February 27th, 2021

  • jerrywh

Times Cryptic Jumbo 1483 - 13 February 2021

So hello, here I am again, standing in for Simon Hanson for a while. Since my first blog in November 2009, I have blogged, at one time or another, almost all of the crosswords that TfTT has to offer:  the Daily cryptic, Quick cryptic, Sunday cryptic, Mephisto, Club Monthly .. but I don't think I have ever blogged a Jumbo before. This will finally complete the set, (now that the late lamented TLS crossword is no longer freely available), so I can die happy at last.

I do recommend the Jumbo to everyone.. I do it every week, but I seldom try to do it in one session (so can give you no times). I leave it around and do a few clues here and there, when time allows.

Because the jumbo is a big beast of a crossword, some of my comments below may be a bit terse but please, do feel free to ask questions or comment as required.

This particular jumbo I thought was nicely placed in the mid range for difficulty. Neat, concise cluing and generally good surface readings.. a sprinkling of unusual vocab., but with accessible wordplay. Altogether, a real pleasure to solve. What did you think?

I use the standard abbreviations like definition underlined, CD for cryptic definition, DD for a double one, *(anargam) and so forth. Nho = "not heard of"

1 To reduce pollution / try to avoid misunderstandings (5,3,3)
CLEAR THE AIR - DD. With regard to the second definition, the misunderstandings will have already happened and now we are trying to correct them, surely ..
7 Court formality concluded with warning signal (4,7)
STAR CHAMBER - STARCH (formality) + AMBER (what traffic lights do, between stop and go). The Star Chamber was a medieval English court that became a byword for oppression and arbitrariness. But interestingly, for most of its life it had the exact opposite approach and was seen as a bulwark to prevent the rich and powerful from oppressing the poor. see the Wikipedia article
13 Response to enquiry about what can improve tonic water? Don't be unreasonable! (3,6,2,1,5)
THE ANSWER IS A LEMON - I struggled with this one. The correct answer to the enquiry is clearly "gin." The phrase itself meant nothing to me and does not appear in either Lexico or Collins, though it is in Chambers. I suspect it might be one of those Americanisms The Times so likes to foist on us unannounced these days. Google will give you a few examples
14 Instrument in Purcell overture (5)
CELLO - hidden in purcelloverture
15 Pay for / place in comfortable position (6)
16 Man dying in bath with hot on somewhere in Greece (8)
MARATHON - MARAT + H + ON. Jean-Paul Marat was a French revolutionary, famous now mainly for being murdered in his bath. Something to think about, if you want to be remembered by posterity. Judging by his Wikipedia entry he was a sort of 18thC Trump.
17 Comic brother or sister consumed by anger (7)
RISIBLE - SIB (sibling) in RILE (anger)
19 Gradually easing glove in to soak (9)
REMITTENT - MITTEN (glove) in RET (soak). Ret is a useful word for setters, so it seems. I seldom ret.
21 Skill of a king — is taking time in effort (8)
ARTISTRY - A + R (king) + IS + T in TRY (effort) .. bit of an Ikea clue but I think I've assembled it right
23 Leader to cry when overthrown by rebels ultimately (4)
BOSS - SOB (cry) rev., + (rebel)S
25 One acting insincerely is a problem (5)
27 Cheated excessively by relations (4,2)
28 Drink from cask, bidding woman to follow (4,6)
PINA COLADA - PIN (cask; it is what most pub beer comes in these days) + ACOL (a bridge bidding system) + ADA (a woman.. the remarkable Ada Lovelace, if you are lucky)
30 Recluses as before having small amounts of money (8)
31 A foreign school to which the girl returned and finished being “not understood” (14)
UNCOMPREHENDED - UN (a foreign, specifically French) + COMP (school) + REH (the girl, rev.) + ENDED
34 A wise confessor sorted out conflict in America (3,2,9)
WAR OF SECESSION - *(A wise confessor). What we in the old country call the war of Independence... on edit: but only if we are very ignorant, because as Kevin points out below, it was actually the American Civil War
35 Spread out sample on tissue (8)
NEOPLASM - *(sample on). Nho of this so I looked it up. You don't want one.
38 Determination in respect of letters being filled in grid? (10)
RESOLUTION - RE + SOLUTION. I liked this clue. Neat
40 Catch superior — the foreign female for Bond? (6)
COPULA - COP (catch) + U (superior. Where would setters be, without Nancy Mitford?) + LA (the, foreign, feminine). My second nho so I looked it up. Collins: "a verb, such as 'be' or 'become', which links the subject to a noun or adjective that is more informative about the subject than the verb is." In other words, what 25ac's would call a linking verb
41 Significant points made by e.g. Canterbury fellow on return journey (5)
NODES - SE (eg Canterbury) + DON (fellow), reversed.
43 Something dirty and greyish-brown, little good (4)
DUNG - DUN + G(ood)
44 Pill mum gets swallowed — something seen at meal time (5,3)
45 Cosmetic making girl yell audibly (4,5)
48 Model no longer, having got “wide” (7)
EXAMPLE - EX (no longer) + AMPLE (wide. As with my mother-in-law's bosom, for example)
49 One in a hurry requiring second attachment to computer (8)
50 Relation mostly bagging ducks with it? Hardly (6)
UNCOOL - OO (ducks) in UNCL(e) (relation, mostly)
53 Judge maybe in German city (5)
TRIER - DD. I've never been to Trier, but it is said to be Germany's oldest city and it sounds an interesting place. One day, perhaps ..
54 It's shocking — can make your hair stand on end! (6,11)
STATIC ELECTRICITY - A CD. I thought there must be something more to this clue, but if there is I can't find it.
55 Ordinary members in rows not facing each other (4,3,4)
56 Attempted to get adored venue redeveloped (11)
ENDEAVOURED - *(ADORED VENUE). I can't see endeavour(ed) without thinking of Inspector Morse..

1 Disaster when going after pet? What drink's got knocked over? (11)
CATASTROPHE - CAT (pet) + AS (when) + EH (what?) and PORT (drink), reversed. Neat clueing, and the surface just about works..
2 Put up in the rectory (5)
ERECT - hidden in therectory
3 Phone one way and phone another way — it can be hairy (7)
RINGLET - RING (phone) + TEL. (phone) rev.
4 Act as a seller making one cough up (4)
5 A loveless pain in the neck fighting a release of emotional tension (10)
ABREACTION - my third nho, but perfectly gettable from the wordplay: A B(o)RE (loveless pain) + ACTION (fighting)
6 Practice of one type of religious person? Samaritan is far different (14)
RASTAFARIANISM - *(SAMARITAN IS FAR). Rastafari is a modern religion, dating back only as far the 1930s.
7 Chemical having advantage? The reverse, leading to resentment (8)
SULPHATE - PLUS (advantage) reversed, + HATE (resentment)
8 Notice minutes for business proceedings (5)
ADMIN - AD (advert, notice) + MIN(utes). For a short time many years ago I was an Admin Manager
9 Plant / urns may be stored in such places (9)
CINERARIA - a DD, and my fourth nho.. I needed all the checking letters but it was near enough to "incineration" to be workoutable
10 Bill with amount to be paid for buttonhole (6)
ACCOST - AC (account, bill) + COST (amount to be paid)
11 One blackballed don sacked, displaying signs of excommunication (4,4,3,6)
BELL BOOK AND CANDLE - *(One blackballed don). I had heard of this phrase, but had no clue what it meant. I biffed it from looking at the anagrist
12 State that would briefly provide religious instruction? (5,6)
RHODE ISLAND - Because RI can also stand for religious instruction. I went to a number of schools in my youth (parents moved about) and suffered RI, RE and RS at various different times.
18 Woman almost taken in by mischief-maker is an arty type (8)
AESTHETE - ESTHE(r) (woman, almost) in ATE. Ate is the eldest daughter of Zeus, and is the Greek goddess of mischief, delusion, ruin, and folly. She seems to have been a busy bee just recently
20 I am not involved with enterprises creating false account? (17)
22 Elusive little son getting cheeky (6)
24 Folksy detective dismissing learner with a joke (8)
HOMESPUN - HO(l)MES (detective sans L(earner)) + PUN (joke). I dislike detective stories and similar books about murder, but even I have heard of this one
26 Number of cats and dogs? (8)
RAINFALL - I struggle to parse this and don't know what to underline. The answer is fairly obvious but I don't understand the clue. I assume it refers to the phrase "Raining cats & dogs" in some way .. but most rainfall doesn't. I suppose the "number" means there are lots of pets involved and the ? means it is a valid clue, but I thought it all a bit weak
29 Number behold prisoner having entered tremulously to make legal plea (4,10)
NOLO CONTENDERE - NO (number) + LO (behold) + CON (prisoner) + *(ENTERED) .. classic "charade" clue. Nolo contendere is another of those phrases I had vaguely heard of and you can sort of see that it will mean something along the lines of "no contest," or "It's a fair cop, guv." The OED says: "A plea by which a defendant in a criminal prosecution accepts conviction, as in the case of a plea of guilty, but does not admit guilt." So, more of a "It might or might not be a fair cop, guv, I couldn't say" situation, perhaps
32 Stylishness of English member, one belonging to a previous generation, not half (8)
ELEGANCE - E(nglish) LEG (member) + ANCE(stor)
33 Start back in ground that has buried “liquid gold” (6)
RECOIL - REC (-reation ground) + OIL, our buried liquid gold, or destructive fossil fuel as I prefer to think of it
34 Bowler rated “fantastic”, the best there is (5-6)
WORLD-BEATER - *(BOWLER RATED) .. bit of a gimme, that one
36 What could make me spoiled, my being in the wrong job? (11)
MISEMPLOYED - *(ME SPOILED MY) another gimme, though a nice neat surface.
37 Duck out of putting Polish high explosive in casing of metal (10)
BUFFLEHEAD - My fifth nho, rather unusually, even for a jumbo. BUFF (polish), + HE (high explosive) inside LEAD (metal). No doubt you knew, as I did not, that a bufflehead is a small American diving duck, also called a butterball. Bufflehead is a fine word which I will try to introduce into a conversation as soon as possible. Eg "What on earth made you do that, you utter bufflehead?"
39 Old rocker entertaining party-goers went over the top maybe? (9)
TRAVERSED - RAVERS (party-goers) inside TED (old rocker). I tend to think of traversing as crossing, rather than going up and over, but of course you can traverse a mountain or a massif. Done it many times.
42 Gradually pay off in a short time, extra income restricting debt finally (8)
AMORTISE - A MO (short time) + RISE (extra income, remember those?) with (deb)T inside
46 I am supporting part of hospital restricted by firm making a bit of money (7)
CENTIMO - ENT (part of hospital, specifically the Ear, Nose & Throat department) and I'M, inside CO (firm). Several countries use centimos, though far more use centavos.
47 Old city region entertained by religious group (6)
SPARTA - PART (region) inside SA (religious group, ie the Sally Army). My father, though far from religious, was nevertheless a big admirer of the Salvation Army. He said that in the war, they went everywhere and shrank from no task, however gruesome. I think they still have that aura about them.
49 Teacher went through water to land on island (5)
51 East End dealer providing something for basket-maker? (5)
OSIER - How our lovable Cockney sparrer would pronounce Hosier, a dealer of sorts. Well, of socks mainly.
52 Covered colonnade in street area with zero occupation (4)
STOA - O (zero) in ST(reet) + A(rea). The stoa of the Athens Agora was where the philosopher Zeno taught, and the word stoicism derives from that

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  • brnchn

Times Cryptic No 27906 - Saturday, 20 February 2021. What mental block?

I was stuck on this for ages, with three clues unsolved. To clear my mind, I started preparing the blog. Joy – all three jumped out after the break! It’s not an easy puzzle, but all doable except 16dn, which you either know, or you don’t! (Spoiler … I didn’t.)

Thanks to the setter for a very enjoyable puzzle. How did you all get on?

Notes for newcomers: The Times offers prizes for Saturday Cryptic Crosswords. This blog is posted a week later, after the competition closes. So, please don’t comment here on the current Saturday Cryptic.

Clues are blue, with definitions underlined. Deletions are struck through.
1 Something injected ruins meat, sadly (9)
ANTISERUM – anagram of RUINS MEAT (‘sadly’).
6 Follow and photograph Queen for publication (5)
PAPER – a PAParrazo follows and photographs the famous, including ER herself.
9 Works in pub with odd people out of clubs (7)
INNARDS – INN=pub. CARDS are odd people, losing C for clubs. The innards of a watch, for example. My LOI.
10 One getting large in stomach, putting on weight? (7)
GLUTTON – L in GUT, then put on a TON of weight.
11 Chap knocking back the French spirit (5)
NIGEL – he knocks back LE GIN, non?
12 Reject skin of rice pudding one had for lunch? (9)
REPUDIATE – RE is the ‘skin’ of RicE, then add the PUD that I ATE at lunch.
14 Heart to heart shows a willingness to listen (3)
EAR – the ‘heart’ of hEARt. Very clever!
15 Heaving from ship in motion ceases — sinks, unfortunately (11)
SEASICKNESS – anagram of CEASES SINKS (‘unfortunately ’).
17 Wishes track to be changed — something very dated on the radio (4,7)
CATS WHISKER – anagram of WISHES TRACK (‘to be changed’). A form of radio receiver (or perhaps a component thereof) a hundred years ago.
19 Pickpocket paid back missing note (3)
DIP – PaID, backwards, without the A=a random musical note.
20 Continual annoyance of girl in navy in freezing surroundings (9)
IRRITANCY – RITA in RN in ICY. Nests within nests!
22 Young lad discarding fish skin (5)
STRIP – the lad is a STRIPLING, the fish is a LING.
24 Commercial jingle in rhyme is preventing success (7)
26 Learned of European raw hors d’oeuvre that must be peeled (7)
ERUDITE – E=European, then CRUDITÉS are ‘peeled’.
27 Check uranium found in mine passage (5)
28 Oxford pursuing heroin? It’s nailed on (9)

1 Like a tyrant? Roman emperor is this following October (5)
AVIAN – OCTAVIAN was an emperor, so OCTAVIAN is like a (tyrant) bird. I wasn’t sure if the emperor was OCTAVIUS or OCTAVIAN, and had no idea there was a tyrant bird, but what else could the answer be?
2 Bird a long time in top half of tree (7)
TANAGER – AN AGE inside TREE. Another obscure bird, but this one faintly remembered.
3 Cutter wallows and yaws endlessly under southern cape (6,3)
SCROLL SAW – S=southern, C=cape, ROLLS=wallows, then YAWS is ‘endless’. Second to LOI.
4 Doubt the purpose of English Heritage is losing power (11)
RESERVATIONPRESERVATION is the purpose of the charity, English Heritage. Never heard of it, but of course it is! Third to LOI.
5 Stick up this clock (3)
MUG – GUM backwards.
6 Writer of verses for Mass (5)
POUND – Ezra Pound was the poet. Pounds and ounces hang on stubbornly alongside kilograms, apparently, despite metrification.
7 Boy at wedding eating too much soup (7)
8 People just missing first smuggler with drink (7-2)
13 Work steadily with papa around haystack and lug fruit (7,4)
PRICKLY PEAR – PLY around RICK, P=papa in the phonetic alphabet, EAR=lug. In Australia, it’s a noxious weed, but yes it does bear fruit.
14 Mexican food left in ruined hacienda (9)
ENCHILADA – L in an anagram of HACIENDA (‘ruined’).
16 Fellow’s reported game he encountered in German city (9)
KARLSRUHE – KARL’S our fellow, RU is the game, meeting HE. As I said at the top, you either know this answer or you don’t!

I didn’t know the city, and thought that ‘reported’ must signal a homophone. So, if the fellow was KURT, the city might be KIRTSRUHE? Bzzz – wrong!

Pity the S was cross-checked – otherwise, I could have tried KURTZRUHE. That sounds like a German name!

And, can anyone see why that ‘reported’ is in the clue?
18 Did well sorting out what comes next, having time for son (7)
THRIVED – I guess we change the S in SHRIVED to a T. Being shriven would get you right with God, so I suppose that gets you ready for what comes next. On edit: thanks to the anonymous comment below for pointing out that this answer, THRIVED, is an anagram of the next answer, DERVISH, if you replace the S with a T. Indeed, as corymbia points out, it's a WHIRLING DERVISH. Very clever!
19 Like some fuel oil? This one is very poor and might be turning (7)
DERVISH – fuel oil might, whimsically, be DERV-ish. Dervishes profess poverty and austerity, and some (whirling dervishes) dance as a religious ceremony.
21 Courtesan keeping old cards (5)
23 Get annoyed with record turning up the day before (5)
PEEVE – E.P. ‘turning up’, then EVE. I think the definition is as a transitive verb: peeve someone = get someone annoyed.
25 Old letter found in secret hideaway (3)
ETH – hidden answer. A letter, Đ or đ, once used to indicate the th sound.

Sunday Times Cryptic 4943, by Dean Mayer — No major hurdles…

and I am sure I could’ve cracked the fifteen-letter 5 first of all, if Saturday Night Live had not just come on and if the first thing I saw when glancing at the newly printed puzzle hadn’t been the instantly solved three-letter “Fabled bird” at 23, which prompted me to start by nibbling at the edges: the three-letter clues, then the four-letter clues, then the six-letter clues… achieving, in a slow-mo flash, my standard leisurely time, and with no questions lingering about the parsing. Pretty easy one, if you ask me—there are even two hiddens (albeit one reversed)—and no &lit (or even an &lit wannabe).

I indicate (gasman Ra)* like this, and italicize anagrinds in the clues.

 1 Accept fresh cup of tea (4,2,2)
FACE UP TO — (cup of tea)*
 6 Master having overnight cases (6)
GOVERN — Hidden
 9 Around Nevada, join rally (10)
CONVALESCE — Rather vague directions to this event… CO(NV)ALESCE
10 Down-and-out ex-pupil in house (4)
HOBO — O(ld) B(oy) in HO(use) “Down-and-out” here is a noun.
11 Story teller in trouble over reading? (4)
LIAR — AIL<=“over” + R, the solitary non-facetious member of the Three “R”s
12 Things that should be worn in style (6,4)
SHABBY CHIC — CD I knew the phrase “shabby genteel”…
13 It grows light from the East (7,7)
15 Do get an agreement of mutual benefit (6,8)
SOCIAL CONTRACT — Social, ”do,” as a party, a  + CONTRACT, “get”—“an agreement” presumably because there are other kinds
18 Doing things for an author? (5,5)
AGENT NOUNS — CD + DBE… My LOI. Wikipedia explains, “In linguistics, an agent noun is a word that is derived from another word denoting an action, and that identifies an entity that does that action,” giving the example of driver, from drive. Now, an author doesn’t auth, nor is someone who authors an authorer. “Author,” however, ultimately comes to us—via Middle Fench as relayed from Old French—from the Latin noun auctor, which is composed of auct-, the past passive participle stem of augēre (“to increase”) + -or, the agent noun suffix.
20 Timid type drops small grimace (4)
21 Magazine content from magazine about bags (4)
AMMO — Reversed hidden
22 Getting on top, on horseback (10)
BESTRIDING — BEST, “top” + RIDING, “on horseback”
24 Red route from Leeds? Arrive on outskirts (6)
COMMIE — COM(MI)E… This is an offensive pejorative term, AFAIC.
25 Dry — just about dead as well (8)

 2 Axes I throw back into remains of fire (9)
 3 Measure very heavy metal ring (7)
ENVIRON — As a verb; EN, “Measure” + V(ery) + IRON, “heavy metal”
 4 Old man / lover won’t get over friend (3)
PAL — PA, “old man” + L[-over]
 5 Worried less about soccer training grounds (8,7)
OBSTACLE COURSES — (less about soccer)*
 6 Sees red cracks on parts of hand (4,7)
GOES BANANAS — Goes, “cracks” (as in turns, attempts) + BANANAS, “parts of hand,” “hand” being a term for a bunch of bananas
 7 Against hybrid lichee as jam ingredient? (7)
VEHICLE — V, versus, “Against” or versus + (lichee)*, defined cryptically This clue seemed to have won my (rare) Dubious Anagrind of the Year Award, on the grounds that I thought a “hybrid” must be a combination of two things (from Latin hybrida, variant of ibrida “mongrel,” specifically “offspring of a tame sow and a wild boar”); how the word can signal mere jumbling of elements was beyond my ken—though the fact that the word is also applied to a kind of automobile is amusing in this context. The first commenter prompted me to look again, and lo, there in Collins online (as American English) is (2.) “anything of mixed origin, unlike parts, etc.” Good enough for crosswords! (It’s not a mixture of the letters of more than one word, though… Hmmph)
 8 Religious scholar gets talk cut short (5)
RABBI — We just couldn't take any more! RABBI[-t] Sometimes, you just feel like having a chestnut.
12 Green dye put into blue as ordered (11)
SUSTAINABLE — STAIN, “dye” inside (blue as)*
14 Caught in no-go area, left by night (9)
NOCTURNAL — NO(C)TURN + A(rea) + L(eft)
16 See fit to follow (7)
CONFORM — CON, “See” + FORM, “fit”
17 Religious festival managed to include a cross (7)
RAMADAN — R(A)(MAD, “cross”)AN
19 Thick soup paste and black olive starter (5)
GUMBO — GUM,“paste” + B(lack) + O(live)
23 Fabled bird seen in stone, it’s said (3)
ROC — Two bits of wordplay (inextricably fused) for a three-letter word! ROC[-k], “rock”
  • vinyl1

Mephisto 3156 - Persistence? Determination? Resolve?

I found this one a bit on the tough side.   It's not that there were no easy clues,  but they seemed to all be located on the right side of the grid.   This made for a speedy half-solve, but in the end I got most thoroughly stuck for a while.   But somehow, I found the quality that was needed to finish my solve, and powered through.   Cracking the long anagram for the grooving tool was a key step in opening up the left-hand side, but it still took a while.

Much of the difficulty come from the use of the obscure meanings of common words, which is considered fair enough in Mephisto, but often leads to the solver rejecting the correct answer that the wordplay  clearly points to.    Only by searching through every last meaning in Chambers do you finally realize that yes, that really is the answer, and here's why.

I also had a couple that I biffed fairly easily, but couldn't parse.   I probably would have managed to figure them out eventually, but instead I parsed a couple for Jeremy, and got a couple parsings back in trade.    So now everything is reasonably clear, and I will be able to finish the blog without further research.
1 Apple sent back this note (6)
TENNER - RENNET backwards.   Darwin or Dickens, anyone?
6 Value support for single-decker, say (6)
SETTEE - SET + TEE.   Yes, a settee is also a single-decked vessel.
11 She milks another who walked out on the boards? (9)
EXACTRESS - EX-ACTRESS, one of the few easy ones.
12 One that gets muezzin going in the morning (4)
IMAM - An &lit, I + M[uezzin] + A.M.
13 Stewed steak, say, at Le Manoir, yes with extravagant bill to cover (7)
BOUILLI - OUI in an anagram of BILL.
14 Dutch person on the left is reckless (5)
PERDU - PER + DU, both obscure but legitimate abbreviations.
16 Old famous sort rejecting new vaudeville (4)
OLIO - O + LIO[n], more usually meaning a stew.
17 Sovereignty sure fell in a chaotic state (8)
SELF RULE - Anagram of SURE FELL, my FOI.
19 Gothic architectural features clash with a recent change (12, two words)
LANCET ARCHES - Anagram of SLASH + A RECENT.    I got the arches easily enough, but struggled with the first word.
22 Doubling the act of planting crops finally must be good (12)
INGEMINATION - IN(-s,+G)EMINATION, replacing [crop]S with G.
23 Inappropriately tells to go old woman who’s kept scraps (8)
MISSENDS - MISS + ENDS, as in odds and ends.
25 Colleague’s operation into which one goes (4)
OPPO - OP + PO, you could look it up.
28 Westbound kid I see leaves having been wrapped up? (5)
CIGAR - RAG I C backwards.
29 Blighter bellows with joy about blue matter (7)
CURIOSA -  CUR + IOS + A.  Io is what they shout in Greek drama.
30 Baron, or the equivalent, gets legal compo (4)
BOTE - B + O.T.E, two more not-very-popular abbreviations.
31 Recurrent bind over admitting revision gives too testing rôles (9)
OVERPARTS - STRAP + REV + O.   Surprising, because over is used to indicate O, but over itself appears in the answer.   I didn't put this one in until I had parsed it.
32 Again awry in the matter of coping? No longer free from risk (6)
RESKEW - RE + SKEW.   The second element may be doubly defined, as skew can mean either awry, or what coping is made of.   Discuss.
33 First of demotic Greek characters for vessels (6)
DIOTAS - D[emotic] + IOTAS.   Fortunately, I had heard of the vessels, so this went right in.
1 Run out crude oil here? (7)
TRIPOLI - An &lit, TRIP + anagram of OIL.   Trip as in a trip to the store.
2 Mealie nun after shift is deficient in this (9)
3 Drawing close new yard’s fastener? (7)
NEARING -  N + EARING.   An earing is a rope that fastens a sail to the yard.
4 Attention-seeker’s occasion for partner swapping? (8, two words)
EXCUSE ME - Double definition, referring to the dance-hall frolic.
5 Without line dancing babe wants girl that grooves (12)
6 Home of leaders of coppers in disguise? Dastardly con possibly (12, two words)
SCOTLAND YARD - Anagram of DASTARDLY CON, an easy one that broke open the whole right side of the puzzle.
7 Core of poetic quip’s heart is a case of pins and needles (4)
ETUI - [po]ET[ic] + [q]UI[p].   An American crossword word.
8 Peckham’s man with a broom lacking general intelligence, good assiduous sport? (5)
TRIER -  TRI[g,g}ER, where G is an abbreviation for General Intelligence, and G is an abbreviation for good.   Peckham's man with a broom is Trigger in the UK sitcom Only Fools and Horses, something you will not find in Chambers.    One of Jeremy's parsings.
9 Number to call before getting something like a network? (4)
TELA - TEL + A.  As in the abbreviation before a telephone number.
10 Bagel I sent back includes old pickle? (5)
ESILE - Backwards hidden in [bag]EL I SE[nt].
15 One of the Pieridae who gave the needle and ended it all (9)
CLEOPATRA -  The Egyptian queen who gave us Cleopatra's Needle, and committed suicide.
18 White friar’s catechism beginning to illuminate (8)
FRASCATI - FRA'S CAT + I[lluminate], a white wine.
20 Tough PI struggling with nervous affliction (7)
HIPGOUT - Anagram of TOUGH PI, an old name for sciatica.
21 We go under ignoring northerner’s film — we give you little rest (7)
SNORERS - SNOR[kell}ERS,   Kell is a Scots variant on caul, which see - another of Jeremy's parsings.
23 Mould girl from The Broads entering capital initially (5)
MUCOR -  M(U.C)OR, where u.c. meanings upper case, an a mor is a big awkward girl in East Anglian dialect.
24 Soldier is to gather kit from the front (5)
SHIRK - SHIR + K[it].   The chief difficulty here is finding the right meaning of soldier, but it's there.
26 God! More than 100 square metres (4)
ARES -  ARES, presumably more than one are, which is what 100 square metres is.
27 Poet’s Latin work picked up on those central to dupery (4)
POPE - [du]P(OP)E[ry], the obvious answer.