Never knowingly undersolved.

Azed 1940 – Wrong Number (Competition puzzle)

Posted by petebiddlecombe on August 9th, 2009


“Wrong Number” is a long-standing type of special – I can’t remember whether it was Azed or Ximenes who invented it. Here’s the standard preamble for these puzzles: Each clue contains a one-word definition of the word required at the number where it stands but belongs as a whole to a word of the same length elsewhere. Method recommended is to find, after solving a clue, a definition of the solution in one of the other clues to words of its length: this will show where the word is to go. This one differed as it had to remind you about the requirements for the competition clue.

Azed’s suggestion is fine for the answers you can get without help from checking letters (subject to the occasional case where two clues for other same-length answers seem to have a possible def.) but after that stage your progress can slow down. The point to remember is that somewhere in the group of answers of the same length, there must be the clue to any answer in the grid. So for each grid entry with helpful checking letters, look for an unsolved clue in the same group. This in turn means that it’s useful to keep track of which clues you have solved and which answers you’ve written in. I cross out numbers of solved clues with a forward slash, and numbers of filled-in slots with a backward one. To save time identifying the groups, I make lists of clues of the same length and mark progress on these.

I found this one moderately difficult, taking about 95 minutes to solve.

Clue 1-word def. Clue for this entry Place for this answer Answer/notes
3 fresh 1D 35 PHANTASTRY – N in (party hats)*
10 damaged 29 29 ONST=tons*
11 purity (=virginity) 21 5 SUBSTAGE = (a bug sets)* – apparatus under the stage of a microscope
12 flush (=puddle) 32 8 C,ACHE
13 material 22 31 RE(LINE)D – line=force = regular army, e.g. arrows = Red from the “Red Arrows” RAF display team actually RE(LIN)ED – force=waterfall.
15 warlike 3D 20 CLA(RIO(t))N
16 flag 34 9 EGAL – reverse hidden
18 pinch 24 26 N/A – competition clue
21 shifting 5 11 P(UCEL=clue*)AGE
23 poem 19 2 MA(LARK,E)Y
24 coat (=garment) 26 18 SN(E)AP
27 shed (adj.) 6 6 FERM(at)
30 gem 7 7 A LA,N,N,A=one,H=height
31 repaired 13 3D BREWING = (grew, bin)*
32 behind 25 12 PLESH – S in rev. of HELP
33 appearance 17 19 A,LAST=load,RIM
34 air 28 16 IRIS – hidden
35 grotesque 3A 14 NEPENTHEAN – E,PENT in henna*
Clue 1-word def. Clue for this entry Place for this answer Answer/notes
1 foot 14 3A BR. + ( ASS + ACE[one] + D[deserted] around F [foot] ). [corrected]
2 trouble 23 17 CRUZ,ADO,S
3 boiling 31 15 H,AWKISH=(a whisk)*
4 louse 8 25 MO(L)LA
5 apparatus 11 21 VARIABLE = (a bra, veil)*
6 lodging 27 27 C(AS)T
7 pet 30 30 JAC(k),INTH=thin*
8 hoard 12 4 A,P,HID
9 equal 16 28 TE(a)CH
14 cheering = “causing sorrow to be forgotten” 35 1D AMPHIMACER = (Ephraim,ma,C)* [corrected]
17 coins 2 33 ECLOSION = (coins, olé)*
19 disease (mild smallpox etc.) 33 23 A(EGLO=ogle*)GUE
20 stop (organ stop) 15 22 BE(AN)ERY
22 diner 20 13 BAR,A CAN
25 teacher 4 32 ARERE – rev. hidden
26 restrict 18 24 CYMAR – hidden
28 poly (= tech = college) 9 34 ARIA – hidden
29 once 10 10 MA(R)D

23 Responses to “Azed 1940 – Wrong Number (Competition puzzle)”

  1. Andrew Kitching says:

    After making some progress solving his ‘plain’ puzzles, I was brought to earth with a bump by AZED on this one. Had to consult my crossword guru, who pointed me in the right direction on two of the 10 letter clues. Then managed most of it before getting stuck in NE corner. Some more helpful hints and it was done.
    A veritable ‘tour de Force’ by the setter. I believe he has only done 8 WNs since 1972. They must be fiendish to prepare.

  2. sidey says:

    Thanks Pete, as always. A wonderful puzzle.

    Isn’t 14 Amphimacer though? (I hope!)

  3. Andrew says:

    Thanks for this thorough analysis, Peter. I found this pretty hard and was glad to finish it. Sidey is right about AMPHIMACER – the anagram is of EPHRAIM MA (not ME). As noted in the comments on last week’s blog, Azed seems to have changed his mind about the example of an amphimacer, from “smarty-boots” to “County Cork”.

  4. The trafites says:

    Also 10/29 is mixed up.


  5. Andrew says:

    Oops, EPHRAIM MA C, that should be, of course.

  6. Andrew says:

    “Wrong Number” does go back to Ximenes – see here, where he describes it as “the type that takes longest [to compose]“.

  7. Andrew says:

    “Wrong Number” does go back to Ximenes – my comment with a link was spam-trapped, so Google “ximenes 500″ to find an article where X describes WN as the type of puzzle that takes longest to compose.

  8. The trafites says:

    Sorry, ignore my comment #4 – reading my notes I couldn’t understand them a week later :D


  9. The trafites says:

    Andrew, if you go the &lit AZED slips site, and look in the ‘word to clue list’ for e.g. ‘AMAKOSI def. DENUDED’ (notice the def. stuck in the middle) you can read AZED comments about these WN puzzles.


  10. John says:

    13 across is LIN (a waterfall or force) in REED (something an arrow could be). You can find all the Wrong Number puzzles on the & lit. site by using the ‘Find a Competition by Clue Type’ link on the search page (linked in comment no 9).

  11. petebiddlecombe says:

    Thanks for the history and the corrections to my answers and explanations. I invented EMPHIMACER and the amended fodder when transcribing answers for the write-up.

  12. The trafites says:

    John, yes, but I meant for one to read AZED’s comments on WN puzzles, you need to find the slip from the drop down list.


  13. The trafites says:

    Actually, reading the WN slips, is it acceptable in the clue writing competition to use the same one word definition that AZED uses (in this case, PINCH = SNEAP)?


  14. petebiddlecombe says:

    I can see no logical objection to using the same definition, especially if it fits well in the clue you decide to use.

  15. The trafites says:

    OK, thanks Peter. Also shouldn’t you mention/include the (unclued) competition word too? Casual readers will not know what on earth this is about.

    I see also you copied the preamble [sic] – there is a typo there ->
    at the number here it stands/at the number where it stands

  16. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Peter. It’s only recently that I’ve been solving AZEDs so was pleased to get about two-thirds of this out, including the four long ones around the perimeter, and everything that I did get was in the right place. Next time, Peter, I will try your system for keeping track of the clues — I did get seriously muddled, which slowed me down…

    I was also impressed at the ingenuity of the setter!

  17. sidey says:

    My system is to edit a list of the clues into groups by length and print them out. I find it makes spotting the definitions much simpler.

  18. liz says:

    Thanks, sidey. I’ll bear that in mind, too.

  19. Wil Ransome says:

    Is 25dn (arere) quite right? Chambers says that arere is the Spenserian spelling of arrear as an adverb. Azed apparently assumes that it is a noun. Actually I didn’t notice this — a friend pointed it out to me.

    I titled my clue entry ‘SCANT (PINCH)’ when it should have been ‘SCANT (SNEAP)’, which makes no difference since pinch is a one-word definition of sneap, but wonder if my mistake will cause the clue to be rejected. At any rate if it has no success that is what I shall assume!

  20. Mark says:

    I don’t normally finish (or even attempt) ‘un-plain’ Azeds, so a certain feeling of smug satisfaction filled me when I knocked this one off by Thursday. I got RELINED but didn’t know why LIN, so thanks Peter.

    What are we all going to do if the Observer folds…

  21. The trafites says:

    Also, just running through this again… 1dn BRASSFACED is BR + ( ASS + ACE[one] + D[deserted] around F [foot] ).


  22. Harris says:

    I’ve been solving the Azed for the past few months and enjoyed what I managed of this one. Got about two-thirds of the way through before getting stumped by a number of shortish clues. I’ll have to go over the blog with puzzle in hand to see what I missed – thanks Peter. With luck by the time the next puzzle of this type comes out my abilities will be up to the challenge. Assuming there’s still a paper in which to publish the thing, of course.

  23. The trafites says:

    I just noticed when writing out the envelope that the PDF version of this week’s AZED has the wrong puzzle number (1938) in the posting instructions.

    As I copy from the PDF address, something rang a few bells… luckily I was right.

    It’s puzzle 1941.


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