Never knowingly undersolved.

Azed 2000

Posted by petebiddlecombe on October 3rd, 2010


We all knew this puzzle would be some kind of special, but I doubt many guessed the exact kind correctly. It turned out that two letters had to be removed from the answers in each row and column, and relocated in a ring of extra boxes around the edge of the gird – one letter from each answer when there were two, and two letters from a single answer, leaving (mostly) non-words in the grid and a clue to solve in the letters around the grid. I liked the fact that this avoided one of the less attractive features of gimmicks like this – the need to write small but clear letters next to clues, and keep them clearly separated from all the other stuff you might jot down by a clue (like wordplay summaries if you don’t want to work them out all over again when you write up a report like this!). So applause from here for a good bit of design.

The overall difficulty was fairly gentle for a “special occasion special” – it took me 2-3 hours, and I was expecting about double that. The perimeter clue turned out to be “Azed hopes that solvers will find what’s to undo clued here”. The beginning emerged pretty easily once I found the right spelling of “razure” at 2D, but the rest took a bit longer. I always get nervous about solving cold clues, but trusted that the wordplay would be simple. After looking in vain for a hidden word, I remembered to think of obvious possibilities for the answer, and saw that TWO THOUSAND = (what’s to undo)*

Below, the answer is shown first with the removed letters underlined, then the wordplay for the remainder.

1 TRESSY = with long locks TR(SS)Y
5 TOPMASTS = they rise above sailing ships TO,P,MASS = main body
10 BRAMAH PRESS – this hydraulic device seems to be a “machine tool that changes the shape of a workpiece” press rather than a printing press, though (sharp beam)*
12 LUMENS = SI units (co.)LUMNS
13 ENROOT = implant (vb.) E, rev. of ‘torn’
14 SHOVELHAT – only a couple of pictures found for this piece of clerical headgear, so a potentially tricky answer SO, (the AV)* – a nice bible/clergy link
15 SET-ASIDE – a Common Agricultural Policy idea SETA = bristle, S=strangeness (Physics), i.e.
16 VOMIT = a meaning of cat1 rather than the separate headword I expected to be pointing you to OMIT = neglect
17 PREPOLLENT = ruling POLL = aggregate of votes, replacing the I in PRINT
21 AUSTRINGER = “controls goshawks” A,STRING,E(ffort)
24 LOTIC = to do with running water OTIC = ear’s
26 HEELTAPS = “layers contributing to platforms” – the only time Azed takes the easy way out and uses a plural for an S in the gimmick phrase ELT = sow, in HEAP
29 CROWFOOTS = buttercups R(OF = with)OOTS – a bit sneaky this one, as you can easily see W=with and wrongly assume that the F must be the omitted letter, if you fail to notice the problem with ROOOTS as the “underground parts”

30 FAR-OUT = satisfying F = following, A, RUT = routine
31 POTION = toxic dose POT ON = keep shooting (you can pot while out shooting as well as in the billiard room)
32 MADRIGALIST = unaccompanied singer M(A, RIG = frolic)A, IST=it’s*
33 STERNSON = board timber extending aft hidden in “three-master’s on”
34 LARGOS= they progress in stately fashion ARGOS = Chain of stores – good democratic stuff here, reminding me of a comment at work. A colleague told me he’d spent Saturday shopping at T K Maxx, and when asked “What’s T K Maxx?”, said “Pete: you’re so posh!”


At this point, your correspondent went off to brew a fresh cup of coffee before writing up the Downs (now there’s a phrase …)

1 TABLESPOONFULS = cook’s measures (slobs left on, P(late))* – a fairly easy one, which helped to establish “Azed” as the beginning of the clue
2 RAZURE = shaving (t)RA(ppists),(tons)URE(d) – the sort of wordplay you used to get in the truly terrible Evening Standard cryptics, but not as fairly indicated as this
3 SEMMIT – a Scots vest or undershirt – origin unknown presumably – C says nothing for the etymology SM(M=1000=many)IT – this is as close as we get to a celebratory MM = 2000 in the wordplay, presumably in the interest of not making the answer to the gimmick clue a complete give-away
4 SANDMASON = tube worm (AN = one, MAO – chariman), in Sn = tin
5 TOPSOIL = what gardeners normally plant in (plot is)*
6 PEEWEES = tinies P.E. + rev of SEE=look
7 ATRAMENT = black fluid AT = rev. of ta=cheers, RAMEN=Japanese broth
8 SOOTHING = emollient SO(O,TI = it rev.)NG – another slightly sneaky one as you can also make hymn=SING match a good chunk of the wordplay
9 SEAT OF THE PANTS = instinctive (TOT=child,HE) in aptness*
11 PROVEN = American demonstrated R, OVEN
18 RETROACT = make withdrawal RETROACT = apply to the past
19 PRIORATE = monastic community R.I. in opera*
20 SAILBOARD = windsurfer’s sine qua non AILB = bail*, OAR = paddle
22 SHOFAR = it summoned Israelites into battle hidden in “onrush of regiments”
23 THE TAIN = Irish epic ETA = Greek character, in TIN = paltry – another sneaky one, as THIN = paltry was a possibility, and there are plenty of two-letter Gk. letter names to ponder
25 POTHATS = bowlers A in rev. of STOP – easy enough once you decide that top hats and bowlers can never be the same thing
27 TOTING = carrying TO = forward, TIG2 = old drinking cup
28 ARIOSO = melodious piece AROS(e) = took flight, O = round

8 Responses to “Azed 2000”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks Peter for this thorough analysis. As you say, the puzzle wasn’t as difficult as might have been expected, though I had to do a fair bit of hunting to find some of the answers. I guessed what the clue phrase was going to be before I even started on the puzzle, so it was just a case of verifying that the perimeter clue fitted it. Finding a good, or even adequate, clue of my own was, however, rather more of a struggle.

    And the lunch in Oxford was very enjoyable too!

  2. Mike Laws says:

    Solvable over a couple of Sunday p.m. pints with minor aid from Chambers (1998) – ideal for the occasion.

    Worth noting that Azed No. 2000 was in fact Crowther/Observer 2001 – a Gong puzzle featured in the intercalatory series of four in memory of Ximenes before Azed No. 1.

    Also I think it’s the first time the specified competition clue-word hasn’t been in Chambers as such. It’ll be fascinating to see how competitors define it.

  3. The trafites says:

    I found this rather easier than I expected for a ‘special’ prize puzzle, but good, nonetheless.

    Also I too struggled to parse 2dn, and the way I thought turned out to be correct as above – but I knew it had to have a ‘Z’ removed as I guessed the first word around the perimeter was ‘AZED’, so I had no issues with the alternative spelling.

    32ac was my last solve, being a word I had never heard of.

    TWO THOUSAND is difficult word[s] to clue, so I think my entry will be in the pile of ‘unmentionables’ again :(

    I was in Oxford with my wife for the lunch, very nice day indeed, and a pleasure to meet Azed and the rest.

  4. The trafites says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention. Once I finished, and had the phrase, I suddenly thought I had a ‘Listener’ moment – completed the puzzle, got the phrase, but couldn’t get the final last step of cracking the clue!

    I was convinced for a while that the second word of the competition word was ‘PRESENT’ due to the last word ‘here’ in the phrase, but luckily after a night’s sleep found the anagram after a few seconds of of drinking my first cup of tea in the morning (strange how that often happens?).


  5. Handel says:

    Spent three to four hours over this, partly because I didn’t have C (online OED instead) or Bradfords, but mainly because I didn’t have L who generally works out all the ones I can’t! Still, got there in the end. I was glad that this wasn’t a real three-chilli puzzle, as it’s hard to fit such things into the working week. The perimeter clue was perhaps a bit too obvious given the context, but enjoyable nevertheless. Needless to say, the lunch in Oxford was also most enjoyable, good to put a few faces to some familiar names, including JC himself!

  6. JohnT says:

    Mike Laws isn’t quite correct – Azed has had few non-Chambers competition words. WINNIE-THE-POOH, RUDOLPH THE REINDEER and CHRISTMAS PRESENT spring to mind, as well as ONE THOUSAND.

  7. Bob Sharkey says:

    Regarding the difficulty of defining TWO THOUSAND, and the eagerly awaited slip, the phrase ‘of their own devising’ in the competition rules allows the possibility that some entrants might offer something other than a standard cryptic clue.

  8. Don Manley says:

    Do visit the and lit website to get a flavour of the AZ 2000 celebrations. Also, younger solvers, get started on this puzzle every week, so that the next generation has some decent clue-writers!

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