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 1741 ‘One Across’ (2 Oct 2005)

Azed last gave us a puzzle with a nautical theme four years ago with ‘Ship of Fools’ (number 1500 and the first puzzle Dr Watson reviewed for the Crossword Centre). In this month’s Special the theme was hidden, but probably not for very long from solvers with an eye for major anniversaries. The references in the preamble to a famous message, its sender and its source will have alerted many to a Trafalgar connection. The questions to be answered, after that, would be: which ‘version’ of the message; which ‘phrase’ gives its source; and how to style its sender, since 28 across, at least gives the potential choice between ADMIRAL and HORATIO. Even with the thematic fundamentals in place the puzzle still has a lot to offer the solver with some fine clues, and the nagging question of the encoded phrase at 1 across. Dr Watson feels Azed deserves applause for marking the bicentenary of Trafalgar with a puzzle that contains so many thematic elements and still manages to be accessible and enjoyable from start to finish. Well worthy of his canon, you might say.

Solvers will no doubt have done their own research into ‘England expects…’, but here is Dr Watson’s understanding of its several reported versions:

-        ‘England confides that every man will do his duty,’ the message originally dictated by Nelson

-        ‘England expects that every man will do his duty,’ the one actually flown (in code) from the Victory, and quoted in ODQ.

-        ‘England expects every officer and man to do his duty this day,’ subsequently quoted in the first newspaper reports of the battle (though it would have been a bit of a mastful for the Victory).

-        ‘England expects every man to do his duty,’ a popular version of the signal that appears on the first Nelson memorial, erected in Liverpool, and of course is the version chosen by Azed to fit his quota of clues.

Notes to the clues:

1a:     Unclued. OYBADGQGOEFC. The encoded version of TRAFALGAR DAY, once you’ve pinned down the code-phrase HMS VICTORY (a very satisfying ten letters).

14a:   Jock’s learning what makes big star move westward.  LE[G]IR (Rigel, rev.).  The popularity of East/West indicators in across clues seems to be increasing. It’s a good device when used in context, as it is here, though its purpose is fairly obvious. It’s used again at 31a.

22a:   Squared section, one might assume, in any chopped tree.  NYS[X]SA (S XS in anag.).  Azed always rises to a challenge like this, and shows that he can take the odd (carefully flagged) liberty with abbreviations, too, when it helps the surface of the clue.

32a:   Old sailors’ chant near large boat going about.  YO-HO[T] (to hoy, all rev.).  Throwing in the odd nautical clue for good measure (13a is another one)..

34a:   Patterned lace fragment turned by old portraitist.  TROL[E]LY (ort, rev. + Lely).  Many of Sir Peter Lely’s .portraits of the English nobility of the Restoration period still survive.

4d:    Notice that is placed before ultimately you may fax farewells.  ADIEU[Y]X (ad i.e. + u,y,x).  Distinct signs of a struggle here, but Azed just about wins through.

5d:    On the wagon? Your doctor’s given up.  D[M]RY (yr. MD, all rev.).  Succinct and witty without being showy. A fine clue.

30d:  Barbara, writer about love, English.  P[Y]OM (0 in Pym).  A good penny-dropping moment when you sort out the definition from the wordplay. The whole clue is not a bad summary of the writer herself.

Other solutions:

11a: H[E]ODMEN (he + anag.);  13a: [N]KROO (hidden rev.);  15a: OTTO[L] (lotto, rev.);  16a: UNL[A]ORD (LA in anag.);  17a: REMUD[N]A (re mud NA);  19a: [D]SOYA (DSO + y,a);  20a: G[E]ILTS (I L in get + s);  24a: S[P]URF (spur + f);  28a: HORATIO;  29a: LEPT[E]ON (lepte o’ n);  31a: S[C]EAL (s/c ea L);  33d: OKT[S]A (OK T + as, rev.);  35d: NURSERYMAID[V] (anag. + d.v.);  2d: YE[E]SES (ye + e,s twice);  3d: BOG[R] MOSS (BO + m in gross);  6d: GESUND[A]HEIT (a HE in anag.);  7d: G[N]OLPE (EP long, all rev.);  8d: OK[T]AY (T to middle in Tokay);  9d: FO[O]RB (or in fob);  10d: COL[D]TSFOOT (cold + anag.);  12d: NONAGE[O]NARY (non age on a Ry.);  14d: LORD NELSON;  18d: GLUTA[H]EI (hat, rev. in glue + I);  21d: [I]PAYOLA (anag. in IA);  23d: [S]VOLAE (V in sola + E);  25d: RIGOL[D] (ri(ch) gold);  26d: GECK[U] (Ge + K in Cu);  27d: L[T]ASS (L tass).