NEW YEAR, and Azed’s January competition puzzle is usually a relatively gentle one, often attracting the highest competition entry of the year. This puzzle offers straightforward clueing, with the trickery rarely extending across both definition and wordplay. One solution, at 4 down, is ambiguous and needs a checking letter to confirm the spelling. The competition word BALDERDASH is a clue-writer’s delight with many possible cryptic approaches and misleading synonyms. Both Ximenes and Azed have visited this subject before in competitions for FIDDLETICKS, GALIMATIAS, BARAGOUIN and NONSENSE.
10. Man admits love with mum – one’s predictions are distinctly ‘earthy’ GEOMANT (0 ma in gent) A geomant or geomancer makes predictions by casting earth, but Azed turns it into a salacious double entendre.
12. Dog (origin unspecified) needing shampoo, rear half first APSO (halves reversed in soap) The solution, a well-known breed of dog, is listed in Chambers under Lhasa Apso, though cross-referenced in the book version, hence the qualified definition. This would have done nicely for the Christmas ‘Cut & Paste’ puzzle.
13. You may find gardener is transplanting red one? SERINGA (comp. anag. & lit.) ‘Gardener is’ anagrams ‘red seringa’, with ‘one’ standing for the solution, a type of tree or shrub.
18. One of five I begot, developing differently BIG TOE (anag.) Whether a big toe is one of five (toes per foot), one of ten (toes in total) or one of two (big toes) is open to debate.
24. Sign of cold weather in part of mid April? One’ll need a second coat PRIMER (rime in (A)pr(il)) ‘Part of mid April’ is a slightly roundabout way of getting to ‘pr’, but works well for the clue’s surface.
28. SA creature, not heading for the Cape? ELAND ((for)eland) Tricky wordplay, with the innocuous-looking ‘for’ playing an important part. Read it as: ‘foreland’ but not the ‘for’ that starts it.
32. Hand washer applied to edge of face for shave? EPILATE ((fac)e + Pilate) A clever reference to Pontius Pilate – we’re not thinking about Easter already, are we?
34. Borough, it’s origin found in sprawling hamlet LAMBETH (B in anag., & lit.) The whole clue does reasonably describe the origins of the London borough, so Dr Watson is marking it ‘& lit.’. The apostrophe seems to have escaped the editors as it’s incorrect for both the wordplay and the surface reading.
4. Old coat mostly turned up with nothing below collar RABATO (o tabar(d), rev.) Dr Watson was familiar with the spelling REBATO (in 1971 it was the last competition word judged by Ximenes), and having verified the spelling ‘taberd’ in Chambers, confidently entered it, only to find a clash with 10 across.
7. Old poet, good on love, cause of global upheaval but not the first OVID ((C)ovid) The Roman poet is familiar enough, though Azed extends his definition to help the surface reading. This is the first Azed clue Dr Watson has seen that directly uses ‘Covid’.
9. Gardenin’ has disinterred this local onion, red INGAN (comp. anag.) A second comp. anag. set in the garden; ‘gardenin’’ rearranges ‘ingan red’. This time Azed hasn’t tried for an & lit., but has found an unusual anagram indicator in ‘disinterred’.
25. Change address for number in former province RENAME (n in reame) It took Dr Watson longer than it should have to realise ‘reame’ is an old version of ‘realm’ and not an actual placename.
Across: 1. ENTEROPTOSIS (anag.); 14. CATHEDRAL (cat + Dr in heal); 15. GRYPT ((an)gry p(e)t); 17. FROND (r in fond); 20. MAKOS (mak OS); 22. CHARA (hidden); 26. STAKE ((MI)stake); 30. TARA FERNS (anag. incl. E in tarns); 33. PEAS (hidden); 35. HALTER-NECKED (Hal tern E + anag.; see plunging neckline).
Down: 2. NEPHRIC (anag. incl. P); 3. TOSHY (sh in toy); 5. ON-STREAM (onst ream); 6. TEREFA (ref in tea); 8. SUN ROOM (anag. + moo, rev.); 10. GANGBUSTER (anag. in gaster); 11. BALDERDASH; 16. EMPYREAN (emp(t)y re an); 19. GHARIAL (anag.); 21. SENSATE (s in Senate); 23. REFACE (Fe, rev., in race); 27. TAPPA (tap PA); 29. AWEEK (anag. less M); 31. ALIT (a lit(any)).