February 19th, 2020

Times 27591 - nothing too fishy.

Thanks Mr Editor for persuading the powers that be to add the info that this was one of the three TCC semi final puzzles from last December 7th.
I finished this in 19 minutes, surprised it wasn't harder, being a semi-final puzzle. Parsing a few (6a, 15a, 20a), took a minute or two longer while writing the blog, but wouldn't have been necessary on the day. If you didn't know the word ALAR at 20a, you'd have to wing it.
I think I'd prefer to be called a 17a rather than a cruciverbalist. Or maybe both!

Across
1 Wild child is kid getting a cake (10)
RAGAMUFFIN - RAG (kid) A, MUFFIN.
6 Put out without a note as second-hand (4)
USED - DOUSED = put out, remove the DO (note).
10 Fish set before queen (7)
GROUPER - GROUP before ER. I once fed squirty cheese to an 8 foot Goliath grouper called (unimaginatively) Wanda, while reef diving in Grand Cayman. I've never been sure whether it shoud be pronounced GROOPER or GROWPER though.
11 Lay academic again cancels start of work (7)
PROFANE - PROF (academic) then ANEW loses the W.
12 Persistently asks for money — daft in Scots location (9)
DUNSINANE - DUNS means asks for payment, INANE means daft. Dunsinane is a real mountain and is a location in Macbeth. [Not Hamlet, I had a cigar moment earlier].
13 Shame piano’s fallen off platform (5)
ODIUM - PODIUM loses its P.
14 Block of limestone pavement, stone, cold for feet, initially (5)
CLINT - FLINT swaps its F for a C. Fine examples of such are to be found in the beautiful Burren in county Clare, worth a visit.
15 Cunningly hide a Saint getting out of strip (9)
DISSEMBLE - To strip is to DISASSEMBLE, lose the A S(aint) from within it.
17 Work hard on record that is broken by learner crossword fanatic? (9)
LOGOPHILE - LOG (record) OP (work) H (hard) I E (that is) insert L for learner.
20 In the wings before minute’s warning? (5)
ALARM - ALAR means with wings, pertaining to wings, M for minute.
21 French wetlands with no river to maintain (5)
ARGUE - The CAMARGUE our French marshland famous for red rice and horses, loses the River Cam.
23 Cutting back, setting cost for policeman? Not right (9)
COPPICING - COP PRICING loses its R.
25 Short time off to stay at home for painter (7)
HOLBEIN - HOLIDAY is shortened to HOL, then BE IN = stay at home. Choose a painter, Younger Hans or his Dad the Elder.
26 Cooking, unless entertaining a voluptuary (7)
SENSUAL - An anagram at last. (UNLESS A)*.
27 Crazy old king’s losing his head (4)
NUTS - KNUT'S = old king's, loses its K.
28 Scots head key large mountain university in Europe (10)
HEIDELBERG - HEID = Scot dialect for head; E a key, L = large, BERG = mountain.
Down
1 Hard to falsify passport? (5)
RIGID - RIG (falsify) ID (passport).
2 Good making up numbers for basic training (9)
GROUNDING - G for good, ROUNDING up numbers.
3 Devil of a politician leading awful sheepish lot (14)
MEPHISTOPHELES - MEP a politician, (SHEEPISH LOT)*.
4 Conflict interrupting river crossing in advance (7)
FORWARD - WAR inside FORD.
5 Influence of one million crowd (7)
IMPRESS - 1, M, PRESS = crowd.
7 Police station is turned over (5)
STASI - STA abbr. for station, IS reversed. Nasty but effective old East German secret police.
8 Running mate made Republican top candidates (5,4)
DREAM TEAM - (MATE MADE R)*.
9 Two refusals before thinking it’s not working (14)
NONOPERATIONAL - NO, NOPE (2 refusals) RATIONAL = thinking.
14 PM to ring Kabul warlord perhaps forsaking force (9)
CALLAGHAN - CALL (ring) AFGHAN loses its F for force.
16 Leave university with debt halved — blessed state (9)
BEATITUDE - BEAT IT = leave, U, DE(bt).
18 Make madder and nettle perfume (7)
INCENSE - Triple definition.
19 In vulnerable situation, ox shifted with speed (7)
EXPOSED - (OX SPEED)*.
22 Soldier allowed padded clothing (5)
GILET - GI (soldier) LET (allowed).
24 Labour’s forced here to trail behind grand upper class (5)
GULAG - LAG (trail behind) after G, U (grand, upper class).