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I see 84 contestants attempted this and 33 got it correct. So, not a piece of cake. I got it right eventually, but not under exam room presssure.
I found this a game of two halves. The RHS went in reasonably smoothly, after a couple of minutes reading through and finding little by way of easy clues to get me going. 4a was my FOI. It didn't then help that I had at first put in RUMINATE for 8d, before seeing the fishy mathematician at 16a.The LHS took longer, but in retrospect I can't see why, there is nothing too nasty about it, I just wasn't on song. Nowhere near a 20 minute romp which I'd have needed on the day.
Maybe because of the lack of on-song mood, verging on headache, I didn't particularly enjoy this, but it is noteworthy for having a Yiddish word I actually knew, which is probably a first.

Across
1 Deliberate snatching is bad treatment (6)
MISUSE - MUSE = deliberate, snatches IS inside.
4 Brilliant odds before racehorse runs (8)
SPARKLER - SP = odds, ARKLE was a racehorse of note, R = runs.
10 One who has it may quickly lose it (5,4)
SHORT FUSE - cryptic def.
11 Perhaps a sett … the setter’s material (5)
DENIM - DEN = perhaps a sett, which is a badger's den; I'M = the setter's.
12 General grounds for curtailment (3)
LEE - I think this is LEES = grounds, as in coffee for example, curtailed.
13 Lumières can’t broadcast without a place to show all their work? (11)
MULTISCREEN - Anagram of (LUMIERES C NT)*, the A you are told to omit.
14 The endless growth in snooker (6)
THWART - TH(E), WART = growth. I think snooker has a more specific definition than 'thwart'.
16 Man responsible for distribution of toxin around centre of Salisbury (7)
POISSON - If you didn't do any statistics or A Level maths, you could still get to the answer from word play I think. POISON = toxin, has S the middle of Salisbury, inserted. Poisson was a French chap who understood about statistical distributions, which I can just about remember learning about, and he also had a Series (or series of series?) named after him, which I never got to grips with.
19 A beastly mother keeping literary retrospective for gifted child (7)
MATILDA - A DAM = a beastly mother, holds on to LIT, then all reversed. Matilda is the title of a book by Roald Dahl about a gifted child.
20 Detective Gadget succeeded inside the CID, for example (6)
SENSOR - S inside SENOR. I am thinking, here SENOR = CID in so far as El Cid was a Spanish señor or Lord. Have I missed the plot?
22 One who introduces expert on Browning? (11)
TOASTMASTER - Cryptic DD, where a toast master would be good at making brown toast.
25 Attempt retiring (3)
SHY - DD.
26 One might see spider on this: howls out loud? (5)
BAIZE - BAIZE sounds like BAYS = howls; a reference to an elongated rest device used on a snooker table, which is of course baize covered.
27 Categorise works evading understanding, ultimately as such (9)
ESOTERICA - Anagram of (CATE ORISE)* where the G is omitted as instructed by "evading understandinG ultimately". "As such" referring to the surface meaning.
28 Occasion that is wrapping up day (8)
EVENTIDE - Cryptic definition that took me ages to see, after lots of present-giving festivals had come and gone. EDIT there's more to this, see parsing by our friend ejected from Bletchley, second comment below.
29 A carriage heading for Scottish cathedral city (6)
AMIENS - I had this quickly, as we pass by the city on the way to Calais often enough, but it could be tricky if you're not hot on French geography. A, MIEN = carriage, S = heading for Scottish.

Down
1 Might Mark blitz clues? (6)
MUSCLE - M, (CLUES)*. a simple clue I made difficult.
2 Singer’s second discussion about sound quality? (9)
STONECHAT - S = second, TONE CHAT = discussion about sound quality, if you like. Know your birds to succeed at crosswords.
3 She’s short with pot belly — that’s Mum! (5)
SHTUM - SH(E), TUM = pot belly. Keep shtum = be quiet, you shmuck.
5 Bent coppers splitting up, say (14)
PREDISPOSITION - Parsed after the event. DIS = coppers, splits PREPOSITION, of which UP is an example.
6 Censorship of the October Revolution? (9)
REDACTION - RED ACTION being a way to describe what went on in November 1917.
7 Move impetuously to sacrifice pawn and foil attack? (5)
LUNGE - PLUNGE = move impetuously, loses a P. LUNGE as in a fencing move with a foil.
8 Harry Truman taking on board current thinking (8)
RUMINANT - (TRUMAN)* takes an IN inside, IN being current. Thinking as a participle adjective, as in 'the thinking man'.
9 Comprehensive school’s first XI linked up with a top forward (4,5,5)
FULL STEAM AHEAD - FULL = comprehensive, S = school's first; TEAM = XI; A HEAD = a top.
15 Frequently outspoken on males: time for a quota (9)
ALLOTMENT - ALLOT sounds like A LOT = frequently; MEN for males; T for time.
17 Evergreen explorer cut down in front of Resolution (5,4)
SCOTS PINE - SCOTT the polar explorer chap loses his last S, then SPINE = resolution.
18 I am one member of nest maybe suited to parrots (8)
IMITABLE - I am = I'M I (= ONE) TABLE, as small tables can come in a nest where they all fit one on the other. Why do they call them Occasional Tables? We use ours all the time.
21 Major operation as Times each year put on finals of puzzles championships (6)
BYPASS - BY = Times, multiplied by; PA = each year, S S = end letters of puzzles championships. A timely reference in the surface.
23 Cast me in a film (5)
ANIME - (ME IN A)*. Anime is some sort of a Japanese cartoon genre I believe.
24 Discharge suspect concealing high explosive (5)
RHEUM - RUM = suspect, insert HE for the explosive stuff. The word RHEUM always makes me think of Peter Sellers as Clouseau asking for a rheum. That was great stuff. Toodle Pip!

Comments

( 67 comments — Leave a comment )
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jackkt
Dec. 5th, 2018 06:27 am (UTC)
I parsed LEE and SENSOR as you did, Pip. I was pleased to get as far as I did i.e. all the way bar one before resorting to aids, but my brain was hurting by the time I reached 27ac as my LOI and I gave up the ghost at that point.

It was very satisfying to work out the unknown POISSON. I failed fully to parse IMITABLE and PREDISPOSITION but was confident of my answers. I still don't see how 'brilliant' = SPARKLER as I would have expected SPARKLING.

Edited at 2018-12-05 06:28 am (UTC)
kevingregg
Dec. 5th, 2018 07:36 am (UTC)
'brilliant' can be a noun as well, specifically in the diamond sense, like 'sparkler'.
(no subject) - jackkt - Dec. 5th, 2018 07:43 am (UTC) - Expand
bletchleyreject
Dec. 5th, 2018 07:14 am (UTC)
It seems ALLOTMENT doesn't have 2 T's and 1 L which sunk me for MATILDA as well, so a DNF in about 70 minutes.

I parsed EVENTIDE as 'Occasion' = EVENT and 'that is wrapping up day'= I(D)E, so it's a bit &littish. I couldn't parse SENSOR or LEE.

I enjoyed this and was disappointed not to finish correctly. STONECHAT goes in as a new avian acquaintance and I loved the surface for SHTUM.

My pick was ANIME, mainly because it reminded me of a film called "Porco Rosso" by Miyazaki. Magic stuff.

Thanks to setter and blogger.
pipkirby
Dec. 5th, 2018 07:31 am (UTC)
EVENTIDE
Think you are correct, have amended above, ta.
kevingregg
Dec. 5th, 2018 07:34 am (UTC)
28:12
I casually flung in FULL SPEED AHEAD (is this a US/UK difference?), fully intending to come back to it to see how it works, and fully forgetting to do so, making THWART & MATILDA ungettable for a long time. No idea what the hell MATILDA was doing, or TABLE (is a nested table a part of a nest?), and guessed that there was a horse named ARKLE. I was lucky that 'spider' appeared recently here. I marked 7d as COD, but I liked a bunch of these: SENOR, RUMINANT, BYPASS inter alia. I parsed EVENTIDE as Bletchley did.
jerrywh
Dec. 5th, 2018 08:57 am (UTC)
Full steam ahead
.. not so much a UK/US difference (both are reasonably common here) as an old/young difference perhaps .. anyone under 60 may never have seen a steam engine used
Re: Full steam ahead - kevingregg - Dec. 5th, 2018 10:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Dec. 5th, 2018 07:35 am (UTC)
8d
I think current = IN here as opposed to I. Thanks Blogger and Setter. 20 mins but not exam conditions.
mikeosborne
Dec. 5th, 2018 07:38 am (UTC)
One of the (thirty) three
From hazy memory (I know, it was only a month ago) this was the one I finished. The other two didn’t go quite so well.

I guess it must have been a chewy one, as even having solved it on the day, it still took 15 minutes this morning.
mikeosborne
Dec. 5th, 2018 07:44 am (UTC)
RHEUM
I posted the other day that it had come up more than once recently - this was clearly one of the occasions I had in mind. Apologies if that ended up as a spoiler.

Edited at 2018-12-05 07:45 am (UTC)
pootle73
Dec. 5th, 2018 07:45 am (UTC)
10:09
I got about 2/3 of the way through this today beforehand realising it was one of the puzzles I’d seen at the championships. On the day I only got about 2/3 of the way through it in total. I’m pleased to report I found it easier today.

Wasn’t Poisson distribution discovered by Jesus?
mikeosborne
Dec. 5th, 2018 08:00 am (UTC)
Poisson distribution
Only discovered by Jesus in conjunction with pain distribution I think.
Re: Poisson distribution - penge_guin - Dec. 5th, 2018 11:24 am (UTC) - Expand
RE: Re: Poisson distribution - mikeosborne - Dec. 5th, 2018 11:36 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Re: Poisson distribution - mrchumley - Dec. 5th, 2018 12:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
isla3
Dec. 5th, 2018 07:51 am (UTC)
Great surfaces
Really liked some of the surface readings - 1dn and 21dn very apposite, 16ac topical. Found it tricky but finally got there in a bit over 26 minutes. SENSOR last in as a wild guess, no idea how it could possibly parse.If CID is senor then I'm a bit grumpy. POISSON very well-known but one of the last in, as not expecting mathematicians, even though excellently clued. He also has a ratio - how much something lengthens when you squeeze it.
penfold_61
Dec. 5th, 2018 08:45 am (UTC)
For anyone wanting to assess how they might have fared in the second prelim overall, whether they were in the first session (*waves at Tim*) or not taking part at all, the following might be useful:

All correct within the hour would have been good enough for a top 25 finish and a free place next year.

I snuck into the final in 12th place with a combined time of 46:30 or thereabouts so any quicker than that for all 3 puzzles would have been good enough to make the final.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 5th, 2018 10:19 am (UTC)
I was immediately ahead in 11th at about 46 minutes - Phil Jordan
myrtilus000
Dec. 5th, 2018 08:57 am (UTC)
What is an occasional table the rest of the time?
50 mins of delight with yoghurt etc.
A sparkler of a puzzle: good mix of interesting words, good mix of clue types, good jokes (Browning) and topical references. Brilliant stuff.
The only blemish is the CID=Senor thing which was my LOI and took ages.
Mostly I liked: Bypass and Poisson (COD).
Thanks brilliant setter and Pip.

Edited at 2018-12-05 08:58 am (UTC)
oliviarhinebeck
Dec. 5th, 2018 02:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this week's TLS which certainly provoked a smile. I took particular note of 20a and 6d.
jerrywh
Dec. 5th, 2018 09:05 am (UTC)
the CID
Enjoyed this, much helped by knowing the vocab and dear old Poisson. Also I think by doing it at home with coffee rather than under exam conditions. Respect, to anyone who did and got it all finished in the time.
There seems to be a growing tendency recently for setters to play fast and loose with punctuation, capitalisation etc. Nobody would write "the CID" for El Cid, not even Charlton Heston. I don't like to put constraints on setters, they have enough to put up with with Ximenes so I will grin and bear it; but I'm not very keen on it.
keriothe
Dec. 5th, 2018 09:10 am (UTC)
15:33. Tricky this, I thought: more so than any of the first prelim puzzles perhaps.
A very good puzzle but CID for SENOR does seem a bit of a stretch and grounds and LEES are not the same thing at all.

Edited at 2018-12-05 09:10 am (UTC)
mikeosborne
Dec. 5th, 2018 11:26 am (UTC)
I biffed them both on the day anyway so was blissfully unaware of any potential parsing controversies.

Come to think of it I biffed them again today. Ho hum.
(no subject) - keriothe - Dec. 5th, 2018 04:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
gothick_matt
Dec. 5th, 2018 09:28 am (UTC)
An hour and a half here, and simply grateful to have finished, no matter the time. All correct if not understood, though in retrospect I had at least heard of a Poisson distribution, so there was at least one I was being dense about.

Things I didn't know: STONECHAT (though my revision words include "wheatear", which is a type of chat, so that helped); Arkle; lees; that MATILDA was a prodigy; anything about AMIENS, including that it has a cathedral.

Thank you for the parsings, Pip! I especially needed 5d PREDISPOSITION explaining, as I was fixated on the coppers being the "p" at the beginning.

Edited at 2018-12-05 09:30 am (UTC)
boltonwanderer
Dec. 5th, 2018 09:35 am (UTC)
Fast falls the EVENTIDE...
The darkness would have deepened before I parsed SENSOR. 'Senor, senor, can you tell me where we're heading? ...This place don't make sense to me no more.' 55 minutes, with LOI ANIME, unknown as a film. I liked PREDISPOSITION and SPARKLER, but COD to POISSON. As I sat through the MATILDA movie many times while my children were growing up, I developed the deepest sympathy for Miss Trunchbull. I found this tough. Thank you Pip and setter.
robrolfe
Dec. 5th, 2018 09:51 am (UTC)
RE: Fast falls the EVENTIDE...
or Armageddon...

Seems like I've been down this way before.

Edited at 2018-12-05 09:58 am (UTC)
robrolfe
Dec. 5th, 2018 09:55 am (UTC)
24' 49”
Have had a lean few days crossword-wise, so was pleased to do this, although certainly wouldn't be able to handle the adrenalin overload under exam conditions, great respect to those who do. I really liked SENSOR, brought back one of the Sunday afternoon films of my childhood. Tomorrow, I will ride with you.

Edited at 2018-12-05 09:57 am (UTC)
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