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February 1st, 2018

I sauntered through this in 21 minutes, not troubled too much by the golfing references which didn’t require me to know anything about golf, and relieved that the Latin references, of which there are several, didn’t require an in-depth classical education. I got the impression that there was a preponderance of clues requiring you to insert part A into part B, though I haven’t counted them up. The plant, the bird, the artist, the writer, the musician, the dog and the boat (one of which I have sailed on) shouldn’t cause any major head scratching or complaints about obscurity, though contestants on the majority of TV game shows might struggle.
Anyway, here, with a few embellishments, are the results of the United Kingdom jury (me) with clues, definitions and SOLUTIONS variously highlighted
.

ACROSS


1 Cool, informed female designer making comeback (9)
SANGFROID Cool as in “the Englishman with his usual bloody cold” Constructed from informed (verbal version): SANG, F(emale) and DIOR the designer reversed.
6 Backed commercial corporation in fact (5)
DATUM AD reversed and TUM for corporation in its stomach guise.
9 Head off lame evildoer’s first trespass (7)
IMPINGE Take the L from LIMPING, add E(vildoer)
10 Bird hit high in the air by large vessel (7)
SKYLARK If you hit the ball high, you SKY it. Add L(arge) and that frequently selected vessel, the ARK
11 Cut down on binding agent? (5)
GLUON I think this is an abbreviated GLU(m) for down plus ON. When solving I thought it might be a loose-ish &lit, with binding agent being GLUE, similarly cut, but I don’t think the syntax really works
12 A small amount of tin securing knight’s chain (9)
APENNINES A small amount is PENNIES, insert N for a (chess) knight. It’s a mountain sort of chain.
13 Some terrific screenwriters around in this genre (3-2)
SCI-FI Hidden and reversed in terrIFIC Screenwriters. Make up your own examples.
14 Witches on short mission to seal husband in cooking pot (5,4)
DUTCH OVEN  A pleasingly Grimm inspired clue: Mission provides DUTY (to be cut) and witches COVEN. Insert H(usband).
17 Esoteric worship suppressing New England possession (9)
OWNERSHIP I don’t recall seeing esoteric used as an anagram indicator before, but no quibble. WORSHIP therefore scrambled with N(ew) E(ngland) intruding.
18 Invited to accept golf club’s proof of membership? (5)
BADGE Golf is there to provide the (NATO) G, invited to provide the embracing BADE
19 Artistic Italian waterway and Latin quarter of Sorrento (9)
CANALETTO Waterway: CANAL, and (in Latin) ET, and a quarter of SorrenTO for the rest
22 Primrose’s cousin is over 40 and flipping sanctimonious (5)
OXLIP I’ll take the setter’s botany as accurate. O(ver) XL (40 in Latin)and PI (sanctimonious) reversed (flipping)
24 Broadcast a child-friendly Q&A about tanks (7)
AQUARIA Reverse (about) AIR (broadcast) A U (child friendly) Q & A without bothering with the &.
25 Craft fine cryptic clue, more or less (7)
FELUCCA F(ine) plus anagram (cryptic) of CLUE plus CA for more or less/ approximately.
26 Harry Basset, perhaps (5)
HOUND A friendly double definition. Nothing to do with liquorice allsorts.
27 He arranged some rags and boots with ends missing (9)
ELLINGTON He did indeed: here’s his speedy version of Scott Joplin’s Tiger Rag. The boots are there so you can take the W off the front end and the S off the back end.

DOWN

1 Cast? That’s supporting cast (5)
SLING another tidy double definition, with a neat use of two versions of “cast”
2 Marshal Pétain trapping peacekeepers before noon with sea power? (9)
NEPTUNIAN Marshal is the anagram indicator, not the rank. PETAIN rearranged, U(nited) N(ations) inserted, N(oon) to finish
3 Connoisseur seizing fashionable gnome (9)
FINANCIER IN (fashionable) inserted into FANCIER (as in pigeon, for example. The best known gnomes of this kind inhabit Zurich.
4 Busted a suspect with hand on drug? Could be this (4-3-4,4)
OPEN-AND-SHUT CASE I’ll call this an &lit. Busted invites you to anagram A SUSPECT and HAND ON and put E, the setter’s drug of convenient choice on the back end.
5 Worried about group of farmers splitting up communal resource in quantity (15)
DESSERTSPOONFUL Almost my last in and thrown in without parsing, but it’s STRESSED (worried) reversed (about) plus POOL (communal resource) and N(ational) F(armers) U(nion) “splitting” the latter.
6 You dated visiting lecturer, a Senior Fellow (5)
DOYEN Our setter kindly gives us a “dated” to indicated old style YE for you) and the lecture is a DON. Assemble.
7 US storyteller Remus, perhaps, penning author’s introduction (5)
TWAIN Of course, you are meant to think of Uncle Remus, but it’s Remus TWIN to Romulus with A(uthor) inserted
8 Brand awareness to convey coherent message (4,5)
MAKE SENSE Double definition, the first mildly cryptic.
13 One unlikely to win a race with dimwitted trainer (9)
SLOW COACH Another double definition, really.
15 Stumbling briefly, hooking drive, making bogey (9)
HOBGOBLIN No golf knowledge needed, though it looks like it. This is bogey as in bogeyman. Stumbling briefly gives HOBBLIN(g) and energy the GO for completion.
16 Vile edict is farcical to wit (9)
VIDE LICET More Latin, a contracted version of videre licet “it is pernmitted to see" but very much with the meaning of to wit. Here an anagram (farcical) of VILE EDICT, not all that difficult to spot.
20 Pacific nation’s gold in new version of rugby (5)
NAURU AU (gold) in N(ew) R(ugby) U(nion). It’s not exactly the world’s largest nation.
21 Ghastly covers of Lou Reed, including a single (5)
LURID L(o)U R(ee)D with an inserted 1 (single)
23 Climbing high mountain surrounded by prairie (5)
PLAIN For once, surrounded by doesn’t indicate an insertion, it just means IN, tagged on to a “climbing” ALP, a (relatively) high mountain

Times Quick Cryptic No 1018 by Tracy

A bit of an animal theme going on - we have bulls and birds and rodents and a marine mammal or two. Also, after double-checking the history of "rook", I found a bonus, animal-related verb : "to roo", which means to hand pluck a sheep, as one might pluck a bird. Good luck with that, eh? And in Australia the situation might even arise where you could say: the blind rooer rued rooing a roo. Some good surface readings, such as the titillation of a half-naked celebrity, but I'll give joint COD to 1ac and 8d. I seemed to get through this quite quickly, coming a couple of minutes under my target ten, albeit with a bit of biffing. All of which was improved on closer consideration, so many thanks to Tracy!

Across
1 Finished by attack exposing rook (10)
OVERCHARGE - OVER (finished) by CHARGE (attack) exposing/revealing the answer: to rook = to fraud/swindle/overcharge, etc. Derives from the earlier noun, after the bird and its wily ways, although interestingly ca. 1600 it could describe both the swindler and the swindled; a rook was a both a knave and a gull.
8 Exchange views about one pine, perhaps (7)
CONIFER - CONFER (exchange views) about/around I (one)
9 Guarantee cry of pain after volts applied (5)
VOUCH - OUCH (cry of pain) goes after V(olts)
10 Just on left, close to lay-by (4)
ONLY - ON L(eft), closing letter of lay-bY. I did wonder how "just" could mean "rely", but apparently it can't, at least not without recourse to a lot of obsolete Scottish dialect, and even then it would be a bit of a stretch equating "apportion" with "adjust".
11 Simple dwellings (play on words) (8)
HOMESPUN - HOMES (dwellings) PUN ((play on words)) - never shirk an opportunity to use double brackets.
13 Nail polish back in style, man explains (6)
ENAMEL - "back in" the letters of styLE MAN Explains
14 Lack of soil on ground, ultimately (6)
DEARTH - EARTH (soil) on D (grounD, ultimately)
17 Hips — a lot replaced here? (8)
HOSPITAL - &lit: anagram (replaced) of HIPS A LOT
19 Male whale? Nonsense (4)
BULL - double definition, the second of which probably derives from the Middle English "bul", for falsehood, from Old French "boule" for fraud/deceit.
21 Some clever dick composer (5)
VERDI - "Some" of the letters of cleVER DIck
22 Tries an exotic wine (7)
RETSINA - anagram (exotic) of TRIES AN.
23 Compelling work, foremost of paintings by mature English artist (4-6)
PAGE-TURNER - P (foremost of Paintings) by AGE ([to] mature) TURNER (English artist)

Down
2 Article in large house that adds taste (7)
VANILLA - AN (article) in VILLA (large house)
3 Large number, hundred, abandoning vessel (4)
RAFT - C (hundred) abandons cRAFT (vessel)
4 Actress Jean in Essex town (6)
HARLOW - double definition, I'm guessing.
5 Critic of satirical show heard by Queen (8)
REVIEWER - REVUE (satirical show) is heard the same as REVIEW, by ER (queen)
6 Provide witty remark after end of satire (5)
EQUIP - QUIP (witty remark) by E (end of satirE)
7 Relax wearing friend's fur (10)
CHINCHILLA - CHILL (relax) wearing CHINA (friend: china plate = mate in rhyming slang)
8 Seals experience narrow escape (5,5)
CLOSE SHAVE - CLOSES (seals) HAVE (experience)
12 Shy going to bed (8)
RETIRING - double definition
15 Way to go about home system (7)
ROUTINE - ROUTE (way) going about IN (home)
16 Mimic a bishop on board vessel (6)
PARROT - A RR (a right reverend = a bishop) on board POT (vessel)
18 Abandon fight (5)
SCRAP - double definition
20 Half-naked celebrity (4)
STAR - [first] half of STARkers(naked)
Greetings all, the appearance of a new Club Special reminds me that I need to post up a blog of the last one. This puzzle is a curious beast (I find): the wordplay is scrupulously fair, and would not feel much out of place in a daily 15x15, but of course the vocabulary is hopelessly obscure, such that if you can get any of it from a couple of checkers you're a better solver than I am, Gunga Din. So there's a lot of toil and trouble that goes into solving one of these, as you try to locate something, anything that could be indicated by the wordplay that has any chance of being a real word. It's all good clean fun, but I wouldn't want to do it more than once a month.

A big part of the enjoyment I think is discovering what all these ridiculous words actually mean, and I have annotated most of them with their definitions below. I'm not sure how much utility assimilating them into one's personal lexicon would provide, but we don't do crosswords because it's useful, really, do we?

ACROSS
1 Fly right into blow dealt with axe (2-6)
OX-WARBLE - R [right] into (BLOW + AXE*) ["...dealt..."]
An ox-warble is a pesky fly that produces a swelling (of the same name) on the back of an ox.

9 Within one year, not prepared to back land-tenure (8)
RYOTWARI - within I YR [one | year], RAW TO [not prepared | to], all "back"
A ryot was a peasant farmer on the Indian subcontinent. Ryotwari was a system by which the British oppressors collected taxes from the ryots, as far as I can make out.

10 Five removing cape run quietly over, uncloaked (2,6)
IN QUERPO - {c}INQUE [five, removing C for cape] + R P O [run | quietly | over]
"En cuerpo" seems to be Spanish for "out of formal dress", or "without a coat" and apparently if you're English you can spell this almost any way you like.

11 Pound, perhaps, short over time, dividing notes in threes (8)
TERZETTI - reversed EZR{a} [Pound, perhaps, "short", "over"] + T [time], "dividing" TE TI [(two) notes]
A terzetto is a trio, making terzetti "threes".

12 Peeler’s half dislodging plug in nut plant (10)
MACROZAMIA - MAC{ad->ROZ{zer}}AMIA. A peeler is a ROZZER, take the first half and use it to replace the AD [plug] in MACADAMIA to discover another plant.
A genus of Australian cycads. Presumably quite large.

14 I stand for a second in game, playful if wary (4)
ALFA - second letters of {g}A{me}, {p}L{ayful} {i}F {w}A{ry}.
A in the international phonetic alphabet. The very subtle definition part makes this my COD.

15 Female comic agreed gags: she had victims in stitches (7)
DEFARGE - F [female] that (AGREED*) ["comic"] "gags".
In Dickens' Tale of Two Cities, a tricoteuse who, Fate-like, encodes in her knitting the names of people to be killed.

17 Rare solemnity in dispatching pupils once attendant’s released slip (7)
OBSEQUY - OBS [pupils once] + EQU{err}Y [attendant, who has lost ERR meaning "slip"]
Obsequies are funeral rites and solemnities; the singular form is rarely seen.

21 Involving vital element, poisonous with lead removed (4)
OXIC - {t}OXIC [poisonous, with leading letter removed]
Something relating to oxygen.

22 Do next task, arranging places for drying out (5,5)
DETOX TANKS - (DO NEXT TASK*) ["arranging"]
Aka detoxification centres, rumours of verlaine's intimate acquaintance with which over the years are greatly exaggerated.

23 One used to extract sap keeping stone in beak once (8)
JUSTICER - JUICER [one used to extract sap] "keeping" ST [stone]
An old word for a maintainer or administrator of justice. Beak is of course slang for a magistrate, as in "up before the beak".

25 What regularly angry hosts work on by not having relatives for dinner? (8)
EXOPHAGY - EH A{n}G{r}Y [what? | "regularly" angry] "hosts" OP [work] on X [by]
Exophagy is the etiquette among polite cannibals stating that one should not eat one's own kinsfolk.

26 Stand up for Scotland? Government department not getting in way (8)
MISTRYST - M{in}ISTRY [government department, "not getting IN"] + ST [way]
To disappoint by not keeping an engagement, i.e. to "stand someone up", in Scotland.

27 Vulture, one flying through area for last of carrion (8)
ZOPILOTE - ZO{n->PILOT}E. Take ZONE, an area, and replace the last letter of {carrio}N with PILOT [one flying].
A smaller American vulture, most notably a turkey buzzard or urubu.

DOWN
2 Ten with aversion to certain insects — and salt (8)
XANTHATE - X [ten] with ANT HATE [aversion to certain insects!]
A salt of xanthic acid, which I hope is as yellow as it sounds.

3 Brief possibly pornographic song that has makings of rock (8)
ADULARIA - ADUL{t} ["brief" possibly pornographic] + ARIA [song]
A transparent orthoclase feldspar, named for the Adula group in the Alps.

4 Keen at first to have a go at climbing Highland tree (4)
BIRK - K{een} + RIB [to have a go at], "climbing"
A Scots birch.

5 Rhetorical question somewhat tame to readers, on reflection (7)
EROTEMA - hidden reversed in {t}AME TO RE{aders}
A rhetorical question; basically just the Greek word for "question".

6 Bearing old vase and vestment girl holds cross (7-3)
JOURNAL-BOX - O URN + ALB [old | vase + vestment] that JO [girl] holds, plus X [cross]
A box or bearing for a journal; a journal being that part of a shaft or axle which is in contact with and supported by a bearing. It'll come in handy one day I'm sure.

7 Rounded characters, etc, mostly mean a large measure of intelligence (8)
NASTALIQ - NAST{y} ["mostly" mean] + A L IQ [a | large | measure of intelligence]
Persian cursive script. As well as rounded characters it has long horizontal strokes.

8 Big wheel in bird enclosure, not area having young plants (8)
VIVIPARY - VIP [big wheel] in {a}VIARY [bird enclosure, not A for area]
Viviparity, that is to say producing bulbils or young plants in the flower clusters.

13 Parrot-fashion, digitally remastering CD, got lazy, repeating last bit (10)
ZYGODACTYL - (CD GOT LAZYY*) ["remastering..."]
Having two toes in front and two toes behind, in the manner of a parrot. It's all the fashion these days, I understand.

15 Yellow pack arriving in birthday post (8)
DOORJAMB - OR JAM [yellow | pack] arriving in D.O.B. [birthday]
The sidepiece or post of a door. Quite a crossword when this is the least obscure word.

16 Junk food is hard to get in Dutch province (8)
FRIESISH - FRIES IS H [junk food | is | hard]
Of the Dutch province of Friesland.

18 Bow, once, before prince related to Byzantine governor (8)
EXARCHAL - EX-ARC [bow, once] before HAL [prince]
Of an exarch, which is a Byzantine provincial governor, especially of Italy.

19 Strip title from UK, ninth and last in fencing, sadly (8)
UNKNIGHT - (UK NINTH {fencin}G*) ["sadly"]
To divest of knighthood.

20 Religious guru, celebrity, unknown beyond confines of establishment (7)
STARETZ - STAR [celebrity] + Z [unknown] beyond E{stablishmen}T
A holy man or spiritual advisor in Russia, also spelt starets.

21 Purple emblem from board game, one played for longer (4)
GOLP - GO [board game] + LP [one played for longer]
A purple roundel in heraldry. Check your own family coat of arms!