The Azed crossword appears every Sunday in The Observer newspaper. Since it first appeared in March 1972, every puzzle has been composed by Jonathan Crowther who also judges the monthly clue-writing competition. The pseudonym Azed is a reversal of (Fray Diego de) Deza, a Spanish inquisitor general. This combines the inquisitorial tradition of Torquemada and Ximenes (the two previous composers of the "advanced" ''Observer ''crossword) with the wordplay element of a British cryptic crossword.
It challenges its followers with a much higher proportion of obscure and archaic words and allusions to the Classics than would normally be considered acceptable in a modern blocked puzzle, thus providing an extra aspect of difficulty for the seasoned cryptic solver.
The 2000th Azed puzzle was published on 26 September 2010. The 500th competition puzzle was published on 1 August 2010.