Azed No 1997 Plain (5 Sep 2010)

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

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OSSIBLY one of Azed’s easier puzzles, but there’s still some tricky wordplay to contend with in e.g. 1 across and 2 down, as well a geographical diversion in 3 down. The highlights are a couple of exemplary & lit. clues at 20 across and 26 down, and a lovely definition for BOTTOM-FISHER at 1 down.

The next Azed competition will be the landmark no. 2000, out on the 26th September. Dr Watson is looking forward to meeting Azed regulars at the celebratory lunch on Oxford on the 25th.

Notes to the clues:


1.       Malleable adhesive as once used to seal cracked ebony?  BLU-TACK (ut in black).  The solution seems obvious once you’ve got it, but the route to it is not straightforward. ‘Ut’ is a piece of Latin usually seen in phrases like ‘ut sup.’ (as above), and the container-and-contents indicator ‘used to seal cracked’ looks like it’s pointing to an anagram.

12.     Super-intellectual providing support on the spot with first clue?  BRAINIAC (bra in I ac.).  Azed puts the charade together very neatly. Dr Watson hadn’t noticed ‘on the spot’ as a definition of ‘in’ before, but it’s in Chambers, having a similar sense to ‘at home’. ‘First clue’ to indicate IAC (1 across) is a well-established convention for crossword setters.

13.     Copy of legal document a PR mustn’t get damaged.  TRANSUMPT (anag.).  It took Dr Watson longer than it probably should have to see the anagram, partly because the word’s structure is unusual and partly through failure to solve the checking UDAIPUR and LORY.

14.     Change in e.g. Kazakhstan leaders for this year, incredibly young and new.  TYIYN (initial letters).  An even more oddly spelt word for a small currency unit of Central Asia, that might lead the solver to look at the indicated initial letters and think ‘surely not?’

16.     Old appendage to lance I put by grave in haste, tip missing.  SPEISADE (I sad in spee(d)).  The solution only really exists as part of ‘lance speisade’ (under lance prisado in Chambers, but fortunately cross-referenced), hence as an appendage to ‘lance’. ‘Grave’, incidentally, is listed only as an archaic meaning of ‘sad’.

20.     One making squiggly notes?  STENO (anag. & lit.).  A good & lit. opportunity eagerly seized. The solution is short for stenographer.

27.     Institute cutting pay no longer wealthy.  SOLID (I in sold).  ‘Cutting’ seems to be an instruction to remove something, but here it’s intended in the sense of ‘cutting in’. Sold2 is a Spenserian word for ‘pay’.


1.       Bum ref is wrong about Hearts – his specs are dodgy!  BOTTOM-FISHER (bottom + is H in anag.).  A rather brilliant definition for a trader in penny shares, junk bonds and the like. ‘Specs’ here are speculations.

2.       Gaudy bird heading off for mountain region to the north.  LORY ((T)yrol, rev.).  This took Dr Watson a while to figure out, as ‘to the north’ isn’t an obvious reversal indicator. It indicates that the part-word is pointing to the north of the grid.

3.       Seen this Indian tourist destination? For ’Indus a rupee, that’s fantastic.  UDAIPUR (comp. anag.).  Dr Watson wasn’t familiar with Udaipur in northern India – the ‘Venice of the East’ – but it certainly looks attractive. The clue indicates that ‘seen Udaipur’ is ‘’Indus a rupee’ anagrammed.

4.       Theatre award for old Gaby Smart.  TONY (3 meanings).  Crossword regulars will have come across ‘tony’ meaning fashionable or smart before, and probably also the Tony Awards, theatre’s Oscars, but ‘gaby’ and ‘tony’ are also less well-known words for a simpleton.

9.       I’m AZ, fussed about rule – official.  MIRZA (r in anag.).  A teasing reference to Azed’s punctiliousness when it comes to the ‘rules’ (though he’d never call them such) of clue composition.

17.     Famous bender with piles scattered around in old-style superfluity.  PLURISIE (Uri in anag.).  Uri Geller was famous for his ‘psychic’ spoon-bending antics in the 1970s and for even stranger things later on. A. L. Dennis summed him up in an excellent anagram that earned a VHC in May 1975.

26.     What chronicler keeps pens?  CLERK (hidden & lit.).  Another cleverly realised & lit. that complements STENO.

29.     You no longer will get to pouch sitter? It was the devilish spirit!  YMPE (MP in ye).  An MP is one who sits in the House of Commons. The clue’s surface probably refers to snooker or golf. The solution is an old spelling of ‘imp’.

Other solutions:

Across: 7. JAMBS (M in jabs)  15. WIZEN (WI Zen);  19. MOULDY (ould in my!);  22. BRUNT (b runt);  24. STRICH ((o)strich);  25. INCREATE (t for s in increase);  28. NYAFF (hidden);  31. SWEETMEAT (we in anag.);  32. EBRIATED (anag.);  33. RYKES (R + k in yes);  34. ALIENOR (a lien or).  Down: 5. CRUMPY (c rumpy);  6. KAMEES (kame + es);  8. ANTISERA (anag.);  6. KAMSIN (anag.);  10. BALE-DOCK (ale d in bock; see bail1);  11. SCENE-SHIFTER (anag.);  16. HOBNOBBY (o Bn in hobby);  21. NICAEAN (anag. of an ancie(NT));  23. TAPETA (p (ey)e in ta-ta);  24. STREEL (anag. of Le(in)ster);  30. FADO.

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