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.
It’s seven and a half years since the last ‘misprints’ competition puzzle. At that time Azed confessed he was tired of the format (half the across and half the down clues misprinted in the definition part, the other half leading to solutions to be entered with a misprint in the grid). Solvers commented that they enjoyed solving the misprinted clues, but found it difficult and unrewarding to complete the under-checked grid. This redesign of the format offers two concessions. First, the two types of clue are separated (misprinted clues into the acrosses, misprinted entries into the downs), so the solver doesn’t need to work out which is which. Second, the corrections to the misprints in all the clues and solutions taken in clue order spell out a thematic quotation, giving extra help with the grid towards the end of the solving process – and adding thematic unity. It’s a welcome improvement, in Dr Watson’s view, that made for some pleasant solving.
Watson’s approach to the puzzle was just to solve as many clues as possible, making the most of the checking available. Across solutions can be entered with confidence in the grid, and down solutions can always be pencilled in, in the knowledge that one letter will change later. An occasional stab at the quotation may pay dividends. Watson guessed ‘misused’ from three of its letters (and with only about ten clues solved), and the quotation was quickly found in ODQ. It is “… misused words generate misleading thoughts,” from Herbert Spencer.
Even with the quotation solved the poor checking still caused problems, as the notes below show. In the notes to across clues the corrected definition word is given in the explanation, with the misprinted letter highlighted. In the down clues the solution is given correctly spelt, also with its misprinted letter highlighted.
Notes to the clues:
6. In ragment (old) it’s gone in recurrent series with first missing. YCLED (raIment; (c)ycled). The last clue that Dr Watson solved in a rather horrible light with the first and third letters unchecked. ‘It’s gone’ doesn’t appear to add anything to the cryptic reading, but looks like an indicator for a subtraction. This had Watson scanning through the dictionary in alphabetical order until the light dawned at around U. Not for the first time, or the last, an old English participle caught Watson out.
13. A novelty. NEWIE. No misprint here. As per the instructions competitors need to submit a clue in whose definition a U is misprinted.
14. Create locally something to span drive and lawn side by side. RIVEL (creaSe; hidden in drive lawn). A sort of ‘indirect hidden’ clue..
15. Peak before breaking record? Hold tight PINCERED (hEld; pin + ere in CD). The surface is very good, but the misprinted definition – a change of tense but not of sense – seems a little unsatisfactory. And does anyone ever call a CD a record? The question mark is well merited.
16. Bears in front of king what may once have contained mace. HASK (Dace; has K). ‘Bears’ (though in the ursine sense) for ‘has’ turned up in a recent competition puzzle. Dace are a staple fish of crossworders, but it required the quotation to be solved before the misprint was confirmed to Dr Watson
17. Man panted? This may find him tense after awful danger DRAGNET (Wanted; anag. + t). Excellent use of the misprint in an extended definition to deliver a sonorous penny-drop.
24. What’s agreed after end of warfare? Calendar excels. EPACT (exceSs; e + pact). Another badly under-checked light, with only the E and T confirmed. That leaves the solver to find an ‘agreement’ of four letters, knowing only the final T .Time for Bradford!
26. Dress circle in G&S. GROUNDS (dreGs; round in G,S). A beautifully concise clue using the format to full advantage.
33. Manner e.g. in which one aims to avoid tricks (all but the last). MISER (MaRner; misèr(e)). A reference to George Eliot’s Silas Marner is perhaps a little tough in a misprinted clue, but very gratifying to solve.
35. He’s errand boy (with suggestion of tameness) on the way back. NOMAD (erranT; Damon, rev.). The part in brackets isn’t indicating a T, but is taken from the Damon entry in Chambers’ First Names appendix.
2. Recognise in scarf one unlikely to be seen in gown. TOWNIE (own in tie). A reference to the Town and Gown familiar to an Oxford-based setter.
5. Opposite of cooker that is seen in restaurant. EATERIE (eater i.e.). Watson would have said an eater is more the complement to than the opposite of a cooker.
20. Divine ‘leading lady’ enters a bit tiddly, in Shakespeare indeterminate. ODD-EVEN (DD + Eve in on). The wordplay is quite difficult to parse, mainly because of the unchecked V and the apparent anagram indicator.
27. Prop menacing at Murrayfield, irritable; hard inside. SHORE (2 defs, H in sore). The extra definition again makes the clue more complicated to break down.
30. A star group? Rap got this rocking maybe. URSA (comp. anag.). A small and possibly pedantic point – the misprinted entry for this light is UREA, which isn’t a ‘non-word’ as specified in the preamble.
Across: 1. POT-SICK (rooM; anag. in pock); 12. ENHANCIVE (coSt; anag.); 19. BEATH (hOt; b + eath); 21. INDENE (taR; hidden); 22. RED-MAD (Demented; ma in redd); 28. DISC (platE; s in dic(e)); 31. HEBETUDE (keeN; anag. in Hebe); 32. CAIRN (tErrier; C + airn); 34. OSMETERIA (heAd; anag.); 36. NECROSE (diE; nec(k) rose). Down: 1. PANPHARMACON (pan + anag. + Macon); 3. INSECTAN (anag.); 4. CHURL (C + hurl); 7. CAIN (I in can); 8. DIVINE (2 meanings); 9. EVIDENT (ID in event); 10. DELITESCENCE (D + elite + C in scene); 11. MEGA (a gem, rev.); 18. ANTHEMIC (hem in antic); 19. BERDASH (anag. in bash); 23. DOLIUM (anag. in mud, rev.); 25. GIUSTO (I in gusto); 29. STEW (wets, rev.).