IGHT AND LEFT puzzles are a staple of the Azed and Ximenes ‘specials’, appearing as competitions every couple of years. The first known example is Ximenes No 84 in 1948, where solvers were required to clue the combination of SHINGLE and THIRSTY. X’s brief comments at the end of the competition Slip may indicate that this puzzle type was already established and needed little to be said, but it’s more likely that the length of the quoted clues and post-war paper rationing limited his opportunity to comment at length. The key to Right and Left clues, then as now, is that the two clues should run together with no overlap or superfluous joining words, and should attempt hide the join in the smooth flow of the surface reading.
Which solutions fit on which side of the grid is often unknown until the puzzle is partly solved and 1 across, which links the two halves, can be deduced. Dr Watson’s solving method is to pencil in the first solution on one side of the grid, and then build up the intersecting solutions where possible. Once 1 across is solved the grid can be inked in correctly.
A note for competitors is that, having indicated BUST-UP and PIT-PAT as six-letter compounds, Azed would expect them to be defined this way, i.e. ‘bust-up’ should be defined as a noun rather than the adjectival or verb phrase ‘bust up’.
Solutions in the notes below are in the order in which they are clued, and the join is marked in the clue.
1. Peeved before peak, beloved? Division may find one on either side. CROSS-BENCHER (cross ben cher) As ever the word that links the two halves of the grid has sense of ambivalence attached to it. Dr Watson needed three or four letters in place before it could be solved.
6. Hidden with oven replacing bed outside stars / mouse at home in old wall. AURIGA / MURINE (buried with Aga for bed; in in mure) Azed finds an unexpected substitution to clue the constellation Auriga (the Charioteer) and a more conventional container clue for MURINE. The surface reading of the clue is rather difficult to picture. This is the most ambiguous pair for placing in the grid as they share the same second, third and fouth letters.
7. One composing mass received by British cheers / brought back introductory stuff without piano at first – he looks pleased. BRAHMS / SMILER (Br + m in ahs; (p)relims, rev.) An example how the double clue structure can be used to create an extra problem for the solver. The join is clearly close to ‘brought back’, but on first reading it looks like the reversal indicator applies to ‘cheers’ in the first clue of the pair.
8. Offshoot, child, once due inside backing / method of childbirth to do nothing about mother. STOLON / LAMAZE (lot, rev., in son; ma in laze) This clue pulls the same trick as 7, with a reversal indicator sitting at the join, this time on the other side. It might have been tempting to create an & lit. clue for LAMAZE, though the Lamaze technique is quite the opposite of doing nothing about the mother.
18. When surrounded by drinks, drinks one to / the lady’s taste for this reason. TOASTS / HEREAT (as in tots; her eat) A fluent surface reading and a well-hidden join, taking advantage of the definition ‘drinks one to’.
2. New university banter, this, about ancient bastion, / odd corporation protecting it, a meaningless burden. NURAGHIC / RUM-TI-TUM (n U rag hic; rum + it in tum) The key to the second clue is remembering that ‘burden’ can mean the refrain of a song.
3. See hunk on screen in game / I viewed cutting love part for flapper. CRAMBO / ORIOLE (c Rambo; I in 0 role) The first clue isn’t too difficult in its own right, but the second requires the solver to see that ‘cutting’ indicates the insertion of the I rather than omission of an O, which is made more difficult by uncertainty over where the clue starts.
4. Champagne HM left out and daft / clashing cymbals greeting cardinal’s office. SILLY / HI-HAT (Sill(ER)y; hi hat) The two pieces of knowledge required to decipher the clues are both available in Chambers. The vineyards of Sillery produce a classified Grand Cru champagne, and the office of a Cardinal is referred to as a ‘hat’ after the red hat that symbolises it.
11. Coup converts Chinese / VIP, one with blinkered view bagging power. PUTSCH / BIG POT (puts Ch; p in bigot) Using clues of unequal lengths is another trick to hide the join. ‘Big pot’ is listed in Chambers under ‘pot’ rather than ‘big’ (unlike ‘big cheese’, etc.), so is more difficult to track down in the Red Book, though electronic versions will readily find it.
Across: 10. STEELY / CHOKRA (tee in sly; r in anag.; reliable / regimental); 11. BUST-UP / PIT-PAT; 15. GROMET / THIRAM (Rome in GT; anag.; tourer, / this); 16. SPLORE / PYROLA (sp. lore; anag.; discipline / or); 17. OPINES / CYESIS (pine in OS; c(hild) yes is; supposes / first).
Down: 1. CASSIS / EMBLIC (c assis(t); e + anag.; help / energy); 5. RESEDA / BARNEY (hidden rev.; anag. in by; up / by); 9. FRAGARIA / PLUMELET (agar in anag.; plum E let; mixed / fruit); 12. TIMONS / POROSE (anag. less E; (c)or(k) in pose; earth / to); 13. TAMEST / POTASS (a.m. in test; anag.; exam / to); 14. MORIA / OILER (i in mora; anag.; impounding / large).