Never knowingly undersolved.

Azed 1807 – Hel’s Bels

Posted by rightback on January 22nd, 2007


Solving time: About 45 mins without Chambers plus about 10 minutes with to check/finish off. One mistake (22ac), two I can’t explain (31ac and 2dn) – offers welcome.

A quick scan suggests that only about 5 answers in this puzzle are common words (my list would be SIZEABLE, UNPEG, FATWA, RINGTONE and PEARL), and I knew no more than a smattering of the remainder, so almost the whole puzzle was written in very faint pen before turning to Chambers. In fact, most of my guesses were correct, as often proves to be the case in this kind of puzzle, as there is often only one plausible parsing of the wordplay.

* = anagram.

1 COBBLERS + PEGS (= wickets = cricket stumps) – this stuff.
10 A TAR + AXIA[l] – defined as the noun ‘calm’.
12 SIZEABLE; ZEA (= maize) + B[readth] all in SILE – one of the few common words (though not the spelling I would use), but a tricky wordplay: I couldn’t remember ZEA and so this was one of my last entries despite the straightforward definition. ‘Bucket’ = SILE (= to rain heavily) is devilishly clever.
14 P-ROLE – short for ‘proletarian’. I tend to feel that this device (‘p-part’ = P-ROLE) is a bit of a cop-out.
15 SUDATE; rev. of TAD (= young fellow) inside SUE (= court) – both elements of the wordplay are well worth remembering.
17 SP(I)RY – defined as ‘tapering’ (= becoming thinner) by Chambers. This may be a reference to Nimble bread but I don’t really see why a question mark is required by the cryptic reading.
22 E(IS)EL – an old word for vinegar, but I entered BISEL and didn’t bother to check it, thinking that BEL was a fish. In fact it’s a tree – the fish I was thinking of is the ‘barbel’.
24 HAS + LET – ‘permitted’ is rarely anything other than ‘let’ so this was fairly straightforward; ‘tolerates’ = HAS in the sense of ‘I won’t have it’.
26 D(ALAS)I – fairly obvious wordplay but Gambia’s currency was new to me (1 dalasi = 100 butut, if you were wondering).
28 ‘UN(PE)G
30 F + AT WA[r]
31 SCOPE (?) + LID – held up here by trying to force in ‘skipjack’. I’m not sure if LID is ‘moving eye cover’, ‘eye cover’ or just ‘cover'; I think it’s probably the first or third, but I can’t justify ‘catch sight of’ or ‘catch sight of moving eye’ = SCOPE. [Chambers 2006 required: see comments.]
33 WEE + DI(NG (= no good) + TON (= fashion))GS – ‘fashion’ = TON is essential knowledge.
2 OTAKU; [w]A[l]K inside (OUT)* – what a great word (‘in Japan, socially inept young people with an obsessive interest in computer technology’). I take issue with the surface reading though: you/something can be ‘phased out’ or ‘fazed’, but surely not ‘fazed out’?
3 BASIDIOSPORE; (OASIS DIP)* in BORE – a classic case of making up a plausible word from the wordplay. In this case I arrived at BORE via the (incorrect) idea ‘BIO-‘ before spotting the likely -SPORE, and then just made the other letters fit into likely places in crossing answers.
4 BRITART; (RIB)* + TART – not even hyphenated, according to Chambers, and took me a long time to work out what this word actually said! But Britpop beats Britart every time.
5 EXI(GEAN)T – this wording is very misleading; what would have been wrong with ‘wild European cherry’ (= GEAN), rather than ‘European cherry (wild)’?
6 RIZ (= surfaced (as in ‘rose’) in America) + A[cademy] – a Russian word meaning ‘a plate covering an icon’. A hard clue which I only got this through guessing ‘sizeable’ at 12ac (which I didn’t understand until I was sure it was right).
7 P (= feature of ‘pretty’) + EARLOBE – O.B.E. (= decoration) – good &lit, and standard Azed style to write such a clue using ‘feature of’, ‘bit of’ etc to mean ‘the first letter of’.
8 EMBOLISATION; (RE BLOODSTAIN I’M – DR)* – an obvious composite anagram if you’re familiar with this kind of clue, but difficult to come up with the right answer without checking letters or a very good knowledge of Greek (embolos = ‘stopper’).
9 G(ILL)ALE – ‘beer with an infusion of ground ivy’.
11 [b]REEDE[r]
16 ‘S’ AND ‘LING’ – which make ‘sling’. A sandling is a fish, the launce or lance. Not my favourite clue, as the question mark refers to the first half of the clue, not to ‘lance’.
18 PRANC(K[id])E – an old word for a pleat or fold. When I had ??AN???, The ‘K’ (from ‘kid missing I’d’) looked as though it was surely the fifth letter, which is why I spent so long trying ‘skipjack’ at 31ac.
20 AIL + ANT + O – the AILANTO is the ‘tree of heaven’. A helpful ‘get you started’ wordplay of three clichés (but still a slow solve for me)…
21 CH + USE – …and followed by another simple wordplay. CHUSE is an obsolete spelling of ‘choose’ (= ‘will’).
27 SWANG – I’m sure this is the answer (‘Rarely controlled’ is the definition) but I can’t understand the wordplay (‘son getting out of last piece of work?’). Is it WANGLING (= getting) minus ‘GLIN’ or ‘LING’, or something like that? [No, it’s SWAN(SON)G – see comments & thanks to Richard Heald.]
29 [du]BLIN[er] – intractable wordplay to an obscure word; one of my very last entries.

5 Responses to “Azed 1807 – Hel’s Bels”

  1. says:

    31ac – SCOPE = “catch sight of” is in Chambers, so LID = “moving eye cover”.

    As for 2dn, I fully agree with you – and there’s no justification for it in Chambers either. Bad Azed!

  2. says:

    In 27dn, the wordplay is SWAN[son]G, I think.

  3. says:

    Also, credit for the excellent PEARL & lit. at 7dn should be given (and will be by Azed, I’m sure) to Mark Barley, who won third prize for this clue in the Azed 30th anniversary competition five years ago.

  4. says:

    31ac: SCOPE = “catch sight of” – thanks to linxit, but which version of Chambers? It’s not in my 2003 edition.

    And thanks to Richard for clearing up 27dn. I was fixated by ‘son’ = the initial ‘S’.

  5. says:

    SCOPE – you’re right, it’s only in the 2006 edition. Here’s the relevant bit:

    vt to examine (the internal organs) with a viewing instrument; to catch sight of (inf); to investigate (with out; inf); to discover as the result of an investigation (with out; inf).

    Chambers 2003 only has the first definition.

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