R Watson would normally have been delighted with the extra challenge of a Jigsaw puzzle, where the clues are given in alphabetical order of their solutions and must be fitted into the barred grid. But the weekend of the puzzle saw your reviewer on a tight schedule, and resorting to Bradford’s and other references at an early stage. Still, there’s plenty to enjoy here. The clues are high quality, certainly no easier than in a normal week, and a few, such as 3 and 33, rather tougher. Azed has chosen a grid with an uneven distribution of solutions across the alphabet: eight beginning with C, five with T, and two nine-letter solutions with P. This makes the solutions that much harder to guess and fit. So a welcome challenge for those solvers who are up for it, and in Dr Watson’s case, ready to shuffle their other commitments.
The notes below show the location and orientation of each solution. Readers who want to try the puzzle online are warned that the Jigsaw has translated poorly into the Guardian’s interactive format, and they would be better off printing out the pdf version, accessible from the link just above the interactive grid.
1. Grade after top one? Old-style call to attention needed. ALEW (A + Lew; 2,1,A). Lew Grade was the colourful media mogul who founded ATV. ‘Top one’ is a back-reference to ‘grade’: A is the top grade.
3. One’s can, crooked, inebriate. ANCON (anag. + on, & lit.; 8,8,D). A horribly devious & lit. that won second prize for F. R. Palmer in competition 161 in 1975. Ancon is the elbow. Cryptically, one (the solver) has ‘can’ anagrammed followed by ‘on’ meaning ‘drunk’. The definition is explained by the Chambers entry for ‘crook one’s elbow’, a necessary part of the process of getting drunk.
7. Bowl for drinking, about at an end. CAUP (ca. up; 1,1,D). The wordplay is well disguised in a less common abbreviation for ‘about’, and ‘up’ as in ‘the game’s up’.
8. Small stone layer. CHUCKIE (2 meanings; 6,11,D). The clue hints at an & lit. with ‘small stone’ looking like an abbreviation, but a chuckie really is a small stone in Scotland, and a hen in other parts.
9. Between us and our neighbour runs claim, endlessly fraught. CISLUNAR (anag. less m; 5,7,D). Cislunar describes something between the earth and the moon, so the ‘us’ here is very inclusive.
14. From ’ere catching taxi involved light amount. EXITANCE (anag. in (h)ence; 6,5,A). The dropped aitch is quite a familiar crossword ploy. ‘Involved’ refers back to ‘taxi’ in the wordplay, and the definition hides the scientific nature of the solution.
16. Some laugh on giving Maori greeting. HONGI (hidden; 8,1,A). Since the hongi involves sticking one’s tongue out as far as possible, Dr Watson thinks it might be difficult to laugh, no matter how inclined one is to do so.
17. Philosopher inclined face KANT (2 meanings; 12,1,A). Immanuel Kant was one of the great philosophers of the Enlightenment and ‘kant’ is a variant spelling of ‘cant’, though not the cant that some might have accused Kant of.
18. My home is mountainous, spelling end for black bean plant. KURD (k + urd; 9,12,D). It’s not quite clear whether the wordplay means ‘the end of “black” in spelling’ or ‘spelling out “k urd”’. Kurds originate from (and seek autonomy for) a region covering parts of Iraq, Iran and Turkey.
20. 9 dressed in dark blue oriental fabric. PERSIENNE (anag. of nine in perse; 1,3,D). An anagram isn’t indirect in Azed’s opinion if the clue material indicates the letters to be anagrammed unequivocally – for a number that could be written as a longer Roman numeral this could be a moot point.
23. I’ll abandon off-key piano and use trombone. POSAUNE (anag. less I; 4,1,A). Note the use of ‘I’ll’ – ‘I abandon’ would not be grammatical in the cryptic reading where I is the letter and not the first person.
24. It often has an outrigger on the side of it. PROA (pro a; 9,11,D). A very subtle piece of wordplay. The clue reads like a straight definition of PROA (a boat equipped with an outrigger), but in fact the last five words lead to ‘pro’ (in favour of or on the side of) and ‘a’ (dialect form of ‘it’).
27. Streaks crazily round middle in Lord’s – thus? STARKERS (r in anag. & lit.; 1,12,D). The connection between ‘streaks’ and ‘starkers’ has surely been exploited before, but the reference to Lord’s cricket ground, where it has happened, is inspired.
31. Exciting metal supplanting uranium in plain. TINGLY (tin for U in ugly; 7,5,D). Dr Watson found this clue unusually difficult. It’s possibly the use of ‘plain’ for ‘ugly’, and a structure that doesn’t readily reveal the definition.
33. A drinker’s measure with this fish could be a lie! TROUT (i.e. a litre with tr out = a lie; 1,5,D). The surface is cleverly realised, but perhaps at the expense of solvability. A litre isn’t the most obvious drinker’s measure.
2. ALFORJA (hidden; 1,2,D); 4. ARROGANCE (rog(ue) in a rance; 10,1,A); 5. CAPOTTED (pot in anag.; 1,1,A); 6. CASHBACK (C + b in a shack; 5,1,D); 10. CONTRASTY (anag. in cony; 4,10,D); 11. CORALLA (or all in ca.; 11,1,A); 12. CRISTA (anag. of stair c(arpets); 5,1,A); 13. DICAST (I’d, rev., + as in Ct.; 1,8,D); 15. GENU (e in gnu; 1,11,D); 19. LABRUS (b in Larus; 8,7,A); 21. PIGBOAT (pi + anag.; 6,4,D); 22. POINCIANA (Inc. In anag.; 3,4,A); 25. RUNBACK (anag. in ruck; 9,6,A); 26. SANITISE (7,1,A); 28. STIR (2 meanings; 11,9,A); 29. STONK (knots, rev.; 5,8,A); 30. TAGS (ta G,S; 1,9,A); 32. TRIMTAB (rim in batt., rev.; 1,9,D); 34. TWIN AXIS (win in taxis; 1,6,D); 35. WHIRRET (r in anag.; 2,6,A); 36. YARN-DYED (anag. less g).