Notes for Azed 2,701

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 2,701 Plain

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

Azed starts off his twenty-eighth century with a puzzle which I felt he had really enjoyed setting, featuring several nice clues and some imaginative constructions. Lots and lots of misdirection certainly helped to make for an entertaining solve. Had it not been for the two entries across the top being so straightforward, the difficulty rating might have pushed above halfway, but all things considered I felt that it was right in the middle of the spectrum. I suspect, though, that solvers relatively new to Azed may have found it quite tough, since it included a few elements that could either be labelled ‘only to be found in Azed’ or ‘only Azed could get away with that’.

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 28d, “Fate shortly enveloping king, overthrown (5)”. As a setter, there are times when you want to use a word in the surface reading of a clue (eg the adjective ‘nice’) which would not normally have an initial capital letter, but in the wordplay you need the solver to interpret it as a word which always has an initial capital (eg the city ‘Nice’). I’m thinking of a clue like ‘Holiday following nice summer’ for FETE [F + ÉTÉ]. Unfortunately, this clue is no good – while it is considered (just) acceptable to deceptively capitalize a word in a clue (eg writing ‘Trump’ when you mean ‘trump’), the reverse (eg ‘fate’ when you mean ‘Fate’) is a definite no-no. The way round this is to put the duplicitous word at the start of a sentence, where a capital is always required. So my FETE clue becomes ‘Nice summer after fine holiday’, and in the clue here, where a four-letter word meaning ‘shortly’ containing the monarchical abbreviation for ‘king’ is reversed, Azed has ensured that the difference between Fate (definition) and fate (wordplay) is obscured by the need for a capital at the start of the clue.


1a What’s netted in shallop, a herring? Yes and no (4)
You might think that ‘Yes and no’ is the definition, and wonder how a large sea-fish could be described as being anything like a herring. In fact, the ‘Yes’ is effectively part of the wordplay – “What’s netted in shallop, a herring? Yes [this is] and no [it’s not a herring]”. It could be argued that the underlining should extend beyond that single word, but in clues like this (and 9d) it’s a matter of personal opinion.

12a Homestead (unusually) taking on Italian physicist (5)
A variant (‘unusually’) spelling of a familiar four-letter word for a homestead is followed by…well, the letter I. Where does it come from? I suppose that ‘on’ could be a misprint for either ‘in’ or ‘one’, or the word ‘the’ could be missing (‘the Italian’ = I), but more likely the I is meant to be an abbreviation for ‘Italian’.  Anyway, the physicist in question was born in Rome and became a heavy hitter in the world of atomic physics. In 1934, he and some chums split uranium nuclei through neutron bombardment (as you do), thus paving the way to the discovery that slow neutrons were the best sort for initiating nuclear reactions. After receiving the 1938 Nobel Prize in physics, he moved to the US and built the Americans their first nuclear reactor.

15a Fix dodgy drain I found leaking in wharf (8)
An anagram (‘dodgy’) of DRAIN without the letter I (‘I found leaking’) is contained by a four-letter word for a wharf.

16a Drug for treating asthma, like 12 (briefly), name included (5)
A four-letter abbreviation for the nationality of our physicist at 12a has the usual abbreviation for ‘name’ included within it.

17a Ascetic getting drunk in place of debauchery? Rarely (7)
A three-letter word meaning ‘drunk’ (probably confined pretty much to crosswords these days) is contained by a ‘rare’ spelling of a place of gross debauchery.

22a Classy lapdog, say, with brand implanted, more costly than most (8)
A single letter which was first used by the linguist Alan Ross in 1954 to indicate ‘upper class’ is followed by a generic term for the sort of animal that might be exemplified by a lapdog, into which a four-letter word for a brand has been inserted (‘implanted’).

26a Newspaper missing start of race (5)
Azed has been a little naughty with the wordplay here – we need to remove the first letter from a six-letter word for a race (of the Usain Bolt kind), but ‘missing start of race’ doesn’t actually tell us that. It should read something more like ‘Race initially covered in newspaper’.

30a Italian dish pa avoided as ‘smelly’ (5)
An Italian staple of boiled cereal (described by William Howells in Venetian Life as a ‘kind of mush or hasty-pudding’) has the non-consecutive letters PA omitted (‘avoided’).

32a Nark about tapsters causing hindrance? (9)
The six-letter tapsters are easy enough to identify, but the ‘nark’ which contains them is a bit trickier. You have to translate ‘nark’ into ‘policeman’, then into a particular sort of policeman, and then into the relevant three-letter abbreviation.


3d Arabic ‘letter’, coarse alongside limits of ours, read backwards (5)
A three-letter word for ‘coarse’ is followed by (‘alongside’ strikes me as a bit of a stretch in a down clue) the letters at the start and end of our (ie the Roman) alphabet, reversed (‘read backwards’). The solution is ‘an orthographic sign representing an unvoiced glottal’, Ge’it? Go’it? Good.

5d Fail to follow suit, left without limiting doubleton in trick (6)
It would be easy to write in REVOKE, which fits the definition, but not the wordplay, where LEFT missing its first and last letters (‘without limiting doubleton’) is contained by a four-letter word for a trick. The answer is given by Chambers as a transitive verb, ‘fail to follow suit to’, which doesn’t tally with Azed’s intransitive definition. The OED doesn’t give it at all; I’ve read a good many bridge books and I have never come across it in this sense, only with the meaning of ‘decline to take (a trick)’. The related noun is a term used in écarté, but there it refers to the dealer not allowing a discard.

6d Crows working on inside of sheen mostly (6)
A two-letter word meaning ‘working on’ is put inside a five-letter word for ‘sheen’ deprived of its last letter (‘mostly’).

8d Up-and-coming actress, last up twice, shy of horse (7)
A seven-letter word for an up-and-coming actress has its last letter moved up by two positions (‘last up twice’) to produce a word which, strictly speaking, ought to have been defined as either ‘shy’ or ‘shy (of horse)’, but either alternative would have spoilt the surface reading.

9d Magic herb from Olympia? Part of it anyway (4)
My parsing of this was as an anagram (‘anyway’) of part of the word OLYMPIA, but as Mike Thomas points out, it is almost certainly intended as a ‘hidden’. I could legitimately have underlined the  the entire clue, but it works fine as a conventional definition plus wordplay construction.

20d Anteater, cross about male partner, departs (7)
A three-letter word for St Anthony’s cross (on account of its shape) contains (‘about’) a word for the sort of male partner Tammy Wynette stood by at the altar on five occasions and the usual abbreviation for ‘departs’.

23d Like boorish types, exercise in sink? The opposite (6)
Rather than a three-letter word for exercise (as one might do to one’s trade) being inside a word meaning ‘[to] sink’, it is the latter which is inside the former (‘The opposite’).

24d It’s active in intrinsic quality of body passage’s opening (6)
The usual abbreviation for ‘active’ is contained by a word for ‘intrinsic quality’ which also describes many elementary substances. The real item of note here is the way in which Azed has seamlessly integrated the definition of a particularly intransigent adjective into the clue.

29d More like liquid food, not pie, cold and wet (4)
A seven-letter word meaning ‘more like liquid food’ has the consecutive letters PIE removed (‘not pie’) in order to produce the answer.

(definitions are underlined)

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4 Responses

  1. Mike Thomas says:

    Hi I enjoyed your comments, as always. I thought 9d was simply a word hidden in ‘from Olympia’. Does that work for you? Thanks Mike

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Mike

      Thanks for that – it works perfectly for me, and I’m sure that it is the intended parsing, so I’ve updated the notes accordingly. My excuse (I must always have one) is that my attention was attracted by the ‘anyway’ – if he’d written something like ‘at least’ (or left it at ‘Part of it’) then the alternative parsing wouldn’t even have been an option.

  2. JOHN ATKINSON says:

    Very enjoyable. I particularly liked the seawees gathering.

    What is your opinion of solutions like 4 and 10 appearing in the same puzzle?

    As for the Italian dish, I first tasted it in Harry’s Bar while on honeymoon in Venice. Very horrible and so expensive. Worse still is the southern US staple of grits. Yuk.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi John

      I know I had some minor gripes with the puzzle, but I thought it was ‘classic’ Azed.

      Regarding 4 and 10, the repetition of the five letters at the start of consecutive solutions with similar etymology is (to say the least) glaring, and undoubtedly means a reduction in the marks for artistic impression. Grid filling software normally allows you to avoid repetition of letter sequences anywhere in the entries in any part of the grid, with a threshold of four letters being a typical setting, so CHESS at at 14a and LURCHES at 20d (for instance) would not be ‘allowed’, though I doubt any solvers would notice as long as the wordplays were completely different.

      I had grits once in Charlotte, NC. That was enough.