December 2nd, 2020

Times Quick Cryptic 1757 by Jalna

A relativley rare offering from Jalna, and the first one of theirs I've blogged. It did feel a little different, although I don't subscribe to the idea that a setter's style reliably gives them away, but I didn't find it especially hard. A few solutions are in the 'not everyday words' category, for me at least (see 23ac, 2dn), but my LOI was the cryptic definition - these always trip me up as I jump to deconstruct a clue and find wordplay indicators, and all you get in this instance is an innocent looking question mark.

Definitions underlined.

Across
8 Where Joan of Arc died is in question (2,5)
AT STAKE - double definition.
9 Japanese cartoon featuring in seminars from the east (5)
ANIME - hidden in (featuring in) sEMINArs reversed (from the east).
10 Vet tailed by vehicle is cut up (5)
CARVE - all but the last letter of (tailed) VEt, by CAR (vehicle).
11 Various different means of being delivered (7)
SAVIOUR - anagram of (different) VARIOUS.
12 Slump, depressed, next to item in playground (9)
DOWNSWING - DOWN (depressed) next to SWING (item in playground).
14 Very soft bread dipped in gravy? (3)
SOP - SO (very) and P (piano, soft).
16 It's painful parking after fitness centre closes early (3)
GYP - P (parking) after GYm (fitness centre) missing its last letter (closes early).
18 Biography of Fry mixed up with Eliot's (4,5)
LIFE STORY - anagram of (mixed up) FRY with ELIOTS.
21 Sailor originally rowed into state by river (7)
MARINER - first letter of (orginally) Rowed, contained by (into) MAINE (state), then R (river).
22 North American company importing hot food from Mexico (5)
NACHO - NA (North American) and CO (company) containing (importing) H (hot).
23 Charlie smuggled by decoy for ill-gotten gains (5)
LUCRE - C (charlie) contained by (smuggled by) LURE (decoy).
24 When shattered, I forgot to strive for success (2,3,2)
GO FOR IT - anagram of (when shattered) I FORGOT.

Down
1 A boxer good at putting up a guard? (8)
WATCHDOG - cryptic definition. The surface reading makes you think about a ring fighter, but the cryptic meaning is of a breed of dog that stands guard.
2 Bond needed in companies' crowdfunding (6)
ESCROW - hidden in (needed in) companiES CROWdfunding.
3 Fast runner — he holds a record at first (4)
HARE - HE contains (holds) A and the first letter from (at first) Record.
4 Karate instructor is seen getting beaten up (6)
SENSEI - anagram of (getting beaten up) IS SEEN.
5 Salvage works outside small desert city (3,5)
LAS VEGAS - anagram of (works) SALVAGE, containing (outside) S (small).
6 Intolerant people try to get involved in scraps (6)
BIGOTS - GO (try) containing (to get involved in) BITS (scraps).
7 Sport: tired, endlessly (4)
WEAR - the last letter removed from (endlessly) WEARy (tired).
13 Crooner pens a line for an American author (8)
SALINGER - SINGER (crooner) containing (pens) A and L (line).
15 Work on the top of a bottle to get port (8)
PLYMOUTH - PLY (work) on MOUTH (top of a bottle).
17 Crime of passion is initially risqué (6)
PIRACY - first letters from (initially) Passion Is, then RACY (risqué).
19 A long time mostly producing fodder (6)
FORAGE - all but the last letter of FOR AGEs (a long time).
20 Awards zero marks (6)
OSCARS - O (zero) and SCARS (marks).
21 Whisky and mead oddly left at the end of banquet (4)
MALT - odd letters from (oddly) MeAd, then L (left) and the last letter of (the end of) banqueT.
22 In the first instance, niceties usually feel fairly sufficient (4)
NUFF - first letters from (in the first instance) Niceties Usually Feel Fairly. Slang word for 'enough'.

Times 27837 - local knowledge optional

Rumour has it that this puzzle is one of three we were supposed to be served the weekend before last for the online TCC which failed to happen; the serial number (47518) being not in sequence to yesterday's. If so, it must be a softening-up exercise for the second and third in the series, or maybe the editors are giving us three not-so-hard puzzles to encourage a wider audience.
Anyway it was a pleasant and speedy solve; it helped if you knew a town up north with a racecourse, and one of the Fijian islands, but neither was essential if you trusted the wordplay.
I'm not sure if there's a slight error in the surface of 2d, or I'm missing something in the parsing.

Across
1 Standard clubs with refurbished interior (9)
CRITERION - C, (INTERIOR)*.
6 Country cottage: one having to stoop? (5)
BOWER - double definition, one someone who has to bow down.
9 Run out, suspicious about stone platform (7)
ROSTRUM - RO (abbr. run out in cricket) ST(one), RUM = suspicious.
10 Dismiss from racecourse, days later (3-4)
RED-CARD - REDCAR is a racecourse near that town in NE England. Add D for days.
11 Church on rocky outcrop set ablaze (5)
TORCH - TOR (rocky outcrop) CH.
12 Face leader avoiding furious debate (9)
DIALECTIC - DIAL (face), HECTIC (furious) loses its H.
13 Make saint transgress, coming about in boat (8)
CANONISE - SIN reversed in CANOE.
14 Patriarch against wearing Hawaiian garland (4)
LEVI - V(versus) in LEI.
17 Coward say to strike out verse from fictional work (4)
NOEL - Eliminate V from NOVEL.
18 Fellow venturing to unseat last bureaucrat (8)
MANDARIN - MAN (fellow) DARIN(G). Chestnut time.
21 Press cavalry to provide engine once (4,5)
IRON HORSE - IRON = press, HORSE = cavalry.
22 Northerner’s short stay in Paris hotel? (5)
INUIT - In paris you stay one night or 1 nuit.
24 Irish speaker’s turn of phrase in heavy metal (7)
IRIDIUM - IR (Irish) IDIUM sounds like idiom. Element 77, second-heaviest after osmium.
25 Most just fine with quirky satire (7)
FAIREST - F(fine) (SATIRE)*.
26 Constant contributor to employ alumni (5)
LOYAL - hidden word in EMP(LOY AL)UMNI.
27 Players, being experts, restricting lock (9)
ACTRESSES - ACES (experts) has TRESS inserted.
Down
1 Unit employed with rocks to lug round area (5)
CARAT - CART (lug) around A(rea). Unit used for gemstones.
2 One covering couples in car damaged in New York? (9,6)
INSURANCE POLICY - (COUPLES IN CAR)*= 'SURANCE POLIC' inside I, NY. The 'one' here seems to be both the initial letter of the answer and part of the definition, unless you can allow 'covering' alone as the def. Don't quite get it.
3 Attention brought to article that reduces shocking risks (8)
EARTHING - EAR (attention) THING (article).
4 One marks (twice) poems ending in sentiment? Shameless! (8)
IMMODEST - 1, MM, ODES, T = end of sentiment.
5 Invader right to enter that which is claimed to be an island (6)
NORMAN - even I, an ode-o-phobe, know that John Donne wrote "no man is an island"; insert R.
6 Gallon consumed by renowned pilot Harry (6)
BADGER - Douglas BADER has G for gallon inserted.
7 Take control with Globe customers on tube, minutes away (4,3,8)
WEAR THE TROUSERS - W (with) EARTH (globe) (M)ETRO (tube, M away) USERS (customers).
8 I don't care for messing with the editorial process (9)
REDACTION - (I DONT CARE)*.
13 Getting on N66 with a boarding pass (9)
CONVIVIAL - N, VI, VI (6, 6) inside COL = pass. Nothing to do with the N66 road in Moselle.
15 Island force caught up in attack: be shocked (4,1,3)
HAVE A FIT - HIT (attack) has AVEA (island) and F(orce) inserted. I had the pleasure once of visiting Fiji for a week, on a pan-Pacific diving trip, and I remembered Avea was one of the islands, but if that was news to you, you could biff it or guess it. I tried to parse this differently as HAVE AT being = attack, insert F I but that would be "force island" not island force. Or possibly, HAVE meaning attack, then F in AIT for island, but I don't much like that version either.
16 Supplement causing dependence about to be withdrawn (8)
ADDITIVE - Addictive had its C withdrawn.
19 Keen to immerse husband in southern brook (6)
SHRILL - S (southern) RILL (brook) insert H for husband. Keen here is a verb.
20 Constant frost beginning to abate in peninsula (6)
CRIMEA - C (constant) RIME (frost) A(bate).
23 No-account Roman historian's religious book (5)
TITUS - TACITUS was a Roman historian, remove the AC. Epistle of Paul to Saint Titus.