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.

Azed No 1746 Plain (6 Nov 2005)

Azed puts the five long lights in this 13x11 puzzle to good use, with an interesting discovery at 1a and three Latin phrases in the downs. Your Latin will also come in handy for 22d.

Notes to the clues:

1a:     Longing inside me to tuck into jam roll, erring? Get lost! MAJOR MITCHELL (itch in me in anag.). The phrase was new to Dr Watson, though it’s been in Chambers for a number of editions. It’s listed under its own heading, separate from major, so it took a while to find, even after the checked letters made it fairly clear what the solution was.

13a:   Dog (origin not stated) gives spring turning round.  APSO (spa, rev. + O).  The bracketed qualification in the clue refers the definition in Chambers, which comes under lhasa apso, though fortunately ‘apso’ is cross-referenced

16a:   Type of auk, bird losing fin in the waves’ roar.  ROTCHE ((fin)ch in rote).  Not knowing this meaning of ‘rote’, and having the last four letters in place, Watson resorted to Bradfords Crossword Solvers Dictionary and was slightly amazed to find that it contains a list of synonyms for ‘auk’ (‘rotche’ amongst them, naturally).

27a:   Drop oar battling with ebb?  EARBOB (anag.).  A very misleading context. The role of the question mark isn’t clear.

29a:   Bread, one likely to do damage, we heah?  INJERA (‘injurer’).  Whoever it is that talks like this also has an unusual emphasis (Chambers places it on the second syllable in ‘injera’).

1d:    Lizzie Borden’s instrument? Maine introducing a charge once.  MEAT-AX (ME a tax).  The real Lizzie Borden ‘took an ax and gave her mother forty whacks’ in Fall River, Massachusetts. Azed turns it into a Federal offence, but the definition is a great choice.

4d:    One bit of zinc in Russian art (heads only)? Well, possibly!  RIZA (I,z in R,a).  Dr Watson spent some time thinking that ‘well’ must be the definition. The clue works as an ‘& lit’ if we accept zinc as a possible alternative to the ‘(usu. silver)’ in Chambers.

7d:    Church dignitary, one presiding over active religious communities.  CENOBIA (CE nob I a).  With the second and fifth letters unchecked, and ‘canon’ defined as a ‘clerical dignitary’, it seemed strange that ‘canonia’ didn’t appear in Chambers. Once again Bradfords came to the rescue with ‘coenobium’ listed under community. ‘Cenobium’ and ‘cenobia’ aren’t cross-referenced in Chambers – only ‘cenobite’ is – making this quite a tough one to crack.

25d.  Modest drink, could be No. 9 or No. 10.  HALF (2 meanings).  The second definition comes from Rugby Union where Nos. 9 and 10 are the scrum and fly half respectively.

Other solutions:

11a: ESURIENT (rien in anag.);  14a: MANOAOS (anoa in mos);  15a: TONGAN (tonga n);  17a: ARANEIDA (anag.);  19a: ACOL (loca(tion), rev.);  20a: TONE (ton + e);  21a: TIPI (initial letters);  24a: PHUT (H in put);  26a: MARAUDER (Au in anag.);  31a: CLAIMER (anag.);  32a: ANON ((c)anon);  33d: PEDNATIC (ped antic);  34d: EXERCISE PRICE (exercise + anag. + CE);  2d: ASPORT (as port);  3d: JUS NATURALE (anag. + anag.);  5d: MEANIE (mean i.e.);  6d: IN MEDIAS RES (anag.);  8d: HOOT (0 in hot);  9d: EX ACCIDENTI (axe, rev. + c + anag.);  10d: LOSEL (hidden rev.);  12d: TOHO (initial letters);  18d: ENTOMIC;  21d: TRIODE (anag.);  22d: HEROIC (ero in hic);  23d: PRANCE (p rance);  24d: PECKE (c in peke);  28d: BIRR (r-rib, rev.);  30d: NEAP (hidden, i.e. spring tide).