Azed No 2279 ‘Cherchez la Femme’ (7 Feb 2016)

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

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HERCHEZ la Femme is a rare special from Azed. It has appeared several times as a normal weekly puzzle, but only once before as a competition, for CASSANDRA in 1995. The premise isn’t complicated. In several cells in the grid where an across and a down meet there is a clash between the letters to be entered from each. The clash is resolved by taking the letter midway between the two clashing letters alphabetically (allowing the alphabet to cycle from Z to A) and entering that. The resolved clashes spell out a female first name.

In this puzzle the ten clashes are found to be Z/F = C, I/O = L, A/I = E, H/R = M, D/F = E, I/S = N, S/U = T, D/N = I, H/T = N, A/I = E, giving CLEMENTINE as ‘la Femme’ and the month’s competition word.

The resolved version of each solution that contains a clash is give after its explanation in the notes below.

Notes to the clues:


15.     Piggery, rank, old, deserted  GREED (gree + d)  Three parts to the clue, none of them easy to pin down: an archaic version of ‘degree’ a less familiar abbreviation, and a nicely misleading definition.

16.     Periods without a dad leading to your old-fashioned repugnance  DYSPATHY (d(a)ys pa thy; DYSPATMY)  The solution is elusive until you realise that ‘a’ and ‘dad’ need to be split.

18.     What’s this in Estonia, including little pence?  SPENT (p in sent3 & lit.)  Dr Watson wasn’t entirely convinced by this self-referential & lit. clue. A sent is a former currency unit of Estonia, and so would be spent (and is spent in the sense that it’s expired as legal tender), but ‘including little pence’ seems incorrect in the definition.

30.     Stage director strangely makes actor —— set  DERIG (comp. anag. & lit.)  Having removed the surplus letters the solver is left with letters that could make RIDGE or DIRGE. The solution is a bit less obvious than those. Quite concise for this type of clue.


2.       Gourmet that is following cook by turning up  FOODIE  (do of, rev. + i.e.; COODIE)  Turning ‘cook by’ into ‘do of’ is not an obvious piece of wordplay.

5.       Churchmen releasing cry about ‘coming’?  ANON ((c)anon(ry))  Azed finds a better option than the more straightforward (c)anon. ‘Anon’ here in the sense of ‘soon’.

8.       Composer I understand to be occupying Delius’s heart  LIGETI (I get in (De)li(us))  György Ligeti, best known for his avant garde choral works, is poles apart from Frederick Delius, though who’s to say he wouldn’t have taken him to heart?.

10.     Part of the weekend one RA separately set aside for reverie  STUDY (S(a)tu(r)d(a)y)  An unusual wordplay, removing non-contiguous letters from a word.

11.     After parking composer I dropped in for a whipped café ‘special’  FRAPPUCCINO (P + Puccin(i) all in anag.; FREPPUCCINO)  Another composer added to the mix. The wordplay is quite difficult to tease out with ‘after’ and ‘I dropped in’ being especially misleading.

26.     Tree Albert’s climbing?  SUMAC (Camus, rev.; STMAC)  There are more than enough possible Alberts to work through, but the clue with its reference to the goalkeeper of Oran works very nicely.

29.     Genuine playwright, not British  ECHT ((Br)echt; ECNT)  One last literary figure to identify.


Other solutions:

Across:  1. FAZENDA (n in fazed + a; FACENDA);  6. ALLIS ((t)allis(h));  12. ORGAN-POINT (organ + point; ORGANPLINT);   13. GROOGROO (0 in grog + roo);  14. WIDDY (w + anag. + Y; WEDDY);  20. ERRING ((h)erring);  22. PUDENT (den in put; PUEENT);  24. HYPER (hidden);  26. SCARLESS (S + l in caress; SCARLENS);  28. SCLIM (c in slim; TCLIM);  31. SCOLDING (cold in sing; SCOLIING);  32. ANOINTMENT (men in anag.; ANOINNMENT);  33. CONCH (conc. + H);  34. TANYARD (any in tar + d; TANYERD).

Down:  1. FIG WASP (f + w in I gasp);  3. ERODE (rod in (sp)ee(ch));  4. DARBYITE (it in anag.);  7. LIBRARY (Libra + ry; LLBRARY);  9. INTERNECINE (intern + c in eine; INTEMNECINE);   17. SEMI-COMA (anag. + a; SEMNCOMA);  19. NERITIC (anag.);  21. GRIGGED (grig ged);  23. FALCON (l in façon; EALCON);  25. PERITI (It. in peri; PERITE);  27. WENNY (new, rev. + NY; WEINY).


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