Azed No. 2014 Plain (2 Jan 2011)

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

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HIS, the first plain competition puzzle since No. 1997, maintains the same high standard of varied, testing clues enjoyed by solvers over the intervening period in which no fewer than four fine special puzzles have been delivered in succession, including those to mark the 2000th and 2010th. It is generously cross-checked, however, and hides no pitfalls so long as solvers do not repeat their mistakes in puzzle 2010 at 30 down.

Notes to the clues:


14.     Mysterious goddess in Shakespeare showing passion, but cold within. HECAT (c in heat)  Shakespeare’s spelling of Hecate (q.v.).

15.     Account stopped, sack senior cheat.  SKELDER (s(ac)k + elder)  The solution is a verb meaning to cheat, swindle or beg for money. It is disguised in the surface as a noun.

16.     Violent arguments spoiling chef’s art.  FRATCHES (anag.)  A simple clue, but one in which Azed has unusually omitted to flag the fact that ‘fratch’ is listed as a dialect word.

21.     ‘Dry’ house no use for treatment – this is what you need.  HYDRO (anag. less use)  The solution is listed in Chambers as an informal abbreviation for ‘hydropathic establishment’, a hotel with special baths, etc, thus explaining the clue’s surface. Doctor Watson is content to find one where the plugs aren’t missing.

22.     Quality read? Odd bits omitted as OTT!  ULTRA (even letters)  Here the even letters are indicated by reference to odd letters being ignored. The solution, from the Latin for ‘beyond’ is listed as an adjective meaning ‘extreme’.

29.     American trees yielding seed-cases with age.  BURSERA (burs + era)  Bur is a variant of burr1, ‘the prickly seed-case or head of various plants’. Doctor Watson is guessing that Azed may know the solution, ‘a tropical American genus of trees’, from his keen interest in horticulture.

35.     Bunter etc, very last when running round end of race?  VALETS (v + e in anag.)  Defined here as ‘Bunter etc’ (meaning those like him), the solution is a reference to Mervyn Bunter, the butler of Lord Peter Wimsey (q.v.) the sleuthing hero of various books by Dorothy L. Sayers. Bunter is disguised in the surface, however, as the famous fat schoolboy hero of Charles Hamilton’s stories who would certainly be last in any sporting contest. Doctor Watson notes that he and others (‘etc’) cannot all be ‘very last’.

36.     Eye’s had it as sight’s beginning to deteriorate – this results?  DYSAESTHESIA (anag. inc. s)  The question mark is surely needed in this clue. The word appears to be used in many different types of condition in which a symptom of discomfort is reported. An appropriately vague definition.



1.       Characters following the Prophet lead united hearts.  PBUH (Pb + u +h)  The initial letters of ‘Peace be upon Him’, words always uttered by Moslems after mentioning the Prophet by name. The four letters as given may be used following a written mention.

4.       Letter among those of the Hebrews.  HEH (hidden)  The solution is the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Also hidden there is ‘Heb’, the abbreviation of the name of the New Testament book ‘Letter to the Hebrews’ by St. Paul. One might have been waiting for the protestations of innocence in the slip had there been an unchecked letter.

6.       What nobleman may have – land (one might suppose) round Britain.  DUKESHIP (UK in ‘deship)  A most amusing clue, especially since many Dukes have estates in Scotland, England, London, and, oh! somewhere else, can’t quite remember... And what about ‘Deship’ (or is it ‘de-ship’)? Oh, I’ve seen it somewhere, can’t quite remember, means to disembark, er, ‘land from a ship’ – look it up. Well, one might suppose such a familiar sounding word – straight from the lips of military types, etc – would be listed and defined. Not in any of the doctor’s versions of Chambers, nor even in SOED 6th edition, and certainly not in a very old Chambers’s (sic) in which the editors have thoughtfully included a supplement of appropriate forms of address – to Dukes, D.., etc, etc. As for ‘deship’, the catch-all entry ‘de-’ (2) must suffice for now. Much obliged, your De-ship.

8.       Excelled once as in climbing caper in the Adirondacks?  OUTDID (ut in dido (rev.))  Aeneas (q.v) didn’t do too badly, either, but he was never anywhere near the Adirondacks, a large national park in New York State. They get a mention here to serve as a hint that a US term for ‘caper’ (dido) is needed along with the Latin term for ‘as’ (ut). The definition is just ‘excelled’ in the sense listed in Chambers – vt ‘to be superior to or better than’ (others), as Aeneas most often was.

9.       Some players misread toss, before going into the middle. STEREOS (ere in anag.)  A simple clue with an entertaining if improbable surface. Doctor Watson has heard of captains misreading the pitch before deciding to bat or bowl. One imagines here a situation where both sides, or at least some of the batting side, take the field, the latter under a misapprehension.

11.     Yank’s to pass on love poetry of Rimbaud, a giggle? OVERSLAUGH (0 + vers + laugh)  The solution, derived from Dutch overslaan, ‘to skip, leap, or pass over’, is listed under ‘over-’, and defined in this instance as ‘to pass over in favour of another (US)’, hence ‘Yank’s to pass on’. Vers is French for ‘verse’, here suggested by ‘poetry of Rimbaud’.

12.     Pert flexing in shank? One discards parts in course of climbing.  STEP ROCKET (anag. in socket)  A long journey for the solver, beginning with mountain slopes (the surface reading), ascending into outer space (for the solution), via a trip to the golf course in order to establish the cryptic connection between ‘shank’ and ‘socket’). The last mentioned turns on definitions of both words (as verb) meaning to strike the ball, seemingly by accident or design, so as to impart some shear. Non-golfers may be spared further torment.

23.     Tapestry: you’ll find tons at the top in old gallery  TARRAS1 (t + arras)  The solution is the poet Edmund Spenser’s term for ‘terrace’, one definition of which is ‘a gallery’.

24.     Endless stir about uranium containing gold of a kind.  AUROUS (U in arous(e))  ‘Aurous’, listed under ‘aurate’, is defined as ‘adj containing univalent gold’, hence the definition quoted.

26.     Boss in Kyrgyzstan requiring pack members.  KNAVES (nave2 in KS (IVR))  Yet again, solvers are required to establish a connection between two words in the subsidiary part, ‘boss’ and ‘nave’, not immediately apparent in Chambers. Both boss2 and nave2 are found to mean ‘hub’. Knaves are otherwise known as ‘Jacks’ in playing cards.

32.     What’s attractive in sex, repeated cry when thrusting!  SA SA (S.A., S.A.)  The solution is a taunting term of incitement when fencing. S.A. is an unlikely abbreviation for ‘sex appeal’ (except for those who may need to write it often), here repeated. That’s enough sex. (Ed.)

Other solutions:

Across: 1. PITCH-AND-TOSS (pitch1+ anag.) 10. BOREEN (B.O. + reen) 13. HACKETTE (The Competition Word) 18. WIPE (initial letters) 20. RELIT (hidden) 24. ALICK (a + lick) 27. BAAL ("baa" + l) 28. RUM PUNCH (rump for l in lunch) 31. ARAKS (K in a + Ras) 33. AGRONOMY (ag(e) + anag. + Y).  Down:  2. TROCAR (r in to + car)  3. CERATE (E in crate) 5. NOCKET (anag.) 7. TEEL (t’ eel)  17. CLARENCE (Clare + n + CE) 19. LUBBARD (lu + bb + ‘ard) 25. CURDLE (cur + anag.) 30. SOLA (solano less no) 34. YAH2 (slang; A for out in youth)

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