Azed No 2058 Plain (6 Nov 2011)

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

Reviews index  |  & lit. homepage  |  Try the puzzle


R WATSON has succumbed to ‘old’ sickness. Weakened by advanced disease, aches and pains, and plagued by spiny creatures, he is looking forward to the Pastor’s distribution, and especially to that welcoming space at the front of the church. He would not normally comment on the occasional duplication of similarly worded devices in the same puzzle, but here they have formed something of a theme. Whilst, perhaps indulgently, he has used this to thread a number of his comments together, he hopes that he has nonetheless managed to convey his admiration of the rich seams of delight delivered here so effortlessly.

Notes to the clues:


7.       A tangle? Net’s there in one with it. ALGA (composite anagram) There’s a definition in there somewhere. ‘A tangle’ is certainly one, tangle2, meaning ‘coarse seaweed’. Since ALGA means any seaweed, coarse or otherwise, Azed has taken care to express a caveat by use of the question mark. Whilst the whole clue comprises the indication, ‘a tangle’ being a tangle of ALGA with ‘net’, it is difficult to see how the second part might be taken to extend the definition suggested.

10.     No serious affair, a tiny thing involving what’s true but unsteady. AMOURETTE (anag. in a + mote) Memories will have been stirred by this very sweet and telling clue in which the subsidiary indication extends the definition: ‘No serious affair’. Is this clue a true & lit? In this case, the whole clue may serve as a true definition, but not as a precise indication.

12.     The old succumb to sea-sickness? Sailors on board hasten as before. SPURNE (RN in spue) Since the ‘old’ clues begin on the theme of sea-sickness, it is perhaps not too inappropriate that bits of ‘old’ should be sprayed about the puzzle. Our old (‘as before’) solution, is Spenser’s term for ‘to spur’, one definition of which is ‘to hasten’. Regarding the surface, Dr Watson notes that sailors tend to be affected by sea-sickness more rarely as they age.

14.     Wells maybe the sea breaks into, yielding fine gravel. HOGGING (oggin in H.G. (Wells), s.v. hoggin) The solver breaks into this very fine clue via the word: ‘maybe’. It’s the hint that some instance of ‘Wells’ may contain a synonym of ‘the sea’. Dr Watson remembers ‘Wells’ being used in similar fashion to indicate ‘see’, i.e. the diocese of Wells, however he did not need to wait long as he remembered HOGGIN from his early days with a civil engineering contractor. ‘Oggin’ comes from the more acceptable wing of naval slang.

18.     What can be mistaken for this American forest? Taiga can. CAATINGA (anag. & lit.) The surface of this clue suggests a firm intention to devise it as an & lit. The solution is referenced by ‘this American forest’. It is a type of tropical forest found in Brazil. The definition is qualified by the suggestion that it could be mistaken for another type of forest, taiga, which is a marshy pine forest common throughout the subarctic north. Dr Watson suspects that the well-travelled Azed has seen both types, but doubts whether many would agree in mistaking one for the other.

21.     Spiny creature nipping booby in swimming races. RASCASSE (ass in anag.) This is the first of three clues featuring or suggesting the stings or bites, etc of pesky creatures, here the scorpion fish with its venomous spines. Doctor Watson quickly settled on ‘ass’ as the three-letter synonym of 'booby’ to fill the anagram.

29.     Nigerian king has foreign company protecting church vessels. CIBORIA (Ibo + R, all in Cia.) The fun to be had from this clue, once solved, is in speculating how those who fail to solve it as defined by ‘church vessels’ will guess instead at a name for a ‘Nigerian king’. The unchecked letters allow for good King LIBERIA, or even bad King SIBERIA.

32.     Spiny fish ’urts badly – feelin’ pain inside. TRACHINUS (achin’ in anag., ref. weever) The second ‘spiny’ clue was also quickly solved, as Doctor Watson plumped straight away for achin’ as the filler .

34.     Part of bee’s anatomy: one’s achy when it’s deployed. HONEY-SAC (anag.) This surface suggests yet more pain and annoyance, but only sweetness is found in the solution.


2.       Bodily deficiency, advanced, more deceased, we heah? HYPOXIA (i.e. ‘high, poxier’) Azed has hinted at the slightly different pronunciation of ‘poxier’ (as ‘poxiah’) by using ‘heah?’ instead of ‘hear’.

3.       Portly actor once losing weight? He’s good fun. LAUGH (Laugh(ton)) A witty clue sweetly recalling the ever-popular Charles Laughton.

7.       Reject as spurious amateur article about position coming up. ATHETISE (site (rev.) in a + the, s.v. athetesis) Perhaps an unwelcome posting on a professionals-only message board? The reversal is indicated in this down clue by the phrase ‘coming up’.

8.       Old clothes lined with wool left by court maiden. GERLE ((woo)l in gere)Gere’ is Edmund Spenser’s spelling of ‘gear’. Those who doubt whether he might have extended its use to trendy clobber would be wrong. Among many quoted instances of this usage in the OED 2nd Ed. one fellow, writing in the early 16th century, boasted of devising his ‘gere in courtly manere’.

9.       A magic mantra when this is this. ANAGRAMMATIC (anag. & lit.) This clue with its brilliantly ‘mantric’ surface is immediately transparent as clueing an anagram of ‘A magic mantra’, and our solution is undoubtedly the only anagram of that phrase in a single word. The challenge for serious solvers is to identify two credible readings: one to provide a definition, and a second to provide an indication of ‘anagrammatic’. If this can be achieved in a single reading, so much the better.

          The word ‘this’ may be taken to mean any one of three things:-

          a) the phrase: ‘A magic mantra’

          b)  the word: ‘Anagrammatic’

          c)  In Chambers’ implied def: ‘transposed so as to form an anagram’.

          Doctor Watson considers the six possible readings as follows:

               (a) when (a) is (b) – nonsense, others may disagree.

               (a) when (a) is (c) – a valid indication.

               (a) when (b) is (a) – nonsense, others may disagree.

               (a) when (b) is (c) – a valid instance as definition.

               (a) when (c) is (a) – false.

               (a) when (c) is (b) – probably certain for a single word only.

          For the curious, ‘mantric’ is not listed in Chambers or in the OED 2nd Edition. It appears in SOED 6th Edition, and also in the Concise Oxford, possibly elsewhere.

19.     A drug I take internally dispersed pains. ASPIRIN (I + r, all in anag.)  A clue with a sweetly apt surface and subtly disguised indication.

22.     The old take possession of space in front of church. AREACH (area + ch) Another word from Spenser meaning ‘to seize’, very simply indicated and, in the context of this puzzle, very easily solved. Much coughing in the pues behind.

25.     Tardigrade mammal, one of deadly group. SLOTH (2 defs, ref. deadly sins)  It would be marvellous if there were a carnivorous sloth, but doubtless excruciating for its prey. Some two-toad sloths are said to supplement their diets by eating insects and lizards. Deadly indeed.


Other solutions:

Across: 1. CHLORDAN (Ch + lord + an) 13. ASHURA (a + shura) 16. MOTSER (mo2 + rest2 (rev.)) 17. TIVO (iv in to, ref. Fab Four) 23. SEEM (hidden) 24. ASPIRE (a + p in sire) 30. PORTAS (anag. s.v. portesse) 31. ROBUST (The competition word) 33. DHOL (hold, ‘d’ moved to front)  

Down: 1. CASH-STRAPPED (anag. + ped2) 4. RONIN ((i)ronin(g)) 5. DUENNAS (n/a in anag.) 6. NESIOT (anag.) 11. TUTS (Tuts(is)) 15. SOCIETAL (anag. + ta, all in sol) 20. GENISTA (anag.) 26. PARR (parr(itch)) 27. T-BONE (b in tone, s.v. T or t) 28. TRUSS (t + Russ, s.v. Russian)


Reviews index  |  & lit. homepage  |  Try the puzzle