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There are some Club Monthlies whose sole agenda seems to be to use as many of the "fun" letters of the alphabet as possible, and this puzzle seems to be firmly in that school. COENZYME Q, at one down, is a dead giveaway, but the fun doesn't stop there: while there are a few clues below that use no Scrabble tiles valued at 4 or greater, but they are vastly outnumbered.

I thought this was a jolly good MCS, with playfulness and inventiveness throughout. Loved the surface of 1ac, the 25-character definition of a single letter in 2ac, "these rodents bound", Anthony & Thomas, the ingenious "Manx cat", the silly definition at 27ac: lots to enjoy, really. And loads of clues that could happily have graced a standard-strength 15x15, which is probably for the best really! COD to 26ac, combining well-concealed definition, fun cluing of "quiff" and being a crossword clue about crossword clues into one succinct and pleasing package. Thanks setter!

1 Gang of thirteen youths, initially five, turning into ninety-nine? (6)
COVYNE - Y{ouths} + V [five], reversed inside CONE [ninety-nine? (i.e. an ice cream)]

4 Character making central dip in grass, in order to see antelope (7)
BLAUBOK - U [character making central dip] in BLAB [grass], + OK [in order]

9 Nick in Muslim country, close to the Baltics, oddly (5)
EBLIS - {th}E + B{a}L{t}I{c}S

10 Once all over, we cheer a first for Henry wildly (9)
EACHWHERE - (WE CHEER A H{enry}*) ["wildly"]

11 These rodents bound to strike, turning a tragic old queen bee’s wing (9)
ZAPODIDAE - ZAP [to strike] + A DIDO reversed ["turning", a tragic old queen] + {be}E

12 Worry about appeal to umpire peeling off hat, note
TOWZE - about {h}OWZ{at} [appeal to umpire, "peeling off HAT"], TE [note]

13 Force to cut down old NZ tree (4)
MAKO - MAK{e} [force to, "cut down"] + O [old]

14 Old king’s craft: one firing, the other reversing (10)
ARTAXERXES - ART [craft] + AXER [one firing] + reversed SEX [the other, "reversing"]

18 Source of drug not quite enough for Anthony or Thomas (10)

20 What an orphan might wish for individually (1,3)
A POP - double def

23 Windows computer upgrade — Linux originally — interrupting you there! (5)
OCULI - C{omputer} U{pgrade} L{inux}, interrupting OI! [you there!]

24 Angus’s riotous behaviour gave a girl spasms (9)
GILRAVAGE - (GAVE A GIRL*) ["spasms"]

25 Militia, after a month, were going on to tour east (9)
JANJAWEED - after JAN [a month], JAWED [were going on] to "tour" E [east]

26 Something to brush up on taking answer for one down (5)
QUAFF - QU{i->A}FF [something to brush up on, taking A instead of I ("answer for one")]

27 Poor Roy: he is the object of much leg-pulling (7)
HOSIERY - (ROY HE IS*) ["poor"]

28 Unlucky former Northern Ireland radio presenter hosts retrospective (6)
JINXED - EX NI [former | Northern Ireland] that DJ [radio presenter] "hosts", the whole reversed ["retrospective"]

1 Since informally retaining French in speaking, the writer’s signal is complex (8,1)
COENZYME Q - COZ [since, informally] "retaining" EN [French in] + homophone of I'M CUE [the writer's | signal]

2 Short work a Manx cat’s tongue made! (7)
VOLAPUK - VOL [short work] + A + PUK{e} [cat, as in to vomit, but "Manx", i.e. tailless]

3 Treatment of numbers and lines of address (6)
NOSODE - NOS [numbers] + ODE [lines of address]

4 Clubs in green and black, up for Italian game (5)
BOCCE - C [clubs] in ECO + B [green + black], the whole reversed ["up"]

5 Engaged in comic expression, mostly very chirpy? (8)
ATWITTER - AT [engaged in] + WIT [comic] + TER{m} [expression, mostly]

6 Polish working party, small, to increase in size (7)
BEESWAX - BEE S WAX [working party | small | to increase in size]

7 Holder of invitation initially shunning President and First Lady (5)
KEEVE - {i}KE [I{nvitation} shunning Ike (President Eisenhower)] + EVE [the first ever lady]

8 Red flag flying over uniform that was once worn by German soldier (8)
FELDGRAU - (RED FLAG*) ["flying"] over U [uniform]

15 Top: article sat on by girl in class with numerous rings (5)
ANNELIDA - LID A [top | article] sat on by ANNE [girl]

16 Pest fed first of marigolds — I specially like the summer gentian! (9)
SEPTEMFID - (PEST FED M{arigolds} I*) ["specially"]

17 Foolhardy spirit climbing Himalayan mountain in state of confusion (8)
KAMIKAZE - KA [spirit] + K1 reversed ["climbing" Himalayan mountain] in MAZE [state of confusion]

19 Monitors briefly dropping in heading off prejudice (7)
IGUANAS - GUAN{o} ["briefly" dropping] in {b}IAS ["heading off" prejudice]

21 Friend, concerned to conceal evidence of debts, getting round hospital body (7)
PHALANX - PAL [friend] + ANX{ious} [concerned, "concealing" its IOUs ("evidence of debts")], getting round H [hospital]

22 Refusal to rear child of five, nameless Spanish American (6)
YANQUI - reversed NAY [refusal "to rear"] + QUI{n} [child of five, without N for name]

23 Thingummy, sound representative of military brass, taking judge for politician (5)
OOJAH - OO{mp->J}AH [sound representative of military brass, with a J instead of an MP]

24 Boy Belgian holds up no more like a clod (5)
GLEBY - hidden reversed in {bo}Y BELG{ian}


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 1st, 2018 12:46 am (UTC)
What. Is. The. Club. Monthly. Special. ??!?!?!

First I’m hearing of it and the answers are making my head spin.
Jun. 1st, 2018 01:50 am (UTC)
"Special" is the word all right.
Jun. 1st, 2018 03:12 am (UTC)
Well, what do you think? Difficult clues to impossible words? A challenge for those who solve the regular puzzles in four and a half minutes?

The current Monthly is on the Club site right now. This is your big chance to expand your vocabulary....
Jun. 1st, 2018 03:41 am (UTC)
But I’ve already read the answers...

What sorts of dictionaries does one use for such puzzles?
Jun. 1st, 2018 04:07 am (UTC)
Those are the answers to last month's.
Jun. 1st, 2018 05:38 am (UTC)
You haven't seen the answers to this month's .. as to dictionaries, all the words will be in Chambers Dictionary, with rare exceptions. Collins online, which is free, will have most.
I love this crossword though it is clearly not to everyone's taste. It teaches you to rely on the wordplay and not just guess or biff, and you might be suprised how many clues you can solve by just following the wordplay precisely, and looking up the answer, however unlikely it may seem.
Jun. 1st, 2018 12:33 pm (UTC)
Aha! Well colo(u)r me excited: I love juicy words and juicy clues.

I’m less of a biffer and more of a wordplay solver, but the problem is knowing what the pieces mean!
Jun. 1st, 2018 10:29 pm (UTC)
Okay, I did this month’s with looooootttttttts of help. Quite fun though!
Jun. 1st, 2018 10:44 am (UTC)
Just over an hour, much helped by the enthusiasm the setter has for, as V puts it, the fun letters. An impressive three or more of every letter in the bag, this time.
As ever, many more words in the jamais couché avec category than not, but for the most part the wordplay, carefully followed, gave you a chance.
I don't recall working out where the U in BLAUBOK came from nor the back end of ENZYME Q, but the rest worked for me.
Having "one down" in the clue for QUIFF was fiendish.
Thanks to V for unravelling everything, and to the setter for a work of art.
Jun. 1st, 2018 01:17 pm (UTC)
In 17d, K1 (aka Masherbrum) is in the Karakorum which is separate to the Himalaya.
Jun. 3rd, 2018 10:34 pm (UTC)
Dear cods! I have been trying to begin to attempt to try to consider tackling MCS 20213, and came here to get an idea of what I was up against. I can now see that I've turned up to a gunfight with a penknife, and will beat a hasty retreat.
Jun. 4th, 2018 07:58 pm (UTC)
there was a time I could sometimes finish these but
Is it me getting thicker, or are these MCS getting harder, in terms of the obscurity of word answers? I'll be finishing the Mephisto first soon.

Jun. 4th, 2018 09:33 pm (UTC)
Re: there was a time I could sometimes finish these but
I think the first one I tried my hand at made me cry, so incapable was I of making any progress with it... so from my point of view they can't be getting *more* impossible exactly.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )