HERE’S much to enjoy in Azed’s clue-writing for this puzzle, especially in the downs. He seems to have been enjoying a purple patch for several weeks, not only with the recent ‘anagrams’ grid, but also with witty wordplay and unexpected references, such as Len and Cyril at 23 across and Sigmund at 8 down, and with some very appealing surfaces like the one at 7 down. Long may it continue. Competitors have their own chance to demonstrate clue-writing flair with a rather daunting competition word..
11. Steepish turns? Partly – this helps with road-holding SIPE (hidden rev.). A nicely hidden solution with nicely disguised wordplay. A sipe is a groove in a tyre that helps expel water.
12. Love following e.g. Queen around – star group DRACO (card, rev. + 0) Draco is the dragon constellation seen around the North Pole.
23. Cyril’s partner often succeeded, making contact? LENS (Len + s). Any solver lacking a long cricketing memory or knowledge will have needed to Google this one. The more famous Sir Len Hutton made many opening partnerships for England with Lancashire’s Cyril Washbrook in the 1940s. The definition refers to a contact lens.
27. River with ‘pain’ applied about it ACHERON (R in ache on, & lit.). Acheron in Greek mythology was one of the five rivers of Hades, known as the ‘river of woe’. Azed crafts a decent & lit. clue from it.
32. Scots down: no score, and English accordingly making comeback OOSE (0 + E so, rev.). Down here means feathers. The part-reversed charade, though short, is a challenge to piece together.
1. Two-master, British/American ship BUSS (B US S). ‘Ship’ is more commonly SS in crosswords, so solvers might have looked for a solution in BASS before the correct interpretation came to light.
2. Found everywhere UBIQUARIAN. The competition word looks a bit of a nightmare at first sight. Solvers who found the first two or three letters and confidently entered UBIQUITOUS will have regretted their haste. It appears there was an 18c Order of Ubiquarians, similar to Freemasons, who based their constitution on ancient Roman government, and styled their leader the Dictator.
5. A glitch, this, one’s lot in life HICCUP (hic2 cup). Dr Watson’s joint favourite clue of the puzzle, a clever charade from an unobvious definition of ‘cup’.
6. Fish – a shop serves more than one, battered OPAH (anag. less s). A definition to strike gloom into the solver, but followed by some interesting wordplay. If ‘opahs’ and not ‘opah’ is the accepted plural then ‘a shop’ provides the anagram material for more than one of them.
7. Warm crumbs on one’s face CORDIAL (cor! dial). Another beautiful surface makes this Dr Watson’s other joint favourite.
8. Uptight, as identified by first half of session on couch? ANAL (anal(ysis)). This too is very clever with its reference to Freud’s psychoanalysis and psychosexual stages.
22. Fellow over a barrel? That’s what the world sees FACADE (F a cade). And the roll continues with a fine definition.
26. China etc with time assuming dominance in the Orient TEAS (t to start in East). The wordplay here is difficult to see until you’ve solved it.
28. Head twice (at least) catches a person absent after noon NABS (n + abs, 3 defs.) The extended triple definition makes the wordplay that bit harder to pin down. ‘Nab’ is an old slang term for the (anatomical) head, and a verb meaning catch. ‘Nabs’ is also old slang for a person, related to e.g. ‘his Nibs’.
Across: 1. BULLSHOT (bull shot); 7. CALP (C + alp); 10. ANTIPHONER (anag.); 14. SQUITCH (quit in Sch.); 17. STURNIDAE (nid in anag.); 18. CARB (car + b.); 20. STADIA (st + Aïda, rev.); 21. ORDURE (Rd in (p)oure(d)); 24. RIDGEBACK (anag. less s); 29. ANEAR (an + ear); 30. TOLA (a lot, rev.); 31. TRANCED-OUT (anag. in tout); 33. CLERKESS (anag.).
Down: 3. LAP UP (pupal, rev.); 4. STUTTERED (utter in sted); 9. PROTEASE (rot in pease); 13. CHAIN BOLTS (bolt ‘in chains’); 15. ANTICHLOR (anag.); 16. SCORTADO (ord in anag.); 19. BUGGANE (ug in anag.); 25. WROTE (w + rote); 27. AXEL (X in lea, rev.).