Azed No 2209 ‘Letters Latent’ (5 Oct 2014)

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

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OME competitors, and those who have studied the andlit archive, will know there have been previous seasonal Letters Latent puzzles in the Azed series, but you need to be a very long-standing solver to have tackled them all. Azed No. 1914 in February 2009 used a line from St. Valentine’s Day by Victorian poet Coventry Patmore to provide VE(S)TAL as the competition word. You can find a review, and more about Letters Latent, on this site. The previous two puzzles date back well beyond Dr Watson’s tenure and the contributing quotations are lost. No. 1277 in 1996 produced NOVE(M)BER, and no. 178 from 1975 gave A(U)G(U)ST. At this rate Dr Watson is not holding out any hope of Azed completing the calendar! In a rather different style the puzzle on April 1 2007, no. 1818, required (of competitors who, unlike Dr Watson, successfully spotted the April Fool) a clue to POISSO(N) D’AVRIL.

This month’s puzzle reveals a quotation readily found on the web, but hard to locate otherwise, from Ernest Dowson, later set to music by Delius: “Pale amber sunlight falls across the reddening October trees.” The penultimate two words appear in the grid as RDDNING and CTBER, with the latter providing the competition word. The remainder of the quotation appears in the latent letters of the solutions.

Notes to the clues:


6.       Fluid germicide? It symbolizes the working man FL(A)T C(A)P  (fl TCP)  Azed finds a ready charade for this vowelless solution.

13.     Pulpit: it provides demure Scots with odd extracts from bard  MIMB(A)R (mim b(a)r(d))  Substitute ‘odd extracts’ with e.g. ‘much’, and you have a straight clue. This clue and the intersecting 8 down held Dr Watson up longest, as both pulpits were unfamiliar.

17.     Method for assembling data organized to rules  (B)U(BB)LE SORT (anag.)  A straightforward enough anagram achieves a very satisfying surface and scores three latent letters.

18.     One selling dog in expensive car?  R(E)TAIL(E)R (tail in RR)  Dr Watson thought the abbreviation could only be for ‘Rolls Royce’ as per Chambers, but has recently noticed more than one Range Rover on the road whose owner has splashed out on an RR plate.

32.     Swirling eddies? Get clear of rim  DISED(G)E  (anag.)  The definition have been stretched more than a little to create a plausible surface, but the anagram is very neat.


1.       Protective appendage careless player always discarded  E(A)RL(A)P (anag. less ay)  The only augmented anagram in a puzzle entirely free of composite ones. Azed isn’t averse to comp. anags. in LL puzzles, as witness the winning clue to VE(S)TAL, and others in the Slips.

7.       Old Roman I, not active in Hawaian parties  LU(C)IUS (I for a in luaus)  There are a number of notable Luciuses (Lucii?) in Rome’s history. Azed is presumably referring to Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, the first Roman ruler of that name.

15.     One uttering shrill cry (animal by the sound of it?)  (S)CREECHER (‘creature’)  The clue is quite solvable, but the question mark is well merited. Can a non-word have an agreed pronunciation? Azed believes it can, as he explains in Slip no 1394, referring to a similar clue for (S)PECTATRE(SS)E(S) that appeared in puzzle no 1387.

16.     Spanish port, more reasonable by implication?  SAN(T)ANDER (i.e. san and er = saner)  There’s only one possible solution here, but the implication in the explanation isn’t easy to spot.

29.     Divine centre of almandine in fiancé’s gift – what’s bride, typically?  R(E)DD(E)NING (DD + n all in ring)  One of Dowson’s words in a relatively difficult clue – unless one alights on ‘ring’ straight away. The reference is to the ‘blushing’ bride rather than the effect of an October sunset.


Other solutions:

Across:  1. (P)E(PP)ERMINT (n I’m in tree, all rev.);  11. DENTICU(L)ATE (anag. of tide Canute);  12. LIM(E)AD(E)S (I M in lads);   14. PRE(M)IERES (ER in anag.);  21. PU(R)SE(R) (pus + E);  23. E(SS)ENE (hidden);  24. (U)NDRAWN (n Dr awn; beard vb.);  25. (N)EGATIVE (e.g. + Evita, rev.);  29. CA(L)ENTURE (anag. in cure);  31. HAD(I)TH (had Th);  33. (H)ETEROCONTS (con in anag.);  34. RE(T)RAL (r in real);  35.(F)ENG SHUI (u in anag.).

Down:  2. (L)EVIRATE (I’ve, rev. + rate);  3. MEA(L)IE (ME a i.e.);  4. INDEXLE(SS) (ex. in anag.);  5. TIME LO(A)N (ti melon);  8. TAMBOU(R)AS (ambo U in sat, rev.);  9. (O)CT(O)BER;  10. PER(S)I(S)TENT (rite in pent);  19. REVANC(H)E (E V in rance);  22. SWORD CU(T) (D in crows, rev. + U);  26. G(R)EATE(R) (e in gate);  27. (E)TC(E)T(E)RA (ct in art, rev.); 28. D(E)T(E)STS (St. in DTs);  30. (S)E(S)ELI (I lee, rev.).


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