AZED CROSSWORD 2283
1. M. Barley: Entries to Azed get brain working a good deal (anag. incl. A, g).
2. R. J. Heald: A big bust with narc taking away cocaine and whizz (anag. less C; whizz = amphetamine).
3. R. J. Palmer: Save more, striking one (bar (a)gain, & lit.).
D. Appleton: Jump the queue, going from last to first for absolute snip (barge in with a for e).
T. C. Borland: Steal home after pub and walk it off (bar + ga(it) + in).
C. A. Clarke: Bank bonus broke agreement (bar gain; 2 defs.; broke vb).
Mrs L. Davis: Assorted bits of rock and gravel are loaded into dump truck (anag. of first letters in bin).
E. Dawid: Grab one in jumble? (anag. incl. a, & lit.).
R. Gilbert: Falls back behind first of bays, losing a hard struggle at Ayr (b + Niag(a)ra (rev.)).
G. I. L. Grafton: Understanding obscure Arabic’s no good when lacking the elements of simple conversation (anag. incl. ng, less s, c).
M. Hodgkin: Boris’s number one aim – ‘I’m going to take over after loss of poll on Europe’ – creates strife for Cameron (B + a(I’m) + r(E)gain).
J. C. Leyland: Banger letting off steam? Ring AA for breakdown truck (b(anger) + anag.).
M. Lloyd-Jones: Snip short fringe – locks are glam if regularly cut (are glam if less alternate letters in ban(g)).
D. F. Manley: An unscrupulous seizure backed by Putin with place succumbing in regional struggle (a grab (rev.) + (Put)in; ref. Crimea).
S. Randall: Settlement’s bones originally Aurignacian indicating regular sacrifices (b + alternate letters).
J. Vincent & Ms R. Porter: Agree knock-down price for jumble in ragbag? Good going! (anag. less g).
R. J. Whale: Snatch flip-flops to get one in shoddy brand magasin (not M and S, unusually) (grab (rev.) + a + in; anag. less anag.).
G. H. Willett: Win at the nineteenth hole and bring about a fantastic coup at St Andrews (bar gain; anag. incl. a, a; coup2).
T. Anderson, D. & N. Aspland, C. J. Brougham, Mrs S. Brown, Dr J. Burscough, C. J. Butler, P. Cargill, D. Carter, J. Clare, V. Dixon (Ireland), C. M. Edmunds, R. Gizzi, D. V. Harry, R. J. Hooper, Ms M. Irvine, C. Loving, A. Macmillan, K. Manley & S. Bad, P. W. Marlow, J. R. C. Michie, K. Milan, C. G. Millin, T. J. Moorey, C. Ogilvie, M. L. Perkins, R. Perry, A. Plumb, J. & A. Price, M. Price, D. Price Jones, P. Sant, A. D. Scott, Dr S. J. Shaw, I. Simpson, Ms M. Stokes, R. C. Teuton, L. Toole, J. R. Tozer, A. J. Wardrop, T. West-Taylor, D. Wilson, J. S. Witte, Dr E. Young, R. Zara.
184 entries, with no mistakes apart from one incomplete grid (a single unfilled square, suggesting oversight). Favourite clue, of 20 nominated once or more, was, by a long way; ‘Island record producers hope to achieve this with backing’ for IONA, with ‘Goes off the rails, caught with weapon with minor affray once’ (SCARMOGE) in second place. My clue to KARENNI (‘Burmese people are born in what may be Indian, backward’) puzzled a few, and was criticized as possibly offensive by one regular. The problem, I think, was ‘n’ for ‘born’ (Italian nato). I used the abbreviation without thinking to check it in Chambers, which does not in fact include it, though I could swear it used to and it appears in some other dictionaries I have consulted. The other problem entry was RASAE, plural of ‘rasa’ and given in C as part of the plural of tabula rasa. I got this from Chambers Words, which I use a lot for grid-filling, but failed to check it until I came to the cluing. Had I done so earlier I should probably have gone for a less problematical word, with a bit of minor (and easy) rejigging. As it was, I did my best in the line below the clues to indicate where it might be found. Some of you may have missed this. Verb. sap.
So what to make of BARGAIN? A friendly-looking word, you’d think, but one which in the event proved quite awkward to do something original with. The obvious approach – via its two components BAR and GAIN – proved understandably popular but yielded a large number of short and serviceable but ultimately somewhat uninspired clues (e.g. ‘Steal pub profit’) with little to choose between them. Some of you went for the ‘count on’ definition of BARGAIN as a verb in Chambers, but this gave me a real problem. Although labelled vi, this phrasal verb can surely only be transitive in usage, indicating a lexicographical error. I didn’t disqualify any who used it but none achieved higher than HC.
A few other things. (a) How did I come to dream up ‘Cannongate’ in my clue to NONG? I think I had it in my head that it was a London underground station (confusing it with Cannon Street, I guess). There is a Canongate in Edinburgh, but that wouldn’t have helped the sense of the clue. (b) I have never cared for ‘e’ as an abbreviation for ‘euro’, rather than (or as well as) the symbol €, but it’s in the Oxford Dictionary of English and quite possibly elsewhere, so I suppose I must accept it. (c) I’m not keen on ‘three’ or ‘threefold’ to indicate ‘ter-’, or indeed any combining form or prefix being treated in this way, without some form of wording that indicates that they are not words in their own right. Floodgates again.