OLVERS should not have too much trouble with this competition puzzle. The defintions and wordplay are mainly straightforward, and there are no references that need to be sought outside of Chambers. Azed repeats several wordplay elements in different clues. Dr Watson counted four fish, three chemical compounds, and oddly enough, two abbreviations for ‘large sized’ used misleadingly.
7. Party William’s cutting SECT (2 mngs.) ‘William’s’ to indicate a Shakespearean word is not unusual, but Dr Watson can’t recall seeing it in an Azed for a long time.
12. Bass doubling, creating some distortion on soundtrack BLOOP (b loop) ‘Doubling’ is used here in the sense of going back on oneself.
13. Twelve heading east – uninhabited spot contains ——? NO-ONE (noon + E) What looks like a comp. anag. structure turns out to be a clever charade.
20. Getting a lift maybe ’Arry does this protein OPSIN (i.e. ’ops in) The aitch-dropping cockney makes an appearance. It’s not clear what ‘doing’ a protein entails.
27. A wisp, me? Wrong – OS-style, more like MAPWISE (anag). Azed mixes up two different meanings of the abbreviation OS, for outsize and Ordnance Survey.
29. Organic compound got from major artery in fish IMIDE (M1 in ide) ‘Artery’ for the motorway continues to catch out Dr Watson, who’s seen it enough times before.
31. Office stuff, unavoidable NECESSARY (3 mngs.) The three different senses of the solution are hard to spot. The first involves slang terms for a lavatory, and the second for money; the third is the easiest.
32. One learning in school term for a type of rock GLAM (L in gam) Another tricky pair of synonyms, with ‘gam’ meaning a school or pod of cetaceans. Glam rock is hopefully familiar to both younger and older generations of solvers.
9. Like a good looker, with parts amounting to XL? TWENTY-TWENTY (i.e. 20 + 20 = 40) Azed grabs the chance to use a piece of arithmetic wordplay and a punning abbreviation similar to 27 across. A good looker is one who sees well, with 20-20 vision.
17. First to exploit indefinable quality in garment, leading figure in rag trade? EDITRESS (e + it in dress) Nicely exploiting the alternative meanings of ‘rag trade’ as the garment and newspaper industries.
23. Some EU members given a lift round Austria, arriving at upper house SEANAD (A in Danes, rev.) The solution is the Senate of the Irish parliament.
25. Local gutter to divert left SWAYL (sway L). Swayl is an alterative spelling of ‘swale’; not the marshy place, but the verb meaning to scorch or gutter like a dying flame. Strictly it seems ‘swale’ refers to the action of the extinguisher rather than the flame itself.
Across: 1. BOBSTAYS (anag. in boys); 10. TOPMINNOW (top + inn in mow); 14. LYOMERI (mer (Fr.) in anag.); 18. SKIRRET (re(d) in skirt); 19. BEDIDE (did in bee); 21. PUTID (t I in pud); 22. SUBSET (e in anag.); 24. SOSATIE (SOS + anag.); 30. HALON (halo + n); 33. SADDLERY (anag. incl. e).
Down: 1. BIBLE-BASHING (le bash in (im)bibing); 2. OILY (alternate letters of jovially); 3. BLOOD-DUST (lo odd in bust); 4. STOMP (M in stop); 5. A-PER-SE (a perse); 6. SINCIPUT (anag. in sit); 7. SNOD (dons, rev.); 8. CONGENER; 11. MAIKO (OK I am, rev.); 15. GRISAILLE (anag. incl I less E); 16. BEPOMMEL (pomme (Fr.) in bel; see bael); 22 DIMES (hidden); 26. IDEM (medi(a), rev.); 28. SOUR (s(c)our).