Azed No 2343 ‘Printer’s Devilry’ (7 May 2017)

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

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URING Azed’s tenure at the Observer, Printer’s Devilry competitions have typically come around about once every two years, so fans of the format, of which there are many amongst regular solvers, will be pleased to see this puzzle only 12 months after the last one, no. 2291. The review of that puzzle contains some pointers to solving and composing P.D. clues. Azed has kept up a fantastic standard with these puzzles over his 45 years, and always manages to provide a couple of mirth-inducing gems in his clues.

Creating a P.D. grid is hard work, as only certain words (and few long ones) have any potential to be clued in this way. In this puzzle we can see two words, IMARI and STEAR, that have previously been set in the Crossword Centre’s P.D. competitions.


Notes to the clues:



1.       A caring ma/ster’s where the young are in trouble  TERMINI  (…mater ministers…)  

6.       As an economical dish, the bit/es are all left-overs  SITUS

10.     Pupil failing, ex/empted, to abandon modern languages AMORALIST

11.     When you’re fond of coarse loaves you’ll find a ho/me  VISTA  Dr Watson’s first solve of the puzzle. It’s fairly certain that the join will be inside ‘home’, and ‘Hovis’ sprang quickly to mind.

12.     They don’t match traditional beers, those sampling – ne/ver!  WALESA  Here’s the ‘common proper name’ of the footnote. Lech Wałęsa has gone down in history as the leader of the first of the 1980s revolts against Communist regimes in Eastern Europe.

14.     If you really want to go, f/ling gets you nowhere  ASTERID

17.     A stay-at-home lover of his de/tracts but rarely  NACARAT (…den a car attracts…)  One of the more stretched undevilled readings.

19.     Might that red centrepiece be enhanced by agree/ment?  NORNA  Another fairly quick solve, with ‘green ornament’ suggesting itself readily.

20.     Your brakes need replacing – p/ads are badly worn  LUSTRE

22.     It was a bad injury but th/rust will soon heal  ELEGIT (…the leg, I trust,…)

23.     You soon learn that one, working fa/ns more  STEAR

24.     Maybe Sybil once dreamt of building ba/t!  SILANES  Not a reference to the oracles of ancient Greece, but to Sybil Fawlty of Fawlty Towers, who might have once thought of settling with Basil into somewhere cosier than their Torquay guesthouse.

28.     Is it time to call it a day? Female rock star qu/its  ATROPOS  This was Dr Watson’s last clue solved. The connection of ‘quits’ to the first sentence was too strong to suggest a break, and ‘f/emale’ looked the most promising. Of course for glam-rockers there’s really only one truly female star amongst all the androgynes, namely Suzi Quatro, who by all accounts hasn’t quit yet, whatever she might posit.

30.     Essential for strategic game: player stow/s board  ITCHES  A dilemma for the solver: is it ‘to win chess board’ or ‘to wit, chess board’. The first seems a more natural reading, but solving 2 down reveals that INCHES doesn’t fit.

31.     Why buy plastic roses when re/ins are available?  ALL-UP

32.     A no/d, hard, lacking much experience of riding  VICEREINE  The second part of the clue points firmly towards a solution beginning with VICE.

33.     Primary schoolmates can get a bit annoyed with cl/ots  EVERT

34.     Critics of Irish leisure activity dis/port, as poorly organized  SMEATHS (…diss Meath sport…)



1.       We have no details yet (bu/ried) – programme is promised  TAVA

2.       The sentry in a castle, ke/en for intruders  EPISTOLIST  (…keep is to listen…)

3.       To put back  RESTORE  The competition word offers a good variety of possible treatments.

4.       In belfry tiff do some cla/ngers out of turn  IMARI (…claim a ringer’s…)  A well-placed apostrophe is often a Deviller’s friend in need.

5.       After my snakebite they found a little ve/st  NOMINATE

6.       With the car I name, s/ave good advice  SAAG (…in a mess, AA gave…)

7.       W/aters get the most from a well-balanced meal  ILL-FASTE

8.       After a brief, res/it the remainder of the paper  TIED

9.       Dismissing old pop hits like tel/e critic wasted few words  STARTERS  Something needs to connect a pop hit to brevity, and here it’s the 1962 instrumental Telstar by the Tornados that’s dismissed by a terse critic.

13.     Is this pe/er one that loves idling around Adriatic resorts?  SCARAMOUCH (…Pescara moucher…)  Azed had little choice here but to link the resort of Pescara with mouching.

15.     As a comedian cutting corn/er towards the more sophisticated  INESSIVE (…corniess, I veer…)  A beautifully worked P.D. from an umpromising word.

16.     Some twitchers love nothing better than gaz/ons!  INGATHER  An almost ideal long word for a P.D. clue. In fact INGATHERING appeared as a solution in last year’s puzzle.

18.     It’s good to see my old college p/esters tarts  ALASTRIM (…pal as trimester…)  This is the sort of funny surface with a twist that competitors aspire to in P.D. competitions.

21.     In Hansard one can, no/ting RIP in debate  TEMPLET  (…note MP letting rip…)

25.     An indi/e’s permitted filming in the royal palace  CRANE (…Indic ranee’s…)

26.     Her/d way ahead, sent forward to scout  ECCE (…he recced…)

27.     What’s that, pa/inted pink? It’s theft!  PERT  Azed’s sly reference to the Financial Times, aka the Pink’un, may have been inspired by D. Willamson’s VHC clue to GEST in Azed 1766: “If pa/inting is pinkish you could be looking at theft!”.

29.     The chef’s a star hi/t, as the best in the business  SPAS  Dr Watson wondered if the chef was known for his pittas (giving SPIT) until the intersecting solution at 34 across was entered.


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