AZED CROSSWORD 2122
1. R. J. Whale: Touch of refinement missing from a mere HC? (nice t(r)y, & lit.; ref. AZ comps).
2. T. C. Borland: Revolutionary ‘citoyen’ dropping old politesse (anag. less o).
3. B. Jones: Recipe transforms this delicacy, producing delightful taste (i.e. nice t(r)y).
T. Anderson: Finesse North’s diamonds, tactically discarding heart (N + ice + t(acticall)y).
M. Barley: City establishment’s starting afresh under new discerning management (n + anag. incl. e; ref. new governor of Bank of England).
N. Connaughton: A tiny change shifting meaning, possibly (anag. less hang (n), & lit.).
C. M. Edmunds: Land freshly prepared for plants takes working yet such cultivation needs precision (NIC + anag.).
D. V. Harry: Inexactly laid out, lax, sloppy, lacking precision (anag. less anag.).
R. J. Heald: Shakespearean being squeamish indiscreetly excises odd parts (alternate letters; ref. Thomas Bowdler).
R. J. Hooper: Tiny shell of chinaware is crafted to show quality of the finish (anag. incl. c, e; finish (adj)).
J. C. Leyland: If going for diamonds, try nifty finesse (nifty with ice for if).
T. Rudd: Ice Tony S? Arrange this delicate matter with old Soprano (anag. less o, s; ref. TV crime series).
N. G. Shippobotham: Fastidiousness is, in Justin Welby’s terms, the very thing consuming the Church of England (CE in it in n, y).
I. Simpson: British economy? It’s bust – with boom forgotten, delicate management’s required (anag. less boom).
Mrs A. Terrill: Fine point made by indiscreetly ignoring the odds (alternate letters).
R. C. Teuton: In final I see Andy passing and getting fine point (I c in net2 + (And)y; ref. tennis).
N. Warne: A lovely touch batting over 100 and yet to bowl (in (rev.) + c + anag.).
K. J. Williams: Finesse diamonds in no trumps play finally (ice in NT + y).
Dr E. Young: Accuracy I see in X, taken up by successor (I c in ten (rev.) + y; ref. Ximenes/Azed).
D. Appleton, D. K. Arnott, D. & N. Aspland, M. Barker, J. G. Booth, A. W. Brooke, C. J. Brougham, Dr J. Burscough, C. J. Butler, D. A. Campbell, D. Carter, C. A. Clarke, P. Coles, A. Colston, T. Crowther, W. Drever, P. Evans, J. Fairclough, Dr I. S. Fletcher, R. Gilbert, Mrs E. Greenaway, J. P. Guiver, A. & R. Haden, A. H. Harker, J. R. Howlett, D. F. Manley, P. McKenna, Ms J. McNally, Rev Prebendary M. R. Metcalf, T. J. Moorey, C. J. Morse, T. D. Nicholl, R. A. Norton, C. Ogilvie, R. J. Palmer, W. Ransome, G. Raven, R. J. Sharkey, C. M. Steele, P. Taylor, S. J. J. Tiffin, J. R. Tozer, Mrs A. M. Walden, Ms S. Wallace, A. J. Wardrop, Ms B. J. Widger, J. S. Witte, A. J. Young.
A disappointingly small entry, only 186, but with few mistakes. Some commented that the puzzle was a bit more difficult than average, a difficulty compounded by the large number of unfamiliar words included. The definition part of the clue to KENOPHOBIA was unfortunately omitted from the online version of the puzzle as the result of a late correction which was regrettably not communicated to that version, though no one got it wrong. Favourite clue by far, of 19 receiving one or more mentions, was ‘Road up? O, heavens – get a cab’ for DROSKY. A couple of transatlantic competitors were flummoxed by the definition ‘Don’s work perhaps’ in my clue to HOEING. On reflection I should probably avoid such parochial references (this one being to the very English TV gardener Monty Don).
NICETY proved quite popular as a clue word. (Most, I suspect, had, like me, forgotten that it appeared as a competition word jointly with REDCAP in a ‘Right & Left’, No. 857 in 1988.). Too many opted for the hidden-word approach, i.e. using an adjective ending in ‘–nic’ + ‘etymology’, to gain special mention. I was also a little uneasy about the use of it to mean ‘a delicacy’ in the sense of an edible dainty, without indicating its datedness as such. The Shorter Oxford labels this sense ‘now rare’ and ‘Usu. in pl.’ and the last citation in the OED is from 1825. I have also noticed recently the gradual re-emergence in clues submitted of the use of nouns to indicate anagrams, as in e.g. ‘yet confusion’. Newer solvers may be unaware that I am implacably opposed to such use, regarding it as fundamentally unsound (i.e. impossible to justify grammatically), so pleased be warned.
Now to a delicate matter. One very regular competitor has expressed unease at my having awarded a VHC to a clue in the Christmas competition containing a racially offensive term, which its author apologized for using but used anyway. The whole area of offensive language is a difficult one to pin down precisely (as I know only too well from my days as a lexicographer), and as my correspondent concedes ‘offence is sometimes too readily taken’, but there can be little doubt that racialist language is the most sensitive of all, and for that reason I would avoid its use in my own clues. I should be interested to hear your views on this issue. (Interestingly, the SOED labels this particular word neutral (among Yiddish-speakers) but also slang (chiefly derog.). I need not spell it out again, I think.)
A final apology for the fact that recent prizewinners have not been receiving the Azed bookplates due to them. The Observer reported late in the day that stocks were used up and that the original (freelance) designer was now uncontactable. I’m happy to report that a new one is currently being designed and will be sent to all those who have not received one as they should.