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November 1st, 2019

I'm glad I did this towards the end of the month rather than the beginning as there were some pretty darn scary words in here, so I thought it worked very nicely as a Hallowe'en puzzle, under the bedsheets by the light of a torch. Well worth the workout and there are a good few "easy" clues in the mix so that anyone should have been able to get a foothold in a puzzle like this, even if some of the ten letter monstrosities would make the stoutest solving hearts quail. Thanks to the setter for the distraction from the woes of flu and vasovagal syncope that have been mostly afflicting me this week!

ACROSS
1 Tablecloth expected to cover board for pontoon (8)
DUCHESSE - DUE [expected] to "cover" CHESS [board for pontoon]. What is a "board for pontoon", you may ask? According to my app, a "chess" is "one of the parallel planks forming the deck of a pontoon-bridge". Unwieldy perhaps but presumably there aren't any kinder ways to clue the word CHESS :P

9 Groan maybe, endlessly interrupted by band on the road and loutish toff (6-2)
TITYRE-TU - I was straight onto Groan as a definition for TITU{s}, it's my favourite book after all, and when I saw that the last letter was a U, I knew I was right. I couldn't think past TOUR for "band on the road", but we were looking for TYRE, a more literal type of band yet. Never heard of a TITYRE-TU but apparently it's a 17th century aristocratic hooligan, presumably a bit like a proto-Boris.

10 Partridge nestling, not the second caught by men (6)
CHIKOR - CHI{c}K is a nestling, minus not the first but the second C for caught. Plus the commonplace OR [men].

11 Briefly clash like Sharks and Jets, animatedly in music, over snitch’s spot (3,7)
RUM BLOSSOM - RUMBL{e} ["briefly" clash like Sharks & Jets] + reversed MOSSO [with movement, animatedly, in music]. There is a band called the Gin Blossoms whose name I believe refers to the facial rosacea of drinkers, but this is neither to do with that or the phrase "snitches get stitches" it seems, but just a pimple on one's nose, or snitch.

12 Whale blubber from jerks in Saskatchewan ... (4)
SPEK - PE [physical jerks] in SK [Saskatchewan]. Not to be confused with the nice kinds of cetacean-free spe(c)k you can get in Europe.

13 ... there oil seal (storing one kilojoule) is getting dragged over snow (10)
SKIKJORING - SK O-RING storing 1KJ. I couldn't work out why SK was a place you'd find oil during the solve itself, but now I see that it's the SK from the previous clue and the O-RING is an "oil seal". Skikjoring is what apparently passes for fun in Norway, the practice of being dragged along on your skis by a horse or motor vehicle.

16 With annoyance, earlier generation divided by new railway (7)
ANGERLY - AGE [generation] "divided" by N [new] + RLY [railway]. If you're anything like me you spent a good while trying to understand why ANGRILY didn't *quite* work. But of course we were looking for an archaic form.

17 Say landed gentry’s ultimate in social justice? (7)
EGALITY - E.G. ALIT {gentr}Y. Whew, a relatively straightforward one!

20 Hydraulic cement ingredient, phosphorus, unknown amount in very particular hard stuff made by Greeks from the east (10)
POZZUOLANA - P [phosphorus] + Z [unknown amount] in reversed ANAL OUZO [very particular | hard stuff made by Greeks]. Of course you will have known that pozz(u)olana is a volcanic dust from Pozzuoli near Naples, which forms with mortar a cement that will set in water (hence the "hydraulic" qualifier).

22 Letter returned by Post Office in operations centre (4)
QOPH - reversed PO in HQ. Beloved of Scrabble players everywhere.

23 Primate in gold coat desiring to cycle wearing fluttery boa (10)
ANGWANTIBO - WANTING [desiring], appropriately "cycled" inside (BOA*) ["fluttery"]. This is of course the tailless West African lemur which has a signature gold coat.

25 Rumoured Irish to be excluded from mockery in rebound (6)
NOISED - reverse DERISION [mockery], taking out IR [Irish] from the resultant NOIS{ir}ED. Another 15x15 candidate clue.

26 Scot’s stupid amount of money to send fraudulent email? (8)
SUMPHISH - SUM PHISH [amount of money | to send fraudulent email]. My FOI because although the word is strange and ghastly, "phish" sprang to mind almost immediately as a likely word-suffix.

27 French demanding protection of wild fruit by departure (8)
EXIGEANT - "protect" GEAN [wild cherry] with EXIT [departure]. Why is this French word, clearly marked as such, even in the dictionaries? Seems like a slippery slope...

DOWN
2 Boston’s uncoordinated release includes hot record (8)
UNHEPPEN - UNPEN [release] "includes" H EP [hot | record]. I was thrown off by assuming that Boston was indicating an Americanism, but in fact we are talking about the picturesquely Brexity Boston, Lincs.

3 Two kings Europe brought into New Zealand to support fish as extreme authoritarian emblem (10)
HAKENKREUZ - K R EU [king | king | Europe] "brought into" NZ, supporting HAKE [fish]. I panicked when I couldn't think of any extreme authoritarian emblems other than the clearly not 10-letters-long SWASTIKA, but this is just a synonym thereof.

4 Swimmers err, as almost having outer parts amputated by this piranha (10)
SERRASALMO - a well-concealed hidden in {swimmer}S ERR AS ALMO{st}. I assume "serrasalmo" just means "serrated salmon", pretty much.

5 Forgetting answer, omit puzzling with head like a sieve (7)
ETHMOID - (OMIT + HE{a}D*) ["puzzling"]. I'd heard of the ethmoid bone but didn't know ethmoid meant "like a sieve". Quite exciting!

6 Natural Rastafarian food giving virtually regular eliminations? (4)
ITAL - {v}I{r}T{u}A{l}L{y}, regularly eliminated. A traditional Rasta stew.

7 Salaryman’s business card: one constitutes a greeting (6)
MEISHI - ME IS HI [one | constitutes | a greeting]. And now we all know the Japanese for "business card"!

8 Temperature within my gunge, spread like spiced custard? (8)
NUTMEGGY - T "within" (MY GUNGE*) ["spread"]. Another clue that could fit in the 15x15.

14 Blend of Dijon containing Tabasco water, right for wildcat (10)
JAGUARONDI - (DIJON*) ["blend"] containing AGUA R [water, in Tabasco | right]. I never saw this not spelled "jaguarundi" before, but the letter was even helpfully checked to prevent autopilot errors.

15 Shrine of Rome’s first priest as leading to wrath (10)
RELIQUAIRE - R{ome} + ELI [priest] + QUA [as] + IRE [wrath]. Quairest spelling of "reliquary" *I've* seen.

16 A round plate visible during an intermission (8)
APPLAUSE - PL [plate] "visible during" A PAUSE [an intermission]. 15x15ish.

18 Kind heart of Lysander guarding house of Greek monster (8)
TYPHOEAN - TYPE [kind] + {lys}AN{der} "guarding" HO [house]. Typhon is the monster whose adjectival form is Typhoean.

19 Overrun by infants mostly, check leather straps (7)
BABICHE - CH [check], "overrun by" BABIE{s}. A strange French-Canadian-Algonquian word, but easily findable from the wordplay.

21 Extremes of zoophysiology see red, short part of skull (6)
ZYGOMA - Z{oophysiolog}Y + GO MA{d} [see red, "short"]. Another pretty quick one to fall, as there is no way it doesn't start with ZY.

24 Indian corporal related uprising across area (4)
NAIK - reversed KIN [related] "across" A for area. Bunged in quickly from wordplay.

Quick Cryptic 1474 by Felix

Well, the theme of today seems to be the compound anagram, 15ac, 3dn, 5dn, 16dn. Assuming that doesn't throw you it's a pretty straighforward offering today. I love the Dallas reference, who's going to claim to be too young to get it?

Across
1 Back in Galloway, having left without permission (4)
AWOL -  Reverse hidden word  - galLOWAy. Absent without leave.
4 US university rugby forward providing form of security (4,4)
YALE LOCK - YALE is the university and LOCK is the rugby forward
8 I hold what’s been laid on the table? (6)
EGGCUP - cryptic definition. An egg has been laid, and it's on the table.
9 Arts graduate turns to jelly and bread rolls (6)
BAGELS - BA + GELS
10 Aware of our originally visiting tavern (2,2)
IN ON - INN with O inside
11 Osier: dry, withered and pathetic (8)
DERISORY - anagram ('withered') of OSIER DRY
12 They’re for raising flags (5)
JACKS - double definition
13 Stan’s partner not finishing ancient fairy story (5)
OLLIE - ancient is OLD, unfinished it is OL, add LIE for fairy story.
15 Puss, moving to catch part of bird, surges (8)
UPSWINGS - anagram ('moving') of PUSS with WING inside
17 A politician following leader of Conservative party (4)
CAMP - C + A MP
19 Pose without shirt? Don’t do that! (4,2)
STOP IT - Pose is SIT (for a portrait etc) with TOP inside
20 Rubbish very loudly placed in heap (6)
PIFFLE - FF is very loudly, inside PILE
21 Old religious warrior, more primitive, around S Africa (8)
CRUSADER - CRUDER with SA inside
22 Second of broadcasts, live, far from well done (4)
RARE - R is the second letter of broadcasts, add ARE for live

Down
2 Truck landed carrying silver (5)
WAGON - WON is landed with AG for silver inside
3 Nicola, awfully cold and saying little (7)
LACONIC - anagram ('awfully') of NICOLA + C for cold
4 Wages have gone up? That’s barking! (3)
YAP - PAY backwards
5 Difficult and unusual burials, with nothing going in twice (9)
LABORIOUS - anagram ('unusual') of BURIALS with O added in two places
6 Trail thus coming north arriving at African city (5)
LAGOS - LAG is to trail, thus is SO, reverse it
7 In tropical, oriental parts there’s some heat! (7)
CALORIE - hidden word tropiCAL ORIEntal
11 Ceased holding tabloid: it’s come apart (9)
DISUNITED - DIED with SUN IT inside
12 Huge body of Dallas character holding up short item (7)
JUPITER - JR (Ewing) is the Dallas Character, containing UP + ITE(m)
14 Nick the match (7)
LUCIFER - Double definition. Old Nick is a word for devil, Lucifer is a type of match
16 Cleans different pews one sits in (5)
WIPES - anagram ('different') of PEWS with I inserted
18 Someone beaming, heading off track athlete? (5)
MILER - Someone beaming is a SMILER, remove the first letter
20 Physical exercises right for each (3)
PER - PE + R
So sorry this is so late - I've been in the throes of the flu for about a week now, and not at all sure what day it is half the time. Likewise I couldn't tell you if this puzzle was easy or hard, it took me 9 minutes in my bewildered state so probably somewhere in between. I liked 2dn (especially because I'm a Matthew) and the deceptive simplicity of 21ac.

On Tuesday I fainted in the shower and had to spend the day in the ER, not so much fun especially when a CT scan revealed that my aortic root is dilated in a dangerous way that will necessitate cardiothoracic surgery. I wonder if solving ability can be improved by bionic enhancement? Maybe they can build in a fast-lookup dictionary along with the new aorta...

ACROSS
1 Less bothered about meat bone one's left for dog's dinner (8)
SHAMBLES - (LESS*) ["bothered"], about HAM B{one} [meat | bone "one's left"]

5 Noxious gas is dispersing, after bottling by old lady (6)
MIASMA - the old lady is MAMA, "bottling" IS, but dispersedly: M{I}A{S}MA

9 More than one top down in flash car (9)
ROLLNECKS - NECK [down] in ROLLS [flash car]

11 Turn back actor’s script (5)
OGHAM - reversed GO [turn], + HAM [actor]

12 Lot mostly affected where pounds are lost (3,4)
FAT CAMP - FAT{e} [lot, "mostly"] + CAMP [affected]

13 Rough cases fine on old watch (7)
LOOKOUT - LOUT [rough] "cases" OK O [fine | old]

14 Representative soldier given arm? (7,6)
PRIVATE MEMBER - PRIVATE [soldier] given MEMBER [arm?]

16 Warmer politician to put up with waffle (10,3)
GREENHOUSE GAS - GREEN [politician] + HOUSE [to put up] with GAS [waffle]

20 Mostly torn bananas back in dish (7)
STUNNER - reversed REN{t} NUTS ["mostly" torn | bananas]. The human kind of dish

21 Rearing bats in wild to a greater extent (7)
ANGRIER - (REARING*) ["bats"]

23 Guarantee to knock out right result (5)
ENSUE - ENSU{r}E [guarantee, "to knock out (R for) right"]

24 What Royal Mint employees do to prepare (4,5)
MAKE READY - double def

25 Cat grabbing a rat's head and part of throat (6)
LARYNX - LYNX [cat] "grabbing" A R{at}

26 Impasse with man arresting criminal don (5-3)
STAND-OFF - STAFF [man] "arresting" (DON*) ["criminal"]

DOWN
1 What priests offered queen wearing undies (6)
SHRIFT - R [queen] in SHIFT [undies]

2 Grant nothing from Matthew on? (5)
ALLOT - as Matthew is what begins the N.T., if our collection stops before Matthew it must be ALL O.T.

3 Clay under mountain grand for Asian (7)
BENGALI - ALI [(Cassius) Clay] under BEN G [mountain | grand]

4 Role champagne's playing in brain still? (13)
ENCEPHALOGRAM - (ROLE CHAMPAGNE*) ["is playing"]. Still as in "image"

6 I really put the sauce away in elementary form (7)
ISOTOPE - I SO TOPE [I | really | put the sauce away]

7 Train journalist about what moves children (6,3)
SCHOOL BUS - SCHOOL [train] + reversed SUB [journalist]

8 Stripped cars with fully developed motor component (8)
ARMATURE - {c}AR{s} + MATURE [fully developed]

10 Producers favour this character, say, in comic film (7,6)
SELLERS MARKET - MARK [character, say] in SELLERS E.T. [comic (Peter) | film]

14 Herald opening of picture with touching on-screen presence (9)
PRECURSOR - P{icture} with RE [touching] + CURSOR [on-screen presence]

15 Fragile material goods woman kept in building wing (8)
EGGSHELL - G G SHE [(two) goods | woman] "kept in" ELL [building wing]

17 News covering article piercing fabric (7)
NANKEEN - N N [(two) news] "covering" A [article] + KEEN [piercing]

18 Out of this world Soviet jelly dipped in alcohol (7)
GAGARIN - AGAR [jelly] "dipped in" GIN [alcohol]

19 Shriek at great volume, welcoming United's star player (6)
CRUYFF - CRY FF [shriek | at great volume], "welcoming" U [United]. Dutch football legend who died in 2016, making those tricky _R_Y_F corners of the grid finally cluable by Times setters

22 Ideal notion of this person's past (5)
IMAGO - I'M AGO [this person's | past]