To Azed and Back

I’m preparing myself mentally for the impending return to work next week, trying to get my brain back into gear after the long layoff. One of the few things that has prevented me from descending to a state of complete vegetation has been the steady supply of crosswords over the holiday season. I’ve lost track of the number I’ve done over the last week or so. I enjoyed yesterday’s Araucaria puzzle in the Guardian nearly as much as the bumper double-sized one he set as the Christmas special puzzle. However, the Royal Mail has been so unreliable recently I fear I’ve little chance of winning the prize even though I posted my solution in what should have been good time. I didn’t get any mail at all for about a fortnight leading up to Christmas. In fact a card posted to me from Brighton, correctly addressed with full postcode a first class stamp, and postmarked on 15th December, didn’t arrived in Cardiff until Thursday 30th December.

One item of post that obviously did get through was my entry to the Azed Competition puzzle number 2010. This was a slightly strange one because the word (or in this case, phrase) to which entrants were requested to provide a clue wasn’t actually given a proper definition but implied by a rather cryptic preamble:

Special instructions: This puzzle marks an unrepeatable occasion, hinted at by the unclued entry at 1 Across (not given in Chambers as such). Further help in identifying the theme is provided elsewhere. Competitors should submit a cryptic clue to 1 Across with their entries.

I managed to do the puzzle quite quickly, which gave sufficient checked letters to make it obvious that 1 Across (which ran across the top of the puzzle) had to be “A COMING OF AGE”. It took me ages to find the “further help” alluded to in the preamble, however, until eventually realised that the first letters of each clue read “CROSSWORDNUMBERANDDATEOFYEARCOINCIDE”. In other words the clues themselves provide an acrostic reference to the phrase. The “unrepeatable occasion” is thus that puzzle number 2010 happens to be in 2010, which can’t possibly happen again – 2011 has started with puzzle number 2014.

“A COMING OF AGE” is a tricky one to provide a clue because it doesn’t appear in the standard Chambers dictionary. Although it has a wikipedia page it’s actually rather vague.

My attempt at a clue was

Breaking of German Enigma by one early pair of computers gives something to celebrate

I chose an appropriately unspecific definition “something to celebrate” and the rest is an anagram of OF G (for German)+ENIGMA, indicated by “BREAKING”, by (i.e. next to) A+CO (early pair of computers). The reference to Bletchley Park and the Colossus Mark I and II computers was a deliberate red herring. I thought it was a bit clumsy, but was delighted to find it got me a VHC and has pulled me up to 19th in the annual honours table, with five competitions complete. As always, though, the winning clues were a lot better than mine!

Azed’s competition puzzles usually appear about once a month (there are thirteen in each year). However, there was another competition puzzle (No. 2012) just before Christmas, which I didn’t really enjoy as much because of the number of non-words that needed to be entered in the grid. Today’s Observer has another one, No. 2014, which I shall do this afternoon. I don’t know why there’s such a glut – perhaps Azed is planning a holiday in the New Year?

7 Responses to “To Azed and Back”

  1. Monica grady Says:

    happy new year! I didn’t particularly enjoy araucaria’s Christmas offering – it seemed a bit random to me. I prefer when he has themes. He must be getting on a bit by now – yet I’m always impressed by the contemporary refs that he manages to infiltrate. Azed is beyond me, despite my best efforts, so I am majorly impressed by your ranking. I rarely even get past the rubric of the Listener – make my day by telling me that it foxes you as well!

    • telescoper Says:


      I can confess that I’ve never completed the Listener crossword. However, just so you don’t feel too happy, I should point out that I’ve never started it either. I’ve never read the magazine. Maybe I should start before I go deaf.


    • Monica grady Says:

      I don’t think the Listener magazine exists anymore, but the crossword is accessible via the Times crossword club. Give it a go. It might take your mind off STFC’s delivery plan, Or Cardiff city’s latest performance. M.

  2. Happy New Year telescoper and congrats again on yr VHC. What a wheeze to part of the AZED elite! I’m just jealous. I had a couple of ‘out of the hat’ prizes with Inquisitor’s, two in my 5yr old grandson.s name, and anAZED in my own. Re the Listener… It seems to be a ‘requirement’ of serious xword solvers to do this one. It a appears on Saturday in a M*****H sheet (no pun intended) which is why I never do it.
    Hope 2011 is a good one for you.

  3. Re Araucaria – he will be 90 YEARS of age on 19th Feb this year – I still love his puzzles.

  4. EVERYMAN for himself! unless there are two P Coles in Cardiff – well done

    • telescoper Says:

      Yes, I got the £15 book tokens. I usually do Everyman as a warm up exercise for Azed. It’s always pretty easy but I usually need something to get my brain going on Sundays!

      Drew a blank in the Xmas comp, though I did at least do the puzzle!

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