ITH the exception of a famous battlefield, crossworders’ one famous sitarist, and a 20c artist, there’s little in this month’s competition puzzle to trouble solvers in possession of a Chambers and sufficient patience. And talking of Chambers, Azed offers the solver’s and setter’s vade mecum (at least since the more portable phone app came out), as the competition word.
4. Cavities CHAMBERS You can be confident that regular competitors will provide a clue to the dictionary that’s been central to their cruciverbal lives, rather than to the cavities. It seems almost rude not to.
16. Measure of cloud cover, fair, that evens out OKTA (OK + odd letters of that) The clue looks like it’s straight alternate letters on the first reading, but Azed has a charade in mind as well. He uses the same wordplay idea for SPATE at 26 down.
18. Revolutionary, executed maybe protecting his leader, brittle when heated REDSHORT (red + r in shot) ‘Revolutionary’ has a dual role in the wordplay, providing both ‘red’ and the inserted R.
24. Translation of Crito includes empty talk describing a climax ORGASTIC (gas in anag.) A reference to the work by Plato, relating to theories of government rather than orgastic pleasures.
27. What’s uprooting wort from historic field? Rats! BOSH (Bos(wort)h) Although the historical reference is explicit, solvers might start out looking for an historic word for a field, instead of the name of an historic battlefield. Dr Watson is suspicious of the definition ‘Rats!’. Chambers indicates ‘bosh’ as meaning ‘nonsense’ and not as directly expressing annoyance.
28. One playing around with characters, a feature of moral philosophy RALPH (hidden) Ralph is the imp responsible for printers’ errors, whose wicked ways have been co-opted by crossword setters for many years.
30. Feature of shores, lacustrine or palustrine? This splinter possibly URAO (comp. anag.) Urao is nacre or mother-of-pearl. It takes some finding is this greatly compounded anagram.
1. Fundamentally strengthen e.g. dam, dry, protected by spar COPPER-BOTTOM (copper + TT in boom) The dam in question is dam4, an old Indian coin of little value.
3. Budget? Chancellor’s last cut initially in the bag UDDER ((r)udder) And the budget here is budget2: a rudder on a barge, and a great find for the surface reading.
6. Sitar player getting into first half of raga soaring rapturously? À RAVIR (Ravi in ra(ga), rev.) Fifty-one years on from his appearance at Woodstock, there’s still only one sitar player that crossword setters can safely reference, namely Ravi Shankar. Equally, there’s probably only one Ravi.
7. Youngster mounted on pre-eminent stallion maybe presenting rodeo challenge? BUCKING (cub, rev. + king) It’s clear why Azed chose CHAMBERS and not CHAMFERS for 4 across!
19. Hammer maybe decapitated copy in gutted engine EARBONE ((c)arbon in e(ngin)e) Quizzers, solvers and ENT doctors need to be familiar with the ossicles: hammer, anvil and stirrup.
25. Knight e.g. displaying distinctive character, following Lancelot’s lead LAURA (L + aura) The painter Dame Laura Knight, the first woman elected to the Royal Academy, is perhaps less well-known now than in the days of complete male domination of the arts.
Across: 1. CHOU (hidden); 11. OUTDOORS (do 0 in anag.); 12. PROD (dorp, rev.); 13. ANALCITE (anal cite); 14. PLIER (l in pier); 17. SHINIEST (n i.e. s in anag.); 21. ASSIGNER (anag. less g incl. E); 29. TOTTERED (0 in TT + ret, rev. + ed.); 31. VENERATE (ER a in vent + e); 32. MENSUREN (ensure in MN); 33. AREA (a rea(son)).
Down: 2. HURLY (l for r in hurry); 5. HONCHO (nc in ho, ho); 8. EVITERNAL (e in anag.); 9. RETASTE (St in anag.); 10. STEATORRHOEA (anag. in sea); 15. INDIGOTIN (in + d + I got in); 20. SNASTES (set sans, rev.; snuff2 n.); 22. STORER (s + torer(o)); 23. SILENE (E nelis, rev.); 26. SPATE (spa + alt. letters of Tees).