Notes for Azed 2,706

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 2,706 Plain

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

I felt this puzzle was somewhere below the middle of the difficulty range, the only real headscratcher being not a clue but the information that ‘[Chambers] does not give one reasonably common abbreviation used’. There are plenty of common abbreviations overlooked by Chambers (L for ‘live’ and S for ‘small’ being just two), but I’m blowed if I can find the one that Azed is referring to here – I’ve gone through all the clues three times and, whilst I’m sure it must be hiding in plain sight, I’m stumped. What am I missing? 

Setters’ Corner: This week I’m going to look at clue 33a, “Follower of Libyan priest as in getting excited about a sanctus? (9)”. An anagram (‘getting excited’) of AS IN is put around A BELL (‘a sanctus?’), the result being the name given to a follower of a particular third century Libyan priest. The question here is whether ‘sanctus’ is a legitimate way of indicating BELL. Even with the question mark, I don’t think that it is – Chambers only gives the phrase ‘sanctus bell’, and I can find nothing to suggest that the word is used on its own in this sense.

There is a significant difference between using (for instance) ‘Labrador?’ and ‘Maltese?’ to deliver DOG: Chambers lists ‘Labrador dog’ and ‘Maltese dog’, but while under ‘Labrador’ it gives ‘a Labrador dog’, there is nothing similar under the entry for ‘Maltese’. The question mark is fine for flagging an indication by example (such as ‘Labrador?’ for DOG), but a ‘Maltese’ is not an example of a dog, and a sanctus is not an example of a bell. This is the sort of thing that many crossword editors will wave through (not least because it’s actually quite tricky to accurately indicate the relationship between, say, ‘sanctus” and ‘bell’), and therefore I wouldn’t generally warn setters off it, but if you are writing clues for a Listener puzzle then ‘Vera’ is no good for ALOE and ‘sanctus’ won’t do for BELL. There are usually alternatives – the follower here could equally well have been getting excited about a ring.


6a Jock’s rent, beginning to stretch belief (6)
The first letter of (‘beginning to’) ‘stretch’ is followed by a word for a system of belief often sandwiched between race and colour. The result is a familiar word, but the sense required by the definition is specific to Scotland. As Burns once wrote, “Ye, for my sake, hae gien the feck Of a’ the ten comman’s A ?????? some day.” Indeed.

12a Short letter in pidgin revealing subterfuge (9)
The three-letter abbreviation for an epistle that forms part of the New Testament (possibly written by Paul the Apostle, possibly not) is contained by a term for a lingua franca which starts out as a second language (a pidgin) but then becomes the first language in a particular region; it is also part of the name of the nightclub at the heart of a 1958 musical drama which apparently gave Elvis Presley his favo(u)rite screen role. The solution is hyphenated, 5-4.

17a Buddy having a turn involving major artery (5)
The letter A (from the clue) and a two-letter word for a turn or an attempt contain a two-letter representation of a ‘major artery’ in the road transport sense, which memorably appeared in Norah Jarman’s Ximenes prize winning clue for CHEMIST, “I provide something you can rattle up and down in a box”.

18a Strip with lines inside corset (6)
I’m very surprised if Azed has deliberately chosen not to indicate that the four-letter word for a strip, which here contains the usual abbreviation for ‘lines’, is Scottish; I wonder if he has interpreted the Chambers entry as showing only the alternative spelling RUND as being geographically restricted.

19a See me, famous Lady, measure female reproductive cell (10)
Azed displays his knowledge of 21st century popular music, with the stage name of a particular Lady (taken from the title of a Queen song) being placed between the letters ME (from the clue) and a four-letter word meaning ‘[to] measure’, normally accompanied by ‘out’ and applied to punishment.

34a Story about Rechabite, idle chatter (6)
The only tricky bit about this one is translating the ‘Rechabite’ – a member of the Independent Order of Rechabites, a benefit society founded in 1835 to promote total abstinence from alcoholic beverages – into a two-letter abbreviation.


1d Take off special cloak (5)
The usual single-letter abbreviation for ‘special’ is followed by the Spanish form of a familiar synonym for ‘cloak’. The answer is unusual in apparently having two unrelated parents, an Italian verb and a bit of Cockney rhyming slang.

3d German in post-war period, not pro daring, I’ll follow (5)
A seven-letter word for ‘daring’ has the consecutive letters PRO removed (‘not pro’) and is followed by the letter I (“I’ll follow”).

7d Lick prune? (4)
The ‘lick’ here relates to speed, as in “that white van’s going at a fair lick”, while the ‘prune’ (as you might expect) has nothing to do with fruit.

9d Like oldie, lid drooping somewhat, maroon (6)
A word meaning ‘characteristic of old age’ (‘Like oldie’) has it’s first letter (‘lid’) moved downwards.

10d One hearty, sea rolling, chanting agreeably (12, 4 words)
A straightforward anagram which produces a (4,2,3,3) phrase, though I do wonder about that ‘chanting’…I can’t think of a sentence in which ‘chanting agreeably’ and the answer would be interchangeable, but I’m prepared to let the matter drop.

11d Within charge, string up female prisoner (7)
Inside a three-letter word for a charge, or something  owed, is a reversal (‘up’) of the word for the highest string of the lyre (one to remember, along with its companions mese and trite), the result being the feminine form of a French word for a prisoner, applied especially to the English subjects detained as prisoners in France and the French subjects detained in England in the period 1793–1815.

14d Sticky mass and disposed of by greedy diner (4)
Th seven-letter ‘older’ form (missing the U) of a familiar eight-letter word for a glutton has the consecutive letters AND deleted (‘and disposed of’).

19d Shift, the whole lot taken up for courtesan (7)
A four-letter word meaning ‘shift’ (in a nautical context) and a three-letter word for ‘the whole lot’ are reversed (‘taken up’) to produce a 4-3 solution which can describe a deer, a fop, or a courtesan – I suspect that Ben Jonson was referring to the last of these when he wrote “Hee sleepes with a ???? ??? euery night”.

22d Tie-dyeing technique that’s shown rearing rare wild horse (4)
The wording of the clue makes it clear that it is the tie-dyeing technique which must be reversed (‘rearing’) and the rare wild horse which forms the solution, but both are relatively uncommon words. An alternative clue would be “Rare wild horse overtaking bears”.

25d Discharge from limb in case similarly shortened? (5)
A three-letter limb is deprived of a single letter, and a four-letter word has the same letter removed from the same position (‘similarly shortened’).

(definitions are underlined)

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