Toughie No 1302 by Messinae
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BD Rating - Difficulty */** - Enjoyment **/***
A regular on these pages who has tens of thousands more puzzles behind her than I ever will (and amazing powers of recall too) emailed me this morning to suggest Chestnuts Roasting as the strapline for today's Toughie review. I've gone for Gift-Wrapped in reference to the four write-in clues around the edge.
Definitions are underlined. Please leave a comment telling us what you thought. You can also add your assessment by selecting from one to five stars at the bottom of the post.
1a A horrible caper going wrong is blameless (14)
IRREPROACHABLE Anagram of (going wrong) A HORRIBLE CAPER.
9a Staff to go round allowing for driving hazard (7)
POTHOLE A staff or rod around the short form of a conjunction meaning allowing or notwithstanding that.
10a Vehicle takes a fantastic tour round Central America (7)
AUTOCAR A from the clue plus an anagram of (fantastic) TOUR around the acronym for Central America.
11a Way I'll enter museum (3)
VIA A Roman way or road. I from the clue inside a famous London museum.
12a Sport jumpers not track suits -- that could be self-evident (5,6)
FIELD EVENTS An anagram of (could be) SELF-EVIDENT. I think the definition is Yoda syntax for "a type of sport that suits jumpers, not the track".
14a Snap chemical equipment (6)
RETORT A double definition meaning both a verbal riposte and a flask used in chemistry.
15a English taken in by token European lord (8)
SEIGNEUR The abbreviation for English inside (taken in by) a token or symbol, followed by a three-letter abbreviation of European.
17a Gear in Cortina to whizz past workers (3,5)
SKI PANTS ...Cortina being a winter sports resort. A verb meaning to whizz past or gloss over, and some six-legged workers.
19a I wait with maiden in the same place (6)
IBIDEM A charade of I from the clue, a verb meaning to wait, and the abbreviation for maiden in cricket.
22a Curse man's way of speaking (11)
MALEDICTION A word meaning of a man plus a manner of speech.
23a What may be found before and after forest fire (3)
ASH A cryptic definition of a type of tree or its burnt remains.
24a Falls back once more pursued by gunners (7)
NIAGARA A word meaning once more, reversed (back) and followed (pursued) by an arm of the British military known as the Gunners.
26a Boy receives French comedian in post (7)
STATION A male child goes round (receives) the comic genius and creator of Monsieur Hulot.
27a Ignore second nervy tot misbehaving (4,2,8)
SEND TO COVENTRY An anagram of (misbehaving) SECOND NERVY TOT.
1d Treating him I'm overspent -- leading to this? (14)
IMPOVERISHMENT An anagram of (treating) HIM I'M OVERSPENT.
2d Sappers dominating region withdraw (7)
RETRACT A British army corps known as the Sappers goes above (dominating) a word for an area of land.
3d One in pack giving support to fighting departs (4,7)
PROP FORWARD ...a position in the Rugby pack. A phrase that could mean support to fighting plus the train timetable abbreviation for departs.
4d Started to write in dictionary (6)
OPENED To write or author inside a famous reference work (which is listed in Chambers).
5d Tradesman's name assumed by councillor (8)
CHANDLER A slang word for name inside (assumed by) an abbreviation of Councillor.
6d Skill slicing carrot evenly (3)
ART The even letters of CARROT.
7d Permit being covered in vermin (7)
LICENSE An obscure (at least to me) word for being or existence letter inside vermin or bodily parasites. (Thanks Pegasus and BD for correcting my first solution.)
8d Transmits Hardy novel -- classic work of literature (8,6)
TRISTRAM SHANDY An anagram of (novel) TRANSMITS HARDY.
13d Lifestyle of wandering around African country with lawyer gave worries (11)
VAGABONDAGE An anagram (worries) of GAVE around an African country plus a US public prosecutor.
16d Musical upset jazz fan over jerky style (8)
STACCATO A Lloyd-Webber musical in reverse (upset) plus a jazz fan (of similar ilk!) and the cricketing abbreviation for over.
18d Disrepute of the Italian lover putting fellow down (3,4)
ILL FAME An Italian definite article plus a word for lover (especially when an ex) with the abbreviation for fellow moved down one place.
20d Dishing dirt is a regular writer (7)
DIARIST An anagram of (dishing) DIRT IS A.
21d Disaster with Formula 1 racetrack being unfinished (6)
FIASCO What looks like the abbreviation for Formula One plus an English racecourse minus its last letter (being unfinished).
25d A divine tot (3)
ADD A from the clue plus a religious scholar. (According to Chambers, a divine is a minister of the Gospel or theologian.)
21d was the pick for me (though no doubt a chestnut!).
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