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An enjoyable 21 minutes without rushing, 3d being the only obscure answer which I did vaguely know but had to dredge from the grey depths. I'm usually floored by Scottish dialect words but both of those in here were familiar. While drafting this report I found myself straying idly into Wikipedia to learn more about 4ds and 7d. I'll have forgotten it all tomorrow. You may not have heard of the pastime at 10a but the wordplay is pretty obvious.

The blurb about entering the TCC is still appearing daily, so I assume this means they haven't sold all the tickets? I found the bit about "more than £2500 to be won across three ability groups" a major turn-off, IMO making a mockery of the idea of a merit based competition.

Across
1 Promoter of change, one leaving country in company of actors (8)
CATALYST - CAST = company of actors, insert (I)TALY = one leaving country.
5 When speaking, caught sight of a predator (6)
SPIDER - Sounds like "spied a". We've had SPIDER recently, similarly clued, but I can't just remember when.
9 Sacked constables gathered round first of remote rock formations (8)
OUTCROPS - OUT (sacked) COPS have R (first of remote) inserted.
10 Monstrous female knocked back game on ship (6)
OGRESS - ERGO is a long established board game. Reverse it and add SS for ship. EDIT some below prefer the parsing GO for the game, RE for on, SS for ship, which I can see is less demanding as far as board game knowledge goes.
12 Dispersed, as licensed trade could be (13)
DECENTRALISED - (LICENSED TRADE)*.
15 Partly useful — narrow like some bones (5)
ULNAR - the ulna bening the longer of the two bones in the forearm; hidden word in USEF(UL NAR)ROW.
16 Dread voiced? Manage to accept conclusion of this forecast (9)
HOROSCOPE - HORO sounds like HORROR = dread, then COPE = manage, then insert S = conclusion of thiS.
17 Waste material produced by club after fight (5,4)
SCRAP IRON - SCRAP = fight, IRON = (golf) club.
19 Stick used by extremely brittle Muslim prince’s widow (5)
BEGUM - B E (extremes of brittle) GUM (stick). An Urdu word derived originally from Turkish; familiar too as a surname, as in Shemima Begum who was recently in the News, being a teenage Isis bride trying to return to the UK.
20 Overseas leader’s note misinterpreted race’s torment (13)
CONCERTMASTER - C (note) then (RACES TORMENT)*. The leader, first violininst, of an orchestra, more usually called just the leader in UK, but derived from KONZERTMEISTER in German,
22 Voucher scam taking in publisher (6)
COUPON - CON (scam) has OUP (Oxford Univ. Press) inserted.
23 Sports contest initially banned in most of Leinster town (8)
BIATHLON - B I = initial letters of banned in, ATHLON = most of Athlone, a large town in central Ireland on the River Shannon.
25 Isotonic solution chap brought into function (6)
SALINE - AL, a chap, is borught into SINE, a trig. function.
26 King trapped in vessel leads to banner headline (8)
STREAMER - R for king goes into STEAMER.
Down
1 Precipitate downfall of brash hangers-on in court (10)
CLOUDBURST - LOUD (brash) BURS (hangers-on) go into CT for court. BUR is a less usual spelling of BURR.
2 Small child’s drink (3)
TOT - Double definition.
3 Old metalworker alternatively employed in seagoing vessel (7)
LORINER - OR (alternatively) goes into LINER a seagoing vessel. The Worshipful Company of Loriners is one of the ancient Livery companies of the City of London, makers of metal horse tackle; the word is derived from Latin LORUM meaning bridle.
4 Police officer, one demanding payment for engine booster (12)
SUPERCHARGER - SUPER being a senior cop, and CHARGER being one asking for payment. Someone has taken the trouble to write a Wiki article explaining how a supercharger differs from a turbocharger, I glazed over quite quickly but you might find it fascinating: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercharger .
6 Stars secure as you and me? (7)
PEGASUS - PEG = secure, as verb; AS US.
7 Old battleship from Aden at sea in dry period (11)
DREADNOUGHT - DROUGHT has (ADEN)* inserted. There have apparently been 10 Navy warships so named, since 1553, the latest being a class of submarine.
8 Baby food from river, one in South Wales (4)
RUSK - R for river, the River Usk being found in South Wales.
11 Musician caught by Liberal painter digesting popular film (12)
CLARINETTIST - C (caught) L (Liberal) ARTIST (painter); the artist then digests IN (popular) and ET (the movie).
13 Narrow American abandoning stock covered by agreement (11)
CONTRACTUAL - CONTRACT - narrow, as verb: USUAL (stock) loses its US.
14 Old woman in dam near barking dog (10)
WEIMARANER - WEIR (dam) has MA (old woman) inserted, then (NEAR)*, barking being the anagrind. Weimaraners are beautiful silver-grey-brown hunting dogs, I'd like one but I'm too old to exercise one enough. So we've got a 15 year old wire-haired fox terrier instead, who can do 100 yards on a good day.
18 Game taking place over in borders of Pakistan (7)
PONTOON - Twenty-one, vingt-et-un, pontoon, names for the same card game, which we used to play for money, along with brag, in secret places at school. P N the borders of Pakistan, insert ONTO (taking place) O (over).
19 Little creature regularly baited around Orient (7)
BEASTIE - B I E the alternate letters of baited, around EAST. As in the 'tim'rous beastie' in Rabbie Burns poem 'To a Mouse',
21 Book theatre turns (4)
ACTS - double definition.
24 Scottish smoker cross about being abandoned by English (3)
LUM - a MULE is a cross, 'about' = ELUM, then remove the E. Scottish word for a chimney, often found in crosswordland; I learnt it from a Scottish pal in France who at Hogmanay kept wishing me 'may yer lum aye reek,'

Comments

( 55 comments — Leave a comment )
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jackkt
Oct. 9th, 2019 05:55 am (UTC)
10ac is GO (game) reversed [knocked back], RE (on), SS ship).

A technical DNF here as I gave in and looked up the dog and the sports contest. I was going to say NHO WEIMARANER but it has come up once before, 9 years ago, when I also didn't know it. Sport related clues hold fear for me, so that in combination with 'town in Leinster' (a place of which I know nothing except vaguely that its in Ireland somewhere) was enough to have me reaching for aids after only a few moments thought.

I knew LORINER as an alternative to the more familiar 'Lorimer' which survives as a not uncommon surname.

Edited at 2019-10-09 06:09 am (UTC)
guy_du_sable
Oct. 9th, 2019 06:09 am (UTC)
OGRESS
Yeah, that was my take. Never heard of that board game.

Edited at 2019-10-09 06:52 am (UTC)
guy_du_sable
Oct. 9th, 2019 06:06 am (UTC)
I was reluctant to accept CLARINETTIST, with the double T. I parsed the clue, but thought a letter was missing, till I checked the enumeration. NHO LORINER, but it had to be. POI was BIATHLON but just because it’s the only sports thing what fits the def. Not knowing the bloody town, it looked to me like the B would be stuck “in” whatever beheaded or truncated unknown burg made up the rest of the clue. LOI WEIMARANER, after realizing only “near” was anagrammed, and not also “dam” (“Or is that ‘darn’? Damn!”)

Edited at 2019-10-09 06:19 am (UTC)
astonvilla1
Oct. 9th, 2019 06:08 am (UTC)
DNF in 30 mins
I did most of this in less than 20 mins but was defeated by Begum, Biathlon and Weimaraner.

COD: Decentralised. Nice anagram.
kevingregg
Oct. 9th, 2019 06:13 am (UTC)
15:29
Jackkt beat me to it, but I see that there is indeed a board game called ERGO; NHOI. But isn't 'A on B' BA? which would give SSOGRE. (Or, if 'on ship' indicates S...S, SOGRES.) Jack's explained this a couple of times, but I always forget (GBA: Gregg's Binary Amnesia). FOI 1ac, seldom happens; and then got SPIDER. Rather chuffed to spot a non-rhotic homophone; less chuffed to find there was a second at 16ac. DNK LORINER, only lorimer, but figured it had to be a variant. Surprised by 2d, QC material.

Edited at 2019-10-09 06:16 am (UTC)
starstruck_au
Oct. 9th, 2019 09:01 am (UTC)
A on B
I was taught that A on B should be used in a down clue to indicate AB, but it’s less clear if it’s an across clue. For the record, I parsed it like Jack, which avoids the question.
GO - jackkt - Oct. 9th, 2019 09:05 am (UTC) - Expand
guy_du_sable
Oct. 9th, 2019 06:18 am (UTC)
“ability groups”?
How odd. I wonder if one has to take a test to determine class placement, or is a person could just go wherever they feel most comfortable… or likely to win!
pootle73
Oct. 9th, 2019 08:24 am (UTC)
Re: “ability groups”?
Your placing in the first round determines which group you are in, so in a sense there is a test to determine class placement!
RE: “ability groups”? - keriothe - Oct. 9th, 2019 09:11 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: “ability groups”? - (Anonymous) - Oct. 9th, 2019 10:21 am (UTC) - Expand
RE: Re: “ability groups”? - keriothe - Oct. 9th, 2019 11:04 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: “ability groups”? - pootle73 - Oct. 9th, 2019 11:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Re: “ability groups”? - oliviarhinebeck - Oct. 9th, 2019 10:50 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: “ability groups”? - (Anonymous) - Oct. 9th, 2019 10:52 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: “ability groups”? - topicaltim - Oct. 9th, 2019 12:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: “ability groups”? - pootle73 - Oct. 9th, 2019 01:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: “ability groups”? - topicaltim - Oct. 9th, 2019 06:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
starstruck_au
Oct. 9th, 2019 06:20 am (UTC)
38:03
Ok with this. The same difficulties as others (e.g. WEIMARANER, BIATHLON) but I managed to parse them without aids.

I took PONTOON as “taking place” = on and “over” = too, but I didn’t like it over much. How does “onto” equate with “taking place”?
guy_du_sable
Oct. 9th, 2019 06:49 am (UTC)
RE: “onto”
I had the same reaction.
RE: 38:03 - keriothe - Oct. 9th, 2019 09:13 am (UTC) - Expand
RE: 38:03 - (Anonymous) - Oct. 9th, 2019 03:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
RE: 38:03 - guy_du_sable - Oct. 9th, 2019 03:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: 38:03 - isla3 - Oct. 9th, 2019 01:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
sotira
Oct. 9th, 2019 06:51 am (UTC)
16:24 … I got into a real mess for a while, not noticing that my single-T clarinetist had fallen one square short of the STREAMER, giving me a clarinetistt and making the sporting event even more perplexing.

I'm slightly surprised to learn from jackkt that WEIMARANER has only appeared once before. It feels much more familiar than that.

Confession time re. CONCERTMASTER. I was utterly baffled by the 'overseas' bit and eventually assumed concertmaster could be a sarcastic term for the political leader of 'anywhere foreign'. This may be because I lived in Canada for a decade and was a regular at the local symphony, where a CONCERTMASTER was of course entirely standard. Having rarely been to concerts since returning to the UK, I’d forgotten that concertmasters were ever leaders. Proof that you can never actually be overseas. You’re always exactly where you are.
pootle73
Oct. 9th, 2019 07:05 am (UTC)
34:58
Much of my time today was spent on BIATHLON which took several trawls of the alphabet to finally come up with.

I like the new format of the TCC, largely because I am a middling solver and so it gives me something to aim for rather than just making up the numbers. Maybe my view would be different if I was amongst the top solvers.
gothick_matt
Oct. 9th, 2019 07:40 am (UTC)
A DNF for me; I managed to find the BIATHLON and vaguely remembered Athlone from my Big List of Crossword Stuff, but the unknown dog at 14d had me still barking up the wrong wordplay (assuming DAM NEAR was anagrist) when my hour bell went off.

Oh well. At least I managed to come up with BEGUM and LORINER correctly along the way, shrugging off the strange "onto" and not worrying why a CONCERTMASTER was from overseas along the way.
(Anonymous)
Oct. 9th, 2019 08:15 am (UTC)
Managed to misspell WEIMARANER with a middle E, despite the clue being quite clear. Lovely dogs. I take it your 15 year-old is past diving down rabbit holes, Pip!
Peter Lorimer (not LORINER) was a Scottish winger who played for Leeds in their "Damned United" days as I remember it.
28m 13s but with one error.
martinp1
Oct. 9th, 2019 08:16 am (UTC)
That anonymous was me....
boltonwanderer
Oct. 9th, 2019 08:19 am (UTC)
The carpet too is moving under you
About 35 minutes while the world moves around me. Mrs BW is supervising as removal men move my in-laws furniture to their new assisted living home. She clearly needs no help from me. LOI WEIMARANER, a dog I know but whose spelling needed all checkers. A methodical solve. COD to HOROSCOPE. Thank you Pip and setter.
keriothe
Oct. 9th, 2019 09:17 am (UTC)
11:16. A steady, enjoyable solve with a few funny words to keep the level of interest up. A classic Times puzzle really.
A friend of mine has a wire-haired WEIMARANER so they’re perfectly familiar to me. He’s a very good-natured dog but daft as a brush.
I wondered briefly if SCRAP WOOD was a thing.
dorsetjimbo
Oct. 9th, 2019 09:41 am (UTC)
Relatively easy puzzle today although I had to check the spelling of the dog. Didn't understand the overseas reference at 20A and can't see that the clue needs it. Knew LORINER from the Livery Company.
phmfantom
Oct. 9th, 2019 10:10 am (UTC)
25 minutes, but didn't pay enough attention to wordplay, so had WEIMARINER at 14d.
Not being aware of the board game ERGO, I parsed 10a as GO reversed + 'on'=RE + SS, so significance of "A on B" wasn't relevant.
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