HERE are two types of ‘special’ puzzle in Azed’s canon that involve an unnumbered grid. A ‘Carte Blanche’ grid lacks numbers and bars, and solution lengths are not indicated, but clues are set out in their normal order. This month’s ‘Jigsaw’ is a slightly less difficult puzzle in principle, with a barred grid and lengths given, but clues are set out in alphabetical order of their solutions, and must be fitted into the grid like jigsaw pieces. To maintain the challenge, Azed ensures there are at least four clues of each length.
Inevitably, more clues need to be solved cold than in a Plain puzzle before the grid can start to be filled. The key solutions are usually the long ones, in this case the four ten-letter words. Where an across and a down word start in the same square, solvers can look for clues to solutions of the relevant length that come close together in the list, since they start with the same letter. This precludes 21 as a contender for the first row, as there are no 7-letter solutions close to it in the list that would share its first letter.
Dr Watson solved PRESENT-DAY on a first pass, and OSTRICHISM not long afterwards, but it was only with SHUFFLE-CAP and a dozen or so other clues solved cold that the grid filling could begin in earnest.
In the notes below clues are given in the order they are presented in the puzzle, and their starting square and orientation in the grid are indicated.
5. Negotiated Orinoco’s depth, describing process? CORONOID (anag. + d; 1,2,D). The ‘process’ referred to here is an anatomical term for a projecting part of a bone, in this case the coronoid (crownlike) process of the jaw or ulna.
6. What sounds like pin for fastening short vestment COTTA (‘cotter’; 1,10,D). A cotta is a short robe that sounds like a ‘cotter’, which could be a type of pin, or could be a wedge fastened with a pin that is then a cotter-pin.
7. Low stool, (former) Indian type, mixed CREEPIE (Cree pie; 6,10,D). The Cree are not former Indians, but a Native American people formerly called ‘Indians’. ‘Pie’ here is the second Chambers entry meaning a mixed state.
9. Witty sayings FACETIAE (1,6,D). The competition word is the second Latin plural in three months, following VIDENDA in no 2360. Its secondary meaning, in the book trade, is pornography, giving competitors scope for a creative definition.
10. Money supplies – some engaged to limit what’s current in Nigeria? FINANCES (N in fiancés; 6,5,A). It took Dr Watson far too long to realise that ‘what’s current in Nigeria’ is Nigerian currency, the Naira, abbreviated to N.
12. Wheel not operating riled pilots? IDLER (anag.; 9,1,A). A hard-to-see anagram indicator, ‘pilots’, in the sense of ‘steers’.
13. Motor race that would make one frightened with women leading INDY ((w)indy; 5,1,A). Dr Watson will just point out that, in contrast to F1, women drivers have competed in the Indianapolis 500 since 1977, with Danica Patrick achieving a podium place in 2005.
14. Tavern, English, back part – it contains a vestibule INNER EAR (inn E rear; 5,7,D). More anatomy. The vestibule is the tube that joins the inner to the outer ear.
25. To be outstanding versifier must regularly include bits of rhyme and jolly catches PROJECT (initial letters regularly placed in poet; 9,6,A). An unusual but well-indicated wordplay device, similar to the ULNAE clue in no 2364. The solver must work out whether or not ‘and’ is one of the words whose initials are required.
28. Old angler in list catching fish (ace cast) RODSTER (d(ace) in roster; 4,1,A). Dr Watson was expecting a bit more fish would be left in the solution by removing A rather than the full ‘ace’.
29. Being part of Europe determinedly kept back on track? ROPED (hidden; 10,8,A). Azed has made his views on Brexit apparent elsewhere. The ‘back’ shouts ‘reverse hidden’, but it’s part of the definition.
30. Hector coming in changed places in old game with stakes pooled SHUFFLE-CAP (huff in anag.; 1,3,A). The key to this clue is finding ‘huff’ as a synonym of ‘hector’.
31. Lancer, e.g., end of whose weapon is held in hand’s breadth SPEARMAN (e arm in span; 11,1,A). ‘End of whose’ is especially devious in a clever clue.
31. Senior tucking into stale food’s thrown up worms TAENIAE (aîné in eat, all rev.; 6,4,D). Even after you find ‘aîné’ and ‘eat’, there are several possible ways of combining them.
36. Almost poetic tune, though not difficult on the outside UNETH ((t)une th(ough); 1,5,D). Azed kindly provides the exact material to be removed rather than just indicating a hidden.
1. ANOA (no. in aa; 1,11,D); 2. BEARE ((lif)e in bare; 5,8,A); 3. CAMI-TOP (I to in camp; 3,6,A); 4. CORNI (R in anag.; 8,8,D); 8. EXIGENT (gen in exit; 1,9,D); 11. HINAYANA (hi + ay in nana; 7,1,A); 15. LOME (anag. of initial letters); 1,8,D); 16. LURED ((p)lu(m) red; 8,3,D); 17. MARS (2 mngs.; i.e. red planet; 9,5,D); 18. MURIATE (U in anag.; 10,1,A); 19. NALOXONE (a L Oxon in ne; 2,5,A); 20. NUPE (up in NE; 9,2,D); 21. OSTRICHISM (rich is in anag.; 1,1,D); 22. PEIN ((spik)e in pin; 8,9,A); 23. PIÑA (pina(for E); 11,9,A); 24. PRESENT-DAY (p + anag.; 3,12,D); 26. REDESCRIBE (redes crib E; 12,1,A); 27. RETICENT (cite, rev., in rent; 5,11,D); 31. SOWP (sow + P; 2,1,A); 33. SWIDDEN (anag.; 1,3,D); 35. TRIPE (trip + e; 3,1,A).