Notes for Azed 2,702

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 2,702 Plain

Difficulty rating: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

A nice puzzle that struck me as being a little above the middle of the difficulty range. Plenty of misdirection, as you would expect, several appealing surface readings, and some pleasing indications of wordplay elements (eg in 4d).

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 24a, “The old regretted being married again – sounds vulgar (5)”. This clue features two definitions and a (homophonic) wordplay. It is not uncommon for Azed to include clues with three ways of getting to the answer, rather than the usual two, and there are many successful competition clues in the archive which display similar generosity to solvers (eg the triple definition in the winning entry for TRICK in comp 2090). I once submitted a clue to Azed with three definitions and two wordplays (and an unfortunate misprint, but I don’t like to think about that) and a clue for the Sunday Times clue writing comp with five definitions (frankly, not one of my finest). In Azed competition clues, there is no reason at all not to submit a multi-wordplay clue (wordplay being any route to the answer beyond the first definition), particularly if you “can’t see the joins” between the components. However, in my experience modern crossword editors are rarely impressed by such clues, generally favouring brevity over complexity, and I would advise avoiding them when compiling barred crosswords.


1a Subtropical fruit in small cake, firm (6)
The small cake is the sort that is soaked in a rum syrup, while the ‘firm’ is the two-letter abbreviation for a synonym of that word.

12a Fundraisers for German soldiers, number with endless disease (7, 2 words)
The usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘number’ is followed by a generic term for a disease from which the last letter has been omitted (‘endless’), the result being a (4,3) term (not in Chambers).

On 4 September 1915, the ‘Iron Hindenburg’ statue was unveiled in Berlin. It was 13 metres high and weighed 20,000 kg – and was made not of iron, but of wood. Many similar statues were erected in Germany and Austria-Hungary during the First World War as part of a public fundraiser for the war effort, and depicted either military leaders (eg Admiral Tirpitz) or mythical heroes (eg Siegfried) – there was even an iron bear in Berndorf. Members of the public could demonstrate their patriotic spirit by paying to hammer a nail into the sculptures. The proceeds went towards the war effort, with the price of a nail varying depending on the material – for Hindenburg, the minimum donations were 1 mark for iron, 5 marks for silver-plated, and 100 marks for gold-plated nails. By late August 1918, the Iron Hindenburg had received at least 5,600 golden nails, 75,000 silver nails, and 780,000 iron nails. Most of the statues were dismantled after the war, with the Iron Hindenburg being taken down in November 1919 and sold to the public as firewood at an auction (nails and all, I presume).

13a Gives indecent treatment to turns, rare flop (4)
A four-letter word which can mean ‘handles indecently’ (as in Posy Simmonds’ description of an incompetent king with wandering hands – ‘he never reigns but he ????’) is reversed to produce a verb which has a ‘rare’ sense of ‘flop’

14a Close loose robe without need of tie (4)
A seven-letter word for a loose robe worn at bedtime has the consecutive letters TIE removed (‘without need of tie’). The nicely-disguised definition is of an adverb rather than a verb.

15a Rust got to lift (8)
The wordplay leads to a (4,4) phrase which could mean ‘got (something, perhaps bread) to lift’. The verb which constitutes the answer derives from the name of a particular wine with a rusty colour.

17a I’ll do a turn welcomed by king twice, or character representing him (5)
A three-letter word for ‘I’ or self is reversed (“‘ll do a turn”) within (‘welcomed by’) two instances of the monarchical abbreviation for ‘king’, the result being a word used in signalling to represent that same letter (ie ‘character representing him’).

18a Otters swimming are exciting, endlessly snorting (10)
An anagram (‘swimming’) of OTTERS is followed by a word meaning ‘are exciting’ or ‘stir up’ without its last letter (‘endlessly’).

21a Grudge I held with chum around, rarely alert (10)
A six-letter word meaning ‘[to] grudge’ and the letter I (from the clue) are contained by a three-letter word for a chum (‘with chum around’). Chambers gives several meanings for the answer, all of them rare.

28a Total loss of appetite as before nurse accepts to assume as valid (8)
A three-letter waiting-maid or nursemaid who will be familiar to regular solvers contains (‘accepts’) a word meaning ‘to assume as valid’ or ‘to postulate’.

31a Twins dancing in do straighten out (7)
An anagram of TWINS is contained by the syllable which once represented the first note of the scale, largely replaced by ‘do’, ‘doh’, or, if you’re Homer Simpson, “D’oh”.


1d Couples imbibing ten timeless nogs drunk as favour (12, 2 words)
A six-letter word for ‘couples’ that might be used of partridges, say, surrounds (‘imbibing’) an anagram (‘drunk’) of TEN without the usual abbreviation for ‘time’ (‘timeless’) and NOGS. The answer is the (6,6) plural of a (5,5) singular.

2d I’ll get installed in a room once satisfied (5)
The letter I (from the clue) is inserted into A (likewise) plus a three-letter word that started out life as a bundle of straw to lie on, then turned into a bed, and in the 1960s and 1970s was often used informally to describe one’s place of residence (frequently of the bachelor kind); it is also (apparently) US slang for a room frequented by users of narcotics. The solution is archaic, hence the ‘once’.

4d Part of old county division – I ask you about word (7)
A four-letter interjection meaning ‘[well] I ask you[!]’ contains (‘about’) a term for the sort of word that could, peut-être, be juste.

5d Love switching parts? Echo perhaps (5)
A five-letter word for ‘[to] love’ has its last three letters swapped with its first two (‘switching parts’). Sadly the Echo here is not the one associated with the Easter Bunnymen, rather a nymph from Mount Cithaeron who tried to cover up for Zeus and his nymph-mania, thus incurring the wrath of Hera, with the result that her erstwhile loquacity (in particular the originality of her utterances) was seriously curtailed.

6d Fuel not dried? Do this possibly (6)
A neat little composite anagram, where the letters of NOT DRIED can be rearranged (‘possibly’) to form DO plus the solution.

20d Remove extreme pressure in draught (6)
A two-letter abbreviation (applied to lubricant additives which prevent metal surfaces from bonding in conditions of extreme pressure and temperature) is contained by a word for the sort of draught which describes a quantity of medicine taken at a single glug.

25d Simple bag down under, sounding foolish locally (5)
A homophone (‘sounding’) of an antipodean (‘locally’, ie ‘down under’) word meaning ‘foolish’ leads to one spelling of a word for an Australian bag made of woven grass or fibre. It is slightly unfortunate that the other spelling of this word is the correct (rather than the soundalike) form of the ‘foolish’ word,  so without the ‘sounding’ the clue would lead to a different answer.

26d See me with absence of sun in waterproofs (5)
Here we have a charade consisting of an alternative spelling for the third note of the Julie Andrews scale (ie ‘me’) and a (2,1) phrase describing the absence of the letter of the alphabet which is the abbreviation for ‘sun’.

(definitions are underlined)

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6 Responses

  1. Mike Thomas says:

    Hi I agree with your rating of this puzzle. I’m having some trouble with my last clue, 23d. I have all the crossers and end up with I*LIAD. So it seems that L for line should go in this epic poem. However, I can make no sense of the final word or the rest of the clue! Some direction would be appreciated. Many thanks, Mike (PS I still don’t have a copy of Chambers – big mistake!)

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Mike

      Sorry for the delay in replying – your comment was identified as spam, though I can’t immediately see why.

      You are quite right about the abbreviation for ‘line’ going into the epic that you have revealed through the crossers. The result is a word which I believe appears only in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and is Shakespeare’s version of ‘oeillade’, an amorous glance (in King Lear, it appears as Eliads – or aliads, and subsequently Iliads). It does appear in the online version of Collins.

      The wording of the clue is rather ‘loose’, with the last two words being there purely for the benefit of the surface reading – it needs to be read as something along the lines of ‘…a brief look in Shakespeare will suffice [as the answer], which I think is pushing things a bit.

      • Mike Thomas says:

        Many thanks. Missed the Collins entry.

        • Doctor Clue says:

          PS Time to get a copy of Chambers! I almost exclusively use the excellent electronic versions, only making for the bookshelf when writing these notes and wanting to check where in the paper dictionary a particular answer is to be found.

  2. JOHN ATKINSON says:

    No comments on this enjoyable puzzle. Shame on you for the Benny-Hill “gag” on the home page. Suggest you stick to M ‘n’ X for brekkers. J.

    • Doctor Clue says:

      In the words of the great Ronnie Barker, ‘Just one of my little jokes. Wish I could think of a big one.’