For the benefit of solvers new to the rigours of the Advanced Cryptic, Dr Watson provides a monthly review of the Observer's Azed competition puzzle. Dr Watson is a regular Azed competitor. Please post any comments on this review to the Crossword Centre’s message board.

Azed No 1663: Plain (4 Apr 2004)

This month’s competition puzzle was rich in anagrams, meaning Dr Watson could dash through the solution, and can now keep the review correspondingly short.

Notes to the clues:

7a:     Poet, distinguished one at height.  PLATH (PL at h). PL is Poet Laureate. ‘Distinguished one’ could throw you off the scent in search of ‘saw a’ or similar.

15a:   One, you might suppose, ’acking a little wheat.  EMMER ((h)emmer).  Watson is inclined to think hacking and hemming refer to somewhat different degrees of cough intensity.

2d:    Somehow get one’s mind around alto tutti, con moto, before end of Kyrie.  ATTUITE (a + anag + e).  Solvers might struggle to get their minds around this extended clue until they work out that ‘con moto’ is the anagram indicator.

8d:    It contains French articles, yellow, some from Paris.  LE MONDE (lemon + de). It took Dr Watson a while to realise this clue wasn’t some strange kind of ‘semi & lit.’.

17d:  You may find crud and tat’s tossed in this.  DUSTCART  (anag., & lit.).  A great crowd-pleaser of an ‘& lit.’…

27d:  You may have found him in role using specially trained gondoliere.  DOGE  (comp. anag., & lit.).  … and another one for good measure.

Other solutions:

1a: MADDOCK (mad dock);  12a: ATRESIA ((do)es in atria);  13a: CERIA (ERI in Ca);  14a: STOMP (m in stop);  16a: KEYBOARD (anag.);  17a: DIPTEROS (‘dipped’ Eros);  18a: STONE-DEAD (anag.);  20a: SEDUCTIVE (anag.);  24a: DANCETTE (dance + t, t, e);  26a: COCKLOFT (cockl(e) oft);  28a: ALOED (a + anag.);  29a: KAROO (end to start in a rook);  30a: RONTE (a + anag. less p);  31a: SLICING (C, I in sling);  32a: TRESS (hidden);  33a: MALTASE (Malta’s + e);  1d: MASA (comp. anag. & lit.);  3d: DROPPED SCONE (anag.);  4d: DEMPT (d + empt(y));  5d: CICERO (icer in Co.);  6d: KARYON (anag. less one of the r’s);  9d: ARMAMENTARIA;  10d: TIERS (2 meanings);  11d: HARD EDGE (anag. in he);  18d: SUNKETS (sunk + anag.);  19d: ACTIONS (I in actons);  21d: TAOISM (anag.);  22d: INFULA (in full with a for last l);  23d: DOLOR (l in door);  25d: EXACT (axe, rev. + c, t).