Azed No 2170 Plain (4 Jan 2014)

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

Reviews index  |  & lit. homepage  |  Try the puzzle


PUZZLE quickly solved and one containing many delightful clues and quite a few to try the patience of solvers who need to understand more than just the solutions. Dr Watson’s favourite was that for ADAMIC – it certainly spiced up his morning.

All Azed fans will be looking forward to his return from holiday and to many more delightful and intriguing puzzles..

Notes to the clues:


3.       Fool inhaling choice bits of old shag intemperately – it ruins the lungs. ASBESTOSIS (best, o, s, i, all in ass)  At an early stage Watson struggled to satisfy himself that ‘choice’ may mean ‘best’ and not merely ‘better’ as Chambers’ definition ‘of superior quality’ suggests. The association drawn between asbestosis and the folly of smoking tobacco is regrettable.

12.     It has power supplied by deployment of oar. PROA (P, anag. &lit) Our primary reference, Chambers, includes the phrase ‘or rowing boat’ in its definition, thus justifying the whole clue definition of our solution. This extensive article has two references to ‘oar’ in connection with steerage, and one to ‘paddle’ in connection with propulsion.

13.     Sly nip drunk with cocaine – regular feature of Top of the Pops? LIP-SYNC (anag., c)  The surface of this clue might seem wittily apt were it not for other sly goings-on known to have occurred.

15.     Face this dormouse hides – for Alice? LOIR (Composite anagram; c.f. hide1 & 2)  The composite anagram is comprised of our solution (this dormouse) plus ‘face’. That is found to be an anagram of ‘for Alice’, indicated by the question mark. The composite anagram is presumably indicated by ‘hides’ which is transitive with respect to the surface reading, meaning ‘conceals’. However, in its role as a letter jumbler, it needs to be intransitive which hide2 is not.

18.     Local timber cart – is it loaded from this glen? GILL (2 meanings, s.v. gill5, gill3)  The clue at 26 Across is a typically crisp, 2-word double definition clue. This one has a bit of padding, albeit perfectly apt, making it more difficult to recognise. For serious solvers, needing to be sure that they have not misunderstood its workings, this is perhaps the trickiest clue in the puzzle. Watson is prepared to be surprised by an alternative explanation.

23.     Rations distributed will be found to contain a bit of this oxide. STRONTIA (t(his) in anag.)  The solution refers to strontium oxide which was used as a (highly dangerous) component of cathode ray tubes. One trusts that it does not get into rations of any kind.

29.     Scots engineer followed herd? RANKINE (ran, kine, s.v. run (v.t.)) The reference here is to William Rankine, noted in his day for doing it his way. ‘To follow’ is listed amongst many meanings of ‘run’.

30.     Heave, as of old – strain by the sound of it. SIGH (‘sye’)  ‘Heave, as of old’ may be understood as a reference to Chambers’ listing: ‘a sigh (Shakesp)’ at its entry for ‘heave’, a rare instance in an Azed puzzle of a definition confirmed by reference to a word in the clue, rather than to the solution.

31.     Quantitative easing maybe serves IOU in trouble? OVERISSUE (anag.) Azed has hit upon a brilliantly apt anagram here, referring, of course, to the now famous Government deficit.


1.       Ham’s pig cooked in halls serving liverwort leaves. AMPHIGASTRIA (anag. in atria, s.v. atrium) Regular solvers may have been reminded of the first solution in the last Azed competition puzzle – AMPHITHEATRAL, a case, seemingly, of having one’s pig and eating it (s.v. ‘amphi-’). In the surface, ‘ham’ may be understood as meaning ‘hamlet’ whose poor folk did not get to eat their own pig, apparently.

5.       Frothy stuff from beer? Not always but with power. BARM (beer less e’er, arm1)  A few cheers might be raised amongst regular solvers if Azed should report one or two cases of ‘BALM’ in the ‘slip’. Absolutely barmy! For the benefit of new solvers, that refers to guessing the unchecked letter in the grid, and doing so incorrectly. The ‘slip’ refers to Azed’s reflections on competition entries and solver’s comments and published on this website.

6.       Lice wriggling round yardbird recalling abnormal growth? ELLAGIC (lag in anag., s.v. gall2)  Chambers’ entry for our solution makes interesting reading, particularly for the etymology: ‘Fr galle gall, spelt backwards’. Oxford’s account (available in the Concise edition under ‘ellagic acid’) has it, rather bizarrely, as an anagram, but also explains that the word was coined thus because ‘gallique’ was already in use and, of course, referred to something far more important than gallnuts. Wriggle out of that!

9.       Greek Philosopher in translation I conned. IONIC (hidden) A simple clue referring to any of the earliest Pre-Socratic Greek philosophers.

10.     Crafted afresh discs first seen in Egypt - these may be depicted thereon. SACRED FISHES (anag. inc. E) The anagram is formed from ‘afresh discs’ and the first letter of ‘Egypt’. Our solution is defined in Chambers as meaning ‘oxyrhynchus’ (q.v.)  The entry for that word is reflected in this article about the Egyptian town of that name.

17.     Painter’s home in late time of day showing clearly. EVINCIVE (Vinci in eve) Watson wasted some time trying to understand this clue by reference to Vincent before remembering Leonardo da Vinci. Not thinking too clearly.

20.     Deny centre of Paris raised Ionesco? RENEGUE (r, Eugène (rev.)) The reference here is to Eugène Ionesco ...

25.     Slow movement? More than one may be found in Flemish composer. LASSU (i.e. ‘lassus’) ... and here to Orlande de Lassus whose music is never particularly jolly.


Other solutions:

Across:  11. MASHALLAH (mash1, all, ah!) 14. HORN-MAD (anag. in hord(e)) 17. EGG DANCE (anag., CE) 19. RETARD (ret, ’ard) 21. ADAMIC (a, dam(e), ic(e)) 22. TREF (tref(oil)) 26. TWIG (2 defs, twig1 & 3) 27. INTAKES (i.e. ‘... in takes’) 32. ANTHERSMUT (ant, anag.)

Down:   2. CAROTID (roti in cad) 4. SHANG (hangs, ‘s’ to front) 7. TAPADERA (pad in anag.) 8. SAYONARA (The Competition Word) 16. CLARINET ((w)in(e) in claret) 19. RUINERS (U in anag., s.v. ruin) 24. TWAIN (t, wain) 28. TRIM (t, rim)


Reviews index  |  & lit. homepage  |  Try the puzzle