5:43. Thought I was on track for a really fast time, as most of these clues were straightforward. So I found it rather delightful when I got slowed down towards the end for some chewy ones. Wondering how everyone else did!
A brief summary of cryptic crosswords —feel free to skip— :
- Each clue has at least one "definition": an unbroken string of words which more-or-less straightforwardly indicates the answer. A definition can be as simple as a one-word synonym; but it can also be a descriptive phrase like 'I'm used to wind' for REEL or SPOOL. A definition by example must be indicated by a phrase like 'for example', or, more commonly, a question mark (?). Thus 'color' is a definition of RED, while 'red, for example' or 'red?' are definitions of COLOR. Punctuation (and capitalization) is otherwise irrelevant.
- Each clue may also have an unbroken string of words which indicates the answer through wordplay, such as: using abbreviations; reversing the order of letters; indicating particular letters (first, last, outer, middle, every other, etc); placing words inside other words; rearranging letters (anagrams); replacing words by words that sound alike (homophones); and combinations of the above. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but the general theme is to reinterpret ordinary words as referring to letters, so that for example 'lion's head' indicates the first letter of LION: namely, L.
- Definitions and wordplay cannot overlap. The only other words allowed in clues are linking words or phrases that combine these. Thus we may see, for example: "(definition) gives (wordplay)" or "(definition) and (definition)" or "(wordplay) is (definition)".
- The most common clues have either two definitions, or one definition plus wordplay, in either order. But a single, very misleading definition is not uncommon, and very occasionally a definition can also be interpreted as wordplay leading to the same answer. Triple definitions (and more) are also possible.
My conventions in the solutions below are to underline definitions (including a defining phrase); put linking words in [brackets]; and put all wordplay indicators in boldface. I also use a solidus (/) to help break up the clue where necessary, especially for double definitions without linking words.
After the solutions, I list all the wordplay indicators and abbreviations in a Glossary.
Across1 Worker embracing girl [in] Central American state (6)
BELIZE = BEE around LIZ
5 Drink with everyone before work (6)
WALLOP = W + ALL + OP.
Didn't know WALLOP is slang for beer.
8 Campaigner[’s] appeal accepted by simple king (8)
CRUSADER = S.A. in CRUDE + R.
Didn't stop to parse 'simple' = CRUDE at the time of solving, but this is a lovely clue.
9 Mammoth’s tooth traveller originally / found by Welsh river (4)
TUSK = first letter of TRAVELLER + USK
10 Amphibian [in] river enveloped in thick mist (4)
FROG = R. in FOG
11 Quantity of liquid [served by] graduate / liable to err (8)
BASINFUL = B.A. + SINFUL
Delightfully tricky clue!
12 Sent on prescribed course [and] heavily defeated (6)
ROUTED = double definition
Was looking for something trickier here, but just a nice double definition.
14 Trendy act? Absolutely (6)
INDEED = IN + DEED
16 Reduce short skirt seen in vessel (8)
DIMINISH = MINI in DISH
You never know which kind of vessel you're gonna get.
18 Boyfriend[’s] part of East End, according to report (4)
BEAU = homophone of BOW
20 For example, Sikes[’s] account? (4)
BILL = double definition
From Oliver Twist. I guess the question mark is because there can be other sorts of bills.
21 Holiday-makers — sort Uist cultivated (8)
TOURISTS = anagram of SORT UIST
I'm not even sure what the surface is driving at here. A rather bald-faced clue, if you ask me.
23 Brother at college, one from Saint-Malo, perhaps (6)
BRETON = BR. + ETON
24 Achievement [of] force invading eastern stronghold (6)
EFFORT = F in E. + FORT
Down2 Mistake [made by] little brat losing head (5)
ERROR = TERROR without first letter
This same clue was in a 15x15 puzzle recently.
3 Perspicacity one / shows at first / in period of darkness (7)
INSIGHT = I + first letter of SHOWS in NIGHT
4 Long to get up [for] Muslim festival (3)
EID = DIE reversed
5 Skilled writer[’s] angry talk / with German / husband (9)
WORDSMITH = WORDS + MIT ('with' in German) + H
Tricky and lovely, though I hadn't needed to parse completely during the solve. MITH = "with German husband" is not a rare construction.
6 Old language the French can put together (5)
LATIN = LA ('the' in French) + TIN
7 Little-known old remedy protecting Bachelor of Surgery (7)
OBSCURE = O. + CURE around B.S.
11 Inferior porcelain [in] place of horse trials (9)
BADMINTON = BAD + MINTON
Fortunately I could guess this from knowing the lawn sport of the same name. I'd never heard of Minton porcelain.
13 Distinguished actor, one appearing in musical (7)
OLIVIER = I in OLIVER!
Second reference to Oliver Twist. Checking now for some sort of puzzle theme...
15 Gather information [from] society girl on / raging fire (7)
DEBRIEF = DEB + anagram of FIRE
If it's not 'society girl' it's 'girl coming out'.
17 Small detached territory [where] one’s allowed to meet (5)
ISLET = I'S + LET
19 Change table, in a manner of speaking (5)
ALTER = homophone of ALTAR
22 The purpose [of] American English? (3)
USE = U.S. + E