Azed No 2049 Plain (4 Sep 2011)

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

Reviews index  |  & lit. homepage  |  Try the puzzle


BRIEF puzzle, 11 by 13, packed with customary delights, and several clues having surfaces close to literal definitions of their solutions, with those parts adding some true or feasible qualification compounding the solver’s pleasure in most cases. In this regard the clue for SIPHONAPTERAN is foremost. The notes below for that clue and for CHEDDAR have links to interesting comments by Azed made in previous competitions and archived on this website.

Notes to the clues:


11.     Scotsman’s drive one from behind pouches (blind).  CAECA  (ca’ + ace (rev.))  The first of two clues (with 16 Across) featuring Scots words suggested in quite explicit fashion. Perhaps Azed has hoped that, in this case, the golfing surface would serve to disguise the hint to some extent. The blind pouches, the plural of CAECUM (q.v.), are actually anatomical and caused by hernias. Golfers, please note.

16.     Most squalid Glaswegian drunk to tend (old).  FOULEST (fou1 + lest2)  The interest here lies not in the Scottish FOU1, but in the connection between ‘lest’ and ‘tend’. LEST2 is Spenser’s spelling of LIST4, meaning ‘to listen (to)’. TEND1 means both ‘to care for’, as in the clue’s surface, and ‘to be attentive’. The surface brilliantly conveys a sense of disgust.

19.     Treacly cookie? Wise up, this could be rendered yellower with sirup.  RYE-ROLL (composite anagram)  Azed has given this clue an entirely American context and flavor, even down to the spelling of ‘sirup’. ‘Wise up, rye-roll!’ is found to be an anagram of ‘Yellower, sirup!’ Put like that, baking sounds a gas.

21.     Like a flea or hopper (an ant is different).  SIPHONAPTERAN (anag.)  Azed has shown in this clue that he is not too concerned about how punctuation marks may break up an anagram or isolate parts of it from the the anagram indicator, especially, one suspects, when the surface is so brilliantly apt, as here. He has been much stricter in the case of definitions. In the slip for Azed 1225 he made two competitors stand in the naughty corner over entries concocted in this fashion, but also objected to subsidiaries being broken up, exactly as he has done in this clue. Our solution is an anagram of ‘hopper (an ant is’ and may mean ‘like a flea’.

29.     Treat for wedding bairns, grub after turning up with nothing inside.  POUR-OUT (o in up (rev.) + rout)  The Scots connection here is hinted at, in understated fashion, by reference to ‘bairns’. The charming surface is one of the closest of many & lit. near misses in this puzzle.

32.     Nothing jolly about a gun going off? Method of investigation required.  ORGANUM (anag. in 0, RM; s.v. organ)  The problem for Dr Watson here, perhaps not for other solvers, is the connection between the two parts of the surface reading – the second does not seem to follow from the first. Otherwise the clue seems quite routine. The solution is an alternative word for ORGANON (q.v.), both listed under ORGAN.

33.     Hospital dept? Some taken in, say, after a turn.  GYNAE (any in e.g. (all rev.))  The solution is listed with variants GYNIE and GYNY as informal abbreviations of ‘gynaecology’ and ‘gynaecological’, most likely used only by staff. One could imagine seeing it on a hospital sign only where ‘cology’ has been obscured or obliterated by some means, hence, perhaps, the witty surface of this clue.

34.     In a hurry instals reserve fund, not reinforced.  PRE-STRESSED (rest2 in pressed)  The main references here are to reinforced and pre-stressed concrete. By defining the solution as what it is not, Azed has afforded solvers yet another variation in his entertaining ‘mix’.



1.       Devours seconds, and same again, having entered eaterie.  SCAFFS (caff in s, s)  Experienced Azed solvers will have been alerted by the use of ‘eaterie’ that an equally despised term, most likely ‘caff’, will be involved, and so it proved. The only surprise is found to be that ‘ss’ has not ‘entered’ that word in the sense of squeezing inside it, but quite the reverse, in the sense of writing it between the two as a clerk might do. Azed’s note that SCAFF is listed in OED as a verb may not have been much use to the majority of solvers on a Sunday morning. Dr Watson found it as an entry in his SOED 6th Ed., but, more tellingly, in his Concise Oxford Dictionary 10th Ed. as the origin of SCOFF2. Solvers not having acces s to the more expensive dictionaries may benefit from a similar approach.

2.       Game I played with CO – not one for the men.  CAMOGIE (anag.)  New solvers should note that the solution here is not a synonym of the definition given, but an instance of a game, even if one played by women only, as specified.

3.       Detective – were we lost with one, missing Yard?  REBUS ((we)re + bus(y))  In this ‘instance’ the solution is the name of a fictional detective, Inspector John Rebus. What seems like a reference to another instance, ‘one’, is found to be a slang term, ‘busy’ (q.v.), and so is a real synonym.

5.       Typical of a flightless insect – hurts you badly, hospital admitted.  THYSANUROUS (san in anag.)  Many solvers may have remembered SAN being used in the very last Azed puzzle at 23 Down (SANIES), even if they didn’t know the word as the standard crossword synonym it undoubtedly is. Nonetheless, this is an amusing and entertaining clue.

9.       Where punters enjoy themselves? Emergency if credit is denied.  ISIS ((cr)isis)  This very witty clue was given a wider readership than usual when Dr Watson used it to amuse friends whilst waiting for yet more disappointing news from York races. A punt along the River Isis seemed all the more appealing on a lovely Sunday afternoon.

18.     Mousetrap play’s heroine in constant run.  CHEDDAR (Hedda in c, r)  Three types of mousetrap (sort of, it must be emphasised) are used in this seemingly curious clue. One’s first question concerns the italics – the play in question is actually The Mousetrap, so referring to it in the surface reading as ‘Mousetrap play’ seems odd, even though we soon discover that ‘play’s heroine’ refers, in the subsidiary part, to a character in a completely different play, Hedda Gabler. Secondly, one might well question ‘mousetrap’ as a definition of CHEDDAR. Sure enough, Chambers’ entry for ‘mousetrap’ includes the definitions: ‘any cheese of indifferent quality; Cheddar cheese’. Ouch! – that was the third. Very well sprung.

          Azed may have teased solvers in a similar fashion when clueing CHEDDAR in Puzzle No. 1255. Sadly, his clue is not remembered, but his comments about this definition remain at the link above.

22.     Teachers with young trouble-maker given painful confrontation with head?  NUTTED (NUT + Ted)  Azed has resorted to a rather commonplace indication of NUT, the abbreviation for National Union of Teachers, but one cannot deny its suitability here in concert with his fine definition of our solution. ‘Ted’ (or ‘ted’) is an abbreviation for a Teddy boy (or girl). Younger solvers may read about this style of 1950’s youth culture here. Dr Watson does not remember them throwing bread rolls around, but they certainly seemed to have a lot of fun.

24.     Spenser’s to work at being a poet.  DONNE (2 meanings)  Our old friend Edmund Spenser certainly worked very hard at his craft, producing a vast output and supplying many, many distinctive words for crossword setters and solvers to relish, including ‘doen’, ‘done’ and ‘donne’, all infinitive equivalents of ‘to do’, hence our first meaning: ‘to work at’. The metaphysical poet John Donne is the other.

28.     What limits human? It may be a bit of a dilemma.  HORN (i.e ‘h’ or ‘n’)  We close with a very sweet clue, yet another where the solution must be grasped before the subsidiary part may be understood. The definition is ‘It may be a bit of a dilemma’ which is a reference to ‘the horns of a dilemma’, i.e. the two (or more) undesirable choices, one of which must be faced and endured. The ‘horns’ here are the ‘h’ and ‘n’ at either end of ‘human’.


Other solutions:

Across:  1. SCREW-TOPPED (crew + t in sopped) 12. CARNOSE (i.e. ‘car nose’) 13. AMBERY (e(olith) in ambry) 15. CHIV (chiv(alry)) TSOTSI  (is tost (all rev.)) 23. SEXED-UP (ex in anag.) 27. CHADOR (hidden) 30. ROAD (homophone of ‘rowed’) 31. PLIANT (I in plant).

Down:  4. WARES (hidden) 6. PARTY-POOPER (the competition word) 7. PRYSE  (anag. inc. r) 8. ENCORES (or in anag.) 10. DEVIL (lived (rev.)) 14. STRAPPY (trap1 in spy) 20. LACUNAE (n/a in anag.) 23. SCROD (s + c + rod) 25. BULGE (g(estation) in anag.) 26. KOANS (OK (rev.) + ans.).



Reviews index  |  & lit. homepage  |  Try the puzzle