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April 20th, 2018

Times 27,017: Mission to Minsk

That archival puzzle on Wednesday may have been a blessing in disguise, if it put us in the right frame of mind for today's, which I thought had a definite and not unpleasing old-school feel. I didn't know the epithet for Gladstone, the fizzy water or the scientific unit but all those clues were quite easily gettable from the wordplay and the crossers. More embarrassingly, I lost a lot of time in the NE corner due to having bunged in a hopelessly optimistic TEA TOWEL for the drier, and might (for shame) actually have gone down one again if this had been a prelim puzzle with a very careless IODIUM at 22ac: I mean obviously there were warning bells ringing but, when you're in a puzzle filled with so many slight obscurities, you, or at least I, do start to half-believe that IODIUM could be an old alternative for IODINE...

Luckily I didn't do this electronically, and sadly I didn't even time myself, though I feel somewhere around the ten minutes mark is probably right, especially after the bogging down around 13ac. My clue of the day is definitely 14ac, superbly concise and an excellently relatable surface, 10/10 would happily solve again. Many thanks to the setter!

ACROSS
1 Thus America carrying burden becomes dozy (10)
SLUMBEROUS - SO US [thus | America] carrying LUMBER [burden]

7 River that’s more beautiful between banks? (4)
AIRE - {f}AIRE{r}

9 A special moment in which one’s collected fossil (8)
AMMONITE - A + (MOMENT*) ["special..."] in which I [one] is collected

10 Block Yankee, creating stir (6)
CHOKEY - CHOKE Y [block | Yankee]. Stir as in "prison".

11 River, Charlie? You and I will catch that fish (6)
WRASSE - R ASS [river | Charlie] - WE [you and I] will catch that

13 Group entering train to get drier (3,5)
TEA CLOTH - LOT [group] entering TEACH [train

14 European seriously drunk in bar (12)
BYELORUSSIAN - (SERIOUSLY*) ["drunk"] in BAN [bar]

17 Female home full of love attended by stars who bring good news? (12)
MISSIONARIES - MISS [female] + IN [home] full of O [love], attended by ARIES [stars]. Good news as in the "gospel".

20 Haggard female beset by fairies passes away (8)
PERISHES - SHE [(H Rider) Haggard female] beset by PERIS [fairies]

21 Naval officer's clique drink (6)
POSSET - P.O.'S SET [naval officer's | clique]

22 An element of singular dislike (6)
SODIUM - S ODIUM [singular | dislike]

23 Not terribly keen about final decision-maker? Precisely! (2,3,3)
ON THE DOT - (NOT*) ["terribly"] + HOT [keen] about ED [final decision-maker]

25 Gladstone's epithet's recalled in a haze (4)
SMOG - Gladstone being the G.O.M. (Grand Old Man); GOM'S recalled.

26 Provider of printed notes for performers (5,5)
SHEET MUSIC - cryptic def

DOWN
2 More than one bloodsucker strikes to secure victim (8)
LAMPREYS - LAMS [strikes] to secure PREY [victim]

3 Order set up to imprison a Communist leader (3)
MAO - O.M. [order] set up to imprison A

4 Boy climbing tree with minimal energy (5)
EMILE - reverse LIME ["climbing" tree] + E for energy

5 See sort that could turn out murderer in mythology (7)
ORESTES - (SEE SORT*) ["...that could turn out"]

6 Conservative in group, heretical and bigoted (9)
SECTARIAN - C [Conservative] in SET ARIAN [group | heretical]

7 A star drinking nothing, overturning fizzy water (11)
APOLLINARIS - A POLARIS [a | star] drinking NIL reversed [nothing, "overturning"]

8 Dish of fish eggs: it’s served up (6)
ROESTI - ROE [fish eggs] + IT'S reversed

12 Seriously performing only, I warble about heartless fellow (11)
SOLEMNISING - SOLE I SING [only | I | warble] about M{a}N ["heartless" fellow]

15 Hospital in Somerset redone as accommodation for the elderly (4,5)
REST HOMES - H [hospital] in (SOMERSET*) ["redone"]

16 Famous Argentinian tucked into cooked pie and sausage (8)
PEPERONI - PERON [famous Argentinian] tucked into (PIE*) ["cooked..."]

18 Coming soon as a sale item? (2,5)
IN STORE - double def, if something's IN a STORE it's presumably intended for sale

19 Umpire, old, with room for improvement (6)
REFORM - REF O [umpire | old] with RM [room]

21 Small cat or dog, the one giving chase (5)
PETIT - PET [cat or dog] + IT [the one giving chase]

24 Bird in science unit (3)
EMU - double def, an E.M.U. being an electromagnetic unit

Quick Cryptic 1074 by Felix

6 minutes without any major challenges. A good demonstration of the art of the Double definition, some of which (11ac, 3dn) had me thinking. I wonder if the setter is mourning the news that there will be no 12 ac on 12dn this winter, as Test Match Special have lost the broadcasting rights? It's not the same since Blowers retired anyway...




Across
8 Group in front of bazaar, settled and secure (3,4)
SET FAIR - SET is group FAIR is bazaar
9 Mission appearing in article by the French medical officer (5)
ALAMO - A + LA + MO
10 Producer of oil? None, as it happens (5)
OLIVE - O (none) LIVE (as it happens)
11 Agreed with check (7)
SQUARED - double definition. Check as in the pattern
12 Sort of bowler seen in stage turn (3,4)
LEG SPIN - LEG is stage, SPIN is turn
14 Tears manuscript on wildlife park (5)
ZOOMS - ZOO + MS (manuscript)
15 Guinevere’s content? No way! (5)
NEVER - hidden word: GuiNEVERe
17 Person salvaging notes by snooker player? (7)
RESCUER - RE is a note (do re me etc). Plural is RES (a bit clunky), + CUER, someone who cues
19 Avert fighting next to shed (4,3)
WARD OFF - WAR + DOFF
20 Trouble’s besetting one for so long in Spain (5)
ADIOS - ADOS (troubles) around I
22 Five English students getting the Morning Star (5)
VENUS - V + E + NUS
23 Worthless person unwelcome at breakfast? (1,3,3)
A BAD EGG - double definition

Down
1 Heads for old southern lake or city (4)
OSLO - initials of Old Southern Lake Or
2 Blessed fellow on phone causing row! (6)
STRING - ST (blessed fellow) + RING
3 Pay to conduct (4)
WAGE - double definition
4 Pro I forewarn’s to become a captive (8,2,3)
PRISONER OF WAR - anagram of PRO I FOREWARN'S
5 Baths, trad perhaps, one’s lined with copper (8)
JACUZZIS - Trad is JAZZ + IS with CU inside
6 Hot tune, note: Afro? (6)
HAIRDO - H + AIR + DO. List of crossword hairdos: bun, beehive, afro, shock, DA, barnet... any more?
7 Rough or rude — as motorist, maybe (4-4)
ROAD-USER - anagram ('rough') of OR RUDE AS
12 Crave flourish for certain type of broadcast (4,4)
LONG WAVE - two double definitions
13 Marine mammal having power, initially, or composure (8)
PORPOISE - P + OR + POISE
16 Some turning up in Slovenian or even Italian city (6)
VERONA - Backwards hidden word: SloveniAN OR EVen
18 Male and female colleges attended by former partner (6)
UNISEX - UNIS + EX
20 A container slightly open (4)
AJAR - too simple to explain
21 Sound despairing when spectacle fails to end (4)
SIGH - SIGHT shortened