R WATSON derived great pleasure from this puzzle, although he did not find it overly difficult to solve. The occurrence of several words and devices fondly remembered from previous puzzles has certainly coloured those reflections, adding to his customary delight in the wit or aptness of many surface readings. Foremost among these must be the thought of a saucy lass waggling some phallic totem; not at all apt, as it happens, but deliciously funny.
LOB is only the third three-letter word set to be clued by competitors, following CAT and GIT (on board ship). Remarkably, it is the first to be defined and asterisked in the puzzle. Both CAT and GIT (on board ship) had to be deduced. The links to Azed’s comments on those challenges make very interesting reading.
7. Amateur swimmers heading for raised sandbanks. ÅSAR (ASA, r(aised) s.v. ås) Azed has shown a fondness for these glacial ridges in his puzzles, more often to indicate ‘a,s’ than as a solution, as here.
10. Joy in poetry unknown in the States? Shock admitting that. JOUYSAUNCE (y in USA, all in jounce; s.v. jouisance) In the same vein his fondness for words sourced to the poet Edmund Spenser has given us this splendid example. Azed may have overlooked his use of ‘unknown’ to indicate ‘y’ both here and at 28 Across.
13. End of dirk pierces back − such a one did for Duncan? STUCK (k, cuts, all rev; s.v. stuck2 & stock2) Dr Watson knows of only two instances in Shakespeare’s plays of ‘stuck’ in this sense. They are in Hamlet, Act IV, Sc vii (end): Claudius (to Laertes) ‘If he by chance escape your venom’d stuck ...’ and, hardly worth the mention, Sir Toby in bragging mode in Twelfth Night, III, iv, line 303. Azed’s reference to Duncan must be taken as his hint that the solution is a word sourced to Shakespeare, but in view of his famous murder, one entirely appropriate.
14. Musical work in two acts composed round one of seven advent anthems? TOCCATA (O in anag. (of act, act); s.v. O2) Azed has often expressed his opposition to indirect anagrams, that is, where the solver must first find a word from a given synonym before finding another made by rearranging its letters. To clarify this, he insists that all the letters of the anagram must be present in the clue, or otherwise indicated, as here.
19. A garden was ill-tended? Warn these gnomes perhaps. ADAGES (comp. anag; s.v. gnome2) In this composite anagram ‘a garden was’ is found to be an anagram of our solution plus ‘warn’. The treat for solvers is in finding our gnomes defined as pithy and sententious sayings in Chambers.
21. Body of water dried up, its parts being repositioned. RED SEA (i.e. seared) Solvers have had several references to ‘ea’ (q.v.) in recent puzzles, but an alternative approach has given this very apt surface, evoking the parting of the waters in the Book of Exodus.
25. He isn’t bothered with reversing widow’s entitlement, being part of the plot. IN THE SECRET (anag, terce (rev.)) In another clue, the difficulty of finding ‘terce’, a Scottish legal term, from ‘widow’s entitlement’ might have been extreme, but our solution comes readily from the anagram and definition here.
28. It’s unknown for cat to gulp back old coin. TREYBIT (y in Tibert (rev.)) Tibert is the name of the cat in the Reynard folk tales.
30. Tribal father against being garlanded? LEVI (v. in lei) Azed regulars will be familiar with ‘lei’ and quick to think of the great patriarch: Levi.
33. Mary’s delirious in victory − she wears the trousers, figuratively. GREY MARE (anag. in gree2; s.v. mare) A reference to the saying: ‘The grey mare is the better horse’.
1. Sort of poker − girl holds it up, wanton rig. MISTIGRIS (it (rev.), anag, all in miss; s.v. rig4) A fabulous surface despite the redundance of ‘wanton’ which is given to indicate the anagram. Solvers may read about sorts of poker other than mistigris here.
2. Lecture: how surprising, short one, and in German forsooth!) JA WOHL (jaw, oh! l) Watson was puzzled for a time by ‘short one’ used to indicate ‘L’, as that abbreviation may stand for ‘lecturer’, but not for ‘lecture’. He then remembered the necessity of using lower-case L to type the numeral 1 on some typewriters. Indeed, the identity between the two is still retained in some computer fonts, notably ‘Roman’ variants.
9. Summon one to appear in court held by person of distinction. ACCITE (I in ct, all in ace) This solution is listed as having the authority of Shakespeare, and Azed has acknowledged this in grand style.
15. Charles losing head in execution wretchedly, and come a real cropper. CRASH-LAND (anag. less ‘e’, and) The surface of this clue does not read quite as it might if it were ‘... came a cropper’ or ‘... comes a cropper’. However, in the context of the expression, and the customary patterns of speech of those who might well use it, the surface reads perfectly in Watson’s view. It’s the preamble that doesn’t quite fit.
16. Concerned with carriage seat that shifts with time, yielding on the outside. GESTATIVE (anag. inc. t, all in give) Delight at comprehending the definition: ‘concerned with carriage’ comes appropriately late.
22. Wound once displayed by Marengo regular, losing outer parts? ENGORE (hidden) Perhaps this Spenserism was still in current use by the odd English observer at the Battle of Marengo in 1800.
24. Tiny coin − I dropped it in Glaswegian drain. STIVER ((i)t in siver; s.v. syver) Regular solvers may have remembered parting with their last stiver in the Christmas Competition puzzle of 2010, when a number of solutions shared the theme of pennies put into old hats.
30. Argument ma’s quit − leaving it involved a giant leap. LEM (lem(ma)) LOB’s counterpart in this puzzle, brilliantly clued by our judge. The grandest ever projectile deployed this Lunar Excursion Module most famously in the Apollo 11 mission of 1969.
Across: 1. MJÖLLNIR (anag.) 11. SWAB (SW, AB) 17. HORRIPILATE (RR, I, all in hop, I, late) 18. GLIA (G, ail (rev.); s.v. G symbol: & neuroglia) 23. TOST (to(a)st) 29. FOCAL (FOC, a, L) 31. PRONOUNCED (pronoun, dec (rev.)) 32. HEND (hen, D; s.v. hend1)
Down: 3. LOB (The Competition word) 4. LUCARNE (anag.) 5. NYCTINASTY (n, anag, nasty) 6. RAST (hidden, s.v. race5) 7. AUTOLATRY (anag. inc. L) 8. SNUB (buns (rev.) s.v. pug1) 20. DECENCY (i.e dec(eased) ency(clopaedia)) 26. ICON (co in ‘in’) 27. BLOG (l in bog)