Never knowingly undersolved.

Azed 1984 – Doublethink (Competition puzzle)

Posted by petebiddlecombe on June 13th, 2010


This puzzle reminded me (after completion) of a famous clue from N C Dexter, back in January 1984 (Azed 610), when the word to be clued was DOUBLETHINK. The winning clue was: By it, ‘truth’ and ‘lie’ looked alternately interchangeable (anag. of alternate letters). This time, of course, it’s the puzzle number rather than the date which provides a reason for an Orwellian theme, and those like me who didn’t see the significance of the puzzle number probably saw the light when ORWELLIAN emerged as the unclued answer for use in the competition.

Across clues were words from which one of a pair of consecutive letters had been removed, and down ones were words in which one letter was doubled; most of the changes leading to non-words. Wordplay in both cases led to the grid entry. Below, the real word is shown first, then the grid entry.

This felt less difficult than it might have been, even though I was solving under a bit of pressure, having forgotten my blogging duties last week and needing to solve and blog in one day. Overall time was a fairly relaxed two hours or so in two goes, with Scrapheap Challenge and then Hamilton’s GP win in the background, with fairly free use of Chambers throughout.

There are a few wordplays I don’t fully understand, of which I’d say 9 and 21 down are wrong, and 17 is unusual but just about explainable. It turns out that all three problematic clues were different in the newspaper version (I solved the PDF on the website).

1 SPOORS = tracks / SPOR(t)S
5 RUSSULAS = fungi / R=recipe,USULA=usual*,S
11 PANNE = fabric like velvet / PANE = piece of cloth (obs.)
13 KUCCHA = var. of kaccha = Sikh shorts / KUCHA = (a Sikh cuts – sits)*
14 NODDLES = heads / NOD LES(s)
16 DUCALLY = in noble mode / CUD rev.,A(L)Y
18 PENNIFORM = feather-shaped = as standard, a standard being a type of feather / PENIFORM = (firm open)*
20 LARGHETTO = played a bit slowly / LARGHETO = (Elgar tho’)*
25 TARRING (old punishment when accompanied by feathering) / TA=cheers=thank-you,RING=boxing=pugilism
27 SEA-AIR = bracing stuff / SEA(I)R
28 GALLOWS-LEE = the place of hanging / ALLOWS in GLE = leg*
29 ERROR / EROR = rev. of rore=tumult (obs.)
30 PRIESTESS / PRIES,TES= rev. of set=formal
31 REGATTA / (at sea, r(i)g)*
32 UTTERS / UTER(us),S=section – matrix = womb = uterus
1 SOCKDOLAGER = whopper = humdinger / SOCK=punch,DO,LAGGER=slowcoach
2 PROUD = not flush / PROU=pour*,U,D=pennies
3 OWL-CAR = US late tram / O,C in crawl*
4 RECHARGE = top up / CHAR=daily in rev. of EGGER=nest raider
5 RIB-EYES – EYE=sight, in RIBES=currants
6 SNOT = contemptible person / SNOOT = toffee-nose
7 LALA = sing meaninglessly / AA in rev. of ALL
8 ANGER / RANGER = Glasgow player, with the initial R moved to the end
9 SESAME GRASS = gama grass = forage plant / SEES=observes, A M(e.g.,R)ASS – I think the wordplay is slightly wrong here, starting with “observe” rather than “observes” – I can’t see any other way to get the S at the end of SEES.
15 DEFOREST = strip of trees / DEF = rev. of fed, O=nothing, REEST = cure
17 ENTASIS = slightly bulging outline / ‘ENTT’ AS IS = “unaltered in form, of tent” – the wordplay strongly suggests AS IS in (tent)* but there’s no point in trying to read it that way as no doubling of a letter in ENTASIS would fit this structure. So I’m preferring what seems a slightly odd reading to presuming that there’s a third apparent mistake.
19 OPIATE / O,P(I)ATTE – patte=narrow band
21 AWARE = sensitive / AWAARE – here, I can justify W(A)ARE from ‘one captivated by springtime in the highlands’, but can’t see wordplay for the initial A
22 NIGER = black person (obs.) / NNIGER hidden in ‘Sunni geriatrics’
23 SLOG = wallop / S(L=litre,L=litre)OG
24 COPT = a Cairene Christian maybe / CO-OPT = elect to join one’s group

10 Responses to “Azed 1984 – Doublethink (Competition puzzle)”

  1. Andrew says:

    Good luck, Peter. I found this one quite hard to get started on, but once I had a few answers in it yielded reasonably easily, though with a couple of tricky ones that took some time at the end. I didn’t immediately notice the relevance of the title to the number of the puzzle, though when I did it helped in getting the unclued word.

  2. sidey says:

    Oh dear, poor Peter. And oh dear, me. Despite noticing a while ago that this number would be a prize puzzle and the HUGE flag in the title I managed to miss the link completely. Good fun solving it though.

    Why does 3d seem so familiar? I can only find it on this site in Inquisitor puzzles which I don’t do. Odd.

  3. bridgesong says:


    I don’t imagine that this will detain you for too long. I’d be interested in your comments on a couple of down clues, namely 17 and 21, where the answers seem obvious but the wordplay doesn’t seem to work for me.

    Incidentally, it was a pleasure to meet you at the Sloggers and Betters event a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for organising it.

  4. Chris says:

    I think all these “wrong clues” must occur in the online version of the puzzle. In the print version, they all worked well.

    For 9, the print clue had “observes”.

    For 17, it had “…unaltered under battered tent”.

    And for 21 the clue was “Sensitive adult one captivated by …”.

  5. petebiddlecombe says:


    Thanks for the information – rather a poor showing for the online version there!

  6. Wil Ransome says:

    I bet lots of the competition clues will refer to 1984. It will be interesting to see if Azed accepts these, since the book is not 1984 but Nineteen Eighty-Four.

    Why do the pdf versions and the newspaper ever differ?

  7. Wil Ransome says:

    And good to meet you too the other day, Bridgesong.

  8. Richard Heald says:

    Re comment #6: the Chambers def of Orwellian gives the title of the book as “1984″, so any comp clues referring to it in the way should be OK.

  9. Richard Heald says:

    Re comment #6: the Chambers def of Orwellian gives the title of the book as “1984″, so any comp clues referring to it in that way should be OK.

  10. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    Comments 8&9: a new version of ‘doublethink’?

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