December 23rd, 2020

Times 27855 - back to Tier One.

After last week's toughie, the last of the three competition puzzles which weren't, we're back to a lower level of difficulty with this one. Quite a lot of convoluted wordplay there if you can be bothered, or have to blog it, but several clues which will be BIFD by the speed merchants if not everyone. Apart from nearly falling into an error at 24a, it was straightforward and took me half an hour to decipher the wordplay to my satisfaction.
I'm one mile inside Leicestershire in tier 3, Rutland is in tier 2, Stamford is in tier 3 at the other end of Rutland (it's only 10 miles wide) and the car park of my golf course in Burghley Park half a mile from Stamford is in tier 4 although it's a long way from Peterborough. It's all rather confusing for all. Probably be rained off anyway.
Merry Christmas to everyone, from tiers 1 though 4. Ho Ho Ho !

Across
1 I carefully observe trouble — not good, putting it tersely (2,5)
IN BRIEF - I, N.B. (carefully observe) GRIEF delete G.
5 I’m getting stuck into beer vessel without end (7)
AIMLESS - I'M inside ALE, SS for vessel.
9 Protection from hackers initially going in hard with us, possibly (9)
SHINGUARD - (HARD WITH US)* with G (going initially) inserted.
10 Cultivate source of munitions — and do so again? (5)
REARM - REAR (cultivate) M (source of munitions).
11 Backed America and much of European country (5)
SUDAN - All reversed, DAN(E), US.
12 Rev might, after inviting duke in for tea (9)
GUNPOWDER - GUN (rev, as in rev a motor) POWER (might) insert D(uke). Variety of green tea.
13 Artist reversed cut in representation of harp — the best (3-10)
PRE-RAPHAELITE - Insert PARE (cut) reversed into (HARP*) then add ELITE for best. Or biff it once you have P blank E.
17 Late learner falls due to disapproving word about private office (6,7)
MATURE STUDENT - MATURES (falls due, as in a bond), DEN (private office) in TUT (disapproving word).
21 Plane guided back, mark, after securing victory (5,4)
DELTA WING - LED reversed, TAG (mark) insert WIN. Shape of aircraft which works best at supersonic speeds. All to do with shock waves.
24 Right to block postponement? Get lost (5)
STRAY - Insert R into STAY = postponement. I had SCRAM (get lost) to start with, but couldn't relate a SCAM to a postponement.
25 Time to follow Times, in time producing a special edition (5)
EXTRA - X (times, by) T, inserted into ERA (in time).
26 A lot of freedom to fix position (9)
PLACEMENT - PLA(Y) = a lot of freedom, CEMENT = fix.
27 Recalled article: trail is just starting (7)
NASCENT - AN reversed + SCENT (trail).
28 Insect seen round about, invading the whole room (7)
SANCTUM - C(about) invades ANT, which invades SUM (the whole).
Down
1 Is and isn’t wrong to demand (6)
INSIST - (IS ISN'T)*.
2 Additions to window over sink? Not something I can comment on perhaps (5,4)
BLIND SPOT - BLINDS as additions to window; POT = sink as in snooker.
3 Artless individual in group giving off singular energy (7)
INGENUE - IN, GENU(S), E.
4 Father getting a garbled signal in contrived language (9)
FRANGLAIS - FR (Father), A, (SIGNAL)*
5 Poet: study area University put foremost (5)
AUDEN - DEN (study) with A(rea), U(niversity) in front.
6 Unpleasant experience, accommodating gloomy playwright (7)
MARLOWE - MARE (nightmare, unleasant experience) has LOW (gloomy) inserted.
7 Ruminant, note, observed in climbing valley (5)
ELAND - DALE reversed with N inserted. Today's antelope.
8 County cricket season reportedly prepared (8)
SOMERSET - SOMER sounds like summer, the cricket season (except in 2020 it was Autumn), SET = prepared.
14 Girl is after varying rough indicator of time (9)
HOURGLASS -  (ROUGH)*, LASS = girl.
15 One percent, upset with temperature, head off (9)
INTERCEPT - I (one), (PERCENT)*, T.
16 A little boy swallowing an insect (8)
SMIDGEON - SON swallows MIDGE.
18 Alcoholic drink consumed by Voltaire à la légère (4,3)
REAL ALE - hidden word as in bold italics above.
19 Sculptor records note with it (7)
EPSTEIN - EPS (records) TE (note) IN (with it). I wonder in how many decades the use of LPS and EPS for records will cease? Not to mention CDS. On the other hand Vinyl1 may be here for decades too.
20 Article extracted from speeches satisfied rising organisation (6)
SYSTEM - S(A)YS, MET reversed.
22 Soporific plant: scoundrel, out of Ecstasy, will import tons (5)
LOTUS - LOUS(E) = scoundrel without E, insert T.
23 Contribution from one head assuming power (5)
INPUT - I (one) NUT (head) insert P for power.