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 1845 Plain (7 Oct 2007)

October’s competition puzzle, though somewhat easier than last month’s ‘Give and Take’, is on the tough side for a Plain puzzle. Azed trawls the back catalogue of competition winning clues, as he did in August, for a particularly clever and difficult & lit. clue at 3d, and comes up with a very satisfying one of his own for at 4d.

Notes to the clues:


7.      Tootsy with such a rounded end? Ug! Steatopygous possibly.  APSE (comp. anag.).  You wouldn’t want every clue to be as outrageous (or as outrageously sexist) as this one, but it certainly livens up the puzzle. One feature of the comp. anag. structure is that it places the definition in the middle of the clue – though it’s well signposted here, as it needs to be when there’s no hint of ‘& litness’. Dr Watson will let readers check ‘steatopygous’ for themselves.

13.    One son and daughter in all.  A’BODY (a + d in boy).  Unlike the C-LIST of two months ago, a’body has its own Chambers entry, cross-referred back to a’. It’s still a difficult clue to crack open with its unassuming definition ‘all’.

17.    Métisse has mixed make-up apparently.  IT SEEMS (anag.)  Another definition that looks more like an incidental part of the clue. ‘Métisse’ is in Chambers, meaning a Canadian of mixed race.

18.    Sort of hunch? It may require some searching in e.g. Chambers entry.  SIXTH SENSE (2 meanings).  A nice description of the tribulations of crossword solving. The second meaning refers to the multiple entries in Chambers for different meanings or senses of a word. There are many words that achieve a sixth sense, and mull amongst others has eight, but Dr Watson doesn’t know which word has the most.

31.    Part of Jock’s drainage system, pain when tangled in glutinous stringy mass.  ROANPIPE (anag. in rope).  As indicated in the footnote, this solution is found under the entry for rone.

32.    New Age Ramsay discovery.  NEON (n eon).  Nothing to do with the chef who swears. Neon was first isolated by William Ramsay.

33.    What’s preserved, once removed from can, went off ages ago.  DIED ((can)died).  The definition seems to point to an obsolete meaning of ‘die’, but Chambers doesn’t support this.


3.      Is Latin ‘in fair round belly’ one?  PODESTÀ (est (L. for is) in pod a, & lit.).  A top quality, and very difficult, & lit., for which Azed must hand the credit to P. D. Gaffey, whose winning clue this was in competition puzzle no 319 (May 1978). The reference is to the Seven Ages of Man speech in As You Like It. The fifth age starts “And then the justice/In fair round belly with good capon lined”.

4.      Sort of pen, see.  STYLO (sty lo & lit.).  One & lit. follows on from another in a model of concise and witty clue writing.

5.      My canons are noted, displaying great lives.  TALLIS (tall is).  The punning reference is to Thomas Tallis, the 16th century English composer of church music.

6.      In holiday clothes, even short (taken up) grass skirts? The opposite.  EN FÊTE (tef, rev., in ene).  This looks like a clue that grew and grew in the making, losing quite a lot of surface sense on the way. The opposite of ‘tef’ (going up) skirting ‘ene’ is ‘ene’ skirting ‘tef’ (going up). Or at least that’s one of the possible opposites. It’s less clear what the opposite of ‘being in holiday clothes, even short grass skirts’, is.

7.      How a roughie behaves when working as a colleague of J. Le Mesurier?  ALOWE (A. Lowe).  Not quite as ancient as August’s ITMA. Arthur Lowe and John Le Mesurier played Captain Mainwaring and Sergeant Wilson in the famous 1960s and 70s sitcom Dad’s Army. It’s a happy memory, although Dr Watson doubts the status-obsessed Mainwaring would ever have called Wilson a colleague, in or out of uniform.

16.    Old flame Ivy’s fourth to last in seated rooms  EXHEDRAE (ex + e to end in Hedera).  It’s difficult to see what ‘Ivy’s fourth to last’ is getting at unless you’re up on your botany.

27.    Regulars in pub (I’m one) bashed out drunken chant.  EUOI (anag. of alternate letters).  The great Greek vowel-eater gets another new treatment.

Other solutions:

Across: 1. QUIPSTER (PS for e in quieter);  10. UP TO (p in anag.);  11. TANALITH (anag. in hat, rev.);  14. FOGEY (go, rev. in fey);  15. CRUELLER (E in cruller);  21 HARRASEDLY (anag. in hardly);  24. LEE-LANE (élan in lee); 28. MORALISM (anag. in mom);  29. EURUS (E + urus); 30. LIMBI (hidden); 34. SCHNECKE (comp. anag. incl. as E).  Down: 1. QUACKSALVER (a for i twice in quicksilver);  2. UPBRAID;  8. PIGWEEDS (pig + anag.);  9. STED (alternate letters of us at ready);  12. HYOSCYAMINE (anag.);  19. SEA-LINE (al(l) in seine);  20. BLESBOK (lesbo in bk);  22. ANOXIC (an ox + i, c);  23. SERAPH (rap in anag.);  25. LAUND (hidden);  26. GALEN (galen(a); see Galenic);