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.
‘Spoonerisms’, with its unique phonic solving method, is one of Azed’s trademark specials, and popular with regular solvers. It always brings delightful moments of surprise, as the meanings of words are utterly changed by a simple transposition of sounds. The most difficult aspect of the puzzle for newcomers is probably keeping in mind how the two different types of clue work while solving them. It’s quite common to find yourself Spoonerising both the definition in the clue and the possible solution, when only one of these is required. The definition part of the clue either defines a Spoonerism of the solution (type A in the notes below), or is itself a Spoonerism of a definition of the solution (type B). The other pitfall is mixing up the definition and wordplay – particularly when the wordplay is a charade as in 9d. Anyone who’s written a Spoonerisms clue for the competition will know that the type B’s are especially difficult to compose, and we should admire Azed’s stamina in working through seventeen of them.
Notes to the clues:
1a: One making purchases in Cotswold town appears with hat. SHOW-STOPPER (A; Stow shopper; shows topper). A little UK geography comes in useful here. Note that the definition in a type A clue doesn’t have to consist of two separate definitions of the component parts of the Spoonerised solution (e.g. ‘Cotswold town purchaser’), but can define it as a whole.
11a: Billy e.g. in camp inverted to fix allowance. TRAIL-NET (A; nail tret; Liar in tent, all rev.). A reference to the play Billy Liar.
17a: Hump on bed, doubly alight, filled with love. INION (B; bump on head; 0 in ‘in in’). A not-to-be-missed opportunity to Spoonerise the definition.
26d: Muse distractedly about book, blind to Shakespeare? SEBUM (A; beesome; B in anag.). Solution here depends on the solver knowing, guessing or finding the rather obscure but accurate Spoonerism ‘beesome’.
29a: Freight: store wood at sea once as if lashing half nets. AN-END (B; straight forward; ne(ts) in and). Probably the dodgiest Spoonerism of the puzzle, and probably the hardest clue to write as well.
3d: Raised grimace over one end of lion – mane’s mat. WOMAN (B; man’s mate; mow, rev. + a, n). The vocalic Spoonerism turns a straightforward clue into a tongue-twistingly difficult one.
4d: Drunken gypsies, formerly dejected, given lift when imbibing it. TRITOMA (A; tight Roma; it in amort, rev.). As the note in the puzzle acknowledges, the accepted pronunciation is ‘trit-oma’ rather than ‘try-toma’.
9d: Public funds empty section to whack supports. STOCK SADDLES (A; sock staddles; stocks + addle + s). The wordplay and the definition of the Spoonerised solution are both effectively charades, making it difficult to remember which part is which when solving (and trying to say ‘stock saddles, sock staddles, stocks addles’)
21d: Bony bream in Seine raised passion in Pont Neuf? PTERION (B; seam in brain; ire, rev., in anag.). Removing the clue about as far from its actual solution as is imaginable.
12a: CRAMPIT (A; pram kit; ramp in Cit.); 13a: SOLDO (A; doll so; sold O); 14a: KOBAN (A; beau can; KO ban); 18a: STARK (B; fully bare; tar for tea in steak); 19a: EATH (B; not hard; hidden); 20a: IMPASTOS; 22a: CRUSTATE (A; truss cate; tat in cruse); 24a: OSSA (B; leg bones; as so, all rev.); 25a: ENDEW (B; set gear on; end E, W); 31a: LAGER (B; light beer; comp. anag.); 32a: PINTAIL (A; tin pail; pint a I l); 23a: ERIGERON (B; fleabane; e, r + anag.); 34a: DRAGONFLIES (A; flagon dries; drag on flies); 6d: SICKLE-CELLED (A; seckel sild; sick + C in lee + dell, rev.); 2d: HERO (B; fine man; h + ore, rev.); 5d: OATEN (B; meal food; ate in on); 6d: PISÉ (A; pay zee; s in pie); 7d: PLOATS (B; grabs down; lo in anag.); 8d: RED CROSS (A; rod cress; re + c in dross); 10d: HABITUDE (A; tabby hued; anag. + E); 15d: CAT’S-MEAT (A; Keats matt; cats + a in met); 16d: BARNYARD (A; yarn bard; anag + anag.); 23d: SENEGA (B; root for bite; anag. less f + age, rev.); 26d: SAPRO (B; shown rot; or pas, all rev.); 27d: UNTIL (B; ending by; anag. less jay); 28d: AREG (B; sandy mounds; a reg); 30d: NIKE (A; kye knee; hidden).