Never knowingly undersolved.

Azed 1896 – Giving Chambers a workout

Posted by Andrew on October 5th, 2008


As always, an enjoyable challenge from Azed, with some lovely clues. The two long answers at 1ac and 1dn were pretty easy to spot, and were a big help in getting going with the rest of the puzzle. I managed to solve almost all the clues without Chambers, though I needed to use it a lot at the end to confirm the details of some guesses. I have a quibble about 16ac, and would welcome further explanation of 21ac and 22dn.

dd = double definition
* = anagram
< = reverse

1. ABRAHAM’S BOSOM SO in (ARM A BOMB HAS)*. The answer jumped out at me as soon as I got the A from 1dn. Abraham’s bosom and Valhalla are various forms of afterlife. In my shiny new Chambers 2008, the answer appears under “bosom”, not “Abraham”.
10. SEIF SE(a) IF – an Arabic name for a type of sand-dune
11. ODIC O + DICKY less homophone of “key”. I like the clever wording of this one. (But see Richard Heald’s comment for a better explanation: O + DICKEY less KEY.)
12. REPLA Hidden – plural of REPLUM: a partition in a fruit.
14. STEER dd – the obscure second definition is that STEER is a Scots form of STIR, one of whose meanings (given as “rare”) is “to moot (e.g. a question)”
16. LONER ONE in LR. Chambers says that LR is an abbreviation of Lira, but then surely it should be “What was current in Italy”
21. SEMPER PARATUS EMPEROR less OR in SPAR + (AT US). The Latin phrase means “Always ready”, which I suppose Julius Caesar wasn’t when he was assassinated. Can any classical or Shakespearean experts give a more precise allusion?
26. SQUILLA QUILL replaces E in SEA
27. NECROTIC (I TORC)< in NEC(k). TORC is a variant of TORQUE=”a necklace … in the form of a twisted metal band”.
30. PHAGE H in PAGE. “Phage” is usually used as a prefix or suffix, denoting “feeding”. As a word in its own right it’s short for “bacteriophage”, which is a virus that destroys bacteria.
31. SPRIG dd + PR in SIG(ht). It can be a brad (nail) or “scion, young person”.
32. UKASE Hidden in reverse. A very familiar word in crosswords, and an easy clue to it here, though with a nicely relevant surface.
33. NARK (RANK)*
34. FONE ONE replaces OUGHT in FOUGHT. Spenserian plural of “foe”.
35. GERUND GRINDER UNDER* in GG + (rei)N in RIDER, “A pedantic teacher” according to Chambers: those of us who spent some of our formative years learning Latin will know the type.

1. ASSASSIN BUG ASS ASS + (BIG UN)*. A nice surface reading, but the “two donkeys” as part of ASSASSIN is such a crossword clich&eacute that this was very easy to spot (and a big help for the rest of the puzzle too)
2. BETIMES I’M in BETES – “bêtes” being the French for “beasts”, extended to mean “stupid people”
3. RIEL (MARIE LLOYD less MAY OLD)*. I guessed this was an old version of “Real” (as in old Spanish money) but it turns out to be the unit of currency in Cambodia. No etymology is given, but I suspect it’s from the same origins as Real.
5. ADAW A DAW. Lots of research needed here: ADAW is a Spenserian word meaning daunt, subdue or subside, and subdue is also an obsolete sense of “quail”. A DAW is a bird of the crow family (e.g. Jackdaw), as is a corvid – from Latin Corvus=Raven. Hard work for a 4-letter word!
6. SCLIM C in SLIM. A Munro is a Scottish mountain over 3000 feet in height, so aptly SCLIM is a Scots form of “climb”.
7. BROGH ORB< (hi)GH. Another spelling of Broch, which can mean a ring round the moon. It’s also a type of iron-age defensive tower found in Scotland – which gives me a nice link to the previous clue, as a Munro I climbed recently has a famous broch nearby.
8. SPELT S PELT – an inferior species of wheat
13. ENGRAIN (ORANGE less O)* + IN
15. KRYPSIS SPY< in KRIS. More obscurity: krypsis is “the 17C doctrine that Christ secretly exercised divine powers”, and k’ri is a Hebrew word meaning “a marginal reading in the Hebrew Bible”. Maybe Hebraists can tell us whether it’s OK to make a plural of this by adding an S.
17. GOPURAS GROUP* AS. Another familiar (to me) word that I probably know only through years of Azed-solving.
20. FULMINE ULMIN in FE. Ulmin is sticky stuff from Elms (genus Ulmus). Spenser again – his version of “fulminate”. At least Fe=Iron is familiar territory.
22. RUSSKI Hidden. There does seem to be such a thing as Russian Leather, which RUSSKI would be a “loose” description of, but is there more to it than that?
23. ACHAR A CHAR, i.e. “one that does”, as in “Can I do you now, Sir?” ACHAR is an Indian mango pickle.
24. HOGEN HOGEN – “en” being the “small unit”
25. STEND Hidden. A Scots word (surprise, surprise…) meaning “to bound or stride vigorously”.
28. CARR First letters
29. BROD (co)B + ROD

6 Responses to “Azed 1896 – Giving Chambers a workout”

  1. Richard Heald says:

    I think the wordplay of 11 Ac is O + DICKEY less KEY. Whatever else Azed may be guilty of (such as a tendency to occasionally use the wrong definition, as in today’s clue to 4 Dn), I doubt whether he’d ever use a homophone in a subtractive clue.

  2. Andrew says:

    Richard – I’m sure you’re right. I didn’t even consider the DICKEY spelling after convincing myself that “unstated” meant “remove something that sounds like…”.

  3. bridgesong says:


    Abraham’s bosom is in the same place in the 2003 edition as well.

    According to Chambers, it’s russia (or Russia) leather, whereas Russki is defined as Russian. Perhaps that’s why Azed describes it as being used “loosely”?

    The link to today’s Azed pdf on the website leads to the Everyman, not to Azed. I have emailed the Guardian to point this out, but I don’t suppose that they’ll correct it until tomorrow.

  4. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post on this, Andrew. The clues I noted down that I didn’t understand the cryptic parts of were LONER, SQUILLA and GOPURAS – I think I get LONER and SQUILLA now thanks to your explanations, but I’m still not sure why “old copper” is AS in the other one…

    I found it hard not to read the SQUILLA clue as referring to the heart (rather than the shrimp) being in its element. :(

  5. Peter Owen says:


    An AS is Roman copper coin.

  6. mhl says:

    Thanks for explaining that, Peter.

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