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February 9th, 2019

I wish I could say I "was brilliant" as per 9ac, but this one outlasted lunchtime for me, so a little harder than some I’d say.

For discussion purposes, the clue of the day will surely be 18dn. Has anyone seen this device before?  Otherwise a nice solve, although the long clues at 1ac and 1dn held me up. Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle.

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

Across
1 Fair idea, say, settled heretical one (14)
EGALITARIANISM: EG (say) / ALIT (landed) / ARIANISM (a heretical sect, familiar in this crossword club if rare elsewhere).

9 Was brilliant in golf, then made a mess (9)
GLITTERED: G for golf, LITTERED.

10 Community leader to go on endlessly (5)
RABBI: RABBIT endlessly.

11 Almost left magical place, back in wild (5)
GONZO: GON[e] (left, almost) / OZ backwards. I can’t imagine I would have much sympathy for Gonzo Journalism.

12 Fancy coral and gold adornment for the cloth (3,6)
DOG COLLAR: anagram (“fancy”) of (CORAL GOLD*).

13 Handle British money on tick (8)
MONICKER: MO (tick) / NICKER (British money: a nicker is a pound).

15 Quality of vessel with stone from the east (6)
TIPTOP: POT PIT all backwards (“from the east”).

17 Extra swell? Quite! (2-4)
NO-BALL: NOB (swell) / ALL (quite, as in “quite finished”). I didn’t realise this was today’s cricketing clue until the helpers showed the answer!

19 True love overwhelms singular stage hero (8)
PROSPERO: PROPER (true) / O (love), all “overwhelming” S (singular).The hero of The Tempest.

22 Drinks and drugs experience going both ways (5,4)
ROUND TRIP: ROUND (drinks) / TRIP (drugs experience).

23 Listen to the French horn (5)
BUGLE: BUG (listen to, usually secretly) / LE (“the” in French).

24 Mind introducing new terms (5)
NOUNS: N (new) in NOUS. “Nous” sounds more like “common sense” to me, but Shorter Oxford specifically includes “mind” as a definition.

25 Prying about the setter's conspicuous quality (9)
NOISINESS: I (the setter) in NOSINESS.

26 Supply moving elfin girl is present (8,6)
STOCKING FILLER: STOCK (supply) / anagram (“moving”) of (ELFIN GIRL*).


Down
1 Sign union's promised to hire staff somewhere in Herts (10,4)
ENGAGEMENT RING: ENGAGE MEN (hire staff) / TRING (somewhere in Herts). I should have got this sooner, with or without knowing there was such a town as TRING.

2 Rising star drinking mixed gin in European city (7)
AVIGNON: anagram (“mixed”) of (GIN*) in NOVA backwards (“rising”).

3 Keen on catching Mahler's last prelude (5)
INTRO: INTO (keen on) “catching” R, the last letter of [mahle]R.

4 Short notice to include game (8)
ABRIDGED: BRIDGE in AD.

5 Like ring topped with cool colour (6)
INDIGO: IN (cool) / DIG (like) / O (ring). Assembled as instructed.

6 Drugs business jerks earlier sped up (9)
NARCOTICS: NAR (RAN is sped, “up”) / CO (business) / TICS (jerks). Again, assembled as directed.

7 Replacement programme drops current story (7)
SUBPLOT: SUB (replacement) / P[i]LOT (programme, dropping “I” for current).

8 Cook comes with crisp or golden chip (14)
MICROPROCESSOR: anagram (“cooks”) (COMES CRISP OR*) / OR (golden).

14 Copper on drug affair turned up dead ends (4-2-3)
CULS-DE-SAC: CU (copper) / LSD (drug) / ESAC =CASE (affair) “turned up”.

16 Saturated fat (8)
DRIPPING: double definition.

18 Fit to include half of rulers’ praise (7)
BOUQUET: BOUT (fit) holding half of QUE[ens’]. Unusual to see part of the wordplay involving a double transformation: first change “rulers” to QUEENS, then cut it in half. Is this kosher?

20 For one leader of gang, place for punishment that could become life? (3,4)
EGG CELL: EG (say) / G[ang] (the “leader”) / CELL (place for punishment). I got hung up thinking the second word would be HELL.

21 State of book, one containing old letter (6)
BRUNEI: B (book) / RUNE (old letter) / I (one).

23 Coming round, I love British or Russian food (5)
BLINI: I / NIL (love) / B (British), all “coming round” (backwards).