1. Charlie (old-fashioned), near so-and-so, can, protecting Her Majesty. NIGHT-WATCHMAN (nigh twat + HM in can). Charlie is old slang for a night-watchman. Azed clearly wanted to break up the solution in an unexpected way, and has done so, but the result in Dr Watson’s view is rather unattractive.
15. Ghost, headless cleric, wanders here? Trick’s involved. CLOISTER-GARTH (art in anag. & lit.). The solution is a garden enclosed in a cloister, just the place for a ghost to wander, or appear to wander. A top-notch & lit.
16. Poem created where Thai meets Kurdish. HAIKU (hidden in Thai Kurdish). A hidden word clue doesn’t have to present the hidden letters consecutively, as long as the abutment of the containing words is indicated.
17. Paddy having a bit of an eye for a lady? IRISHER (iris her). A nicely constructed surface, where ‘a for b’ presumably indicates ‘a given to b’.
24. Cat is stunning in waders. PUKEKOS (puke KOs). Another clever construction (one meaning of ‘cat’ is ‘to vomit’), but Dr Watson feels obliged to reproduce the following from Azed Slip no 1329: “Finally, I was taken to task for calling a PUKEKO (lovely word!) a wader, as Chambers does. It isn’t, I’m reliably informed, it’s a gallinule, similar to a rather gaudy moorhen and called a swamp-hen in Australia. Azed solvers are so knowledgeable!”
31. Scottish venture yielding a fortune, sweet. MINT (3 meanings). ‘Yielding’ looks like a cryptic instruction to remove something, but in fact it’s just a joining word to allow the setter to take advantage of the many meanings of ‘mint’.
32. Commonwealth regulars scan AZ clues. ANZACS (anag.). ‘Clue’ meaning to ‘to knot’, is the basis of many self-referential clues. There’s always been a fair smattering of overseas Azed solvers and competitors, and the arrival of the internet has increased their number, with the Cup making its first journey to New Zealand last year.
33. Writer having pull on second joint, creating role of historical chief. PENDRAGONSHIP (pen drag on s hip). Uther Pendragon, a Celtic chieftain, was the legendary father of King Arthur.
1. Score vegetarian cutlet for Rev. Spooner? NOTCH UP (cf. nut chop). Spoonerism opportunities as attractive as this don’t come along often, so Azed takes full advantage.
6. Royal favourite to ponder losing 50% when king is buried? CORGI (R in cogi(tate)). The Queen’s corgis are a bit of a national institution. Azed used ‘Corgis in Castle’ as the title of his 2002 Royal Golden Jubilee puzzle.
9. Delicate in one’s health. NESH (hidden). Not too difficult a clue, but remarkably it’s a straight quotation of the Chambers definition. Thanks to the fellow solver who pointed this out. Is it unique?
18. Work must follow joke about will being shortened – like a desk? ROLL-TOP (’ll in rot + Op.). Dr Watson can’t recall seeing ‘will shortened’ to indicate LL before – it’s a useful device. ‘Rot’ can mean a joke.
22. Japanese fish dish for influential expat in the East. TAIPAN (tai pan). Tai is a Japanese sea bream and a taipan is a foreigner running a business in China (as well as a type of snake).
23. You’ll find this wacky clothing close to ‘à la mode’. TONISH (on in anag.). The components of the container-and-contents are indicated by ‘this’ and ‘close to’, while ‘wacky’ and ‘clothing’ are cryptic instructions, making it an elusive clue to solve.
26. Dog (or deer) seen round north pole. STANG (N in stag). ‘Stag’ means ‘dog’ in the sense of ‘to follow’. Dr Watson guesses Azed had second thoughts about the solvability of the clue with ‘dog’ alone in it and so added the parenthetical deer.
28. See tot pee in bog. SUMP (sum P). A concise and witty charade.
Across: 11. ACARUS (raca, rev., + US); 13. TANA (tan A); 14. ARRETS (re in arts); 20. SEBAT (anag.); 27. AFOUL (U in anag.); 28. SEPTENTRIONAL; 30. UNEASE (une as E). Down: 2. GANOIN (no. in gain); 3. TARSUS (hidden); 4. WRITHE (H in write); 5. AUREI (comp. anag., Italy treasure anag. = art style aurei); 7. HARASS (ras in has); 8. MEER (M e’er); 10. MALAGUENA (mal ague n/a); 12. ATTENUANT (anag. + an’t); 19. RETARD (tar in red); 21. ABRAZO (AB razo(r)); 25. KESAR (K + rase, rev.); 29. PEON (pe(lot)on).