Azed No 2443 ‘Printer’s Devilry’ (7 Apr 2019)

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

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T’S been two years and precisely one hundred puzzles since the last outing of Azed’s devilish printers (should we call it a biennial wayzgoose?).  Not everyone likes P.D. puzzles, but enough solvers love them that the demand won’t dry up as long as the series continues, and the huge effort Azed puts into them is hugely appreciated. They can be hard to get started, and the solving mindset required is different from a standard cryptic, but they can also produce the biggest smiles, even the occasional chortle, as the pennies drop.

How to solve? Look for the word that’s the most out of place in the devilled clue, such as ‘tally’ in 10 across, or ‘ark’ in 11. Often there are other hints (why is the secretary in 2 down ‘passionate’ when he or she is filing? What would the drum-major in 17 down really carry?). The best P.D.s, though, are going to tease the solver with puns and unlikely situations that only become apparent after some lateral thinking. There’s no shame in a computerised wordsearch to reveal the possible solutions once a few checking letters are in place: it can stop a clue becoming too frustrating.

Notes to the clues:



1.      Unit of rock strata  ERATHEM  The competition word has a fairly friendly structure. Clue-writers will probably find themselves choosing between a word ending in -ERA and one starting with THEM-, or both, in the undevilled reading.

6.      Showing kind Nes/tor will always encourage pupils  SAMEN  ‘Kindness’ is easy to spot, but the rest is more elusive.

10.    As craftsmen they are trained in t/ally, well qualified  HEART-SORE  Longer words are always harder to solve in P.D., especially when they break down into several smaller words in the undevilled reading, as there are many ways it could go.

11.    Those naughty kids have got involved in ar/k  ASHLAR

12.    We now have moles in the garden, a nex/t nuisance  TRAPES  One of the less fluent undevilled readings (‘an extra pest nuisance’), but Azed sets this bar particularly high.

13.    You’ll find what chef calls far/e (king of garlic stuffing)  CIRE (…farci reeking…)  Dr Watson spotted this one straight off. ‘Stuffing’ was the giveaway.

16.    Downing his last pin/ts alone in the empty bar  TSOTSI  The repetition of ‘pint(s)’ isn’t ideal, but could have been hard to avoid. Azed has devilled TSOTSI a number of times in his career.

17.    As drum-major he carries the b/one  ATONAL  Another word with a long pedigree in P.D. puzzles.

19.    Not being judg/e – nothing objectionable in others’ deeds  MENTALISE  This is the solution not in Chambers. ‘Judgmental’ is well spotted.

20.    The army receives pay increase so batta/s are lifted  LIONHEART  The insertion point is easy to find. Just a question of which LION- word makes most sense.

25.    A citizen of Kolkata by the maid/s around  ANIMES  (…maidan I mess…)  A tough solve unless you’re familiar with ‘maidan’, an urban open space in India.

26.    If I l/ope, regularly for wild-life programme  MANTEL  A good example of the devilled reading making less sense than the undevilled.

29.    Never having said goodbye, he’s just sto/ut  LENO

30.    This is where I go out, and by this do/er  ORIENT

31.    After diagnosis of this a de/mise is unlikely  NOMADE  An adenoma is a type of benign growth.

32.    The troops were ordered to sur/round offensive  RENDERING  P.D.s are often most satisfying when the insertion point sits inside a longer word.

33.    The area offers pres/entable flats for high earners  TIGER  A great penny-drop here when ‘prestige’ is spotted.

34.    I’ve rarely heard magistrates criticis/e in summing up  MASTERS  Fellow solvers have pointed out that TIGER and MASTERS in the bottom row is surely a reference to Tiger Woods’ appearance in the US Masters golf a week after the puzzle appeared. AMEN in the top right corner may also be a message of support.



1.      We’re worried about her – she’s be/ing strange of late  ENACT  A smooth piece of devilry, though without much change in meaning.

2.      My passionate secretary shows heart with love’s fi/ling  RESISTING  It needs a passionate secretary to contain the sense of both readings.

3.      After shower every morning one’s in b/ed, ripping?  ATHROB  It’s good to be able extract the solution from a single word occasionally.

4.      One strains to over/tones, keen to join in  HEARSE (…overhear set one’s…)

5.      With inexperienced cast I f/ound inarticulate  EARLINESS  Dr Watson was certain the insertion point would be in the final word, so it took a while to work this one out.

6.      The cameramen need the ro/ller for extra height  STRATA (…rostra taller…)

7.      W/ing lost in church crisis  ÅSAR  A short clue, but it gives nothing away on first reading. ‘Church crisis’ is a bit of a vague context for the loss of a ring.

8.      In TV cookery programme chef shows his de/n, starting recipe  MOPANI  A demo pan is something no TV chef should be without.

9.      It’s better to keep ho/t pork pies, undermine one’s reputation  NESTLES  The way a P.D. should be done, with a lovely pun on ‘pork pies’.

14.    Furious madam at her toilet fired tal/l domestic!  CATAMENIA  Another classic type of P.D. with a comic and just about plausible scenario established for the undevilled reading, in this case a madam firing talc.

15.    Verily they approached us with gentle words and low/ly responded  EASTENDER  The opening ‘verily’ sets up the sentence for the ‘lo’ that’s needed later.

18.    The safari guide had to finish off – I’m p/ally, wounded  ALAMORT  The poor impala had no chance of remaining hidden, though it’s initially a guess as to where in ‘pal’ the solution fits..

21.    Wretches collecting rock fragments t/ravel pits  OILING

22.    How otherwise refer to whey-faced nuisance? As/k, perhaps  HENNER (…ashen nerk…)

23.    It’s said an emperor chose his horse, fo/ul  RACONS  A nicely worked reference to Caligula.

24.    Once you’ve had a ta/d, wine like this will win you over  STEARE

27.    To recondition some wheels, get the fel/t ripped off  LOESS  The solution requires ‘felloes’, curved pieces that made up the rim of a wheel.

28.    Preparing cookers one probably needs to have co/ach  REDE  The last word is the obvious candidate for the insertion point, but the solution isn’t apparent until one realises cookers are cooking apples.


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