A crossword full of random people, presumably to annoy people who don’t appreciate random people in crosswords. There’s a random note as well. There are pairs of sailors, plants, trees and insects, the latter being a pair of three rather than two. The trees are the most obscure, I suspect, and for non-dendrophiles, careful attention to the wordplay may be the only route, and even then those pesky random people are not particularly generous in providing aid.
Here’s how I cracked the challenge in 17.27 on the newspaper site version, the club version still not launching anywhere near midnight my time.
Clues, definitions, SOLUTIONS.
Clues, definitions, SOLUTIONS.
1 Short man drove into woman’s tropical tree (9)
JACARANDA Tree 1. The random man is JACK short of his K, and the random woman is ADA. Drove provides the RAN to fill in the rest of the clue. I think drive as in take the car for a run is sufficient.
6 Degree of elevation that’s perfect for some players (5)
PITCH A double definition, or perhaps a definition and an inference, perfect pitch belonging to those (usually singers rather than players, really), who can hit a note without accompaniment.
9 Dupe whip’s assistant at Westminster primarily (4-3)
CAT’S PAW A whip is a CAT (as in o’ nine tails) which has no use for, but here has, a PA to look after its needs. The first of Westminster completes.
10 Note about recorder originally employed in genuine court action (7)
RETRIAL A matryoshka clue, R(ecorder) inside TI (a drink with jam and bread) inside REAL standing in for genuine
11 Presumably vote against party (5)
BEANO Split it up, and you have BE A NO. In the Lords, it would be be a not content, which wouldn’t fit.
12 Insect a theologian is canny about at the start (6-3)
CADDIS FLY A theologian might be a Doctor of Divinity, DD, and you have the A and IS in plain view. Canny is FLY as in shrewd, and you need C (Circa) for about at the beginning
13 Wash in club at Hendon (5)
BATHE How kind: an easily spotted “hidden”: cluB AT HEndon
14 Sort of lens hotel poet developed (9)
TELEPHOTO An anagramic development of HOTEL POET
17 Endless mysterious instances (9)
INCESSANT A rather nice anagram (“mysterious”) of INSTANCES
18 Reportedly risk the meat course? (5)
STEAK If you gamble, your risk would be your STAKE, which provides the sound of our answer
19 Ratings deceived a talked-of person on the run (9)
ABSCONDER Our first sailors (ratings) are ABS, followed by the sound of conned a, deceived a. One for the non-rhotics among us.
22 One who entertains head of automobile plant (5)
HOSTA Our first plant, comprising a HOST as entertainer and the head Of A(tomobile).
24 Fellow European holds record, taking on a form of diving (4-3)
DEEP-SEA Our random fellow is DES, containing an EP record and adding E(uropean) and – um – A
25 Popular Arab advancing first of ships near coast? (7)
INSHORE On Tuesday our Arab was a Saudi, today it’s the more familiar (in Crosswordese) HORSE. Mount it on the back of IN (popular) and advance the S (first of Ships) to an appropriate position.
26 He won the Nobel prize for literature? Indeed, way back (5)
YEATS WB did exactly that, YEA, indeed, on way which provides a back ST(reet)
27 Creepy-crawly let loose after return of stick insect (3-6)
DOR BEETLE Two more insects . BEE adds a loose LET to give TLE, and both follow ROD for stick “returned”
1 One who showed patience penning a hundred sheep (5)
JACOB The proverbial sufferer JOB, who gets the rawest deal in the Bible, losing wife, family and livestock to natural and supernatural disasters, and gets from God the response to his complaint that it’s a bit much the rather unsatisfactory response of “well, I made stuff like whales and hippos, so there”. So surely showed patience in that he didn’t call God’s bluff. A hundred is A C, which is enclosed to provide a breed of sheep.
2 Woman on lorry releasing repressed emotions (9)
CATHARTIC Our random woman is CATH, and the lorry an ARTIC(ulated truck)
3 Again treat golfer, perhaps, during vacation (9)
REPROCESS A golfer might be a PRO, and a vacation is a RECESS, especially if it’s Parliament, when its humungously long.
4 Latest tax on cord worn by leader of detectives — here? (3,8,4)
NEW SCOTLAND YARD I biffed this from numeration, but it's latest: NEW, leader of detectives: D and cord: LANYARD, which the D “wears”
5 Publicised drink taken by reservist’s best friend? (8,7)
AIREDALE TERRIER Publicised AIRED, drink: ALE, reservist TERRIER (derived from Territorial Army)
6 Works of art positioned on this regularly (5)
PUTTI Positioned: PUT plus ThIs. These are Raphael’s.
7 Not necessarily thick, this malefactor (5)
THIEF referencing “thick as thieves”
8 Plant cardinal finally dropped in consecrated wine? (9)
HOLLYHOCK Plant 2. My first shot was the momble hollyrose, but the wine is HOCK (not really suitable for communion wine, it’s not red) but then consecrated is there to provide HOLY, home to the cardinaL’s last.
13 Plundering of fat bloke securing rights in different places (9)
BRIGANDRY Our random bloke is BIG fat ANDY, with R(ight)s distributed where they can do most good.
15 Heat stops circulating at great speed (9)
POSTHASTE “circulating” tells you it’s an anagram of HEAT STOPS. So it is.
16 Laugh uproariously after deliveries go too far (9)
OVERSHOOT Today’s cricket reference, several deliveries by a bowler constituting OVERS. Laugh uproariously is HOOT
20 Ancient kingdom identified by female graduate (5)
SHEBA Female SHE, graduate BA. Diddle-iddle diddle-iddle diddle-iddle diddle-iddle diddle-iddle-iddle-diddle-iddle diddle diddle diddle. By Handel.
21 Like one welcomed into sailor’s watering-hole (5)
OASIS Our second sailor is an Ordinary Seaman, and he (she?) embraces AS I for like one.
23 Eurasian tree the council finally planted in Lincoln (5)
ABELE Tree 2. You need the finally’s from both thE and counciL digested by ABE Lincoln. “Apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?” The ABELE is the white poplar, also native to Morocco and spreading like wildfire in Australia, where it’s not welcome.