Azed No 1988 Plain (4 Jul 2010)

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

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WEALTH of general knowledge references makes this one of Azed’s most entertaining plain competition puzzles for some time. About half the clues involve a proper noun in either the clue itself or the solution. The subject matter ranges from UK and Syrian politics, by way and literature and natural history, to two sorts of Native American culture, with a cameo appearance from a Royal Yacht. Something for everyone, hopefully. A pair of cross-referenced clues and a teasing self-referenced one just add to the fun.

Notes to the clues:


1.       HRH upset with promotion such as Lib-Dems’ logo?  ORNITHOMORPH (anag.).  The Liberal Democrats’ party logo is in the form of a soaring bird (known, according to one website, as ‘Libby the Bird of Liberty’), that perhaps should now be shown perching in the Tories’ tree.

14.     Sexually incomplete male squirmin’ by the sound of it.  RIGLIN (‘wrigglin’’).  Along with ‘ridgel’, ‘riggald’, etc., one of several words for a monorchid animal.

17.     First to last, ban approach to border.  ABUT (T to end in tabu).  The clear instruction is complicated by the unexpected use of ‘ban’ as a noun and ‘approach’ as a verb in the cryptic reading.

23.     One such, to love denied?  POET (Poe + t(o)).  A clue to love or hate. Edgar Allan Poe was a poet and thus the ‘one such’ of the clue’s definition. It can only be solved by identifying both elements simultaneously. Dr Watson isn’t a great fan of self-referential clues like this, as they stray perilously close to indirect definition, but this particular one is redeemed by its poetic wording, and is very concise. Incidentally, it can’t be regarded as & lit. because the last three words don’t contribute to the definition.

27.     Notice penned by rare bird: it includes Tlingit.  NA-DENE (ad in nene).  The solution is a family of native American languages and a nene is a type of Hawaiian goose.


2.       Run off, or run out, one batting?  RONEO (r.o. + anag.).  Dr Watson’s knowledge of cricket terms extends to ‘run out’ and ‘batting’ but not ‘run off’, so the surface reading may or may not be very clever. The Roneo was the predecessor of the photocopier in many offices, from which copies would be Roneo’d or run off.

3.       Musk spilt, empty bottles, flat.  NUMSKULL (anag. in null).  A difficult clue to parse despite containing only five words. ‘Musk spilt’ indicates the anagram, ‘empty bottles’ is an instruction to put it inside ‘null’ (the comma is a little misleading here), and ‘flat’ is a slang term for a dullard.

4.       Old Bangkok piece that’s unconventional? Not   TICAL ((here)tical).  The ‘here’ of ‘heretical’ is borrowed, via the ellipsis, from ‘present’ in the following clue ...

5.       … Present, mum wrapped, more than one bust.  HERMAE (ma in here).  ... where it also indicates the ‘here’ in HERMAE.

7.       Half of E. African crater upthrust, energy-filled, whence mountains were formed.  OROGEN (E in Ngoro(ngoro), rev.).  The Ngorongoro crater is an area of Tanzania known for its geology and wildlife. Azed latches on to the geological aspect to construct a very credible clue surface.

8.       Billow, like Britannia at sea, does one hear?  ROIL (‘royal’).  Dr Watson spent a while trying to work out a connection to ‘Rule, Britannia!’, but the clue of course refers to the former Royal Yacht Britannia.

10.     Lungfish wriggling in mud below estuarial shoal on river, Australian.  BARRAMUNDI (bar + R, A + anag.).  Azed achieves another convincing surface. A mudbank on an Australian river is a likely habitat for a barramundi.

16.     Temple at Teotihuacan? Old name I found under site, half removed.  TEOCALLI ((si)te O call I).  Teotihuacan in Mexico is one of the largest pre-Columbian sites in the Americas, containing many Mayan and Aztec temples.

21.     Old record as found in one pressing?  LIEGER (e.g. in lier).  Azed may have failed to check his Chambers in detail here. ‘Lieger’ is an old spelling of ‘ledger’ but apparently only in the sense of a resident or ambassador, and not a record. A ‘lier’ is something that lies (down) and ‘press’ is another word for ‘lie’ in this sense.

22.     Getting hot in a jiffy, Father William answered youth so.  THRICE (h in trice).  A reference to Lewis Carroll’s poem You Are Old, Father William, in which the improbably fit old man finally tells his questioner “I have answered three questions, and that is enough”.

25.     A head of state inspiring ridicule? Yes and (possibly) no.  ASSAD (a s(tate) sad).  The target here is President Assad of Syria. Azed seems to be exercising safe diplomacy with the ‘(possibly)’.

28.     Brushlike tail of Reynard behind.  DAFT ((Reynar)d aft).  Azed is thinking here of the expression ‘daft as a brush’, and Reynard the Fox of medieval literature.

Other solutions:

Across: 10. BOUVIER (vie in bour(don));  12. SCRUTOIRE (anag. + ire);  13. RESH (hidden);  15. ROKELAY (OK + in relay);  19. PERONEUS (one in anag.);  20. MALL RATS (m all rats!);  24. CHANCRE (r in chance);  29. TAEL (tae L);  30. DRAGONISE (drag on + s in i.e.);  31. SCAGLIA (anag.);  32. TETRAHEDRITE (anag. + E).  Down: 6. MATICOS (a tic in MOs);  9. PERIQUE;  10. FENESTELLA (f ene stella);  18. BAGARRE (bag + anag.);  19. PRONOTA (anag. of ar(e) on top);  26. RECIT (hidden rev.).

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