Azed No 2390 Untitled (1 Apr 2018)

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

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OISSO(N) D’AVRIL was Dr Watson’s undoing eleven years ago in Azed No 1818. It’s not clear whether Azed decided to revive it without the latent N as a new challenge, or simply forgot that it had been used before. Seeing that a ‘13-letter phrase [was] hidden in the completed diagram’, Dr Watson quickly decided there was only one plausible possibility for it on a combined Easter Sunday/April Fool’s Day. Unlike many previous April Fool’s puzzles, there was no other indication of mischief in the grid (a search in the Archive comments will reveal some of the earlier shenanigans of both Azed and Ximenes). But after a fairly easy start, an across/down clash soon revealed itself in 13 across and led Dr Watson to swap pen for pencil, just in case.

The April Fool trick involves the symmetrical across pairs 11, 13 and 36, 37. Once solved each leads to a two-word anagram of APRIL FOOL, and to avoid clashes with intersecting downs this is how they must be entered (the second pair as FOOL APRIL). The competition phrase appears across the central row, comprised entirely of unchecked letters. With some clever clueing spread across the other clues, the puzzle gave a satisfying and entertaining solve that is unlikely to claim many victims or cause the sort of disgruntlement occasioned by earlier April firsts.

Notes to the clues:


11.     Weak or strong bar  FRAIL (f rail)…

13.     Cut over, love following game  POLO (lop, rev. + 0)  The first pair of trick clues. It was the mismatch of the second O of POLO that alerted Dr Watson to the deception. The solutions are entered as APRIL and FOOL.

14.     Matches no longer in use when about exhausted  AMATES (mate in as)  ‘Exhausted’ leads to mate2, an adjective linked semantically to ‘checkmate’, whereas the Spenserian ‘amate’ is derived from mate1 in the sense of ‘match’ or ‘couple’.

17.     English composer rendering poet’s ‘Abode of the  Departed  ADES (2 mngs.)  Experienced solvers should have come across Milton’s spelling of Hades, as it crops up in wordplay every so often, but the relatively young British composer Thomas Adès may be less familiar.

19.     Kindle going wrong before last bit of title, approaching denouement?  ENDLIKE (anag. + e)  As far as Dr Watson knows, this is Azed’s first citation of Wiktionary (in the puzzle’s footnote) in support of a solution, and it allows your reviewer to share this link. ‘Endlike’ isn’t in OED, but the online source finds it in a line from Finnegan’s Wake.

30.     Rhyming scheme for chart-toppers?  ABBA (i.e. A-B-B-A)  This idea has certainly been used before, but it’s too good to pass up.

35.     Alternative to bell-ringing? Single one could replace setting altar  RAT-TAT (comp. anag.)  A very well concealed comp. anag. in a not entirely coherent surface reading. ‘Single rat-tat’ is an anagram of ‘setting altar’.

36.     Stoop (as once), looking anaemic by the sound of it  PAIL (‘pale’; see stoup1)…

37.     Start of last over? Coming in aimed at stump  FLOOR (l o in for)  The second suspect pair, this time entered as FOOL and APRIL respectively.

38.     Pour out regular feature of bad language  EFFUSE (i.e. eff use, or FU’s)  Effs might well be used by some solvers on discovering the trick solutions, but this clue will surely be the favourite of the puzzle.


3.       Such as Bunthorne taken off in satire  ARTIES (anag.)  The reference is to the effete and ‘fleshly’ poet of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience. Many solvers will also fondly remember Bob Smithies, the late Guardian setter who borrowed his name.

6.       Hang where some take the plunge, cutting end of rope?  DEPEND (de(e)p end)  A rather brilliant subtraction clue.

12.     Decision from the Élysée, showing where it stands, almost, and about time!  PARTI (t in Pari(s)) The Élysée Palace is currently the official residence of Emmanuel Macron.

20.     Irish resort, fashionable, amid varied lakes  KINSALE (in in anag.)  The first of two geographical solutions is the Irish western coastal town of Kinsale.

19.     Do part of dressage routine? One did it, entering prize  PIAFFE  (a ff in pie)  Chambers gives ‘luxury or prize’ as one meaning of pie1, and ff. can abbreviate the Latin fecerunt (they made it) as well as the commoner fortissimo. A piaffer, which gives rise to the verb that is the solution, is apparently a trot, but slower.

25.     City in Italy beneath rocky tier  RIETI (anag. + I)  The Apennine city of Rieti was new to Dr Watson, but it does look as though its situation justifies a semi-& lit. appellation for the clue.


Other solutions:

Across:  1. SNEAPED (ape in sned);  6. DARGAH (anag.);  15. SPAMMER (maps, rev. + mer (Fr));  16. PERICOPE (eric in Pope);  18. ESTEEM (m to end in mestee);  26. INSTEPS (in steps);  29. STEINS (in in sets, rev.);  32. PASTNESS (sent, rev., in pass);  34. FOOT ROT (tort oof, rev.);  39. ROSE-RED (R + os(I)ered).

Down:  1. SLAP (pals, rev.); 2. NAMESON (anag. in nan);  4. PIECES (2 mngs.);  5. DISPENSATOR (pens in anag.);  7. AFALD (L in a fad);  8. ROMAL (comp. anag.);  9. ALEE (hidden rev.);  10. HIRSEL (anag.);  22. OPPOSE (anag. + SE);  23. ATTAPS (tap in ATS);  24 VENTRE (v + entre(at));  27. TATOU (hidden);  28. EARLS ((p)earls);  31. BOFF (boff(in));  33. STUD (2 mngs.).


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