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 message board.
The consistency of Azed’s puzzles over the last quarter century is a remarkable feat for any area of creative endeavour, and of course earns him his avid following. A consequence of it is that regular solvers become attuned to even slight changes in difficulty or clueing tricks. So when Watson asserts that this was one of his harder ones, it’s a fine judgment. The difficulties are down to just a few non-dictionary references and obscure subsidiary parts – not so bad on their own, but troublesome when they fall, as happens here, in mutually checking lights.
Notes to the clues
1a: Nasty ruts give it a jolt, by the sound of it! RUST-BUCKET (anag. of ruts + ‘buck it’, & lit.). This & lit. is a real pleasure to solve, and the description sums up rust-buckets all too accurately.
12a: Car heating briefly out of order? CHARIOT (ch + a riot). An original and witty treatment of a common piece of grid-fodder is Watson’s favourite clue of the puzzle.
14a: In Dundee each local meal has parts exchanged. ILKA (halves reversed in kail). The subsidiary word is probably harder to spot than the solution itself. Contender for the toughest clue this month, and not helped by the intersection of its all-important K with that of the similarly difficult 9 down.
16a: Tiger leading after setback, in a trice, as before. PULLEY (yell up, all rev.). The explanations you need can be found at the definitions of tiger and trice, so, although it’s doubly misleading, the clue is easier to solve than it might appear.
17a: What do you associate with Fiat? Fantastic motoring (forget MG). TORINO (anag. of motoring less M, G). Chambers offers no help at all with this clue. The Fiat in question is Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torini. The solution is of course the ‘familiar foreign place name in the local language’ mentioned in the footnote, namely, Turin.
18a: Apostrophe as is seen in king’s-hood? TUISM (is in tum). Long-serving Azed solvers may recall a whole puzzle based on the theme of cows’ stomachs, of which king’s-hood is one.
23a: Macbeth’s end: end of dirk stuck in one such as Monteith? HANKY (h + k in any). Note to self – Dear Dr W: Next time don’t try and be clever by looking up Monteith in Brewer’s first. It’ll only confuse you. The definition you want is in Chambers.
31d: A song, quiet, old fashioned. ALAY (a lay). If you’re not careful, you might find yourself tempted by the quiet and musical connotations of alap. Don’t be – it doesn’t stand up cryptically.
3d: Bean net? SEAN (2 meanings). British actor Sean Bean played the villain in the James Bond movie Goldeneye, but apart from that may not be well known outside the UK.
9d: Such as Modestine? Yes, in writing. MOKES (oke in MS). Either you know the name of R L Stevenson’s mount in Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes or, quite possibly, you don’t. In the latter case, as Watson found, an internet search engine offers the best chance to appreciate the clue.
21d: Ice cream and a small drink before food served up. CASSATA (a tass a.c., all rev.). The letters AC normally get clued as ‘bill’ or similar. Here they mean ante cibium as seen (once?) on medical prescriptions.
28d: State of quiet? One follows workout in gym perhaps. PEACE (PE + ace). Another original treatment for a familiar word.
11a: SPEIR (I in reps rev.); 13a: CHANOYU (h in can + anag.); 19a: ARSENIATE (anag.); 22a: REDSTREAK (red + r in steak); 27a: SPERSE (hidden); 29a: RUFFES (r and s swapped in suffer); 32a: AZALEAS (AZ + lea in as); 33a: COSTING (c + anag.); 34a: COSTE (Co. + anag.); 35a: TATTIE-SHAW (tat ties haw); 2d: UPHOORD (or in up hod); 4d: TINNIE (inn in tie); 5d: BROWN (2 mngs); 6d: CHUPRASSY; 7d: KAPUTT (K + a putt); 8d: TILLITE (lit in tile); 10d: STAY-MAKERS (anag.); 13d: CATAPHRACT (anag. in caract); 15d: SOI-DISANT (anag. in sot); 20d: SUNFAST (anag. in St.); 23d: EYEPIT (e yep it); 24d: REALOS (anag. + Sol rev.); 26d: AULOS (a + anag.); 30d: NESH (anag.)