For the benefit of solvers new to the rigours of the Advanced Cryptic, Dr Watson provides a monthly review of the Observer’s Azed competition puzzle. Dr Watson is a regular Azed competitor. Please post any comments on this review to the Crossword Centre’s message board.

Azed No 1711 Plain (6 Mar 2005)

Two Peters, two Classical expressions and two two-word French phrases to be found in this month’s puzzle, but naturally only one correct solution

Notes to the clues:

18a:   Pieces inserted into finial for sacred precincts  TEMENE (men in tee).  ‘Temenos’ is given in Chambers, but this appears to be either a modern Greek plural or a declension. Watson would have expected ‘temenoi’.

30a:   Parties much enjoyed a Purves broadcast.  RAVE-UPS (anag.).  Solvers who missed out on children’s TV of the late 1960s may not recognise presenter Peter Purves, whose subsequent broadcasting career has been less memorable.

32a:   Green plant ends in the mower – blame follows.  ERODIUM (e, r + odium).  A lovely image that suggests the motive in a Mrs Marple story.

33a:   Fur? Excessive one’s not mine.  OTTER (OTT er(mine)).  The key is recognising that ‘one’ refers back to the definition.

8d:    Stone applied to either edge of razor as hair-remover.  SLATER (slate + r).  The clue is disguised as a container and contents, but ‘either edge’ actually indicates ‘one edge or other’.

16d:  E.g. Stringfellow in bunch that includes group of doctors?  CLUBMASTER (BMA in cluster).  Sounds like unusual company for nightclub entrepreneur and aging swinger Peter Stringfellow, unless we’re talking about cosmetic surgeons.

17d:  Soothing lotion ante-surf? Not exactly  AFTERSUN (anag.).  The italics emphasise the clue’s ‘semi-& lit.’ aspirations.

20d:  I’d accepted nothing in place of lamb chop!  OVICIDE (I’d on 0 vice).  Azed tends to avoid exclamations in his clues, but this rather outré definition deserves one.

24d:  Layer of sidewalks, pro via in ambagibus?  PAVIOR (anag.).  Watson’s Classical knowledge isn’t sufficient to comment on the accuracy of the presumed anagram indicator – meaning something like ‘in a roundabout way’?

Other solutions:

1a: IDEM SONANS (anag. in is);  11a: TENIA (hidden);  12a: MOSELLE (sell in moe);  13a: CRANCH (c + ranch);  14a: ALAPA (à la Pa);  15a: LEMURIA (rum, rev. + I in lea);  16a: JUTES (E in juts);  19a: BLOODFIN (anag.);  23a: STOPOVER (op in anag.);  25a: ASHINE (as + in in he);  29a: SPICA (s + Pica);  31a: TAKIN (TA + kin);  32a: PINOLE (no. in pile);  34a: REINCREASE (rein + crease);  2d: DE RÈGLE (dere + anag.);  3d: EN AMI (a in enmi(ty));  4d: MINUS;  5d: SACRED (hidden rev.);  6d: NOVATION (n + ovation);  7d: NELUMBO (anag.);  9d: ALPEN (anag.);  10d: PEASE-BROSE (ease + b in prose);  21d: KEMPLES (kemp les(s));  22d: CHIKOR (HI in anag.);  26d: SPARK (s + park);  27d: RENTE (hidden);  28d: QUOTA (Ot(hello) in qua).