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 1792 ‘Right and Left’ (1 Oct 2006)

‘Right and Left’ puzzles are an Azed (and before that a Ximenes) tradition of long standing, so the regular solver/competitor knows what to expect. Each double clue should make surface sense as a whole and cryptic sense as two abutting clues. There should be no surplus words and no overlap between the clues and the point where they meet should be reasonably well hidden. It’s a tough discipline for both Azed and those entering the clue-writing competition. In Dr Watson’s view this month’s aren’t the best examples of Azed’s clue-writing in this style, but his standards of accuracy and fairness are well maintained. Since the grid can’t be inked in until the joining light (1a) is solved, Watson’s method is to start by pencilling in solutions in order to find checking letters, and then transpose the grid later if necessary.

In the notes below solutions to each clue pair are given in the order they are clued – readers should be able to work out their grid locations. The point where the two clues join is also indicated.

Notes to the clues:


1.      Right and left here? It’s about working partners out.  COUNTERPARTS (c + anag.).  The joining light is usually more difficult to solve than this. It allowed Dr Watson to start inking in the solutions quite quickly.

7.      Unbroadcast romance, love for a / flighty air-hostess ignoring landlord in harems. OFF-AIR / SERAIS (0 for a in affair; anag. less host).  The removal of ‘host’ from the anagram is well signposted. This sort of subtraction via a synonym is normally acceptable to Azed only where the subtracted letters are contiguous in the anagram material.

14.    Wild slurp one swallowed – source of radiation / I registered in drunken ‘Merci’ for panache?  PULSAR / CIMIER (a in anag.; I in anag.).  It was clearly, and understandably, a struggle for Azed to find a thematic link here. The clue’s saving grace is the misleading definition for ‘cimier’.

16.    Rude term for ‘old’ woman disturbed Y. Ono among sailors, / albeit sailors imbibing nothing as source of radiation.  RONYON / THORON (anag. in RN; tho + 0 in RN).  Another struggle, evidenced by the comma that separates the two clues. It’s not clear whether the repeat of the definition from 14a is intentional or an unwelcome necessity – probably the latter.


2.      ‘Stupid’ no good initially as loaded / excuse sure lacking in dissipation. OOFY / PLEA ((g)oofy; plea(sure)).  The two subtractions are neatly indicated.

5.      Lay organisation? Fate looking up after English / bouquet’s brought up for IT expert?  ENRON / SYSOP (E + norn, rev.; posy’s, rev.).  Two unpromising words that make a satisfying if not sparkling clue. Enron is probably now lodged in the public consciousness as a model of corporate hubris. Kenneth Lay was the CEO convicted of massive accounting fraud and facing prison until he died in July this year.

14.    Bread for birds / one lodged in (old US) gum tree.  PITTA / CARAP (2 meanings; a in crap).  The double definition allows a very succinct and coherent clue to be produced. The bracketed part is a hint to look up the relevant definition, under gum1 in Chambers.

Other solutions:

Across: 6. ALMERY / LOTION (endless / amount; anag. + ry(e); lot I on);  9. BISSON / HIP-HOP (shin / a; s in bison; hip hop);  10. UNTENT / EXPOSE (wine / to; un tent; sop, rev., in Exe);  12. REARLY / LEARNT (prematurely / memorized; earl in ry.; Lear + n’t);  17. ALERCE / TESTON (Roman / coin; RC in alee; hidden);  18. PATOIS / ANANKE (dialect / necessity; pa + to + is; K in anan + E).  Down: 1. CLOTBUR / RASCHEL (annoy / Charles; clot + rub, rev.; anag.);  3. NIAISERIE / REARHORSE (stirred / it’s; anag. + Erie; re Ar. + anag.);  4. TRIPOS / TOISON (undergrads / like; anag.; so in anag.);  8. APPALOOSA / ESTAMINET;  11. TYRONES / ETRENNE (novices / present; Tyr ones; ET renne);  13. EUGHEN / EIDOLA (maybe / oiled; gue, rev. + hen; anag. + a);  15. FOCI / MOOK (points / acceptable; anag.; mo + OK).