Never knowingly undersolved.

Azed 1833 – Unfair to dumb blondes?

Posted by petebiddlecombe on July 22nd, 2007


Solving time 48 mins, no Chambers until grid complete, 2 mistakes (32,33)

Don Manley said in a recent comment how glad he was to see Azed returning to this blog, and mentioned the importance of the monthly clue-writing competition. Although the comp. has taught lots of people about good clue-writing, the puzzles themselves are important too – as examples of consistent high-quality setting. I’ve said elsewhere that if I could only do one puzzle a week, it would be Azed – that’s still true, despite all the good work being done by many of the broadsheet setters.

We’re sharing Azed blogging between about six of us (other volunteers still welcome), so you’ll see other views most weeks.  Don’t expect this much detail every week – I had some long train journeys to work on this one.

As we’re restarting Azed, here are a few quick tips for anyone trying these puzzles for the first time.

  • You will need Chambers to check the harder words. Solving Azed without it is a game for old hands who know lots of the strange words already.
  • When solving broadsheet puzzles, you can get quite a long way by guessing words from possible definitions and then seeing whether the wordplay fits. In barred-grid puzzles, you can do this far less often because you can’t guess a word you don’t know from the def. You have to build it from the wordplay and then check it.  Having to do this can help you to make big strides in your broadsheet solving, especially if you’re competitive about solving times.
  • Azed seems to enjoy finding the words in Chambers that aren’t in the obvious place to look. Watch out for various ways of finding them. Example: U-boat is easy to find, but for U-bolt you must look in one of the entries for U. Likewise, watch out for stuff from the “Some First Names” appendix, like ‘dear one’=>Cara.
  • Be a bit imaginative about spelling – lots of the difficult answers are just funky spellings from Scots or dialect English, or various poets. You can gradually learn how these folk are likely to amend the usual spelling.
  • Even more so than with blocked grid puzzles, check back on answers you didn’t get or didn’t understand – either here or in the notes with each solution – these usually cover about 60-70% of the answers.
  • There are various other things that Azed does a bit differently, but you can pick them up as we go along – this time, I’ve noted what he does differently in ‘enumerations’ at the end of the clues.

This was quite a tricky puzzle, so let’s crack on with the explanations. I’ve included a few def’s pasted in from the Chambers CD-rom – so I’ll say just once that these are © Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd: The Chambers Dictionary 2003. They’re in quotes, and [brackets] indicate slight tweaks by me, e.g. to expand abbreviations.

1 OSTRO=roots*,GOT,H – Theodoric must have been the chief of the Ostrogoths at some point.
11 H(OW(l))E – CE = Chancellor of the Exchequer, among other things
12 K,U,H (from last letters),HORN=butter (thing that butts). Kuh-horn is another name for the alpenhorn – so a horn for cows rather than the horn of a cow.
13 CLIP,E – clipe/clype = Scots for “tell tales”
15 Ex.,i.(L)e. – with my shaky classical knowledge, I’ll guess that Ovid must have been an exile.
19 BENE(fit) – ‘a kindness’ is one of the def’s for benefit, and bene is Wordsworth’s version of ‘boon’.
20 AGLET BABIE – (bible,agate)* – “aglet babie n (Shakesp) [probably] a small figure forming the tag of a lace.”
24 HI(S)T = “can it!” = “be quiet!”
26 UNDATE – N = Navy in (a duet)* – unda- = related to waves is fairly easy to pick up from things like “micro ondes” = microwave (Fr.), or the ondes Martenot. If you can keep an ear to the ground for this sort of thing, it helps with Azed and other advanced cryptics.
28 EMISSARY – miss in year* – the Chambers def. for emissary is wider than you might think.
31 TUNKU = (UK nut) rev. nut = blood in the “young blood” sense. And tunku = Malay for raja.
32 MOL(A)L – a=absent in moll = dumb blonde. A bit ungallant, as a dumb blonde isn’t necessarily a gangster’s girlfriend or a prostitute (the choices for moll in C 2003). Unlikely to cause much offence though, as dumb folk are probably not Azed solvers, whatever their gender or hair colour. I had a rather careless stab at ‘molar’, which does mean relating to a mole (amount of a substance), but doesn’t fit the wordplay, so I should have looked harder.
33 TRI(m),BLET=belt* – a tapering mandrel on which nuts are forged. I went for trim,leb=bel(t)* – a more pardonable wrong answer, though admittedly an improbable word.
34 LICH – hidden word. A lich is a corpse – best remembered by way of ‘lich gate’ or the Lyke Wake walk, a long distance path following a route for the dead.
35 CARPE=caper*,TBED=debt rev. – carpet-bed = a (garden) bed in a geometrical pattern. A reminder that Azed doesn’t indicate hyphenated words – the enumeration for this is just (9).
2 SOL(F,e.g.)E – a vocal exercise using sol-fa syllables
3 T,WINE – twin(e) = Scots for “to separate”
4 REPI=peri*,NEAT = an ox, cow etc. An example of Azed’s other enumeration tweak – “(8, 2 words)” for this one.
5 O’,YES – Scots grandchildren in one of the possible spellings
6 OUTMEASURE = (a tumour see)*
8 MO(I)RE – I had R(I’ll)E as an optimistic hope for a while, but not written in the grid, fortunately.
9 ORLE = ‘role’ with half of it tipped = reversed. It’s a group of small charges in heraldry. For some specialist vocab., it’s usually sufficient to learn “something heraldic” or similar as the def., then if you remember that orle is ‘something heraldic’ too, the wordplay will do the rest.
10 O(NEDE=need*)CKER – an ocker is an Aussie lout. This answer is the one that’s “merely implied” in Chambers 2003 according to the note with the puzzle. It turns out that C defines two- and three-decker but not one-decker – I guess that’s the implying he meant.
14 TIE = e.g. bow,BREAKER = wave – the “bow wave” here is a classic “lift and separate” (© Mark Goodliffe) – a two-word phrase that needs splitting up to see the wordplay.
19 BIRD-BOLT = (to dribbl(e))* – “bird-bolt n (Shakesp) a short thick blunted bolt or arrow for killing birds without piercing.”
23 INSULA – an apartment house in Ancient Rome. ins = “those in favour” replaces the first a in aula = hall
25 SIN(I)C(e)
29 MURK – reverse hidden in Nkrumah. “in …. tenure” is the hidden word indication, so ‘tenure’ is not a naughty extra word in the hiding place as I initially thought
30 Y,MPE = p(o)em* – the title for world’s worst-spelling poet is reclaimed from Wordsworth by perennial champ Edmund Spenser …

Did anyone else notice what was missing from this puzzle?  As far as I can tell, there wasn’t a compound anagram in sight.  I don’t know how often that happens in Azed puzzles, but I was quite surprised.  If you don’t know what a comp. anag. is, I’m sure you’ll find out soon enough.

One Response to “Azed 1833 – Unfair to dumb blondes?”

  1. Paul Daniel says:

    Another tip for Azed is “Don’t assume you know the meaning of a word in a clue.”. I often find myself checking words for obscure (for me anyway) meanings.

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