January 29th, 2020

Times Quick Cryptic 1537 by Hurley

A middling difficulty excursion that has only a few unusual bits. But they're mixed in with a very healthy number of simpler ones, and they're all clued quite transparently. If you asked my five years ago, however, to define 2dn or 7dn, I'd have had not a bean.

There's a slight military bent to the completed grid, but I can't see a theme.

Thanks Hurley!

Definitions are underlined as usual.

Across
1 Woman’s greeting abrupt, extremely surly (6)
CURTSY - CURT (abrupt) and outermost letters from (extremely) SurlY.
4 Relative from America in the money? (6)
COUSIN - US (America) in COIN (money).
8 Test trouble (5)
TRIAL - double definition.
9 Packages gripping non-drinker in Waterloo, Stamford Bridge, say? (7)
BATTLES - BALES (packages) containing (gripping) TT (tee-totaller, non-drinker).
10 Beer from Wales (3)
ALE - hidden inside (from) wALEs.
11 Excitedly to race pro associated with group (9)
CORPORATE - anagram of (excitedly) TO RACE PRO.
12 Describing system of measurement, writer with short ruse? (6)
METRIC - ME (writer) and all-but-the-last letter of (short) TRICk (ruse).
13 Ridicule about six as extravagant (6)
LAVISH - LASH (ridicule) containing (about) VI (six).
16 Working group arrive with German note secured (9)
COMMITTEE - COME (arrive) containing (...secured) MIT ('with' in German) and TE (note).
18 Mine dump recalled (3)
PIT - reversal of (recalled) TIP (dump).
19 Phoned about family position (7)
RANKING - RANG (phoned) containing (about) KIN (family).
20 Blunder with English? Nonsense (5)
TRIPE - TRIP (blunder) and E (English).
22 Senior common room is most profligate first of all — economise (6)
SCRIMP - SCR (senior common room) and first letters from (first of all) Is Most Profligate. Or just the first letters from the lot!
23 Exchange involving pub worker, no end (6)
BARTER - BARTendER (pub worker) minus (no) 'end'.

Down
1 About time for puss (3)
CAT - CA (circa, about) and T (time).
2 Intention to participate in regular payment for clothing (7)
RAIMENT - AIM (intention) inside (to participate in) RENT (regular payment).
3 Southern cleric, misfit, altered reflective judgement? (4-9)
SELF-CRITICISM - anagram of (altered) S (southern) with CLERIC and MISFIT.
5 Oil tax — one part adjustable — take it or leave it (8,5)
OPTIONAL EXTRA - anagram of (adjustable) OIL TAX ONE PART.
6 Saucy dance? (5)
SALSA - cryptic definition.
7 Military facility shuts, nine redeployed (6,3)
NISSEN HUT - anagram of (redeployed) SHUTS NINE.
9 Black vessel in stream (4)
BURN - B (black) and URN (vessel).
10 Camp sorry to change military formation (4,5)
ARMY CORPS - anagram of (to change) CAMP SORRY.
14 Popular picture, perhaps, still being sold (2,5)
IN PRINT - IN (popular) and PRINT (picture, perhaps).
15 Singular label for men only (4)
STAG - S (singular) and TAG (label).
17 Less important part of farm in Oregon (5)
MINOR - hidden in (part of) farM IN ORegon.
21 Make mistake — Deirdre oddly ignored (3)
ERR - even letters only from (oddly ignored) dEiRdRe.

Times 27573 - foiled, chopped, crushed and licked, in a square round hole

I found this puzzle a game of two halves. The top half went in smoothly, on target for my 20 minute performance. But the LHS and SW corner took me far too long. It would have helped if I had seen 1d earlier, it was a straightforward clue with fair wordplay but I just had a blind spot when it came to separating 'anti-wrinkle' from 'ointment'. Mrs K was even consulted on the matter of such creams, to no avail (the creams were also to no avail).
At the time of writing I don't know if this was a puzzle set in Heat 2 of the TCC last December; if it was, I'd have failed miserably to finish it and 2 more in the prescribed hour; I found it harder than any of the Heat 1 puzzles.

EDIT it still doesn't say in the online version but I see from comments below, it was indeed a Heat 2 puzzle.

Across
1 Westward of Scottish isle there’s cold breeze (5)
CINCH - C for cold, INCH a Scottish isle. A breeze, a cinch, an easy task.
4 European comfortable with support in which lives are connected (9)
ECOSYSTEM - E, COSY (comfortable), STEM (support).
9 English building of note needs pounds for new payment (9)
EMOLUMENT - E, MONUMENT (building of note) has its first N (new) changed to an L for pounds.
10 Start with handle for possible conspiracy theorist (5)
CRANK - nice double definition.
11 Foil wrapper for sweet that is filled with the reverse of goodness! (6)
STYMIE - S T (wrapper for sweet), I E (that is), insert MY (exclamation, goodness!) reversed.
12 Front shaved as far as stomach? One meant to get everything done (8)
FACTOTUM - FAC(E) = front shaved, TO TUM (as far as stomach).
14 Border agent consequently impounds rocket (9)
REPRIMAND - REP (agent) AND (consequently) insert RIM (border).
16 At last, AtmosClear! We offer you clean air again (5)
RERUN - using the last letters of atmoscleaR wE offeR yoU cleaN.
17 Son raised to protect younger one’s sweet but thick (5)
SYRUP - S(on), UP (raised), insert YR = younger.
19 Doctor cited case subject to dehydration (9)
DESICCATE - (CITED CASE)*. One of those words which is easy to mis-spell, but I was familiar with it from chemistry days.
21 Hoarder’s small slip turned into short bedcover (8)
SQUIRREL - S (small), QUIL(T) = short bedcover, insert ERR (slip) reversed (turned).
22 Chilled Italian monk with no love for his boss? (6)
FRAPPE - FRA is a title for an Italian monk; his boss, POPE, has its O removed (no love).
25 People avoiding technology roughly before noon? (5)
AMISH - Sort of double definition, where A.M.-ish could be roughly before noon. Took me an age to see, as I don't know much about the Amish except they dress oddly.
26 A buck might need 100,000 of such a girl (9)
MILLICENT - Another which caused me trouble. Even now I'm struggling to make it work. A buck, a dollar, would need 100 cents. Presumably one is supposed to create / define a milli-cent as a thousandth of a cent, as in millimetre etc., and then see a dollar would need 1000 x 100 of these. And the answer is a random girl's name. Strike a light, guv.
27 Pet never failing to disrupt walk (9)
TREASURED - SURE (never failing) goes inside TREAD (walk).
28 Inch taken off bird’s rib (5)
CHAFF - A CHAFFINCH has its INCH removed, to give us a word which as a verb means to rib, make fun of. I didn't know chaff had this meaning but the wordpay is simple
Down
1 Anti-wrinkle ointment mostly succeeded before tins sat abandoned (6-9)
CREASE-RESISTANT - CREA(M) = ointment mostly, S (succeeded), ERE (before) then (TINS SAT)*. As mentioned above, easy but I made it difficult.
2 How’s your father secluded? (5)
NOOKY - Double definition, nooky meaning a bit of the other, and 'nooky' from the Uxbridge English Dictionary meaning like a nook.
3 He originally set up popular current double act: breaking free made him famous (7)
HOUDINI - As you probably did, I biffed this and deciphered it later. H (he originally), DUO (set) reversed, IN I (popular, current).
4 Venerable Bede’s lowest is above fair (4)
EVEN - E = end of BEDE, VEN(erable). I put this in although the wordplay looked too obvious and the sysonym of fair being EVEN as opposed to even-handed seemed a stretch.
5 Exotic nuts laid on thus (10)
OUTLANDISH - (LAID ON THUS)*.
6 Boatman heading north, in relation to the shorter Caribbean island (7)
YACHTER - all reversed, RE (in relation to) TH(E) (the shorter) CAY (Caribbean island). An ugly word compared to yachtsman (or now yachtsperson I suppose), but it is in Collins.
7 Display unrestrained creative work over restaurant (9)
TRATTORIA - All reversed, AIR (display), OTT (unrestrained, over the top), ART (creative work).
8 Chop up cane, crush and lick (4,9,2)
MAKE MINCEMEAT OF - Is this a double definition? Cane, crush and lick being one, and chop up being the other? Or is it triple, quadruple, or just &lit? Obvious answer, but it's not obvious to me exactly how it works.
13 Stargazer adjusted ready-made refractor’s tip (10)
DAYDREAMER - (READY MADE R)*, where R = refractor's tip.
15 Rodent caught awake within interior to tiny hole (9)
PORCUPINE - Another one I struggled with, as this animal as a rodent didn't spring to mind; as I knew a hedgehog was a rodent, it should have been more obvious. PORE is a tiny hole. Into that insert (= interior to) C for caught, UP for awake, and IN for within.
18 Royal guardsman taking out the French from parapet openings (7)
PORTHOS - Another slow burner in the SW corner. PORTHOLES loses its LE (the French). I knew he was a musketeer but not that he was a Royal guardsman, I'd thought more of a freelance jack-the-lad at court. Nor did I know that portholes could be the gaps in parapets, so not necessarily round. In all, a labour of ignorance.
20 Acid spattered under wheels of an organ (7)
CARDIAC - CAR (wheels), (ACID)*.
23 Religious image from Mondrian, possibly almost his last (5)
PIETA - I wasn't too sure exactly what a PIETA is, except it's something Catholic and religious, but I did know that Mondrian's first name was PIET. The A at the end comes from MondriAn (almost his last letter).
24 Copper plate oxidised at the edges (4)
PLOD - PL (abbr. for plate), O(xidise)D.