Azed No 2500 ‘Half and Half’ (10 May 2020)

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

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ZED regulars have been anticipating this special for some time, and speculating on how the setter might approach the theme of 2500. Now all is revealed, and we find that Azed can still pull off an original clueing device after nearly 50 years of weekly puzzles.

Typically for Azed, the requirements are spelled out clearly in the preamble. The challenge is to find two words, each of which contributes half its letters to one solution and half to another, creating a grid of mostly non-words. As each word is defined in two different clues, there is an approach available; namely to solve one clue then search for a matching definition in another.

Consequently Dr Watson found that the ten-letter entries, of which there are only four, fell first, followed by the eights. The sixes and twelves held out longer due to more difficult definitions or wordplay. The wordplay in clues to four-letter entries was generally easier, but with sixteen words and so little contributed by each in its entries, it was difficult to keep track of them. It didn’t help that two pairs sharing the same last letters (LING/RANG, RAGA/GUGA) are mentioned in the preamble, while three pairs and one triplet sharing the same first letters (LIRK/LING, PEBA/PEPO, REKE/REDO, RAGA/RANG/RAYS) aren’t mentioned. Also three grid entries (RA-GA, RA-NG, LI-NG) are identical to three of the contributing words. Some book-keeping was needed at the end to ensure that every word was accounted for (see the list after the clue notes).

Huge congratulations to Azed on reaching this milestone after 48 unbroken years of compiling some of the best crosswords in the business. Regulars will look forward to celebrating it at the postponed lunch in September, lockdown allowing.

In the notes below, definitions are underlined, and the grid entry is the part outside the brackets.

Notes to the clues:


1.      Paddle boat with twice getting into unyielding reedy stuff ‘speared’ delicacy  STERN-W(HEELER SPARRO)WGRASS (w, w in stern grass)  Sparrowgrass is another name for asparagus.

9.      Severely criticize constitutional activity when limited by the crown  PAS(EAR BER)ATE (as in pate)

11.    Hot-food stand governess, English, wrapped in quilt  DUE(NNA TRI)VET (E in duvet)  A good def. for ‘trivet’ even if the rest of the surface creates an unlikely picture.

12.    Ancient landmass, one shifting evasively, almost regularly shifting  LAUR(ASIA WRIG)GLER (anag. less y)  

14.    The old care about armadillo – it’s trapped in wire basket  RE(KE PE)BA (hidden)  The first clue Dr Watson cracked, a simple hidden, but requiring a look-up of both words.

17.    Beams rattle round fruit  RA(YS PE)PO (rap O)

18.    Processed butter to cook freshly butchered hog with date stuffing GH(EE RE)DO (d in anag.)

19.    Bum opposed to active Scottish race  AR(IS AG)IN (a rin)

20.    Posting round Cambs city military force that’s present but not obvious  MAILE(D FIST UNDER)LYING (Ely in mailing)  With a couple of letters in place, one of the easier 10-letter solutions that helped Dr Watson open up the grid.

22.    Love poet, gin drunk, ignores the alarm? Effect of the elements  OVERS(LEEPS WEATH)ERING (0 verser + anag.)

25.    Calleda wrinkle’, loveless language  LI(RK RA)NG (ling(0))  Dr Watson assumed that the LI in this solution came from ‘line’ and didn’t match it to ‘lirk’ in 5 down until a tally of the 4 letter solutions after completing the puzzle revealed the mismatch.

26.    Plated creature, small bird, ends in cheap pie, cooked hastily PE(BA TO)DY (last letters)  Tody is one of four birds in the solutions (along with takahe, guga and saker), so the definition helped less than it might have. ‘Plated creature’ is a clever def. for the culinary surface.

27.    Oil for cooking kingfisher’s cousin, to set alongside peeled neep TO(DY GH)EE (to (n)ee(p))

30.    Berry, an enticement for each guest’s centrepiece PE(PO LU)RE (per + e)  Dr Watson solved the wordplay quickly, but didn’t find the contributing words until the final stages.

31.    A suit, ragged with age, covering a large expanse of old TEGU(MENT LAUR)ASIA (anag.)

32.    Chaperone returned one behind threefold grate bracket TRI(VET DUE)NNA (trin + an, rev.)

33.    Flightless bird, a jackdaw seized by female falcons  SAK(ERS TAK)AHE (a ka3 in she; see kae)

34.    See preamble  ESPAGN(OLETTE STRENG)THENER  Espagnolette’ was the very last word that Dr Watson found, with only ‘catch’ from 1 down to go on. Competitors have quite a task on their hands with clueing this entry.



1.      Vegetable box – loot tree scattered – catch  SPARRO(WGRASS ESPAGN)OLETTE (spar + anag.)  Showing signs of the difficulty of creating a cogent surface for every grid entry.

2.      Stroll secure, beside a river rail  TAK(AHE PAS)EAR (take + a R) 

3.      King with commander calledThe Toothsome Gannet RA(NG GU)GA (R + aga)  Azed creates an amusing surface from the most unpromising material.

4.      What lie-abed often does: cries about almost all the suffering, coming safely through  WEATH(ERING OVERS)LEEPS (anag. less e in weeps)

5.      Fold edible wee seabird – champagne served up?  GU(GA LI)RK (Krug, rev.)

6.      Go over Indian piece as encountered in heart of Kerala  RE(DO RA)GA (e.g. in (Ke)ra(la)) 

7.      Fiddle churn almost tilting over suddenly  SEE(THE VIO)LIN (seelin(g); seel3)

8.      What powers US vessel? Catching fish herring set I released  STRENG(THENER STERN-W)HEELER  Azed seems to have missed out an anagram indication here, perhaps overlooking that ‘released’ indicates the subtraction of I.

10.    Muddled up barristers gutted, document half missing: writ case  SUBP(OENA TEGU)MENT (anag. of up b(arrister)s + (docu)ment)

13.    Military might find rudest scrapping fundamental  UNDER(LYING MAILE)D FIST (anag.)  Some good misleading wordplay makes this one of the most enjoyable clues

15.    Contra behind start of attack on US troops?  AG(IN AR)IS (a + GIs)

16.    I age, worn out, one trying to evade summons?  WRIG(GLER SUBP)OENA (anag.)

21.    Heather? Day going, idyl’s dispersed sunlight  LI(NG RA)YS (anag. less d)

23.    Kit? Old cannons, strength about over  VIO(LIN SAK)ERS (o’er in vis)  Two obscure definitions solved by a process of elimination amongst the six letter solutions.

24.    Dress down, get agitated with rage, almost put to bed?  BER(ATE SEE)THE (berthe(d))

28.    Old trumpet, one in middle of flat wind, far from warm  LU(RE PU)NA (un in (f)la(t))  A tricky definition for lure2, a type of prehistoric trumpet.

29.    Sitar performance, maybe, new in jazz style, Scottish row?  RA(GA LI)NG (n in rag)  ‘Ling’ is indicated as Scottish, but Dr Watson initially matched it as ‘line’ with 25ac.

30.    Concern for the old round our country is exercising bleak elevated region  PU(NA RE)KE (UK in PE)  Another solution where the wordplay yielded long before the definitions.



The list shows which solutions each four-letter word contributes to


AGIN     15dn    19ac

ARIS      19ac    15dn

GHEE    18ac    27ac

GUGA   5dn      3dn

LING     21dn    29dn

LIRK     25ac    5dn

LURE    28dn    30ac

PEBA    26ac    14ac

PEPO     30ac    17ac

PUNA    30dn    28dn

RAGA   29dn    6dn

RANG   3dn      25ac

RAYS    17ac    21dn

REDO    6dn      18ac

REKE    14ac    30dn

TODY    27ac    26ac



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