Few sticking points for solvers this month, and a good introduction to Azeds style that might tempt some new competitors to have a go. Linking words have been under discussion in the Azed Slip recently, so Dr Watson has highlighted three examples below to show Azeds preferred use of for, from and as as links. Elsewhere there are a couple of echoes of earlier puzzles, including what looks like a justified dip into Azeds own back catalogue.
Notes to the clues:
17. English in translation of Racine: important matter for Belgian sleuth. CINEREA (E in anag.). Theres only one Belgian sleuth, isnt there? Hercule Poirot made frequent reference to those little grey cells as his preferred tool for case-busting. Cinerea is the scientific term for the brains grey matter.
22. Gentle snore? It would have been terminal for Bottom. THRUM (2 meanings). A nice double entendre on A Midsummer Nights Dream, in which Bottom the Weaver is transformed. A thrum is also the end of a weavers thread.
27. Whereon beard once grew swarmed almost. SHINNE (shinne(d)) An obsolete spelling of chin.
29. Embroidery contains name for organ familiar to doctors. LANCET (n in lacet). The Lancet is the professional newspaper (organ) of doctors. Heres an example of Azeds preferred use of for as a joining word after the wordplay and before the definition, indicating that the former is standing for the latter.
30. Type of song from heart of fairylands, incorporating elaborate lyric. YODEL (ode in (fair)yl(and)). And heres an example of from as a joiner after the definition and before the wordplay, indicating that the former is derived from the latter.
31. At least 500 herrings, payment to new king, we hear. MEASE (mise). Clearly a homophone, but mise with its French pronunciation isnt an obvious spelling and might take a bit of finding in the dictionary, What the king would do with at least 500 herrings is left to the imagination.
3. Moths ruining raiment daily. LYMANTRIIDAE (anag.). A lovely concise and appropriate anagram that would be hard to better So much so that Azed has left it unchanged from a previous appearance in puzzle no. 1511 in 2001.
4. Gaff bass and dab. BONER (B + oner). There are many fish to choose from of course, but its a pleasure to see three consecutive puns like this.
8. Cheers as Sun Kings entered. SKOL (K in Sol). Another linking word, as, that goes after the definition and before the wordplay, indicating that the solution is as given by the wordplay.
9. Skin condition presented by eta, literally. TINEA (i.e. eta = t in e,a). What Dr Watson calls a reverse cryptic clue, in that the solution can be read in its own right as wordplay, of which the clue shows the result. This is of course a variant of Gegs for scrambled eggs, a clue Azed is highly critical of, so its very carefully handled here, possibly to the detriment of the surface reading.
11. Bacon and mushroom served up, centrepiece of breakfast. SPECK (ceps, rev. + k). A perfectly formed clue thats still making Dr Watson feel hungry and a suitable riposte to Gegs, come to think of it.
21. Blind cave-dweller in posture suitable to his name? PROTEUS (anag.). Proteus is both a cave-dwelling amphibian and the name of a sea-god able to change his shape at will, so posture is suitable to his name because it shifts the shape of it. Several competitors spotted this opportunity when Azed offered POSTURE-MAKER as the competition word in puzzle no. 508, and scored VHCs with Proteus? as the clue (another reverse cryptic).
25. Spy deployed opposite prompt propaganda campaign? PSYOP (anag. + o.p.). The theatrical abbreviation o.p. is an uncommon one. Dr Watson couldnt remember seeing psyop used in the singular form before, but Chambers lists it.
28. Hooker on top of his (?) game called up for occasion HOUR (ho + RU, rev.). The (?) is required because Rugby Union hookers and hos are pretty unlikely to be found in the same changing-room (legitimately anyway). Solvers who arent down with their massive in the hood, and worse still arent in possession of Chambers 2006 edition, might have missed this bit of recent though by now fairly mainstream slang. Ho is, sadly, yet another proprietorial and derogatory term for a woman, derived from whore.
Across: 1. PHLEBOTOMIST (anag. + B.O. + mist); 10. ROSULA (hidden rev.); 12. TOMAN (i.e. mans inhumanity to man); 15. ELTON (L in Eton; Elton John); 15. ALLELE (l in allée); 18 OSTRAKA (tr. in Osaka; see ostrakon); 19. HANAP (h + a + nap); 23. AMATEUR (ate U in anag.); 25. PRIMINE (rim in pine); 32. SHEKEL (H in anag., tin = money); 33. PRESIDENTESS (is, rev. + dente(d) all in press). Down: 1. POT-SHOT (pots hot); 2. HOOP-ASH (pa in hoosh); 5. TUPAIA (up in anag. + a); 6. MALLEATE (leat in male); 7. INTERNET CAFE (anag.); 16. GRUMNESS (GRU + n in mess); 20. AUXESIS; 23. ANELED (last letters in and); 24. MELIK (ends switched in kelim); 26. RAMEN (r amen).