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 1737 Plain (4 Sep 2005)

An unusual grid with thirty-eight lights, and many two-word phrases. It’s not clear whether Azed was deliberate in clueing the three letter words in the same way (by removing half of a six letter word).

Notes to the clues:

12a:   Reveille catches relative in part of Bronx terrace?   ROW HOUSE (who in rouse).  Defining ‘who’ as ‘relative’ is at least safer than indicating, say, ‘dog’ by ‘noun’.

21a:   One with estates in Assam, possibly styled Patel, having to pay rupees.  TEA PLANTER (anag. + ante + R).  A long clue, but its elements all fit the theme.

29a:   Chaos always surrounding historical lot?  ATAXY (tax in ay).  Azed is less punctilious these days about indicating the obsolescence of words, and avoids it in the definition. In Watson’s view a lot is more of an historical tax than vice versa (though one could argue the clue indicates ‘lot’ historically meant a tax).

30a:   One such as Sappho in writing appears thus?  MANLESS (an les in Ms, & lit.).  Sappho (rather than a more contemporary example) keeps the clue on the right side of the PC fence..

31a:   One the sea tides tossed under?  ANAESTHETISED (an + anag.).  Thirteen letters very concisely clued, with an excellent choice of definition.

8d:    Does it mask head of hierarch in holy place.  CURCH (c(h)urch, & lit.).  Sometimes a subtraction indicator can be made to look like a container and contents, as in this neat ‘& lit.’ clue..

15d:  40 winks, 60 unusually (a type of vocal development).  ANAPTYXIS (a nap + anag. of sixty).  This doesn’t quite count as an indirect anagram.

28d:  Yogi, Indian style? Some careful about standing on head.  BALU (hidden rev.).  The surface is so attractive that the solver is distracted from the misleading definition.

Other solutions:

1a: GATECRASH (anag.);  8a: CAR (car(boy));  11a: BLAG (B lag);  13a: RABBINS (snib bar, all rev.);  14a: SPIRT (r in spit);  17a: GENNEL (anag. + el(l));  18a: MACHER (ma cher);  19a: FALSE SHAME (anag. in fame);  23a: SULTAN ((in)sult an);  26a: SESTON (hidden);  29a: ATAXY (tax in ay);  31d: RIDICULE (lucid, rev. in anag.);  32d: EMES (seme, rev.);  33a: KEY ((don)key);  34a: SUSURRATE (susu r rate);  2d: A LATERE (later in a, e);  3d: TABUN (tab un);  4d: CRIBELLAR (rib in cellar);  5d: RONG ((w)rong);  6d: AWSOME (a + s in anag);  7d: HOPE CHEST (anag. + hest);  9d: ASIDE (s moved in aides);  10d: RETIREDNESS (ret I redness);  11d: BRIGHT SPARK (rights p in bark);  16d: EASTERNER (astern in e’er);  20d: MOONSET (MO onset);  22d: ANIMUS;  24d: UPTIE (anag. + i.e.);  25d: LEADY (E in lady);  27d: THEMA (M in the, a).