March 29th, 2020

New RCA
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Mephisto 3108 - One up on the court?

I solved this Mephisto in my usual fashion, without book, only to get stuck on one at the end.   I saw what it might be, but I was incredulous that such a word could possibly exist - so I looked it up, and there is was.   Naturally, in order to do the blog, I had to thoroughly vet my proposed solution, and as usual two or three of my carefully constructed answers turned out to be wrong, as my incorrect understanding of the wordplay led me to invent a few mombles.   I also biffed a few that turned out to quite correct, but I still can't quite follow the cryptic.

Overall, this was a relatively straightforward puzzle if you have the vocabulary, with only a few outrageously unfamiliar words, only one of which caught me out.   Once you have a few checking letters, it is possible to biff your way through a lot of the puzzle, leaving a few more difficult clues to be tackled at the end.

Across
1 Term for driver in police tactical unit (5)
CORPS - CO(R)PS.   I admit, I can't explain the 'R', as I don't suppose it refers to a regular-flex shaft indication on a golf driver, although it just might.   The correct explanation is probably that it is a reference to an 'R driver' in Ireland and IOM.
5 Yank holding power secure in the Act of Union? (7)
TUPPING - TU(P, PIN)G, a word familiar from Othello.
11 ____ played away from home, European taken in by randy raver (9)
AVOUTERER - AV(OUT, E)RER, where the enclosing letters are an anagram of RAVER.   An adulterer, a bit of an &lit clue, more or less.
12 Who arranges westbound rockets (6)
RETROS - SORTER backwards, a particular sort of rockets in this case.
13 Scots jag an item of footwear (6)
BROGAN - BROG + AN, another one I biffed.   The Scots word is defined in most dictionaries as 'prod' or 'goad'. 
16 Insides of transistor radios left over in Lossiemouth (4)
ORRA - hidden in [transist]OR RA[dios], finally a Scots word I know!
17 Cold, then one’ll stuff comprehensive antibiotic (7)
ALLICIN - ALL (I, C)  IN.   The antioxidant found in garlic, not primarily an antibiotic.
18 Such as keeps lobster fresh in Sri Lanka (5)
CRAWL -  C(RAW)L.   Apparently, when Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon, its vehicle registration code was CL.
19 Certain swimmer inaptly, we hear, grasps nut for the biggest part (9, two words)
SEA SALMON - sounds like SEIZE SEES + ALMON[d]. 
23 Class of plant: first-rate, umpteen carried out from the east (9)
DIDYNAMIA - A1 MANY DID backwards, a classic Mephisto clue: hard word, easy wordplay.
25 This stunner taken aback posed again (5)
TASER -  RESAT backwards, one of the few chestnuts you'll ever find in a Mephisto.
26 What’s in motor? Scotsman’s joint! It helps to stay steady (7)
OTOLITH - [m]OTO[r] + LITH.   Fortunately, I knew the word, as LITH is not among the most well-known parts of the Scots vocaulary. 
28 A tiny bit a hustler (4)
ATOM - A TOM, presumably one who tomcats around.
30 Weight of one’s jugs (6)
PITHOI - PITH O' I, or so I would suppose.   A stock Bronze Age shipping container, they're found in wrecks all over the Mediterranean. 
31 Muck in bin, tie tightly (6, three words)
BE IN IT - Anagram of BIN, TIE - part of what the New York State Lottery Commission puts in all its ads. 
32 Blessed Virgin is foremost in maternal doctrine (9)
IRVINGISM - Anagram of VIRGIN IS + M[aternal], with a rather novel anagram indicator.   Some sort of religious movement in the 19th-century, long forgotten.
33 Spoil mitts being back in strong breeze (7)
SNIFTER - RET FINS backwards, not the easiest cryptic, as both bits rely on rather secondary meanings.   The answer has its 18th-century sense.
34 Month for Jews taking time off in old Yemen (5)
SHEBA - SHEBA[t], a simple one for once.
Down
1 Possibly saloon lawsuit remains (7)
CARCASE - CAR + CASE, another easy starter clue.
2 Take out cracking bit of lamb with a bone (6)
ROTULA - R +anagram of OUT + L[amb] + A.   The patella, more or less, which was famous for the two girls sitting on it.
3 Utter excitedly about joining Royal Engineers (4)
PURE - UP backwards + R.E.
4 A stiff-upper-lip sort giving endless criticism about nowt (5)
STOIC - ST(O)IC[k]. 
6 Unlikely tale lifting the lid on headdress — wow! This is pulled off (9, two words)
URBAN MYTH - [t]URBAN + MY + TH[is].     Mostly known as an 'urban legend' in the US.
7 Malevolent Persian being against dance (7)
PERICON - PERI + CON, a Uruguayan dance.    It's also a plant, but nearly everything is a plant.
8 At home with good butter? Thick, as it was (6)
INGRAM - IN + G + RAM.   Thick as in ignorant, a word that was apparently used a couple of times in the 17th century, and then dropped.
9 Fancy the new air? It’s virtually colourless (9)
NEAR WHITE - Anagram of THE NEW AIR.
10 German on preposterous way of cheek (5)
GENAL - G + LANE upside-down, not all that preposterous in these puzzles.
14 Height of delight about English verse (9)
ELEVATION - EL(E.V.)ATION.
15 A long-standing producer of oil will video flaring (9, two words)
WILD OLIVE - Anagram of WILL VIDEO.
20 Charles de Gaulle, eg, left pressed by publicity (7)
AIRPORT -  AIR + PORT.
21 Balmoral or other stuck into mature woman’s guru (7)
MAHATMA - MA(HAT)MA.
22 Young thug is to stand up and will make a break for it (6)
TSOTSI - IS TO ST[and] upside-down.   Yes, this was the word I saw but didn't believe.
24 Cartoon girlfriend that delivers eggs (6)
MINNIE - Well, the answer is obvious enough, but I don't follow the cryptic.  Minnie Pearl, perhaps?   Guesses welcome.  It's a reference the the 'moaning minnie', formally known as a Nebelwerfer.
25 Get money from a small snack (5)
TAPAS - TAP + A + S, where 'tap' is a slang word from the early 20th century.
27 Open University being for chaps from Jo’burg (5)
OUENS - O.U + ENS, a slang word for ordinary blokes in South Africa.
29 Dear mortal (4)
HIGH -  Double definition.