One mariner is disturbed by this, roamin’ (4)
A composite anagram, where ONE MARINER is a rearrangement (‘disturbed’) of the letters of the solution (‘this’) and ROAMIN. In an ideal world, the ‘by’ wouldn’t be in there, but the surface reading demands it.

(definitions are underlined)

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