◀  No. 23784 Feb 2018 Clue list No. 2386  ▶



1.  J. C. Leyland: Arrangement of ‘Pirates’ is striking centrepiece for brass band (brass; anag. less a).

2.  R. J. Heald: Sid unleashes primitive energies with punk band (punk; S(id) + tripe; ref. S. Vicious).

3.  T. Rudd: Kidney bean and prosciutto stew losing out when remade with bacon? (stew; anag. less anag.).


T. Anderson: What defines strumpet fully prepared to wield the lash? (strumpet; s, t + ripe).

D. & N. Aspland: Broad line’s seen as excellent after Stuart dismisses four tail-enders (broad; St + ripe; ref. England fast bowler).

M. Barley: Rotten starts off the punk rock era singing in band (punk; anag. of initial letters; ref. Johnny R.).

Dr P. Coles: Strumpet, on vacation, ready with that lash! (strumpet; s, t + ripe).

C. M. Edmunds: Tracks from Abbey Road, for instance, briefly arrived at perfection (road; st + ripe).

H. Freeman: So tart is pie with even cuts and latticework feature? (tart; alternate letters).

M. Lloyd-Jones: Gaga tries opening for punk band (punk; anag. incl. p; ref. Lady G.).

B. Lovering: Reformed prostitute ignoring devious tout, an indication of good behaviour (prostitute; anag. less anag.).

D. F. Manley: Wretched trombones boom wrong note out, drowning smallest bit of brass band (brass;1p in anag. less anag. incl. n).

P. W. Marlow: Evidence, say, of top brass section with trumpeter’s opening perfectly developed (brass; s + t + ripe).

Dr S. J. Shaw: Modifying Ford with this, as sign of velocity, might suggest fast pro drives! (pro; comp. anag. incl. v, & lit; ref. go-faster stripes (qv)).

I. Simpson: Colourful band foremost in the industry epitomising Stiff Records and punk rock (punk; anag. of first letters).

R. C. Teuton: Souped-up Esprit? It may suggest you can go faster on the road! (road; anag.; ref. Lotus E., go-faster stripes).

P. Tharby: Taste of stew with some offal makes one pale (stew; s + tripe; pale2).

J. R. Tozer: Variety show that’s bawdy (drinks not included) (bawdy; strip(teas)e).

J. Vincent & Ms R. Porter: Starters of soup and tart ready to eat in bar (tart; s, t, ripe).

A. J. Wardrop: Leading lights of punk – Rotten, Scabies, Iggy, etc – try to re-form band (punk; anag. of first letters; ref. Johnny R., Rat S., I. Pop).


P. B. Alldred, Ms K. Bolton, T. C. Borland, C. J. Brougham, D. Carter, M. Coates, Ms L. Davis, V. Dixon (Ireland), W. Drever, Dr I. S. Fletcher, G. I. L. Grafton, M. Hodgkin, L. M. Inman, M. Lunan, L. F. Marzillier (USA), P. McKenna, Rev Prebendary M. R. Metcalf, J. R. C. Michie, K. Milan, C. G. Millin, T. J. Moorey, T. D. Nicholl, J. Pearce, A. Plumb, D. Price Jones, R. J. Sharkey, N. G. Shippobotham, C. M. Steele, P. L. Stone, A. Vick, P. Voogt, Mrs A. M. Walden, T. West-Taylor, R. J. Whale, K. & J. Wolff.

169 entries, virtually no mistakes – in the grid, that is. As usual in ‘Wrong Number’ competitions, a number failed fully to comply with what was expected of them in writing their clues, either by cluing the wrong word(s) or by cluing only one of the pair, or (the biggest group) by including a definition of HARLOT which performed no wordplay function in the clue to STRIPE. The whole essence of WN puzzles is to insert in each clue the definition of another word from the one that is the answer to the clue as a whole. This can be quite a challenge over the course of a whole puzzle, though I think I helped you considerably this time by giving you two words, each with many definitions/synonyms and more than one part of speech. (In my edition of Bradford, not the latest, there are over 50 entries at HARLOT.)
I was asked how I set about such puzzles. When filling the grid (which ideally has six sets of six different word-lengths) I try to pick words with a range of possible synonyms (no hydrocarbons!). I then group the words into separate sets by length and list a range of synonyms for each, before embarking on the cluing process group by group, pairing off each entry with a synonym from elsewhere and taking care that I’m not left with an entry with a synonym that truly belongs to it. If it’s a competition puzzle, I pick the pair I’m going to give you early on so that you have a reasonable range of choice to work with. That’s the overall plan, anyway, though I won’t deny that the cluing process itself takes considerably longer than for a normal plain puzzle. But to judge by the generally enthusiastic comments this time it’s clearly worth the extra effort. I think the idea was originally Ximenes’s, though I don’t know for sure. (Fifteen clues were voted favourite, but since it wasn’t always clear which actual clue was being referred to I won’t name a winner this month.)
Several of you mentioned the new layout of the puzzle following the paper’s move to a tabloid format. Comments were generally unfavourable but not too hostile. If you feel very strongly do please contact The Observer direct. I did ask to be consulted on changes to the puzzle but never was. It seems to me perverse that the puzzle grid should now be smaller than before while the solution grid is much larger and the solution notes etc are now microscopic. I shall argue for improvements in these areas, but don’t hold your breath.


The Azed Cup

Dr S. J. Shaw wins First Prize in competition 2543.


Skins of Argentine ruminant, processed with currying after being tanned initially

This year’s honours table

The next Azed competition puzzle will be on Sunday 2nd May

 NEW   AZED  No. 2,549  18th Apr

All online Azed puzzles

Dr Watson reviews Azed 2547

From the archive

Barchester chap? Slope, led by unholy pride (9)

Third prize winner by S. Goldie in competition 1247