OLVING this competition puzzle was a great pleasure, though a fleeting one, as Dr Watson ploughed through it in near-record time, helped by a good allowance of easy clues, including five ‘hiddens’ and eight or so anagrams. The only external reference that was needed is a familiar deceased character from Shakespeare. The competition word BOMBAST is very promising for non-anagrammatic wordplay, but as Dr Watson found, more difficult to define interestingly as a noun than a related adjective such as ‘bombastic’ might be.
1. Sage I’d omitted separately from formal food item, stuffing weighed SAVANT (v(I)an(d) in sat) Azed plays with meanings and parts of speech to achieve a misleading culinary surface, while carefully indicating that ‘I’d’ is not removed as a unit from ‘viand’.
12. Pigeon or duck in pie involving ragu GOURA (0 in anag.) Regular solvers will be alert for pie2, a printer’s term for a muddle, probably unrelated to the food item. A goura is a crested pigeon of New Guinea.
14. Measure ring behind second of stirrups STAPEDIAL (s + tape dial) The solver is nudged towards a T by ‘second of stirrups’ in a neat red herring.
15. E.g dal creating trouble for Indian village GRAM (3 mngs.) The clue exploits meanings of ‘gram’ originating in Portuguese, Old English and Hindi.
17. Partners for eyes trouncing rings UNCI (hidden) One of the more cunningly hidden solutions, referring to ‘hook and eye’ fastenings.
27. Horn part Laurel learnt roughly BAY-ANTLER (bay4 + anag.) A nice pun on ‘horn’. Zoologists would make the case that antlers (shed annually) are different from the horns of cows, etc., but Chambers indicates that usage trumps science, and the meaning of ‘horn’ is ‘sometimes extended to a deer’s antler’.
32. One’s not coy splashing it around? TYCOON (anag. & lit.) Dr Watson hasn’t seen this lovely & lit. anagram before.
33. Poetic line observed in Charles Trenet STRENE (hidden) Azed finds the perfect hiding place for the solution in the composer of La Mer and many other songs. A strene is a strain or line in the familial sense, in a spelling used by Spenser.
7. Some change in Iceland, air beginning to resonate AURAR (aura + r) The crossworder’s favourite misleading use of ‘change’ to define currency. The solution is the Icelandic plural of ‘eyrir’, one of which currently buys you 0.000058 pounds sterling, before commission.
3. Cowardly fellow of yore opposed to Trojan, old VILIACO (v Iliac o) ‘Iliac’ can refer to Ilium or Troy as well as to a troublesome back bone.
6. He deserves death penalty, to wit something that facilitates hanging permits SCAPEGALLOWS (sc. a peg allows) Azed puts together a very classy charade, though on a cursory reading you might misinterpret ‘something that facilitates hanging’ as a synonym for ‘gallows’, which would produce a much weaker clue than this semi-& lit.
10. Outings such as bell-ringers are familiar with? SALLIES (2 mngs.) ‘Sally’ means ‘outing’ as in ‘sally forth’, and the ‘woolly grip of a bell-rope’, or a pull thereon.
16. Disputed trio on place for orchestra? THREEPIT (three + pit) The solution is an old past tense of the dialect verb ‘threap’ or ‘threep’, meaning to rebuke or dispute.
23. Line given to one ‘of infinite jest’ not OK in song? LYRIC (l + Y(o)ric(k)) Unlike 1 across, Azed doesn’t indicate here that the letters of OK are removed separately from Yorick. Hopefully solvers knew him well enough.
Across: 6. SCRAPS (2 mngs.); 11. TUI NA or TUINA (I in tuna); 13. ORLISTAT (list in anag.); 18. BACKLIGHT (back light); 21. DISARRAYS (anag.); 22. MELD (hidden); 24. ZUNI (z uni); 29. BIOPLAST (anag. in bit); 30. SAICK (a in sick); 31. INTAL (hidden).
Down: 1. STONG (T in song); 4. NASTALIK (n a + I in stalk); 5. TETANISATION (anag.); 7. ROOD (‘rude’); 8. AUXIN (U in axin’); 9. PREACHY (a Ch in prey); 18. BOMBAST; 19. AREAWAY (are2 away); 20. CAUDATE (Aud(I) in anag.); 25. NISAN (is in nan); 26. IXTLE (anag. of (t)extil(e); see istle in C.); 28. ARCO (hidden).