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Another neat puzzle. Some from the Style Monitoring Section (definitely not from The Ministry of Truth!) thought it might have been the work of the same setter as the week before. That thought didn’t occur to me when doing it, but the device at 17ac certainly had something familiar about it.

My clue of the day was 23dn. I loved the “up and down” device. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means ‘anagram of ABC’. Deletions are in [square brackets].


Across
1 Fine liqueur, very exotic, enough for several shots at The Bull? (9)
QUIVERFUL – ‘exotic’ anagram of (F LIQUEUR V*). F for fine, V for very. The bull is on the archery target, of course.

6 First and foremost in nature you may perceive her? (5)
NYMPH – ‘first and foremost’ letters of each word. A somewhat fanciful &lit. definition – see glossary.

9 More attractive class of volunteers? (7)
TASTIER – the Territorial Army volunteers or TA’S are in a TIER or class. Hard to imagine anyone but crossword setters finding the TA’s attractive today.

10 Suddenly dropped bread basket, exhausted? (7)
TUMBLED – TUM (bread basket), BLED (exhausted).

11 Come back from Peru? Certainly, heading west (5)
RECUR – the answer if hidden in (‘from’) the clue, backwards (‘heading west’).

12 Serious consequences of the boy’s going to the Head, indeed! (4,2,3)
HELL TO PAY – HE’LL (the boy’s going to), TOP (head), AY (indeed!).

13 What pre-euro Munich lived through is not progress! (4,4)
MARK TIME – double definition, the first a whimsical reference to the old German currency.

14 Ring from Lima leaving greeting (4)
HALO – L for Lima ‘leaves’ HAL[l]O.

17 Nomad’s extended round trip (4)
LAPP – the round trip is a LAP, ‘extended’ by another P. We saw a similar device the previous Saturday.

18 Drop double-U in “watch” (5,3)
BEADY EYE – BEAD (drop), YE (you, or ‘U’), and YE again (‘double-U’). The definition is as in “I’ve got my beady eye on you”. This was my LOI, and I put it in with a vague feeling of discomfort.

21 What’s indulgently led to a live CD being remade (5,4)
DOLCE VITA – ‘remade’ anagram of (TO A LIVE CD*). A 1960 film.

22 Girl’s mother meeting the First Lady (5)
MAEVE – MA, meet EVE.

24 Series of deliveries: each getting blanket (7)
OVERALL – OVER, ALL. The first cricketing clue.

25 Girl escorted outside I helped (7)
AVAILED – AVA LED, ‘outside’ I. Say not the struggle nought availeth.

26 Far from dear to the Scots, King Edward? (5)
TATTY – double definition. The first referring to cheap things, the second to a Scottish word for ‘potatoes’ – whether or not the King Edward variety. I was surprised they weren’t spelled ‘taters’ or ‘taties’, but then I’ve never been to Scotland!

27 Not post to offer professor (9)
PRETENDER – PRE (not post!), TENDER (offer).


Down
1 Land rating following maintenance of set standards (5)
QATAR – QA (quality assurance – maintenance of set standards), TAR (sailor, or rating).

2 Flies driver away from edges of seismal epicentre, moving fast (6,9)
INSECT REPELLENT – ‘moving’ anagram of (SL EPICENTRE*), then LENT is the ‘fast’. S and L in the anagram are the ‘edges’ of SEISMAL. What a delightfully awkward definition!

3 Leave country house, heading off to get someone’s goat? (8)
EMIGRATE – the [h]ouse is a [s]EMI. Then, GRATE. As we say chez nous, no one glued ‘country’ to ‘house’.

4 Pro’s Glasgow abode that’s an embarrassment! (3,5)
FOR SHAME – FOR’S (pro’s, as in a vote), HAME (Scottish word for ‘home’). Still haven’t visited Scotland. Promise I will, next chance!

5 Added animation to story, cutting a dash (6)
LITTLE – LIT (added animation – as in ‘lit up the room’), T[a]LE (story, cutting ‘a’). Definition as in, ‘add a dash of rum’.

6 Where Wellington is found touring island with German admiral (6)
NIMITZ – Wellington is the capital of New Zealand. Put NZ around I for ‘island’, and MIT (German for ‘with’). A WWII reference.

7 Pleased, somehow, with a miserly “no comment” (2,4,3,6)
MY LIPS ARE SEALED – ‘somehow’ anagram (PLEASED A MISERLY*).

8 Den is Yankee appearing in sitcom briefly on Bravo in Spain (5-4)
HIDEY-HOLE – the sitcom is HI-DE-H[i]. Insert Y (Yankee), and put it on top of OLÉ (‘Bravo’, in Spain). I didn’t know the sitcom, and guessed it might be Hi-de-ho. Close, but no cigar.

13 Inexpert whiskey promotion Ireland stops (9)
MALADROIT – MALT (whiskey), ‘stopped’ by AD (promotion) and R.O.I. (Republic of Ireland).

15 State of light, mounted and switched on (8)
DELAWARE – LED (the light of the moment) reversed or ‘mounted’, then AWARE (switched on).

16 President with trouble speaking’s brought water (5,3)
ADAM’S ALE – John Quincy ADAMS (President, 1825-29), then ALE sounds like (‘speaking’) AIL.

19 What’s left on account: variable amount (6)
LEGACY – LEG (‘on’ – the second cricketing clue), AC (account), Y (variable).

20 Stock at minimum price? That’s a boost! (6)
FILLIP – FILL (stock), 1P (or one penny – minimum price).

23 About to pass on, looking up and down supplier? (5)
EIDER – RE (about) and DIE (pass on), all ‘looking up’. Delightfully disguised definition.
I mostly really enjoyed this proper Friday fare, with its nods Shakespearean, Shavian and Orwellian and its take-no-prisoners attitude to cluing classical words and phrases with anagrams... lots of this kind of thing in the Championships would be just peachy, if you're reading this, ed.! I do predict a modicum of grumbling in the comments though...

Every weapon in the devious setters arsenal of tricks was deployed to the max here, which had the unfortunate effect of causing me to biff some of the most intricate bits of cluing, and only fully appreciating them later - 17ac, 1dn and 4dn spring to mind. If I were a carping man I'd say that the love of tricksy wordplay may have resulted in some surfaces ending up sounding overly like crosswordese gobbledegook: for instance by rights 1dn should be my favourite clue for being its own AHA MOMENT, but I find myself having some trouble understanding just what that "sign" is doing in the surface reading.

8+9ac FOIs, LOI was I think 28ac once I finally discovered a much better alternative to TEMPLATE. COD to 4dn where the surface *is* impeccable and "tanner" for UV seems very good indeed. (Honourable mention to "three couples" for VI.) Thanks setter, devil take any naysayers, this is what Fridays in the Times should be all about!

1 Back among top celebrities, article names recordholder (8)
ANNALIST - inside A-LIST [top celebrities], reverse A N N [article | name | name]

5 Each going on with honeymoon, finally, in S American location (6)
ANDEAN - EA [each] going on AND [with], + {honeymoo}N

8 Some philanthropic backing for old ringmaster (3)
ALI - hidden reversed in {ph}ILA{nthropic}. One-time master of the boxing ring.

9 Thus some footwear quotes read out (6-4)
SQUARE-TOED - (QUOTES READ*) ["out"]

10 Was in red to welcome girl, lost in admiration (8)
OVERAWED - OWED [was in red] to "welcome" VERA [girl]

11 Ill-fated lover, not that able to ignore the odds (6)
THISBE - THIS [not that] + the even letters of {a}B{l}E.
Nowadays you will know her from the shambolic play-within-a-play in Midsummer Night's Dream.

12 Start shunning either of two poets, and scoff (4)
EATS - {k}EATS or {y}EATS. Scoff as a noun, not a verb.

14 Hassle involving one Great Britain runs as powerful spy (3,7)
BIG BROTHER - BOTHER [hassle] "involving" I GB R [one | Great Britain | runs].

17 Eastern country cheers one chap protecting couple after I set about one (10)
TAJIKISTAN - TA I STAN [cheers | one | chap], "protecting J K [couple after I] "set about" I [one]

20 Spurs for one game, originally heading for Stoke (4)
EGGS - E.G. [for one] + G{ame} + S{toke}. Spurs and eggs as verbs here, not nouns.

23 Braided uniform hasn’t this? Probably not (6)
SUNHAT - (U HASN'T*) ["braided"], semi-&lit. You can see how the last two words were probably tacked on for safety's sake!

24 Opinion linked to popular case (8)
INSTANCE - STANCE [opinion] linked to IN [popular]

25 Three couples marrying, madly worshipped mother (6,4)
VIRGIN MARY - VI [6 = 3 * 2 = three couples] + (MARRYING*) ["madly"]

26 Hard class to prepare (3)
SET - triple definition

27 Feel like hugs: is making up! (6)
ATONES - TONE [feel] that AS [like] "hugs"

28 Record winning move after man finds a wife? (8)
HELPMATE - LP MATE [record | winning move (in chess)] after HE [man]

DOWN
1 Occasion for Penny to drop Mark sign, suitably attired for wedding? (3,6)
AHA MOMENT - M OMEN [Mark | sign], in A HAT = suitably attired for wedding

2 Most missing art teacher, at first, after church body’s absorbed one (7)
NAIVEST - T{eacher}, after NAVE'S [church body's] "absorbed" I [one]

3 Tips exchanged by tinker and sailor (6)
LASCAR - take {R}ASCA{L} [tinker] and reverse its tips

4 Old tanner from France in among teacher’s mementos (9)
SOUVENIRS - O UV EN [old | tanner (as in light that tans) | from France, in] among SIR'S [teacher's]

5 Drink hosts dry in pursuit of a partner! (7)
ABETTER - BEER [drink] "hosts" TT [dry, as in teetotal], in pursuit of A

6 As reported, mainly idle pupil of professor (9)
DOOLITTLE - homophone of DO LITTLE [mainly idle, where idle is a verb].
Eliza Doolittle was Professor Henry Higgin's pupil in Pygmalion aka My Fair Lady.

7 Yours truly had turned up in gold and black, extremely late for hearing (7)
AUDIBLE - reversed I'D [yours truly had] in AU + B [gold + black], + L{at}E

13 Sent choir off to find hymn (9)
STICHERON - (SENT CHOIR*) ["off"]. Tough and obscure vocab that "looks right" if you know a bit of Ancient Greek, but still, yeesh!

15 Something inspired primarily by wet weather, with hail (9)
BRAINWAVE - B{y} + RAIN W AVE [wet weather | with | hail]

16 Exploits poor eager Tess (3,6)
RES GESTAE - (EAGER TESS*) ["poor"]. Two anagrams in the space of three clues pandering to the classicists in our midst? Setter, you are spoiling us!

18 To show spirit, answer as quickly in French, briefly (7)
AQUAVIT - A QUA VIT{e} [answer | as | quickly, in French, "briefly"]

19 Time for filling northern people’s senses (7)
INTUITS - T [time] "for filling" INUIT'S [northern people's]

21 Edinburgh’s goes towards, mostly, music (7)
GANGSTA - GANGS TA{e} [Scottish for "goes towards"... "mostly"]

22 Remain standing to drink, taking in Flower of Scotland (4,2)
STAY UP - SUP [to drink], "taking in" TAY [flower = that which flows = river of Scotland]
I found this a nice middle-of-the-road difficulty puzzle from Orpheus today as it took me just under my target time of 5 1/2 minutes. We are treated to some lovely smooth surfaces and a smattering of  none-too-obscure general knowledge including English and Asian geography, chemistry, embroidery and a literary reference. If you did yesterday's 15x15 you might have had a bit of a sense of déjà vu over the king at 13A, which was my COD. I also liked 11A and 14A. Lovely job, Orpheus. Thanks. So how did you all get on?
Read all about it...Collapse )

Times Quick Cryptic No 1418 by Izetti

Another tricky enough QC today - I did the last three QCs in a row and took pretty much bang on 15, 9 and 12 minutes for Tue/Wed/today. So halfway between tricky and average by my reckoning, but certainly of the usual high quality that we've come to expect from Izetti - many thanks!



Across
1 See poet in my Italian region (8)
LOMBARDY - LO (see) BARD (poet) in MY. My first thought was "Piedmont", which does have 7/8ths of the letters of "poet in my" - if only my Italian geography was better, the neighbouring region of Lombardy might have popped into my head, which would have been a much slicker route to the solution than waiting for the L in 1d. Ah well.
5 Try to get very warm after beginning to shiver (4)
SHOT - HOT (very warm) after S (beginning to Shiver)
8 Achieves victory, having imbibed last of the drinks (5)
WINES - WINS (achieves victory) imbibing E (last of thE)
9 Sent back uncooked food, creating conflict (7)
WARFARE - WAR (RAW = uncooked, sent back) FARE (food).
11 Heftier girl newly engaged, one set aflame? (11)
FIRELIGHTER - anagram (newly engaged) of HEFTIER GIRL. So much for assuming it had to end in "light", and entering that part confidently into the grid.
13 When to drink litres, going to brilliant wine-growing region (6)
ALSACE - AS (when) to drink L(itres) going to ACE (brilliant)
14 Seaside town submerged in festive season (2,4)
ST IVES - "Submerged" in the letters of feSTIVE Season. (Not the St Ives with the comedy police station mentioned yesterday.)
16 Drivers in a breach of public order with applause all round (11)
CHARIOTEERS - A RIOT (a breach of public order) with CHEERS (applause) all around it
18 One goes round back of shop, getting grabbed by wicked person (7)
SPINNER - P ("back" of shoP) grabbed by SINNER (wicked person)
19 Enthusiastic about grabbing composer's final piece of music (5)
INTRO - INTO (enthusiastic about) grabbing R ("final" of composeR)
20 Carol is smart, wasting little time (4)
SING - STING (smart) wasting T (little/abbreviated TIME). As in "to carol".
21 Sort of ruler in gaol, rich, corrupt (8)
OLIGARCH - anagram (corrupt) of GAOL RICH

Down
1 Rules in Wales somehow putting English off (4)
LAWS - anagram (somehow) of WALES minus the E (putting English off)
2 Disclosure of fellow with uncertainty, beginning to embarrass Victoria maybe (13)
MANIFESTATION - MAN (fellow) with IF (an IF = an uncertainty) E ("beginning" to Embarrass) STATION (Victoria, maybe). Perhaps not the first synonym that springs to mind, but: to manifest / to show clearly / to disclose / to reveal.
3 Having muscles pulling creates a state of preoccupation (11)
ABSTRACTION - ABS (muscles) TRACTION (pulling). Read the clue as: Having A + B creates C. The OED has a quote from 1848 by Leigh Hunt, "Sir Isaac Newton carried abstraction far enough, when he used a lady's finger for a tobacco-stopper." After more consideration than I'd care to admit giving a manifestly apocryphal anecdote, I really couldn't decide whether Newton was meant to have had a stick of okra to hand, or the hand of an equally abstracted lady (okra was more likely but hardly remarkable)... after looking elsewhere I see it was the female human finger.
4 In valley wife and daughter take their time (6)
DAWDLE - In DALE (valley) goes W(ife) and D(aughter)
6 Trivial host — he upset nurse coming to house? (6,7)
HEALTH VISITOR - anagram (upset) of TRIVIAL HOST HE
7 Suppose the old revolt? (8)
THEORISE - THE (the) O (old) RISE (revolt)
10 Uncontrollable rage over the gang getting back together again (11)
REGATHERING - anagram (uncontrollable) of RAGE going over THE RING (the gang)
12 Copper probing motives for political meetings (8)
CAUCUSES - Cu (Copper) probing CAUSES (motives). Etymology unknown.
15 Chemical left at the bottom of store exploding (6)
STEROL - L(eft) at the bottom of an anagram (exploding) of STORE
17 This should not be in wardrobe — mum has no hesitation (4)
MOTH - MOTHER (mum) has no ER (hesitation)
While this continued my run this week of being in the 15/16/17 range at 17.22 it felt a lot meatier with a lot of the wordplay needing a lot of untangling. I took time to make sure I had the wordplay sussed before submitting. I don’t think I would be able to name the musteline creature if I saw one, and I don’t think I’ve come across this particular form of the one man show before, but they’re barely obscurities. There’s nothing here that comes in the category “words I don’t know”, though that might not be everyone’s experience. I appreciated the smooth surfaces.
To aid digestion, I have placed clues in italics, the definitions therein underlined, and solutions in bold CAPITALS


Across
1 Citizen’s “thing” about new copper by entrance to nick (9)
MANCUNIAN A fairly specific citizen, then. “Thing” is MANIA, which is placed about N(ew) CU (copper, chemistry) and by N(ick). The surface is a nice little vignette.
6 Victorious boxer, say, taking tea with elected member (5)
CHAMP Tea is CHA, elected member MP
9 Cool off by upper room reportedly in buff? (7)
FANATIC Buff has a variety of meanings, here it’s “enthusiast”, which Chambers traces to  “a keen attender at fires, so called from the buff uniform of the former New York volunteer firemen”. And why not?  For our construction purposes, FAN is cool off, and the ATIC bit comes from the reported sound of an upper room or attic.
10 Plaintive cry from male cat going about with queen (7)
WHIMPER The cat here is a WHIP, going about M(ale) and with the Queen, ER tacked on.
11 Incompetent people initially taken in at home and abroad (5)
INEPT People initially P, at home IN, “and” abroad (in France, anyway ET. Assemble.
12 Dodge bloke carrying extremely angular wooden slat (9)
DUCKBOARD Usually laid down over muddy terrain to provide a pathway, and I would have said a number of slats joined together rather than justone slat. Dodge provides the DUCK bloke is BOD, and the extremes of AngulaR are inserted.
13 Justification for reversing, avoiding a head wind (5)
NOSER That’ll be REASON (justification) reversed with its A avoided. A noser can also be a punch on the nose, an inquisitive person or a more general rebuff.
14 Ill-famed old port toured by other people? (9)
NOTORIOUS The old port gives you O RIO, and NOT US is what you might call other people
17 Lack of spirit in second author’s first stage piece (9)
MONODRAMA, I assume a play for one. Lack of spirit is NO DRAM placed in second: MO, and author’s first: A
18 Some retired fella backing a conspiratorial group (5)
CABAL Today’s reverse (retired) hidden in felLA BACking
19 Played for each class — Elgar and Delius to begin with (9)
PERFORMED Each class is PER FORM, and then you need the first letters of Elgar and Delius, helpfully capitalised for you.
22 Semi-divine spirit heard near a pond ultimately (5)
NAIAD Near, or in this case nigh, heard gives you the NAI bit and a gives you A, and the ultimate in pond the D
24 Resort where I live surrounded by workers (7)
ANTIBES Much loved by Graham Greene. I live gives you ungrammatically I BE, which you surround with the workers, who in crosswordland are usually ANTS
25 Demonstration disc found in a church gallery (7)
ACETATE Back in the days of proper records made of black stuff, acetates were the discs that the original sound was cut into, either for demonstration purposes or to create the master for pressing copies. Not really made of acetate, but of nitrocellulose lacquer, but the misnomer stuck. Here, a straight charade of A C(hurch of) E(ngland) TATE gallery.
26 Social distinction of Liberal entertained by English queen, perhaps (5)
ÉCLAT Those who did yesterday’s will remember that the queen is sometimes, as here, a CAT. The E comes from English, and the enclosed L from Liberal. A French word with several translations, one of which fits.
27 Furniture-maker finding love in a crowded complex (9)
CEDARWOOD You have to stop thinking about carpenters and cabinet makers and concentrate on the stuff that makes up furniture. Surprisingly only the first anagram (complex) of O (0, love) in A CROWDED


Down
1 Muslim legal expert in plain clothes (5)
MUFTI Two meanings, the second being military slang for non-uniform, possibly derived from the first.
2 No-hoper’s note about first of songs in Evita (3-6)
NON-PERSON Note: N, about: ON first of songs: S, and Evita’s married surname was PERON. More often someone whose status has been erased for political reasons.
3 Ignorant over revolutionary crushed by a French king (9)
UNTUTORED So it’s O(ver) RED (revolutionary) crushed by (here, just underneath) UN for A in French, and the king is TUT, the colloquial version of Tutankhamun.
4 Possible theatre pieces culminate in disc for distribution (10,5)
INCIDENTAL MUSIC A (re)distribution of CULMINATE IN DISC
5 Modern Glaswegian woman with a way round northern police HQ (3,8,4)
NEW SCOTLAND YARD HQ of the Metropolitan Police. Modern gives NEW, then Glaswegian woman is just a SCOT LADY, which together with a way, or A RD, finds itself round N(orthern)
6 Make progress as Conservative member (5)
CLIMB Just a C(onservative) LIMB for member.
7 Highest grade of hotel in mountain area (5)
ALPHA H(otel) in ALP (mountain) A(rea)
8 Capital fellow digesting notice, full of bliss (9)
PARADISAL The capital is PARIS, the digested notice is AD, and the random fellow is AL
13 Bloke in gym upset over recent form of identification (9)
NAMEPLATE Bloke in gym is PE MAN, all reversed (upset). Revent provides LATE
15 Storyteller’s regret about supporting crook in desert (9)
RACONTEUR Regret is RUE, which  must be reversed (about). It supports, in this down clue, crook: CON buried in desert (RAT)
16 Big tool a builder originally contrived for important bit of work (9)
OBBLIGATO A “contrived” version of BIG TOOL A plus the first letter of Builder. Musical term for what it says.
20 Charge pounds to see musteline mammal (5)
RATEL One of the badger/weasel family here indicated.  Charge is RATE especially when a local tax, L (or £) for pounds
21 Circuit minister finally overcome by memorial notice (5)
ORBIT The last letter of ministeR surrounded by OBIT short for obituary.
23 Fearfully anticipate being late securing runs (5)
DREAD Possibly the current feeling in the England batting line up. Being late is DEAD (as in the late Dent Arthur Dent), R(uns) being inserted)

Times 27429 - the Marmite crossword?

I loved this one. It's quirky. Some of you probably hated it. It's that kind of puzzle, I think. No dodgy words, a few smart definitions (6a, 13d, 17d for example), and only a couple of quibbles (didn't much like the def. in 11a, for one). You need to be old enough to know what's going on at 15d. It took me 20 minutes, average for me, with 6a my LOI once I stopped thinking about Her Majesty's unscheduled bedroom visitor.

Compliments to the setter. I love Marmite too.


Across
1 Drew up school notice about bible studies (8)
PREPARED - PREP school, AD around RE.
6 Queen’s stalker's quip retracted? About time! (6)
TOMCAT - MOT = quip, as in "bon mot", reversed, CA = about T time.
9 Shower that's painful in delicate extremities (6)
DOUCHE - OUCH that's painful, inside D and E the extremes of delicate. Another bit of French.
10 Canal maybe, wide, Wear and Tay somehow combined (8)
WATERWAY - (W WEAR TAY)*.
11 Woman briefly recalled what may be top of volcano (4)
ISLE - ELSI(E) is reversed; I think the setter here is saying an island could be of volcanic origin, its above-sea part being the top of a volcano, as in Hawaii or the Canaries. Seems a weird way to pick a definition for this simple answer.
12 Instruction to butcher to be dismissed (3,3,4)
GET THE CHOP - Double definition, one whimsical.
14 Warning sign on entrance: “No English here” (3,5)
RED LIGHT - RE = on, DELIGHT = entrance, delete the E for English.
16 A very old wife's state (4)
AVOW - A V(ery) O(ld) W(ife).
18 Architect’s engineers blocking adversaries at bridge (4)
WREN - Re the Englineers, go into W and N, parts of opposite teams in bridge, i.e. N / S and E / W.
19 Add zip to green pants in special exhibit initially (8)
ENERGISE - (GREEN)* followed by I S E the initial letters of in special exhibit.
21 Their lunch is wild and abandoned? (2,3,5)
IN THE LURCH - (THEIR LUNCH)*.
22 Peter has a following in the home counties (4)
SAFE - A F(ollowing) inside SE the South-East of England. The origin of PETER meaning safe apparently dates back to the 1600s and is vaguely connected to St Peter having the keys to the gates of Heaven, allegedly.
24 State capital almost calm during brief salute (8)
HONOLULU - I think this is LUL(L) inside HONOU(R). I thought right away of a state capital ending in U then worked out the parsing, I hope.
26 Handy American juice promoting energy (6)
USEFUL - US = American, FUEL has its E moved forward.
27 Bug transmitters in trustee's banks (6)
TSETSE - SETS could be transmitters, I guess, although I'd think of them more as receivers. Insert SETS into T E the 'banks' of trustee.
28 Colouring or baking agent lacking in a filling pudding (8)
DYESTUFF - DUFF would be a filling pudding; into that you can put YE(A)ST.
Down
2 Really old oak trees survive principally — on these (5)
ROOTS - Initial letters of really old oak trees survive.
3 Ready meal needed batter, as Spooner might have said? (6,5)
PACKED LUNCH - Spooner might have said "lacked punch".
4 Again bring in fruit, no good at first (2-6)
RE-ENGAGE - the fruit GREENGAGE has its G dropped.
5 Where local sports fans head? Absolutely (4,2,3,6)
DOWN TO THE GROUND - Double definition, one as in "it suits you down to the ground".
6 Put out your old clothes and the rest (6)
TETCHY - Your old = THY, which 'clothes' ETC = and the rest.
7 Pollute nearly all the planet (3)
MAR - nearly all of MARS.
8 A paper turns up containing a device that's similar (9)
ANALOGOUS - A, then the paper here is the SUN, it's reversed and contains A LOGO.
13 Nick record fee on these deviously (6,5)
CHARGE SHEET - CHARGE = fee, (THESE)*.
15 Bound over to accept old copy that's inaccurate (9)
ERRONEOUS - SURE = bound, as in 'bound to be...'. Reverse it = ER US, insert RONEO an old format of copying machine (pre Xerox) or verb from using it.
17 Shed many layers there (8)
HENHOUSE - Hens lay, in a henhouse.
20 Pull a couple of lines on river (6)
ALLURE - A, L, L, URE the river.
23 Mess up surface of front edge of sail (5)
FLUFF - the leading edge of a sail is the LUFF, and F is the surface of front.
25 Expose yogurts, ignoring the odd bits (3)
OUT - y O g U r T s.

Times Quick Cryptic 1417 by Oink

This isn't the daftly easy one I was hoping for after several days of tricky puzzles, but it wasn't too difficult either. Only 10ac may be an unfamiliar word to new solvers (it comes up frequently - remember it!). My favourite is 18ac for the craftily hidden definition and excellent surface reading.

Is it just me, or has the device at 13dn shown up much more frequently lately? I recall seeing it a couple of weeks ago and thinking how clever it was, so this might just be an example of the Baader-Meinhof phenomonen.

And has our setter forgotten something this week? I can't see it; answers on a postcard, please...

Definitions underlined.

Across
1 One in no hurry to whizz round north (5)
SNAIL - SAIL (whizz) containing (around) N (north).
4 Poor man’s university featuring in the Sun? (6)
PAUPER - U (university) inside (featuring in) PAPER (e.g. The Sun).
9 Badger I treated for cut (7)
ABRIDGE - anagram of (treated) BADGER I.
10 Zoo unceremoniously caging leopard (5)
OUNCE - hidden in (...caging) zoO UNCEremoniously.
11 Initially politician easily wins seat (3)
PEW - first letters of (initially) Politician Easily Wins.
12 Leak from European delegation (8)
EMISSION - E (european) and MISSION (delegation).
15 Keep quiet about sex? No problem (4,7,2)
DONT MENTION IT - DON'T MENTION (keep quiet about) and IT (sex).
17 Tiny creatures of the deep, a hundred on board (8)
PLANKTON - TON (a hundred) on PLANK (board).
18 My dog’s had a heart transplant! (3)
COR - CuR (dog) with the middle letter changed (had a heart transplant).
20 Scottish landowner, one wreathed in fat (5)
LAIRD - I (one) inside (wreathed in) LARD (fat).
22 Ancient advertisement for the police (3,4)
OLD BILL - OLD (ancient) and BILL (advertisement).
23 It’s a hot spring, man said (6)
GEYSER - sounds like (said) "geezer" (man).
24 Beg Penny to go first (5)
PLEAD - P (penny) and LEAD (to go first).

Down
1 Impressed by English dash (8)
STAMPEDE - STAMPED (impressed) and E (english).
2 Weapon found in famous school in East End (5)
ARROW - hARROW (famous school), dropping the initial 'h' (how it might sound in the east end of London).
3 Romeo appearing in tatty denim, alas (6,3)
LADIES MAN - anagram of (tatty) DENIM ALAS.
5 Head of ambassadorial party making trouble (3)
ADO - first letter (head) of Ambassadorial then DO (party).
6 Bridge? It’s a card game (7)
PONTOON - double definition.
7 Ruminants heading north for grass (4)
REED - DEER (ruminants) reversed (heading north).
8 Notice manner in which chess game may end? (11)
RESIGNATION - double definition.
13 Barely enter the water? (6-3)
SKINNY-DIP - crytic definition, i.e. enter the water 'barely' (with no clothes on).
14 Set off round lake, a little frightened (8)
STARTLED - STARTED (set off) containing (around) L (lake).
16 Put an end to fun frolicking with Lily (7)
NULLIFY - anagram of (frolicking) FUN with LILY.
18 Country that’s cold, by all accounts (5)
CHILE - sounds like (by all accounts) "chilly" (cold).
19 Report left in toilet (4)
BLOG - L (left) inside BOG (toilet).
21 Cut out adviser every now and then (3)
DIE - every other letter from (every now and then) aDvIsEr.
























Times Cryptic 27428

I've no solving time to offer as I dozed off for a while with barely half of the grid completed. I had started well in the NW corner and thought it was going to be very easy but then I got stuck and succumbed to tiredness. The brief shut-eye did the trick however, as on resumption the remainder fell into place in roughly 10 minutes.

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Times Quick Cryptic 1416 by Mara

I wasn’t at the races with this one or if I was, backed all the wrong horses. When I eventually finished (rejoining the SCC with 19 minutes), I still struggled with some parsings. 14dn was the main culprit but I think I’ve got that straight now. 7ac (another struggle) earned COD when it eventually clicked (just beating the surface of 2dn). Given my past experience with judging difficulty, I now expect everyone to say how easy this was - but I do hope you fared better than I did.

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Times 27427 - 'Til the girls go home

Music: Bach Violin Concerto #2, Gidon Kremer
Time: 25 minutes

Another easy Monday - if you have a lot of obscure knowledge sitting in your brain, that is!   If you don't, you may have to either biff or trust the cryptics.   As an overeducated twit, I tend to whip through this sort of puzzle, but some of these had me searching every nook and cranny of my brain for long-dormant neurons.   But in the end, I came home OK - it's amazing what you can remember if you put your mind to it, and I haven't been a stamp collector for fifty years or more.   It was only Frank Whittle, the man who invented the jet engine, that I had never heard of.

Across
1 Mere game (4)
POOL -  Double definition, with a lot of possibilities. I waited for the checking letters.
3 After year in London college, monk is messing up old genetic theory (10)
LYSENKOISM -  L(Y)SE + anagram of MONK IS.   Familiar to any student of Stalinist Russia.
10 Noble reduced allowance astrologer is after (7)
GRANDEE - GRAN[t] + DEE.  If you have forgotten that fascinating Elizabethan, John Dee, we just had him a few months ago, so take note.
11 Girl in work in a chiropodist’s concern (7)
TOENAIL - TO(ENA)IL
12 Odds-on mercenary destroyed school in the past (9,6)
SECONDARY MODERN - Anagram of ODDS-ON MERCENARY, a biff for me and many others.
13 Like bad housing, oh dear, after much economic downturn (6)
SLUMMY - SLUM[p] + MY.
14 Prone to try for concessions in confrontation (4,4)
FACE DOWN -  Double definition.
17 How stamps can be posted — about five pairs with article (2,6)
SE TENANT - SE(TEN + A)NT.  I managed to dredge up this philatelic term: it refers to a printed block that contains stamps of different designs or denominations.
18 Injunction about little house in high country (6)
BHUTAN - B(HUT)AN.   I thought this had something to do with 'but' and 'h' - then I saw it.
21 Although anything but a fool, a good person in passing (15)
NOTWITHSTANDING - NO TWIT + H(ST)ANDING, another biff, only I intially entered 'nonwithstanding'.   Reconciling to the cryptic forced me to correct it.
23 I am in place, I note, round London district (7)
PIMLICO -P(I'M)L + I + C + O.   I had a hard time thinking of London district ending in -O that wasn't Soho, so I had to use the cryptic to get this one.
24 Engine inventor is to cut deal? (7)
WHITTLE - A simple double defintion, where deal is the type of wood.   If you wanted to put 'is' in something, you were not alone.
25 Fashioned model tiara, created to fit (6-4)
TAILOR-MADE - Anagram of MODEL TIARA.   I got the -MADE readily enough, but could make nothing of the other letters for a while.
26 Get irritated with mist coming off the sea (4)
FRET - Double definition, one that only experienced solvers are likely to know.
Down
1 Matter about wise man looking up constellation (7)
PEGASUS -  P(SAGE upside-down)US.
2 Monaco uncovered separate charge as an instalment (2,7)
ON ACCOUNT - [m]ONAC[o] + COUNT, as in what the DA files against the accused.
4 Yeah, we organised shout at rodeos (6)
YEEHAW - Anagram of YEAH, WE, a starter clue in case you're stuck.
5 Perhaps US door guard has missed second approach (8)
ENTRYWAY - [s]ENTRY + WAY.
6 Put own employee under house arrest to retain capability (4,4,4,2)
KEEP ONES HAND IN - Double definition, one jocular.
7 Vision of latter half of hadj? (5)
IMAGE - [pilgr]IMAGE, another biff for me.
8 Much of significance about lake pigment (7)
MELANIN - ME(L)ANIN[g].
9 Certainly, yours truly is not concerned about current dog (1,4,4,2,1,2)
I DONT MIND IF I DO - I DON"T MIND + I + FIDO, where I is the symbol in equations for electrical current.
15 Clothier’s forbidden more trim (9)
OUTFITTER - OUT + FITTER.
16 Bird dropping fine maggot and caterpillar (8)
INCHWORM - [f]INCH + WORM.   These used to be common in Connecticut when I was a child, but I haven't seen any for decades.
17 Covers students’ union over black mark (7)
SUNSPOT -  TOPS NUS upside down - National Union of Students.
19 Uncared-for state’s new elite around top of government (7)
NEGLECT - N + E(G[overnment])LECT.
20 Horse eating tip of yew was in agony (6)
STEWED - STE([ye]W)ED.
22 What’s taking place in First Empire times (5)
TEMPI - Hidden in [firs]T EMPI[re].

QC 1415 by Teazel

No time to stop and say anything today. I'm afraid I totally forgot I was on duty and am doing this in a complete rush before having to deal with the rest of life. Many thanks to Teazel for a puzzle which I am sure would have been enjoyable had I had but world enough and time.

Definitions are underlined and everything else is explained just as I see it in the simplest language I can manage.

Across
1 Part of book that may come out in the theatre (8)
APPENDIX - double definition. The theatre in question obviously being an operating one.
5 Shortly announce a piece of data (4)
STAT - STATe ('shortly' announce).
9 Stiff outfit I had (5)
RIGID - RIG (outfit) + ID (I'D = I HAD).
10 Wildly annoyed — relieving drug found (7)
ANODYNE - straight anagram ('wildly') of ANNOYED.
11 Dog old police force rejected (3)
CUR - RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) 'rejected'.
12 Magazine I’m not involved in? (9)
SPECTATOR - if I am a spectator then I am not involved.
13 Signify assent, given sweet dessert? Negative reply (2,4)
NO DICE - NOD (signify assent) + ICE (sweet dessert).
15 Tucking hard into alcohol, daughter complained peevishly (6)
WHINED - WINE (alcohol) with H (hard) 'tucked in' + D (daughter).
17 Injured Cuban, lame, collected in this? (9)
AMBULANCE - straight anagram ('injured') of CUBAN LAME.
19 Joker, one accompanying a footballer (3)
WAG - a footballer is often escorted by one of the pack of Wives And Girlfriends.
20 Shows off extremely faithful relatives (7)
FLAUNTS - FL ('extremely' FaithfuL) + AUNTS (relatives).
21 Entitlement, OK? (5)
RIGHT - double definition.
22 Cover over swimming pool (4)
LIDO - LID (cover) + O (over).
23 In old heaps, wild flower (8)
ASPHODEL - straight anagram ('wild') of OLD HEAPS.
Down
1 Perhaps Egyptian’s day in a prison (7)
AFRICAN - FRIday in A CAN (prison)
2 Publicity about period radio device (5)
PAGER - PR (publicity) 'about' AGE (period).
3 Holiday camp that is barely visited (6,6)
NUDIST COLONY - cryptic definition.
4 I count as angry (5)
IRATE - I + RATE (count).
6 Take liberty to see if dress fits (3,2,2)
TRY IT ON - double definition.
7 Those people’s time with the next in line (5)
THEIR - T (time) + HEIR (next in line).
8 Assess price of electrical connection to be very expensive (4,3,5)
COST THE EARTH - cryptic definition - COST (assess price of) + THE EARTH (electrical connection).
14 Expert wrong to pick up cards (3,4)
DAB HAND - BAD (wrong) backwards ('to pick up' in this down clue) + HAND (cards).
16 Glad it can be twisted round one of the fingers (7)
DIGITAL - anagram of GLAD IT ('twisted') 'round' I (one).
17 Permitted to remove top, very bad (5)
AWFUL - remove the 'top' (i.e. the first letter in this down clue) of lAWFUL (permitted).
18 Are they found in top of tree in loch? (5)
NESTS - semi &lit.: T (top of Tree) in NESS (loch).
19 Carried on having weekly-paid job (5)
WAGED - double definition.

Mephisto 3075 - Paul McKenna

Apologies for this appearing late - I wrote it early and scheduled it for the 11th, but forgot to change the time, so it was set to appear at 6:30pm my time (which would be close to midnight GMT).

I had most of the bottom half of this puzzle solved before making great inroads on the top half (I think the first clue I solved was 27 across). I think that I have figured out all the wordplays, but I am not 100% sure.

Paul McKenna typically treats us to a pun across the top row and it took me a few readings to get that this one is for CLOSE AT HAND.

All definitions can be confirmed in Chambers so I'm going to focus on wordplay here.

Away we go...

Across
1 College failure becomes a pitcher (6)
CLOSER - C(college), LOSER(failure) - pitcher in baseball who specialized in coming in for the last couple of outs
6 Brown would be excluded if opening with book (6)
TANNED - if the first letter was a B it would be BANNED(excluded)
11 Gardeners near their peak delight in these trees on a lake (7)
ALPINES - PINES(trees) next to A, L(lake)
13 Whoops! I tend to flounder round boaters, or similar (11, three words)
THAT'S DONE IT -  anagram of I,TEND,TO surrounding HATS(boaters)
14 Eg, Bravo Charlie … Romeo by instant messaging (4)
CRIM - C(Charlie), R(Romeo) and IM(instant messaging)
15 Charge one’s own claim to being a doozy (7)
IMPEACH -  if you are a doozy you might say I'M a PEACH
16 Rhubarb and honey — mean to be ordinary (5)
HOOEY - N is the mathematical symbol for average(mean). Replace the N with O(ordinary) in HONEY.  Edit: although I have seen n and x used as mathemarical terms for mean, neither are in Chambers so it is mostly likely mean meaning middle to replace the N with O
18 Cake for broadcaster from Dublin (5)
TORTE - TO(for), RTE(broadcaster from Dublin)
20 Question for right solver who enjoys trifles (8)
QUIDDLER - QU(question) instead of R(right) in RIDDLER(solver)
22 Soppiness about old English black plant (8)
SLOEBUSH - SLUSH(sloppiness) surrounding O(old), E(English), B(black)
24 Anything or, for a few, nothing is accepted without opening (5)
OUGHT - NOUGHT(nohing) missing the first letter
26 Parent on dog’s well-defined bit of body (5)
TAGMA - MA(parent) with TAG(dog, trail)
27 Odd form of compulsion finds this minatory PLC fazed (7)
OMINOUS -  I read this as the whole clue being the definition and wordplay - anagram of COMPULSION minus PLC
29 I’m no pro — in short, against avoiding brief (4)
LAIC - remove CON(against) from LACONIC(brief)
30 Who was famously refused gets it in? It’s occasionally unearthed (11)
JOSEPHINITE - I think this is referring to JOSPEHINE Baker, who once sued the Stork club in Manhattan for refusing her entry (and lost!).  Insert IT. Fortunately after the case of Josephine Baker the US as a whole decided to reject racism and accept people as equals. Edit: There is a suggestion in the comments that it comes from the phrase "Not tonight, Josephine" which I admit I had not heard of
31 Canned in Queensland adopting not forgotten way to stand (7)
IN-KNEED - INKED(drunk, canned) containing NE(not). I've never heard INKED used for drunk, but I was in Queensland in July and I think any past verb can be used... "we were out last night, we got totally blogged"
32 Republic succeeded drawing in obsequious sorts (6)
YES-MEN - the republic of YEMEN containing S(succeeded)
33 The herpetologist Fink-Nottle in differing guises? (6)
GUSSIE - anagram of GUISES - Augustus from the P.G. Wodehouse stories

Down
1 Memorable girl wanted at home about to board (6)
CATCHY - This is a deep dive... CATHY Come Home is a 1966 film, insert C(about)
2 Job of no consequence in Ireland! Little work and, gosh, I toil hard (11)
OPHIOLOGIST - OP(work) and an anagram of GOSH,I,TOIL - referencing that there are no snakes in Ireland
3 Answer is to go up with string to join pipes the old way (7)
SIAMESE - A(answer), IS all reversed then MESE(string on a lyre)
4 Guard clearing right of access for that reason (5)
ENTRY -  SENTRY(guard) missing the right hand letter of accesS
5 What’s left I used freely in base of daquiri (8)
RESIDUUM - anagram of I,USED inside RUM(the liqour in a daiquiri)
7 Take up difficulty over point (5)
ADOPT - ADO(difficulty), on PT(point)
8 Rare goose caught by inhumane neighbour (4)
NENE - hidden in inhumaNE NEighbour
9 Put out by online fault? Time to enter “delete” (7)
EVICTED - the online fault could be an E-VICE, insert T(time) then D(delete)
10 Faff about Rimbaud’s named successor (in short in Latin) (6)
DITHER - DIT(named, in French, the language of Rimbaud), then HER (abbreviation of Heres, heir)
12 Yes, great pal is excited to make the final entrance? (11, two words)
PEARLY GATES - anagram of YES,GREAT,PAL
17 Contemplation about one’s wasting (8)
MISUSING - MUSING(contemplation) surrounding I'S
19 Downy, in the manner of Wodehouse you might say (7)
PLUMOSE - P.G. Wodehouse, making his second appearance, was nicknamed PLUM, so it sounds like PLUM-OUS
21 Uni lads developing explosive mixtures (7)
DUALINS - anagram of UNI,LADS
22 In due course joey will be stoked to get diluted soda etc (6)
SOOJEY - SO(in due course) then an anagram of JOEY - soda is the mineral in this case
23 Clock wherein you see trailer (6)
FACADE - the wordplay appears to be AD(trailer) inside FACE(clock) so that is the whole clue. I think the whole is referring to the public aspect, but I could be wrong
25 Hat to leak (5)
TOPEE - TO, PEE(leak)
26 Raja in a state of drought starts to kick up (5)
TUNKU - TUN(a biological state) then the first letters of Kick Up
28 Supplier of aromatic remedies is born with millions (4)
NEEM - NEE(born), M(millions)

Sunday Times 4862 by David McLean

5:48. The easiest Sunday puzzle I can remember. I didn’t really mind: I’ve been on holiday and have been far too busy doing nothing to find time for crosswords. In fact as I finally sit down to write this blog on Thursday evening I haven’t solved any of this week’s daily puzzles. Edit: I've done all the puzzles now. Crikey, it was a tough week, wasn't it?

It might be straightforward but this is a fun puzzle of high quality. A lot of the surface readings are particularly smooth.

I can't help feeling I'm missing something obvious and/or clever in 18dn.

Definitions are underlined, anagrams indicated like (TIHS)*, anagram indicators are in italics.

Across
1 Like robes theologian puts on
ADDS - AS (like) containing (robing) DD (Doctor of Divinity).
4 If knackered, siestas can help
ASSISTANCE - (SIESTAS CAN)*. Great clue!
9 Pioneer of the pneumatic drill?
GROUNDBREAKER - or, um, GROUND BREAKER.
10 Smack with speed? There’s no good in that!
WALLOP - W (with), gALLOP.
11 Ultimately feeble with cold and still delirious
ECSTATIC - feeblE, C, STATIC.
12 Ageing aunt lethargically embraces challenge
GAUNTLET - contained in ‘ageing aunt lethargically’.
14 One might be full of spirit, but mean
MEDIUM - two definitions, one slightly cryptic and not accurate if you ask me. Full of something.
15 Go forth or go back, but not right
EGRESS - rEGRESS.
17 Fashion editor covering lines being this?
MODELLED - MODE(LL), ED. Semi-&Lit. The ‘lines’ in question being lines or collections of clothing.
19 One sticking their bill into another’s business?
INVESTOR - just a cryptic definition, I think. My first attempt at this one was INVOICER, which seems to fit the definition better. I suppose the ‘bill’ here is cash: a dollar bill, or whatever. As a description of investing this seems a bit tenuous but this is a crossword so a little creative license is allowed.
21 Do something with, essentially, worst players
ACTORS - ACT (do something), wORSt.
23 Tiny talent I’ve wasted in a negligent manner
INATTENTIVELY - (TINY TALENT IVE)*.
24 Get married? Give it a rest!
SETTLE DOWN - DD: tie the knot/it’s your own time you’re wasting.
25 Southern nurse making tired leader go: “Get off!”
SEND - S, tEND. I’ll be with you in a minute, let me just get this email off.

Down
2 Influential person upset by graduate’s opinions
DOGMA - reversal of GOD, MA. ‘Influential person’ seems a bit weak for GOD, but it’s used to describe a person who is revered and hence presumably influential.
3 Liberal tucking into hot and fruity loaf
STOLLEN - STOL(L)EN.
4 City on a plain wrecked by first of storms
ANNAPOLIS - (ON A PLAIN)*, Storms. The capital of Maryland and the scene of some key events in the early history of the US. George Washington famously resigned his commission there in 1783.
5 Guinea pig’s seen in a field, of course
SUBJECT - triple definition.
6 Stops and shoots
STEMS - DD.
7 Difficult week in a place where the patient might be tested?
AWKWARD - A(WK), WARD
8 Conservative and I uttered rubbish in confidence
CERTITUDE - C, (I UTTERED)*.
13 A right nice guy meeting hip earl from Cordoba?
ARGENTINE - A, R, GENT (nice guy), IN (hip), E (earl).
14 I’m on a diet after shocking intervention
MEDIATION - (IM ON A DIET)*.
16 European six-footer tackles prop with style
ELEGANT - E(LEG), ANT. The prop is a LEG, the six-footer (insect) is an ANT.
17 Soldier shot with engineers in battle
MARENGO - MAN (soldier), GO (shot) contains RE (Royal Engineers).
18 Notes such as A, C and D
LETTERS - why not B?
20 Championship match interrupted by vacuous tomfool
TITLE - TI(TomfooL)E.
22 Material colourful writer initially abandoned
RAYON - cRAYON.

Jumbo 1393

Pretty standard Jumbo with no problematic or contentious clues in my opinion. Probably 2 Down would be my favourite for the long anagram.

Across
1 CONSPIRES - CON = against, SPIRES = high church features
6 LAIRS - (awfu)L, AIRS = appearances
9 HACKLES - SHACKLE = fastening, with the first letter moved to the end as instructed
13 PAPER - PA(u)PER = poor person
14 SNAFFLE - SALE = retail promotion, with NAFF = tasteless, replacing A = article. "A bit" is the definition
15 CONUNDRUM - COD(e) = secret writing, around NUN = religious woman, RUM = strange
16 SOLAR PANELS - SO = thus, LAR(k) = fun, PANELS = groups of experts
17 THEORETICAL - T(eaching), HERETICAL = unorthodox around O = nothing
18 ATOPIC - ATOP = at the highest level, IC = in charge
19 SPINSTER - RETS = gets soaked, NIPS = hurries, all reversed
21 RAISIN - R.A. = artist, IS IN = hasn't gone out
25 PUBLICAN - (re)PUBLICAN = American politician
26 LEADING ARTICLE - the leading AN of Andrew and THE of Thelma are grammatical articles
28 ERNST - STERN = severe, with ST = saint = good person, moved to the end
29 FRENCH - FR(i)EN(d) = pal, CH = check
30 MONSTRANCE - MONS = battle site, TRANCE = dazed state
33 TOPGALLANT - TOP = POT = vessel, reversed, GALLANT = splendid
35 EXCEPT - EXCE(l) = do very well, P = quiet, T = time
36 AXIOM - A, X = sign of love, I.O.M. = (Isle of) Man
38 CARDINAL NUMBER - CARDINAL = prelate, NUMBER = less responsive
40 SOUTHERN - SON = boy, around (l)UTHER = reformer
42 BELT UP - double definition
43 SIT TIGHT - S(illy), IT = Italian, TIGHT = drunk
44 ERRAND - E.R. = queen, RAN = managed = D = duke
47 THATCHERITE - THATCH = something hairy, ERE = before, around IT
50 ELABORATELY - (EAT OR A BELLY)*
52 TERMAGANT - TERM = call, ANT = worker, around A and G = good
53 INTENSE - IN = N.I. = part of UK, reversed, TENSE = future, possibly
54 I-BEAM - I = the writer, BEAM = look happy
55 DEPOSIT - (TOP SIDE)*
56 RIGEL - hidden reversed in notabLE GIRl
57 LAYPERSON - PLAYERS*, ON = cricket side
 
Down
1 CAPES - double definition
2 NAPOLEON BONAPARTE - (A PLAN TO OPEN ONE BAR)*
3 PORTRAITIST - (SPIRIT TO ART)*
4 RESEAL - REAL = authentic, around ES = art = are, in French
5 SHAKE-UPS - SUPS = drinks, around HAKE = fish
6 LIFE SENTENCE - LIE = story, around F = female, SENTENCE = a few words
7 INEPTITUDE - (I NEED IT PUT)*
8 SOCLE - CLOSE*. I needed to look this one up to confirm
9 HONORARIA - (OH NO)*, (singe)R, ARIA = song
10 CONSTRICTOR - CON = prisoner, STRICT = not loose, O.R. = soldiers
11 LYRIC - CYRIL*
12 SIMPLE - double definition
18 APPRENTICE - APPR(oval) = assent, ENTICE = attract
20 RANSOMED - RANSOME = Arthur, the writer, D = died
22 INCONSIDERATENESS - (INTERCESSIONS DEAN)*
23 LAWFUL - L = learner, AWFUL = terrible
24 DETERMINED - DETER = put off, MINED = bored
27 PENNINES - PENS = writers, around NINE = a number
31 SITCOM - SIT = rest, CO = company, M(ajor)
32 EXPERIMENTAL - EXPER(t) = boffin, I = one, MENTAL = insane
34 ARISTOCRATS - ARIS(e) = come to light, TOCRATS = STAR COT = brilliant little resting place, reversed
36 ALTERNATIVE - a colonial control freak may try to ALTER NATIVE behaviour
37 SMATTERING - (lesson)S, MATTERING = being significant
39 APPLE TART - A PART = a role, around PL = place, and E.T. = out of this world
41 SHRAPNEL - double definition, the second referring to SHRAPNEL being loose change and bobs as pre-decimal UK coins (shillings)
45 STATED - hidden in geophagiST ATE Dirt
46 LOVELY - LO = see, V = very, ELY = small city
48 ATRIP - A TRIP = a journey
49 INTER - IN, TER(m) = period
51 YEMEN - YEN = longing, around ME = your crossword setter

Lots of lovely clues here. Well done, setter. My favourite was the unusual wordplay in 28ac. I also liked the disguise in 3dn, which was my LOI although it’s not that hard in hindsight. For me it was a “slow but steady” solve, although I wouldn’t be surprised by some lightning times.

Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means ‘anagram of ABC’. Deletions are in [square brackets].


Across
1 Lots of nameless numpties (6)
OODLES – [n]OODLES. I suspect both ‘numpties’ and ‘noodles’ are British usages?

4 Very strong wine imported by African country (7)
DRASTIC – ASTI ‘imported’ by DRC – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire.

9 Infuriate supporter, changing sides (5)
ANGER – ANGEL changing from left to right.

10 Article with hint concerning hors d'oeuvre (9)
ANTIPASTO – AN, TIP, AS TO.

11 Inexperienced boy going round North Island (9)
GREENLAND – GREEN, LAD ‘round’ N. I thought the answer would be ‘inexperienced’; must remind myself (yet again) to examine both ends of the clue for possible definitions!

12 Eager, articulate commie chap shunned by many (5)
READY – unusual wordplay, or at least hard to see: READ sounds like ‘red’; Y is [man]Y ‘shunning’ the MAN/CHAP.

13 Hard drinker knocked back moonshine (4)
TOSH – H[ard] SOT ‘knocked back’.

14 Verses stir volatile attendant (10)
SERVITRESS – anagram (volatile) of (VERSES STIR*). I often find the -TRESS answers somewhat archaic. In this case I feel even SERVITOR would be archaic?

18 Paying one to follow academic panel (10)
PROFITABLE – PROF, I, TABLE.

20 Half-cut scally initially makes racket (4)
SCAM – SCA[lly] ‘half-cut’, then M[akes] ‘initially’.

23 Article on father and pioneer of French film (5)
PATHE – PA, THE. Pathé Freres.

24 Mate on the ground, the worse for wear (4-5)
MOTH-EATEN – anagram (ground) of (MATE ON THE*). To quibble, moth-eating occurs in the cupboard, surely, not while wearing?

25 Vacuous Alfred and Oscar share deep love (9)
ADORATION – A[lfre]D ‘vacuous’, O for Oscar in the phonetic alphabet, RATION.

26 Short-stay children's homes must recruit regularly (5)
UTERI – even letters of mUsT rEcRuIt. I can imagine some mothers taking exception to this perhaps flippant definition!

27 Study point and bulk of tooth (7)
DENTINE – DEN, TINE.

28 Having tail extended worries pet (6)
CARESS – extend the tail of CARES by adding another S.


Down
1 Flyer operating flaps (6-3)
ORANGE-TIP – anagram (flaps) (OPERATING*). It’s a butterfly.

2 Stray cat heading off after daughter (7)
DIGRESS – D[aughter], then ‘heading off’ [t]IGRESS.

3 Unruly and merry, wants to shed clothing (6)
ERRANT – [m]ERR[y], [w]ANT[s], both ‘shedding clothing’.

4 Took out old hat (5)
DATED – double definition.

5 Pirates punished with variable harshness (8)
ASPERITY – anagram (punished) of (PIRATES*), then Y is the (algebraic) variable.

6 Pilot put away food with a will (7)
TESTATE – TEST (pilot), ATE (put away food). ‘Testate’ as opposed to ‘intestate’.

7 Ally of NATO for example ignoring borders (5)
CRONY – NATO is an [a]CRONY[m]. Ignore the borders.

8 Dance hall losing money twice over Prohibition period (8)
HABANERA – HA[ll] losing both L’s for pounds, BAN, ERA. A style of Cuban dance. Lucky I didn’t have to guess – I might have thought it was a cigar!

15 Cleaning car, see beer can on top of gearbox (8)
VALETING – V (see), ALE, TIN, G[earbox].

16 Meaning of extremely strange male capers (9)
SEMANTICS – S[trang]E, M[ale], ANTICS.

17 The learned elite rationalise to an extent (8)
LITERATI – hidden answer.

19 Tired old couple filling vase (7)
OUTWORN – O[ld], then TWO ‘filling’ URN.

21 Reflective stud as yet uneasy in church (7)
CATSEYE – anagram (uneasy) of (AS YET*) inside CE (church).

22 Jellyfish in sea north of America (6)
MEDUSA – MED (sea), USA.

23 Tartan pants left aesthete in distress at first (5)
PLAID – first letters of each word. (‘At front’).

24 Man turning up teaching bible material (5)
MOIRE – I.O.M. (Isle of Man, ‘turning up’), RE (teaching bible).

Red Scare, Blue State

I little bit late with the blog tonight as I solved the crossword in a departure lounge in Oakland Airport, and am posting this from the other end of my flight, in lovely damp Seattle. It's good to be back in my American home from home! If only for the weekend.

Anyway this seemed adequately Fridayish, with a lot of definition parts that bore plenty of thinking about before their synonyms were revealed - unless of course you're the sort of human thesaurus who instantly converts "slyboots" to "serpent". FOI 13a, quickly followed by 20ac; LOI quite possibly 1dn which was obscure in all its component parts. COD to 26ac, which I got from the crossers, and only realised it was a beautifully constructed anagram much later, so limpid and unassuming was its surface. My thanks to the setter - but for now it's time for bed, need to be fresh and rested in the morning to go roving in the Emerald City...

ACROSS
1 Feverish patient scoffing cold trifle (8)
PITTANCE - (PATIENT*) ["feverish"] "scoffing" C [cold]

5 Slips as one runs away from beasts on the savannah (6)
GAFFES - G{ir}AFFES [beasts on the savannah], subtracting I R [one | runs]

10 Wines administered by man in debt reversed capitalist's suspicion (4,5,3,3)
REDS UNDER THE BED - REDS UNDER [wines | administered by] + HE [man] in DEBT reversed

11 Lash out, catching end of trowel in shrub (7)
SPLURGE - {trowe}L in SPURGE [shrub]

12 Slyboots told to go, before sneaking back inside (7)
SERPENT - SENT [told to go], PRE [before] reversed inside

13 Never mind what landlords do unaided (3,5)
LET ALONE - LET [what landlords do] + ALONE [unaided]

15 Third ball struck regularly, moving due to gravity (5)
TIDAL - T{h}I{r}D {b}A{l}L, with letters regularly struck out

18 Transporter, one in particular (5)
ARTIC - hidden in {p}ARTIC{ular}

20 Edit punctuation a little to impress with one's style (3,1,4)
CUT A DASH - or an editor might cut an em- or en-dash

23 Top-quality type of UK bond of no interest? (7)
PREMIUM - double def

25 What Carmen did with melody, returning her drink? (7)
SANGRIA - SANG [what Carmen did] with reversed AIR [melody] - Carmen being Spanish

26 Exterior protection especially designed to be hardwearing (15)
WEATHERBOARDING - (TO BE HARDWEARING*) ["especially designed"]

27 Team of engineers apparently to stay (6)
RESIDE - an RE SIDE could be... a team of engineers

28 Name, after sprinkling, initially, in church service? (8)
CHRISTEN - N [name], after S{prinkling} in CH RITE [church | service] &lit

DOWN
1 Express contempt over first couple of errors, and depart (6)
PERISH - PISH [express contempt] "over" ER{rors}

2 Smallest doll, oddly with sprucest clothing (9)
TIDDLIEST - D{o}L{l}, with TIDIEST [sprucest] "clothing"

3 Area covered by sign early in year after loss of US tanks (7)
AQUARIA - A [area] "covered by" AQUARI{us} [(star) sign early in year (Jan/Feb), minus US]

4 Squad's days in custody (5)
CADRE - D [days] in CARE [custody]

6 Dying artist injured outside hotel (7)
ATHIRST - (ARTIST*) ["injured"] outside H [hotel]

7 Basic material to lie on (5)
FIBRE - FIB [to lie] + RE [on]

8 Journalist put away, passing through arch with dignity (8)
SEDATELY - ED ATE [journalist | put away], "passing through" SLY [arch]

9 Chance to thrive when king leaves court (8)
PROSPECT - PROSPE{r} [to thrive, minus R = king] + CT [court]

14 Previously keeping mum about gunners getting shot? (2,6)
ON CAMERA - ONCE [previously] "keeping" reversed MA, + RA [gunners]

16 Seizure, and doctor's initial effort to stop it (9)
DISTRAINT - D{octor} + STRAIN [effort] "to stop" IT

17 Available workers brandishing weapon in masculine style (8)
MANPOWER - (WEAPON*) ["brandishing"] in MR [masculine style, as in designation I suppose]

19 Overused noun dropped by secure editor (7)
CLICHED - CLI{n}CH [secure, "dropping" N = noun] + ED

21 Old coins from Asian land turned up in heart of Madeira (7)
DENARII - IRAN [Asian land] reversed in {ma}DEI{ra}

22 Glass of beer? Fortified drink from south, in trade terms (6)
JARGON - JAR [glass of beer?] + upside down NOG [fortified drink]

24 On reflection, cut written work for assessments (5)
EXAMS - reversed AXE [cut] + MS [written work]

25 Languorous animal assigned position close to hearth (5)
SLOTH - SLOT [assigned position] + {heart}H

Quick Cryptic 1414 by Wurm

So, not straightforward I would posit; took me well over 10 minutes. Rather rewarding in the end though. There's a great example of an important device that beginners should all learn from: the familiar two-word phrase which needs to be separated to unlock the clue. See 'European Union' in 7dn. There's arguably another example at 13ac where 'Standing up' has to be dismantled to solve the clue.

Across
1 Income in year unfortunately reversed (6)
SALARY - YR + ALAS all backwards
5 Society very large for instance (6)
SAMPLE - S (society) + AMPLE
8 Agreement makes sense (13)
UNDERSTANDING - Double definition
9 Go without nookie? (4)
EXIT - EX (without) + IT (sex)
10 Nuts on plane carrying old emperor (8)
NAPOLEON - Anagram ('nuts') of ON PLANE + O
11 Demon drink? (6)
SPIRIT - double definition
13 Standing up tree, swaying (6)
REPUTE - Anagram ('swaying') of  UP TREE
15 Taken and treated, keeping fit (8)
CAPTURED - CURED with APT inside
17 Banish some nervous tension (4)
OUST - hidden word: nervOUS Tension
19 Harbour Dutch pirate? (4,2,7)
HOOK OF HOLLAND - jokey double definition
21 Group about to fix old instrument (6)
SPINET - SET (group) around PIN (fix)
22 Sitting in punt, ask for picnic hamper (6)
BASKET - ASK inside BET (punt)

Down
2 Join woman on Times (5)
ANNEX - ANNE + X
3 Criminal assistant one to have flutter? (7)
ABETTER - double definition of sorts
4 Ultimately Mary Seacole was right (3)
YES - last letters of marY seacolE waS
5 Fish in tangled reeds escaped (9)
SCARPERED - CARP inside an anagram ('tangled') of REEDS
6 One demonstrating fashion line? (5)
MODEL - MODE (fashion) + L (line)
7 Ruffian entertaining in European Union move (4-3)
LINE-OUT - This is my favourite. Spent ages trying to wedge 'EU' in the answer somehow, before the penny dropped. A Line-Out is a set-piece play in rugby UNION, hence 'union move'. LOUT (ruffian) with IN + E (European) inside.
10 Web expert able to make money after tax (3,6)
NET PROFIT - NET (web) + PRO (expert) + FIT (able)
12 Aesop cooked up dish (3,4)
PEA SOUP - Anagram ('cooked') of AESOP + UP
14 Papa has many dogs (7)
POODLES - P (phonetic alphabet) + OODLES. A frequent flyer, this one.
16 Nominal figure all right to be accepted (5)
TOKEN - TEN with OK (all right) inside
18 Son in church from that time onwards (5)
SINCE - S + IN + CE
20 Major Bloodnok hosts ball (3)
ORB - hidden word: MajOR Bloodnok
Time taken: 18:56. I struggled mightily with this one, and I think my difficulty was in second-guessing a few of the defintions, which in my mind did not perfectly fit the answers. I should have just relied on wordplay, which works all the way around.

The other early solvers are taking a little longer than their average times (I'm 3rd on the list at the time of writing this up), so I think it is genuinely difficult.

The first definition in each clue is underlined.

Away we go...

Across
1 Acquisitive chap, as we see it (8)
COVETOUS - COVE(chap) TO US (as we see it)
5 Back yard fencing weak and sagging (6)
DROOPY - reversal of all of the wordplay - YD(yard) containing POOR(weak)
8 Stripping off uniform, love holding colonel's coat (10)
UNCLOTHING - U(uniform), then NOTHING(love) containing the exterior letters of ColoneL  Edit: I missed the "coat" section originally and just had CL for Colonel
9 Without a mark where they should be gained (4)
EXAM - EX(without), A, M(mark)
10 Put a stop to Rugby's foul school leader (5,2,3,4)
KNOCK ON THE HEAD - the foul in Rugby is a KNOCK ON, then school leader is THE HEAD
11 Foreign letter coming in is the French letter (7)
EPISTLE -  PI(foreign letter), inside EST LE(is the, in French)
13 Charge to pack knick-knacks hurriedly (7)
AGITATO - AGIO(charge), containing TAT(knick-knacks) - musical term
15 At first, bear one fruit or another (7)
BANANAS - first letter of Bear then one fruit is ANANAS
18 Cited tot defending authoritarian leader (7)
ADDUCED - ADD(tot) containing DUCE(Mussolini, authoritarian leader)
21 Heady mixture of qualities nurse developed (7,7)
TEQUILA SUNRISE - anagram of QUALITIES NURSE. Tequila with grenadine and juice
22 A little house might ... be this? (4)
SEMI - double definition for a little part of, and a house, and to boot, it is hidden inside houSE MIght
23 The writer's twice penning papers of merit (10)
IMPRESSIVE - I'M and I'VE (the writer's twice), containing PRESS(papers)
24 Highest-ranking lady has heart stolen roguishly (6)
ARCHLY - ARCH(highest-ranking), then LADY without the central letters
25 Grant a leader in the papers a column (8)
CARYATID - the actor CARY grant, then A, the first letter in The, ID(papers). A carved figure replacing a column

Down
1 Charles's going to loudly show amusement (7)
CHUCKLE - sounds like CHUCK'LL
2 Number one Scot with puritanical views (9)
VICTORIAN - VICTOR(number one), then IAN(Scot)
3 What handyman has flipping spoils apparel (7)
TOOLKIT - reversal of LOOT(spoils), then KIT(apparel)
4 Errant knight in huge trouble (7)
UNHINGE - anagram of N(knight),IN,HUGE
5 Turned tenacious, holding on (9)
DOGLEGGED -  DOGGED(tenacious), containing LEG(on, in cricket)
6 Stuff’s possibly tax-free, before cuts (7)
OVEREAT -  if something is tax-free there could be 0 VAT. Insert ERE(before)
7 Praise, primarily, to give the thing acclaim? (7)
PLAUDIT - an all-in-one where the whole clue is the wordplay. P(raise), then LAUD IT (give the thing acclaim)
12 One admitted to being unstable? It’s still to be settled (9)
LIABILITY - I(one) inside LABILITY(the chemical property of ready reactivity)
14 This vicar could be the record-holder (9)
ARCHIVIST - anagram of THIS,VICAR
16 Complaint received by a miserly sort presenting a threat to workers (3,4)
ANT BEAR - the complaint is TB(tuberculosis), inside A, NEAR(miserly)
17 Liberal leader gave up splitting wood (7)
ASQUITH - QUIT(gave up), inside ASH(wood)
18 Light vessel reversed by a kingdom once (7)
ASSYRIA - AIRY(light), SS(steamship, vessel) all reversed next to A
19 Ruling line in colour, almost ugly (7)
DYNASTY - DY(e) (colour), then NASTY(ugly)
20 European bank invests — diving in here? (4,3)
DEEP END - E(european) inside DEPEND(bank)

Times Quick Cryptic No 1413 by Tracy

No time for me today as I was distracted and interrupted several times, but it felt quite quick, with no major difficulties.  I’ll be interested to see others’ times.  Thanks Tracy.

Across

1         Register includes unknown Hungarian composer (5)
LISZT – LIST is the register, and Z the unknown that is included.  We had LISZT in the QC that I blogged exactly two weeks ago, clued then as a homophone.
Creeping plant in American’s caravan (7)
TRAILER – Double definition, the second from US culture.
8 What psychoanalyst gives male during wild party? (7)
THERAPY – HE (male) inside (during) anagram (wild) of [PARTY].  The definition part is cryptic.
Training doctor poorly (5)
DRILL – DR (doctor) and ILL (poorly).
10 Eventually entered for a marathon? (2,3,4,3)
IN THE LONG RUN – Double definition, the second cryptic.
12 Finish university, about to go through (6)
ENDURE – END (finish) and U{niversity} followed by RE (about).
13 Stroke is worried about onset of storm (6)
CARESS – CARES (is worried) and S{torm} (onset = first letter).
16  Shopkeepers had brass here in resort (12)
HABERDASHERS – Anagram (in resort, or in re-sort) of [HAD BRASS HERE].
18  A bottom in the air (5)
AFOOT – A (a) and FOOT (bottom).  To be AFOOT is to be in play, or in the air!
20  Messenger’s job to intercept porter (7)
APOSTLE – ALE is porter, as in beer, and is interrupted by POST (job).
21  Most of clothes left with child star (7)
GARLAND – GAR{b} (most of clothes) with L{eft} and AND (with).  Referring to Judy GARLAND who was a child star before going on to become an even greater legend.
22  Just ahead of time in competition (5)
EVENT – EVEN (just) and T{ime}.

Down

1         Room inside the French grill (7)
LATTICE – ATTIC (room) inside LE (French for the).  At first, I thought that the definition might be ‘room inside’ and tried, unsuccessfully, to make LATRINE fit.
Hard work disturbed Swede at party (7,6)
SWEATED LABOUR – Anagram (disturbed) of [SWEDE AT] followed by LABOUR (as in the political party).  SWEATED LABOUR is defined in my Chambers as ‘hard work obtained by exploitation’.
Not entirely where studying at university may lead one (2,1,6)
TO A DEGREE – Double definition.
4 Much younger lover in rhyme (3,3)
TOY BOY – Helpful cryptic definition.
Help female servant male deserted (3)
AID – The female servant is a {m}AID – with M{ale} deserting to give AID. 
Recreational complex has unusual line – rest cure to conserve energy! (7,6)
LEISURE CENTRE – Anagram (unusual) of [LINE – REST CURE] with E{nergy}.
Part of official list announced (4)
ROLE – Sounds like (announced) ROLL (official list).
11  Happy, having stumped one former Prime Minister (9)
GLADSTONE –  GLAD (happy) and ST{umped} (cricket shorthand) and ONE (one).  I wonder if our American colleagues across the pond feel the same sinking feeling when a clue refers to an ex-Prime Minister as I feel when a clue refers to one of the many ex-Presidents?
14  Have doubts about group protecting American leader in Paris (7)
SUSPECT – SECT (group) surrounding (protecting) US (American) and P{aris} (leader, i.e. leading letter).
15  Somehow drew diamonds, holding ace and king (6)
EDWARD – Anagram (somehow) of [DREW] with D{iamonds} and holding A{ce}.  We currently have a Prince Edward, but here in England / the UK we have had a goodly number of Kings of that name in the past.
17  Report made by knight in case (4)
BANG – N (knight in chess notation) inside BAG (case).
19  Eleven, maybe, not finishing this drink (3)
TEA – The eleven refers to a TEA{m} (not finishing).
I enjoyed this one, it has a few chestnuts like 16d and 24a (apart from 10d) and is pleasantly witty in places. The chap at 27a did ring a faint bell, once I had the options before me, and 18d made me think about my first bike, which I used to call a RAAH-LEIGH so definitely not a homophone. A middle of the road 25 minutes before looking up the German guy.




Across
1 Have old German force backing law-enforcers (7)
POSSESS -  SS, the Schutzstaffel, follows POSSE a bunch of law-enforcers.
5 Appointment involves carrying one very small case (6)
DATIVE - DATE has I and V inserted.
8 Rescinds remaining acts (9)
OVERTURNS - OVER = remaining, TURNS = acts.
9 Island's cry for help going round in the morning (5)
SAMOS - There are some 227 inhabited islands in Greece, yet we find SAMOS turning up for the second time this week. Coincidence or the same setter? SOS = cry for help, around AM = in the morning.
11 Bread stick goes into this (5)
LOLLY - Double definition, lollies have sticks in.
12 One beset by dreadful sorrow, the first person to be causing concern (9)
WORRISOME - I goes into (SORROW)* then add ME.
13 Streaks of butter round black fish (8)
MARBLING - RAM = butter, reverse it = MAR, B(lack), LING a fish.
15 Footballing cheat — start to think “transfer”? (6)
DIVERT - A footballer who cheats is a DIVER looking for a penalty; add T(hink).
17 Feature at extremity of garment is a surprise (4-2)
TURN-UP - Double definition, some trousers have turn-ups.
19 Rude learner is in place of worship, about to be ejected (8)
CHURLISH - Place of worship = CHURCH, eject the C (about), insert L and IS.
22 In a row, army officer left home: one needed to listen (9)
COLLINEAR - join together COL (army officer), L(eft), IN, EAR = one needed to listen. Why isn't it just spelt CO-LINEAR? Strange language, English.
23 Directors on the side of money? (5)
HEADS - Double definition, bosses and heads or tails.
24 Old Italian bread around duck in river (5)
LOIRE - LIRE was Italian money, insert O(ld).
25 Writer in Holy Land situation producing an enormous amount (9)
SQUILLION - QUILL, an old writer, inserted into SION. Etymology of squillion is said to be 'fanciful, 1940s'.
26 Drink makes one get shaken up before the end of day (6)
WHISKY - A WHISK could shake up a drink, I suppose, and adding Y the end of day does the trick.
27 German mathematician, curiously blithe about arithmetic? (7)
HILBERT - R for arithmetic, one of the three R's, inserted into (BLITHE)*. If you hadn't heard of David Hilbert, 1862 - 1943, you'd have to fiddle around with the anagram letters, R and the checkers until it looked likely.

Down
1 Blast a compiler, not having succeeded — terrible puzzle is that! (13)
PROBLEMATICAL - (BLA T A COMPILER)*, the S being removed = not having succeeded.
2 Excellent room for wine, not cold, below street level (7)
STELLAR - ST = street, (C)ELLAR = room for wine, not cold. LEVEL seems superfluous except for the sense of the surface.
3 Guard heading off — leaving this exposed? (5)
ENTRY - SENTRY loses its S.
4 Celebrate, having caught gang cheating (8)
SCREWING - SING = celebrate has CREW = gang inserted.
5 Hot feeling? Gentleman plunges into river (6)
DESIRE - SIR goes plunging into the river DEE.
6 Witness has ordeal, I note, losing heart (9)
TESTIFIER - TEST = ordeal, I, FI(V)ER = note losing heart.
7 Escape with a move so disorderly? (7)
VAMOOSE - (A MOVE SO)*. Derived from Spanish vamos, let's go. For me it means to leave in a hurry, escape is a bit of a stretch.
10 Wood cut, the wetness proving tricky (5,8)
SWEET CHESTNUT - (CUT THE WETNESS)*.
14 Incompetence, a condition that brings out the nit-picker? (9)
LOUSINESS - Well, if you had nits, you'd maybe pick at them, and nits are the eggs of lice.
16 All-embracing love, during hugging (8)
THOROUGH - THROUGH (during) hugs O.
18 Explorer who is audible in mass meeting (7)
RALEIGH - Today's debatable homophone; does Sir Walter really sound like RALLY? How was he pronounced in 1600?
20 Picture in one publication with extreme characters being carted off (7)
IMAGINE - I = one, MAG(AZ)INE; the A and Z "extreme characters" are removed.
21 Lively female that is upset over squalid accommodation (6)
FEISTY - F(emale), IE (that is) reversed, STY = squalid accommodation.
23 Onset of hunger with everyone needing to eat a type of meat (5)
HALAL - H(unger), ALL swallows A.

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