Azed No 1958 Plain (6 Dec 2009)

reviewed by Dr Watson for & lit. – The Azed Slip Archive

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ECEMBER’S first competition puzzle has plenty to entertain solvers, but little to detain the more experienced. Dr Watson solved and checked this one quickly, helped in part by straightforward and well-signposted definitions in many of the clues. Perhaps Azed is storing up his thunder for the Christmas offering in two weeks’ time.

Notes to the clues:


10.     Sound that river suggests to the ear.  SANE (‘Seine’).  The definition ‘sound’ is hard to spot in what looks like a homophone & lit., and the unchecked N leaves a lot of possible solutions such as ‘safe’ to consider. ‘Sane’ is a more English than French pronunciation of ‘Seine’.

13.     Lovers cease fretting – as ever thus intimate?  CLOSE (comp. anag.).  Anatomy of a comp. anag.: The composite anagram clue gives an anagram of the solution and some extra letters (‘lovers cease’) in one part of the clue, and the extra letters and an indication of the absent solution (‘as ever’ and ‘thus’) in the another part. The anagram indicator (‘fretting’) may be attached to either element and there may be a definition (‘intimate’) at either end of the clue, or it may be & lit. There should in Azed’s view also be something to indicate that one part is derived from the other. Here the dash and question-mark create a pause that implies the causal link.

16.     Reckless driver, one going at leisurely pace round Lombardy town? Not quite!  AMBER GAMBLER (Bergam(o) in ambler).  Azed has given a very straight definition in this clue, which could possibly have been more colourfully worded. Bergamo has given its name to some of the many ‘bergamot’ items listed in Chambers, such as the oil and fruit. Others are named after Bergama, in Turkey.

18.     Maybe Delft factory line in row alongside yard.  TILERY (l in tier + y).  Delft in Holland is famous for the blue and white pottery and ceramic tiles that originated there.

19.     Scoffing is nothing when resentment’s around.  DERISORY (is 0 in derry).  In Australia ‘having a derry on’ someone means disliking them badly.

29.     Grated nuts for running bird.  GROUND-CUCKOO (ground cuckoo).  Simply redefining the components of a two-word phrase doesn’t usually make for a very exciting clue, but this is concise and misleading.

32.     Old ladder rung this? Gets ruin repaired.  STIE (comp. anag.).  A comp. anag. in a very similar vein to 13 across, but with the parts differently ordered. ‘Stie’ is a variant spelling of sty3, an old word for a ladder.

33.     Beer that’s cold, a Guinness?  ALEC (ale + C).  Dr Watson, possibly with the next clue in mind, was looking for a connection to the film ‘Ice Cold in Alex’, but there isn’t one – that was John Mills, not Alec Guinness.

34.     Cube, first to last, showing effect thereof?   ICED (d to end in dice, & lit.).  A clever treatment for ICED that Dr Watson hasn’t seen before.


2.       Top prize? That is what severe dominie administers maybe.  PALMIE (palm i.e.).  A palmie is a smack in Scotland. A palm symbolises pre-eminence (hence Palme d’Or, etc.) and a dominie is a Scottish tutor, nothing more exotic.

6.       Body that regulates in Buddhist temple.  OFWAT (of wat).  OFWAT is the government regulator for the water industry. ‘In’ can mean ‘of’ in a context such as ‘the best in the group’.

10.     Equivalent of ‘Cave!’, sound in unruly class?  SCALDINGS (ding in anag.).  The solution is a shout of warning, as is the Latin ‘Cave!’ in the school classes of certain social classes.

15.     What can make oddly tiny ear do, suggesting big ears, only little!  ARYTENOID (anag.).  The clue reads rather oddly, but makes use of an old saying. The solution means pitcher-shaped, and under the Chambers entry for pitcher you’ll find the phrase ‘little pitchers have big ears’.

20.     Hands in fire ache subsequently.  REACHES (hidden).  The less-than-obvious definition combined with the possibility of RESCUES make this a difficult ‘hidden’ to spot.

21.     Welsh footballer, Rovers star turning up at hospital.  YORATH (Roy, rev., + at H).  The comic-book hero Roy of the Rovers may be of an even greater vintage than the Leeds and Welsh international midfielder Terry Yorath, whose heyday was in the 1970s, but Roy is probably the better known of the two.

25.     Girl I spotted wrapped in old veil, last in colour range.  VIOLET (I in volet).  The wordplay is sandwiched between a pair of definitions. Violet is the last colour in the traditional spectrum.

27.     Ancient magistrate cut off from lowest level.  EDILE (elide, rev.).  A very nicely worded reversal clue. An aedile or edile was a magistrate of Rome.

Other solutions:

Across: 1. OPISTHOGRAPH (P in anag.);  11. HAFF (hidden);  12. OPAH (alternate letters);  14. CUPPA (hidden rev.);  23. EGESTIVE (anag. in e(xercis)e);  26. NOTATE (tat in eon, rev.);  30. SARGO (s Argo);  31. THOLI (anag. of (e)olith);  35. CHARGE-SHEETS (sh! in anag.).  Down: 3. SESELI (hidden);  4. THERM (H in term);  5. HANGDOG;  7. ROUBLE ((t)rouble);  8. APPLE-PIE (appl(y) + ép(icer)ie);  9. PAPERY (ape in pry);  17. PRETORIA (re tori in PA);  22. GAUGER (gau Ger.);  24. TECHIE (anag.);  28. BUTCH (but Ch.).

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