Notes for Azed 2,707

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 2,707 Plain

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

Last week the biggest challenge was finding the abbreviation which (according to the instructions) was not given by Chambers. In hindsight, the abbreviation in question was either so obvious that everyone who read the blog felt that it was kinder not to point it out to me, or it wasn’t there at all. This week, there may not have been many really difficult clues in the puzzle, but there weren’t many easy ones either: no ‘hiddens’, and less straightforward anagrams than Azed often serves up, the result being a puzzle which I felt was past the middle of the difficulty range. There were several clues (1a and 21a, for instance) where familiarity with Azed’s little ways was a distinct advantage. 

Clue Writers’ Corner: With competition words of seven letters or more, anagrams are very much in play. With shorter words, such as this month’s, a ‘straight’ anagram is pretty much ruled out (even if it were a good one, it would be far too obvious). Subtractive anagrams and composite anagrams are still possibilities, but if you look back to the last time a familiar, five-letter adjective was chosen by Azed, you will see that anagrams are not prominent. I don’t think that multiple definitions will feature so strongly in this comp, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the published clues were to include several subtractions of the general sort which appear in many of the clues in today’s puzzle, and I suspect that &lit entries could occupy at least a couple of the podium positions. Hard also to imagine that The Wind in the Willows will not be represented in some shape or form.


3a Female playwright’s in character, one producing rewrite? (10)
There’s just one female playwright who crops up from time to time in Azed’s crosswords, and that is Mrs Behn, Restoration playwright and poet, about whom remarkably little (even the identity of her parents and thus her maiden name) is known. Her forename (together with an S on the end) is contained by a familiar four-letter word for a character or a role. Be careful to put the correct (unchecked) letter at the end of the answer, as required by both the wordplay and the definition.

11a Change for Afghanis? Not quite a thrill (4)
Crossword setters have found many ways over the years of creatively indicating local currency (including ‘African rhino’), and here the ‘change’ is the sort that might be spent. The wordplay involves a word for a throbbing, which also has a figurative sense of a thrill deprived of its last letter (‘Not quite’).

12a Lurker of old, person with inner swagger once (7)
It’s easy to get this one wrong – not only is the definition an early form of a familiar word (as indicated by ‘of old’), but the four-letter word for ‘[to] swagger’ which is contained by a three-letter abbreviation for ‘person’ is itself obsolete (‘once’). If that ‘once’ were removed from the end of the clue, it would lead to a different answer…and yes, that’s the one I initially wrote into the grid before finding that 8d seemed to have a very odd pair of letters at its start.

16a Old pub sign, sheltered, bordering green, say? (7)
The ‘green’ bordered (‘contained’) by a four-letter word meaning ‘sheltered’ is an informal term for a politician or a political activist. The solution is hyphenated, 3-4.

21a Wallops old snobs, left out of place (8)
Azed aficionados will see the word ‘snobs’ and immediately say to themselves “********!”, since it is an old informal word for people engaged in a particular profession (see Chambers). The usual abbreviation for ‘left’ must be moved to a different position within this word (‘left out of place’).

24a Monster taking over central position in journalism, making headway (8)
A four-letter monster replaces the middle letter in a metonymic term for the journalistic profession as a whole.

25a Cancel note replacing central section in exercise (4)
The central letter of a word meaning ‘[to] exercise’ is replaced by a two-letter abbreviation meaning ‘note [well]’, producing a strange sort of transitive verb, unsurprisingly obsolete.

27a Discontinued award, English, received by painter, is forgotten (5)
The usual abbreviation for ‘English’ is contained (‘received’) by a six-letter word for a painter without the consecutive letters IS (‘is forgotten’). The solution is obsolete, hence the ‘Discontinued’.

28a Young offspring casting on dry fly? (7)
A five-letter word for a young family member, lacking the consecutive letters ON (‘casting on’), is followed by a word meaning ‘dry’.

33a Puts a fresh flame to Jock’s chimney wreathed in endless smoke (his?) (7)
A three-letter Scots word for a chimney that has lang been reeking in crossword clues is contained by (‘wreathed in’) another Scots word, this time for ‘[to] smoke’, which has lost its last letter (‘endless’).

34a China trinkets prompting little chat (4)
My mother had a collection of little china ornaments bearing the crests of towns and cities, and the prized ones were made by a particular manufacturer, whose surname satisfies the first part of this double definition clue. The second word is an informal short (‘little’) word which perhaps relates more to scandalous rumours than to chat.


1d Gentry leg it shortly after meal with no starter? (10, 2 words)
A four-letter word for a leg and a single-letter shortened form of ‘it’ (ie ‘it shortly’) follow a particular six-letter meal, taken late in the day, missing its first letter (‘with no starter’). The answer is (5,5).

6d Source of syrup in a pastry dish (Italian) when one pleases? (8, 2 words)
A four-letter genus of trees, some of which are a source of the syrup one might put on pancakes, is contained by A (from the clue) and a three-letter term for a pastry dish, the result being a (1,7) Italian phrase.

8d Mountaineer’s aid? Half causing one to itch when climbing (4)
Half of an eight-letter word meaning ‘having an unhealthy interest in sexual matters’ and (rarely, in a botanical sense) ‘causing itching’ is reversed (‘when climbing’)

10d Ageless jaunty? He’ll surely have them (7, 2 words)
The ‘jaunty’ in the definition is a naval master-at-arms, but in the wordplay it is an anagram indicator (and a slightly questionable one, truth be told). I’ve underlined the whole clue, because the (3,4) solution only makes sense in that context, although it’s the ‘them’ which equate to the solution.

14d Shilling and sovereign found circling street sewer (10)
The single-letter abbreviation for ‘shilling’ and a seven-letter word for a sovereign (in the monarchical sense) are put around (‘circling’) the usual abbreviation for ‘street’. Be careful to enter the word that satisfies the definition and the wordplay, not the more familiar term which matches only the former.

18d Doctor treated rib, poorly inside? What MMR should deal with (8)
A two-letter abbreviation for a doctor (typically in the armed services) is followed by an anagram (‘treated’) of RIB with a word meaning ‘poorly’ inside.

19d Leafy old ferns arranged at fringes of party (8)
An anagram (‘arranged’) of the usual abbreviation for ‘old’ and FERNS contains (‘at the edges of’) a word for a party which should spring to the minds of all solvers.

22d Unploughed strip one leaves neatly arranged bordering church (7)
A single-letter word for ‘one’ is removed from (‘leaves’) an anagram (‘arranged’) of NEATLY which contains (‘bordering’) a two-letter abbreviation for ‘church’.

27d Evil demon making adult alarmed locally (5)
The usual abbreviation for ‘adult’ is followed by a dialect word meaning ‘alarmed’, the result being not only an evil demon but also the pseudonym of Alistair Ferguson Ritchie, arguably the father of the modern barred puzzle and a prolific setter of Listener puzzles in the days where they frequently received no correct entries (and a prize was awarded for every correct solution).

29d Pupils once extracting nickel in chemical compound (4)
A term for former pupils (‘Pupils once’) is deprived of the chemical symbol for nickel (‘extracting nickel’).

31d Tea not found when going round bun place bar that mentioned (4)
It so happens that on Friday, for the first time in years, I had the pleasure of eating a bun of the particular type involved here. Very nice it was too. The seven-letter name of the part of London from which it hails has the three letters of a word for ‘tea’ removed from its outside (‘tea not found when going round’) to produce the solution.

(definitions are underlined)

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9 Responses

  1. Iain Archer says:

    I’m still rather regretting not having submitted the RATTY clue that I found most pleasing: ‘Pettish?’. It didn’t seem to me like a successful sort of Azed comp. entry. Or was I perhaps mistaken?

    • Doctor Clue says:

      It will be interesting to see whether one or more solvers submitted that clue. While it might fall foul of the duplication test, it wouldn’t be ruled out on grounds of brevity – two one-word cup winners that spring to mind are H Freeman’s “B-r-ag” for CROW and TE Sanders’ “Ire-lander?” for PADDY-WHACK. However, when a brief ‘two meanings’ clue has found favour with Azed, it has typically been used by two or three solvers and garnered VHCs (I think if the number were any greater he would have awarded only HCs) – an example would be ‘Face down?’ for BEARD.

  2. Simon Griew says:

    Many thanks for the blog Dr C. I agree with your difficulty rating for the reasons you have given, which made it hard for me to gain much of a foothold in some areas of the puzzle. I particularly struggled in the NE – not knowing the female playwright didn’t help – and also fell for the incorrect alternative in 8d. I was puzzled by the parsing of 13a: in all the times I have visited Chambers for abbreviations, I had never spotted ‘purl’ under P! I’m still puzzled by the parsing of 4d: please could you enlighten me?

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Simon

      Thanks for that – I think John A must just have been in inspired form!

      4d “Perennial not active among variety of labiates (7)”

      The usual abbreviation for ‘active’ is removed from an anagram (‘variety’) of LABIATES. There’s no hard and fast rule about the omission of one instance of a letter which appears multiple times in the target, but if the cryptic reading here were the more natural ‘…active not among…’ then I think this should indicate the loss of both A’s; as it is, it’s hard to be sure exactly what ‘not active among’ really means, but I’m not convinced that it tells us to remove one A from what follows. I feel ‘Variety of labiates excluding active perennial’ would have been better.

      • Simon Griew says:

        Thanks. I stupidly failed to interpret ‘variety of’ as an anagram indicator, so the question of how many As to lose hadn’t really troubled me! I do agree with your analysis, though.

  3. JOHN ATKINSON says:

    Hello. I did not find this too tough, having completed it half-way the second half of the Brighton and Villa game. The timing is close to a record for me.

    FOI 35. That reminded me of a former colleague who would complain whenever he missed a putt on a merest slope. He would declare that a 35 would prove the green unplayable. With tongue in cheek, I propose Rolandish for 5d

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi John

      My feeling was that the puzzle would have proved considerably easier for Azed regulars than for neophytes, but I may have got that wrong.

      “Taking time, uncovered martyr treated like Roland”?

  4. Bhala says:

    Hi Dr.C
    Ref yr comments on 8d. I feel Azed is referring to a medical term which justifies the rest of the clue

    • Doctor Clue says:

      Hi Bhala, and welcome to the blog

      I wasn’t unhappy about 8d (well, not once I’d established that it didn’t start with RL!), and in truth I think one could argue that ‘causing one to itch’ and ‘itching’ were pretty much the same thing, so (as you suggest) the ‘rare’ sense probably doesn’t need to be called on.