ZED starts the new competition year with a puzzle containing a lot of straightforward wordplay and just one historical reference that should be widely known. It shouldn’t tax the brainpower of regular solvers too much. The grey cells will be exercised more, though, creating a clue to BRAINPOWER. Dr Watson found a few solutions reminiscent of earlier Azed and Ximenes competitions – with 1,071 of these now in the Archive it’s not surprising that such words crop up regularly.
12. Member of famous trio, artist appearing in cloak ARAMIS (RA in amis) The trio are of course the Musketeers. ‘Amis’ is found in Chambers under amice1, a type of cloak.
16. What may be trained as pet within year? YAPSTER (anag. in yr, & lit.) Azed set YAPSTER as the competition word for puzzle no 1165 in 1994, but this clue is not one of the entries.
22. Crazy (if not OTT), like Nero – first clue, maybe, ... PYROMANIAC (p(ott)y Roman + 1 ac, & lit.) ‘First clue’ for IAC (one across) is a piece of wordplay that many setters use now and then, and regular solvers will have seen it quickly. The clue’s wording is a little contorted to achieve the & lit. and the link to …
26. … Playing this (dress in fashion)? TRIGON (rig in ton2) … the lyre that Nero reputedly played.
1. What tidy clues about dead former yuppie for Morse! IDDY-UMPTY (d yump in anag.) Lots to enjoy here in this apparent reference to our house detective. The solution is a slang (onomatopoeic?) term for Morse code, and ‘yump’ (under yumpie in Chambers) is a throwback to the 1980s: this more precise acrostic of ‘young upwardly mobile professional’ was coined before social commentators settled on ‘yuppie’.
7. Zap, using loud artillery grenades initially FRAG (f RA + g) ‘Zap’ is certainly a euphemism for what fragging involves, namely killing with a fragmentation grenade.
14. Intellectual ability BRAINPOWER Longer serving solvers and students of the & lit. Archive may look back to 1973 and Azed no 92 for ideas for this month’s competition word. BRAINWASH inspired many fine clues, including Les May’s famous ‘Bust down reason?’.
23. E.g. chicken cut up, obstruction being small bone RIBLET (bir(d), rev. + let2) Azed disguises the wordplay well, with ‘cut up’ concisely indicating truncation and reversal, and ‘obstruction’ looking like it points to a container and contents device.
29. Tailor I consult has this for lining leather cuirass LORIC (hidden) Nothing difficult here, and an original hidden indication, but Dr Watson was reminded of Ximenes’s early competition for LORICATE (no 163).
Across: 4. SCAFF-RAFF (s caff RAF f); 11. DRACO (card, rev. + o); 12. DELISH (el2 in dish); 15. ATONY (a tony1); 18. UTIS ((fla)utis(t)); 19. ALLELE (hidden); 20. CHEMISETTE (hem in anag.); 28. ALGA (anag. of alt. letters); 31. COPIOUS (CO pious); 32. ABLOW (L in a bow1); 33. WORRIT (OR in writ); 34. DIESEL (dies + el1); 35. SEISE (hidden); 36. INTERPRET (in + p in terret).
Down: 2. BREATH (re in bath2); 3. PALPI (pal + (sh)ip, rev.); 5. COSTAE (Co. + eats, rev.); 5. ATHERMANCY (m in anag.); 8. RAT-FLEA (anag.); 9. AMORET (E in amort); 10. FINAL (f in a l); 17. BEE-MASTER (anag. in beer); 21. HOGNOSE (song, rev. in hoe); 24. IMPOSE (I + anag.); 25. AGUISE (is in ague); 27. RUBIN (rub in); 30. EWER ((h)ewer).