For the benefit of solvers new to the rigours of the Advanced Cryptic, Dr Watson provides a monthly review of the Observer’s Azed competition puzzle. Dr Watson is a regular Azed competitor. Please post any comments on this review to the Crossword Centre’s message board.
Nothing too taxing for the holiday season, but Azed includes a great selection of misleading and multiple definitions.
Notes to the clues:
13a: Extract from Koran kindled row RANK (hidden). Not the hardest of clues, but topical, and exploiting the definition nicely.
16a: Lovingly embraced, I exploded ‘Geronimo!’, getting end away. IN GREMIO (I + anag. less o). That’s more than enough information, thanks!
20a: Belief in Ormuzd, etc? Princess’s daughter trusts him distractedly. ZARATHUSTRISM (Zara + anag.). With Zara Phillips’s equestrian skills making the news recently, this shouldn’t have been too difficult a reference.
27a: What’s wild in Nepali mountains? I, ——, up in a nest, possibly. MONAL (comp. anag. & lit.). Watson can’t help wondering if Azed started this clue with just a few surplus letters, then found he couldn’t stop adding them.
31a: One the sea tides tossed under? ANAESTHETISED (an + anag.). Thirteen letters very concisely clued, with an excellent choice of definition.
7d: Old-style triad near to collapsing in trial. TERNARY (anag. in try). The ‘to’ seems to be a mistake. ‘Collapsing’ or ‘to collapse’ would have worked fine as anagram indicators.
23d: Tailless duck, about an ell cut off! ELIDE (l in eide(r)). It’s not clear what the exclamation signifies (perhaps the required length of the original duck), but the definition and wordplay are cleverly disguised.
25d: Rivers perhaps do without depth in short winter month. JOAN ((d)o in Jan). Probably the best choice of Joan for a punning definition.
1a: SCHILLING TEST (anag. in schist); 10a: PRANA (ran in pa); 11a: LOOSENER (loo’s ener(getic)); 15a: PRIMO (prim 0); 19a: AGACANTE (can in a gate); 22a: STORABLE (or in stable); 26a: PALESTRA; 28a: SLOT (2 meanings); 29a: MATTERED (matte red); 30a: ABELE (l in a bee); 1d: SPRITZ (r in spitz); 2d: CRANK (3 meanings); 3d: HANGER-ON (anag. in heron); 4d: LAMENTABLE (anag. + n table); 5d: LLAMA (hidden); 6d: NO-GO (nog 0); 8d: SEMI (2 meanings); 9d: TROVE (anag.); 12d: SPECTRE BAT (anag.); 14d: LIGULAR (lug in rail, all rev.); 17d: KNITTLES (anag.); 18d: BARBATE (bar bate); 21d: MOATED (oat in Med); 22d: SUMMA (Am Mus, rev.); 24d: DROLE (R in dole); 26d: PERT (3 meanings).