Never knowingly undersolved.

Azed 1897 – Competition puzzle

Posted by petebiddlecombe on October 12th, 2008


Solving time: 36 minutes, with Chambers used for about the last 30% of answers. One query left from me about wordplay – so maybe a wrong answer (34), one minor slip-up by Azed (4).

1 WE,YARD – an obsolete spelling of weird (=a witch), found in old editions of Macbeth. (Also WEYWARD)
7 FA.,V,OR. – favour (archaic) = face, and the ‘favor’ spelling is “esp. US” in C.
12 OBOE D’AMORE – (B, O.E.D.) in (a Romeo)*. The oboe d’amore is between the standard oboe and cor anglais in pitch. As the latter two are only a fifth apart, the oboe d’amore doesn’t get many outings and is likely to be replaced by one of the others even when the composer asks for it.
13 SLIVOVIC (also -vitz, -vica, -witz) an Eastern European plum brandy. S=special,I in LVOV,I,C=”see”. The former Russian city of Lvov is now Lviv (Ukraine) and was/is called Lemberg by the Germans.
14 H,O,CUS(tom) – hocus (vb.) = to drug (a drink)
15 BOATEL = (to bale)*
17 LLA = rev. of all = quite,NERO = “black in Italy”. An inhabitant of the llano = plains
18 UN’S = ones,OILED = drunk
19 TROW = centre (“amidships”) of “hiT ROWer”
21 TIFT = a dram. IF = condition in TT = dry
22 TARTUFFE = a sweet truffle. TUFF = type of rock in tear*
26 STRANGE = rum. R = “lead from Red” in (nag set)*
29 CHAUFE = Spenserain “chafe”. Chausses = old breeches, with second half replaced by Fe = iron.
30 NARES = nostrils. Hidden in “examinatioN ARE Some”
31 PORT-FIRE = a slow-match or match cord. PORT=wine, FIRE=sack
32 INTERLEAVE = alternate (vb.) “e.g. Christmas holiday” = WINTER LEAVE, with “with” = W removed
33 ME A UX. Meaux is the place where they make the whole-grain mustard in those big grey pots which are quite good as pencil-holders afterwards. UX. = uxor = wife (Lat.)
34 EXISTS IS in (sext)*. Can’t quite see why IS is “equivalent of this“. Any offers?
1 WASH-OUT – the clue word for the comp.
2 EFLORNITHINE – a drug used in the treatment of sleeping sickness, which is transmitted by the tsetse fly. (Chambers is inaccurate here – it’s not caused by the tsetse fly, but by Trypanosoma brucei.) THIN in (one flier)* Corrected post-comment
3 YO(ur),ICKS=sick* – an old fox-hunting cry
4 ROOSA – O=love in ROSA = the rose genus = blooms. But the deer referred to is rusa1. ROOSA is only an alternative spelling for rusa2
5 DEVALL = sink (vb.) (archaic). (L-LAVED), reversed
6 EDIBLE – “I bleed”, cyclically – i.e. in a form with a number of letters taken from one end and moved from the other end. In this case, two from the front to the back, or four from the back to the front.
8 AMIANTUS – the finest (thinnest, not highest quality!) asbestos, which can be used to make fireproof cloth
9 VO(L)TE – volte = pl. of volta, an old dance
10 ORDER OF MERIT = (former editor)*
11 REAL,O – a Realo is a member of the practical rather than idealistic wing of the Green party in Germany.
16 POT AU FEU = (of eat up)*,U
20 WE(AS)ELS – weasels are amphibious military vehicles, weels are whirlpools
23 A,G(E)OLD
24 R(ETRE)E – retree is “slightly damaged paper”, and ‘etre’ is an auxiliary verb.
25 FUR(i.e.)S
26 SCRIM = (my curtains)* – (aunty)*
27 RASTA = (a tsar) rev.
28 UNTAX – hidden in “discoUNT AXminsters”

13 Responses to “Azed 1897 – Competition puzzle”

  1. Matthew says:

    I think “equivalent of this” means “a synonym of the answer”.

  2. Al Streatfield says:

    I particularly liked the clue to BOATEL: Rooms provided afloat one needs to bale out?

    (Matthew’s right about EXISTS which took me a while to work out)

  3. Wil Ransome says:

    Can anyone explain what Azed is doing when he puts a word in italics: “equivalent of this”, where the ‘this’ is in italics? He does it quite often (also in 7ac in this puzzle); and several people enter clues where words are in italics. I can’t understand it – it seems completely pointless.

  4. mhl says:

    Thank you for the post on this, Peter. I think there’s a typo in 2d – shouldn’t it be EFLORNITHINE?

    Wil: I’m not entirely sure (and I guess more knowledgeable people will answer shortly) but it sometimes seems to be when the italicized thing has some meaning external to the clue, so this might mean CLUE, for example.

    The most frustrating thing I’m finding about these competition puzzles is that every month my clues fall short of the standard needed to get into the Azed slip, but you never get any feedback that helps you to improve them. (I’ve read the introduction to the “A to Z of Crosswords” carefully, so I think I’m not breaking the rules – at least not in obvious ways.) Of course, the clues that do get a mention always seem to be of an incredibly high standard, so it’s not really surprising – all the same, it would be interesting if anyone could suggest a forum where one could ask advice after the fact about how your entry could be improved. Perhaps there should be a premium service where you get a sentence of feedback. :)

  5. Paul Grandstrom says:

    I was going to ask you about the FA in your explanation of 7A. But first I looked in Chambers and Florida was indicated. Historically, Florida was abbreviated Flor. and the postal abbreviation is FL. Anyway, I learned something new. Your solving time is just mind-boggling to this Yankee. It always takes me several hours. If there is a party in honor of AZED 2000, I will make the trip from Bellevue, WA so I can meet some real braniacs.
    Paul Grandstrom

  6. Al Streatfield says:

    Wil: Italics are used in different ways but, broadly, they indicate to the solver that the word in italics should be regarded with suspicion because it may be being linked cryptically with another word in the clue, or the answer, in a way that’s different from normal.

    In this case, the “this” is in italics because you don’t normally find a word in the answer that is a synonym of the definition.

    An Independent weekend clue of mine a while back was:

    Crusty and dry (5) (“Dry” in italics)


    RINDY (i.e. R IN DY, the italics indicating that DRY should be regarded with cryptic suspicion)

  7. Al Streatfield says:

    Sorry, I didn’t realise that this board doesn’t do gaps!

  8. Fruitbat says:

    Another reason for words appearing in italics is to indicate that the answer is the remnant of a compound anagram.

    For example, the second prize winner from Azed competition 1893:

    The Carry On cast could give you corn that raunchy!

    The “that” is in italics to indicate the equation
    “the carry on” = “corn” +
    (modulo anagramisation).

  9. Fruitbat says:

    Oops, quoted clue should have been:

    The Carry On cast could give you corn that raunchy!

    (Need a preview button.)

  10. Fruitbat says:

    Oops again. Post #8 chops off part of my explanation. I should not have used pointy brackets. It should have read:

    The “that” is in italics to indicate the equation
    “the carry on” = “corn” + [the answer]
    (modulo anagramisation).

  11. petebiddlecombe says:

    mhl:Thanks for the typo correction. I’m not currently an avid comp entrant or slip reader, but in the days when I entered, a few bits of advice about non-winning clues did appear. The best ‘forum’ is probably just comparing your clue with the prize-winners and VHCs, to see what’s different. Obeying the rules is only half the battle – what makes a great clue is obeying the rules and producing something entertaining or otherwise remarkable. Don Manley’s book has some samples from interesting slips, though all the Azed ones are now somewhere on the &lit site – see the Links page if you haven’t been there yet. You can also used the &lit site to find things like all the best clues by one of the best performers – someone like Tim Moorey – just the first name I thought of. There are rumours that you need to be one of Azed’s buddies to win, or to consistently pander to his interests, notably cricket. I don’t believe either.

    Paul G: Remember that I’ve been tackling Azeds since about 1981 and must have finished about 800 of them. The extra knowledge I gained from Azeds helped me with blocked grid puzzles like the Times, and when the resulting confidence led to faster Times solutions, that in turn fed back into the time taken to do Azeds. 36 for Azed is probably equivalent to about 5 mins for the Times – very quick, but quicker is possible. Barred-grid times are really variable – long answers at 1A/1D solved quickly make a huge difference, and so do answers with initial unches tucked away in some sneaky place in Chambers. In this case, Oboe d’Amore and Slivovic were right up my alley – I chose ‘Instruments of the Orchestra’ for my go at Mastermind, and lads at my school fascinated by the booze they couldn’t yet drink went on about Slivovic being stronger than Scotch or Brandy.

    I haven’t been to an Azed lunch since Azed 1000 in about 1991, so it’s about time I did.

  12. mhl says:

    Peter: thank you for the suggestions – it’s much appreciated. I hadn’t noticed that you could search by entrant on the &lit site, which is very helpful. I think the main thing that distinguishes the clues that get mentioned from mine is that they all have perfect surface readings. I suppose only practice can help that…

  13. Andrew says:

    A late addition to the comments for this one, but I see that a certain M. Hodgkin has come third in the competition, with W. Ransome in the HCs. Well done chaps!

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