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 1784 Plain (6 Aug 2006)

Some pleasant holiday fare not straying very far from what can be found in Chambers.

Notes to the clues:


12.    Meal of acorns, one fed to old hunting dog forcibly.  RACAHOUT (a in rach + out).  All of the definitions used in the clue are uncommon and  ‘forcibly’ is the last but one of scores of meanings for ‘out’ in Chambers.

14.    Pancake time? Toss it in sport (as Northerners do). LATKE (t in lake3).  It might look at first as though it’s ‘’t’ for ‘it’ that’s being tossed into the lake, but in fact it’s the symbol t for time.

16.    Small horse, article used by Napoleon in series of battles?  WALER (le in war).  The setter invokes Napoleon’s battles as a clever distraction from the real point of the clue.

22.    HM getting corgi back, I see? Indicative of recurrent state (being madly corgi-ed)!  ERGODIC (ER + dog, rev. + I c; anag.).  A lot of inventive clueing is needed to justify the outrageous anagram, but Azed pulls it all together. Double wordplays can be difficult to solve when the definition sits in the middle, but this one is more fun than struggle.

35.    S. de B. was presumably one to savour Scotch, drunkenly riant.  SARTRIAN (sar + anag.).  The reference is to Sartre’s partner Simone de Beauvoir. ‘Riant’ adds a nice Gallic touch.

29.    Some horses, we hear, on which hands are revealed?  BAIZE (‘bays’).  Let’s just say Bridge players should get it.

36.    Learns oddly about wobbly bust below said region.  SUBSTERNAL (anag. in anag.).  A ‘semi-& lit.’ clue where the ‘said region’ in the definition is the region of the wobbly bust.


9.      What’s uncooked? Duck and cod, so microwave possibly. NUKE (comp. anag.).  Dr Watson hadn’t come across this meaning of ‘nuke’ before. The compound anagram works by adding ‘cod’ and ‘O’ to ‘nuke’, which is the ‘so’ of the clue.

27.    More than one barrow, perhaps, bolts securing wheel?.  BOARS (O in bars).  This is barrow3 in Chambers. Note that a barrow is only an example of a boar, and a wheel an example of an O, hence the ‘perhaps’ and the question mark.

32.    Blair’s (or Brown’s) spare member of the cabinet?  HAIN (2 meanings).  The Blair presumably being Blair Atholl in Perthshire and the Brown, Gordon. Dr Watson’s déjà vu over this clue is a result of HOON appearing a couple of months ago, also defined as ‘member of cabinet’. Peter Hain is now Northern Ireland Secretary

Other solutions:

Across: 1. AT A STRETCH (a tast(e) retch);  13. LAMBING (lam bing);  15. PROSODY (OD in prosy);  17. HALO’D (H + anag.);  21. AWOL (initial letters);  23. BABASSU (anag. less t);  26. FISH (2 meanings, fish1,2);  28. RAITA (hidden);  29. TWO-UP (ou in twp);  31. OBECHES (anag. in OS);  33. IRATE (rat in i.e.);  34. CENTARE (anag.) Down: 2. TEARAWAY;  3. AN MO (anag.);  4. SUBSOLAR (sola in anag.);  5. TRIODE (do, rev. in trie);  7. TALWEG (anag. in get, rev.);  8. HOTLY (t in holy);  10. STERN-CHASER (stern chaser);  11. ALPHABETISE (anag.);  18. DRUMBEAT (rumb(a) in deat(h));  19. CO-FACTOR (C of actor);  20. WISTERIA (t in wiser + A1, rev.);  24. SUPERB (up in Serb);  25. FRENNE (nn in free);  30. WRAP (2 meanings).