OTHING especially noteworthy to report from this month’s competition puzzle, which contains the usual complement of wordplay devices, and the expected smooth and witty surfaces. Dr Watson rattled this one off in extra-quick time on Sunday morning, without the need to search for solutions beyond Chambers.
13. Shortish distance in India that is cut from trunks COSS (coss(ie)). An unexpected synonym makes for an entertaining truncation.
14. Women collectively (in sexist terms) enjoying a boost? The reverse PUNANI (in an up, rev.). The solution is indeed a grossly sexist term, only really excused by its unfamiliarity. Having both this and TRUMP mixed up in the competition word might present someone with a double anagram opportunity.
15. Steep edge to cut routinely? RETRIM (ret rim). A clever use of the verb sense of ‘steep’, meaning to soak .
20. Fine fabric often associated with royals JERSEY (2 mngs). The royals, or more strictly Royals, in question are Jersey Royal potatoes.
24. Receiver, brave, missing ace, clutching nut! FENCE (n in face). ‘Brave’ is used in the verb sense, and a nut in printing is the width of an en. The surface appears to allude to an unfortunate incident on the tennis court, though it would be an extreme circumstance in which a player both missed an ace and was struck by it. ‘Fence’ is a receiver of stolen goods.
21. Meant for a spin with Daisy initially on board? It was TANDEM (D in anag., & lit.). The reference is to the song ‘Daisy Bell’, better known as ‘Daisy, Daisy’ and the bicycle made for two.
1. Kink in pedal below what driver may step on GASP (gas + p). This kink is kink2, a dialect term for a cough or gasp.
2. Woody’s ‘cousin’ having line in funny picture, not right? PICULET (l in anag. less r). Younger solvers might associate Woody and a funny picture with the Toy Story series, but Azed is recalling Woody Woodpecker from the 1940s cartoons.
4. Wills e.g. featuring name in quotation maybe PRINCE (n in price). Wills is Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (beneficiary of some very substantial wills).
8. More than one as ‘s’ in e.g. ‘Greensleeves’? AESIR (es in air). Dr Watson is used to as3, the Roman coin, being sneaked into clues, but wasn’t expecting as2, a denizen of Asgard in Norse mythology, whose plural provides the solution here.
16. Mentally puts off with displays of affectation UPSTAIRS (anag. + airs). ‘Upstairs’ is used in the figurative sense of ‘in the head’. ‘Upstair’ provides another possible partial anagram for the competition word.
17. Nameless Parisienne coming round prompt for her bowl of potage ÉCUELLE (cue in elle). Dr Watson looked in vain for a French name with the n dropped. ‘Nameless’ is simply pointing the use of a pronoun.
24. At some distance regularly giving way to hail cab FIACRE (far alternating with ice). A most unusual wordplay device, but fairly indicated, allowing Azed the chance to link ‘hail’ and ‘cab’.
Across: 3. POPPET-HEAD (the a in popped); 10. AIRBRUSHED (anag.); 18. TANAGRA (nag in tara); 19. PEKOE (0 in anag.); 22. STROWN (TR in sown); 25. TANTRIC (ant in tric(e)); 28. ANGLES (ng in ales); 31. INTI (inti(mate)); 32. CELLO (ll in CEO); 33. INTRORSELY (anag.); 34. SLIGHTNESS (s + lightness).
Down: 3. PRANA (Pr for as in asana); 5. PURITANISM; 6. THRENE (n in three); 7. HECTARES (a in anag.); 9. DISMAYED (yams, rev., in died); 12. TRAJECTION (anag.); 17. FOOTLING (L in footing); 23. WREATH (re in anag.); 26. ANNUL (annu(A)l); 27. IDLES (d. in anag.); 30. MOYA (0 in Mya).