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This was fun. I worked steadily up and across from the bottom right until I found myself gazing at 1ac, 1dn and 4dn. All done over lunch, as is normal now daylight saving has arrived in this hemisphere. So, not too hard, but definitely a good workout!

My clue of the day and LOI was 4dn. Even though I wrote the actual answer on the side well before the end, the smooth surface of the clue distracted me for ages from finding the anagram indicator. Well done, setter! Thanks for a very enjoyable puzzle.

Clues are in blue, with definitions underlined. Answers are in BOLD CAPS, then wordplay. (ABC*) means 'anagram of ABC', with the anagram indicator in bold italics. Deletions are in [square brackets].

Across
1 Hot tunes please old setter (4,5)
HAIR SPRAY: H (hot) / AIRS (tunes) / PRAY (old word for please).

6 Soprano’s target, maybe, capturing current theme? (5)
TOPIC: our soprano might reach high C. Insert “i”, the symbol for electrical current.

9 Soldier meets retiring girl, dish perhaps (7)
ANTENNA: ANT (soldier) / ANNE retiring (girl).

10 Public relations broadcast that is plain (7)
PRAIRIE: P.R. / AIR / I.E.

11 Horse unseats one big bird (5)
HERON: “horse” might be HERO[i]N; unseat the “I”. Is a heron “big”? Well, compared with what? It might be.

12 Large family member goes to welcome British crew (9)
TRIBESMAN: TRIES (goes) welcomes B (British), followed by MAN (crew, as a verb).

13 He brings up English cases to run through (8)
REHEARSE: REARS (brings up) and E (English) “casing” HE.

14 Back a selection of good numbers to release (4)
UNDO: reversed hidden answer.

17 Churchill for one smelt bad with no lead on (4)
TANK: [s]TANK. I had a faint memory that there might have been a tank named after the great man, and so there was.

18 Raises squad to cross river nearer its source (8)
UPSTREAM: UPS / TEAM “crossing” R.

21 Popular English stage worker perhaps lacking grace (9)
INELEGANT: IN / E / LEG / ANT.

22 Display university books on way to work? (5)
MOUNT: MO (modus operandi – literally translates as “way to work”) / U / NT (books).

24 Dynamic six support conservationists (7)
VIBRANT: VI / BRA / NT (National Trust).

25 Old and anxious but not very demanding (7)
ONEROUS: O / NER[v}OUS. Drop V=very.

26 It may indicate a cold part of house, I hear (5)
RHEUM: sounds like ROOM.

27 One who competes to deceive nurse (9)
CONTENDER: CON / TENDER.

Down
1 Erica has no longer to conserve energy (5)
HEATH: HATH (archaic form of “has”), around E (energy). I knew “heather” could be “ling” or “erica”; surprised to find “heath” is another option!

2 Their angle can be adjusted to be identical, possibly (15)
INTERCHANGEABLE: (THEIR ANGLE CAN BE*).

3 Family member working in US city in southwest (3-2-3)
SON-IN-LAW: ON (working) / IN / LA, all in SW.

4 To check vehicle, engineer started lapping ring (4-4)
ROAD TEST: (STARTED*) around O (ring). As mentioned above, the lovely surface of the clue steered me away from seeing how it worked.

5 I agree: food fit for an ambitious young man (6)
YUPPIE: YUP / PIE.

6 Dealer turned up paintings from the communist era? (6)
TRADER: RED ART “turned up”.

7 Left instruction involving gown in motel, say (11,4)
PORTMANTEAU WORD: MANTEAU (gown) in PORT (left) / WORD (order).

8 Order to teenager that's essential for chip maker (5,4)
CLEAN ROOM: double definition, the first a triumph of hope over experience.

13 Steep watercourse engulfs European dog (9)
RETRIEVER: RET (steep) / RIVER (watercourse) “engulfing” E (European).

15 Hawk's target before long includes PM (8)
SPITTOON: SOON “including” PITT. That sort of hawking!

16 Charge printed on back of envelope (8)
STAMPEDE: STAMPED / [envelop]E.

19 Make still from bits of alembic I discarded (6)
BECALM: (ALEMB-C*). Discard the “I” before doing the anagram. Sadly, I didn’t look up the meaning of “alembic”!

20 Asian dish, cold, very cold (6)
BALTIC: BALTI / C.

23 Stunner took exam again, having been laid up (5)
TASER: RESAT backwards.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
john_dun
Dec. 1st, 2018 12:46 am (UTC)
I surprised myself by finishing this puzzle in 16:52, and am just as surprised to find I didn't have any typos or errors. VIBRANT was a bit more mainstream in this one! Thanks setter and Bruce.
kevingregg
Dec. 1st, 2018 12:59 am (UTC)
19:07
which puts me at 170 on the leaderboard; Saturday seems to bring the neutrinos out in force. Like Bruce, I had a vague feeling there was a TANK of that name. I'm not sure why ANT gets a 'perhaps' at 21ac but not at 9ac. COD to 15d.
z8b8d8k
Dec. 1st, 2018 09:35 am (UTC)
Re: 19:07
Many neutrinos are only there because it's a prize crossword, and an easier way of submitting your entry than cutting out the paper version and posting it to the Times. Does make a complete nonsense of the timings, though.
jackkt
Dec. 1st, 2018 06:41 am (UTC)
40 minutes. Enjoyed the hawking clue!
boltonwanderer
Dec. 1st, 2018 07:32 am (UTC)
Nothing Kafkaesque about this
Did this while waiting airside at Stansted to board for our flight to Prague. What a beautiful city! Time taken has to be a judgement, but probably it was a half-hour crossword for me. I made TOPIC COD, in anticipation of the excellent concert we went to at the Clementine Church. LOI was PORTMANTEAU WORD, another nice clue, as was ROAD TEST and SPITTOON. I couldn't find an ST in Prague, so won't be posting tomorrow. Thank you B and setter.
pipkirby
Dec. 1st, 2018 02:30 pm (UTC)
RE: Nothing Kafkaesque about this
Prague is indeed lovely, and practical. We did a 5 day music package with Keith Prowse one January, it was COLD but dry and there were some great concerts.
davidivad1
Dec. 1st, 2018 08:25 am (UTC)
QC report
I always log in to this site via Peter's Cryptic Crossword Corner and behind Peter's photo is The Times Crossword No. 20,227. Partly obscured by his head is PORTMANTEAU WORD which would otherwise have been unknown to me.
Overall this was a very enjoyable puzzle which I eventually managed to finish with LOI the aforementioned Portmanteau Word.
Glad to see Retriever again as I'll be taking mine out when the rain stops -or possibly in it. David
gothick_matt
Dec. 1st, 2018 08:56 am (UTC)
I wasn't on the wavelength, and limped home in an hour and five. I wasn't so pleased as Jack by 15d—not the kind of image I need over breakfast!—but in the end I did enjoy this one.

FOI the Clouseauish 16a RHEUM, LOI 13a REHEARSE.

My favourite post-solve research snippet came from Wikipedia:


The Churchill tank was named after Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who had promoted the development of the tank in the First World War. Churchill told Field Marshall Jan Smuts "That is the tank they named after me when they found out it was no damn good!"


Edited at 2018-12-01 08:56 am (UTC)
rinteff
Dec. 1st, 2018 08:58 am (UTC)
From my note I seemed to have solved this bottom up like our blogger, for reasons now forgotten. Steady progress with no real problems 17:07.
z8b8d8k
Dec. 1st, 2018 09:42 am (UTC)
Rather dawdled over this to 26 minutes, with, as Kevin notes, a rather disheartening resultant "position", 201 out of 301. Not sure what particularly slowed things down, but the SPITTOON clue was a fine piece of work.
special_bitter
Dec. 1st, 2018 11:27 am (UTC)
23:01 but with a careless tribesmen rather than tribesman at 12ac. 13ac and 13dn parsed post solve. I thought this was a fun, light puzzle. FOI 10ac. LOI 13ac. COD 4dn.
vinyl1
Dec. 1st, 2018 01:13 pm (UTC)
We're on a run of easy Saturdays....
....as I trotted through this in about 30 minutes, and did the same with today's. I would really prefer a bit more of a challenge if you've got all weekend to do the puzzle.

I admit, 'heath' got me too, but what else could it be?
pipkirby
Dec. 1st, 2018 03:02 pm (UTC)
RE: We're on a run of easy Saturdays....
I agree, so have taken to doing the Guardian weekend Prize too, which is free and a bit tougher (but not much so today).
gothick_matt
Dec. 1st, 2018 04:32 pm (UTC)
Re: We're on a run of easy Saturdays....
Let's not have 'em too much, harder, please! They each took me about an hour and ten today!
pipkirby
Dec. 1st, 2018 02:29 pm (UTC)
My print out says 19 minutes no queries, so it was easier than a usual Saturday. Liked the Hawking clue once the P dropped. And the clean room, for silicon chips.
johninterred
Dec. 1st, 2018 09:41 pm (UTC)
17:52, which is a good time for me, but I thought there were lots of wily wordplay and devious definitions. Some lovely clues starting from the off with HAIR SPRAY. I also enjoyed SPITTOON, ROAD-TEST, BALTIC and TANK, but COD to CLEAN ROOM. Yes I have a teenager who doesn't! Thanks Bruce and Seter.

Edited at 2018-12-01 09:42 pm (UTC)
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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