Toughie No 1333 by Excalibur
+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - +
BD Rating - Difficulty **** - Enjoyment ****
Psst... don't tell the boss, but for the most part I thought this was a lovely puzzle from Excalibur. I like her short clues with their vivid surface readings and imagery, and had fun figuring out the wordplay.
Just checking that you've all booked tickets for Saturday...
1a Dad's skin is fair (8)
PASSABLE Another way of saying Dad's, plus an animal pelt.
5a Married with a northerner showing charm (6)
MASCOT The abbreviation for married, A from the clue and a northern Briton.
9a Lover plays round -- all right, ignore (8)
OVERLOOK An anagram (plays) of LOVER, the round letter of the alphabet and a phrase meaning all right.
10a Retire from theatre to broadcast (6)
REPAIR A type of theatre and a verb meaning to broadcast.
12a Gives cry -- aims to muffle (6)
ENDOWS A word for aims or objectives goes round (to muffle) a cry of pain.
13a Way to the heart of crossword setters in groups (8)
CLUSTERS An abbreviation for a type of road is inserted into the middle (to the heart) of a word for crossword setters.
15a Asked to repeat from middle through finale (7)
ENCORED A word for middle or centre inside a finale or close.
16a Warning two couples verbally (4)
FORE A homophone (verbally) of two times two.
20a It gets travellers off what could be criminal offence (4)
RAMP Double definition, being both a slipway for a boat (or a motorway slip road) and a form of price-rigging.
21a Request red for a change and pour out all round (5,2)
ORDER UP An anagram (for a change) of RED with an anagram (out) of POUR on the outside (all round).
25a Before framing it's in for reproduction as 'original' (8)
PRISTINE A prefix meaning before goes round (framing) an anagram (for reproduction) of IT'S IN.
26a Pass key taken by mistake (6)
ELAPSE A musical key followed by a mistake or failure of memory or concentration.
28a Broke in, felt bad about fencing (6)
RUINED A word for felt bad about or regretted goes round (fencing) IN from the clue.
29a Reconditioning for pan that's seen better days (8)
FACELIFT Cryptic definition in which pan is US slang for face. (Hmm...)
30a Embracing an extremely pretty girl, European (6)
DANISH A word for an attractive girl (more often used about a man) around (embracing) AN from the clue.
31a Gun for the teller (8)
REPEATER A type of firearm that could describe someone who recounts or relates something,
1d 'Ring with red stone' -- rub out 'fake' (6)
PHONEY To ring or call plus a red precious stone after deleting (out) RUB.
2d Hey! That's my partner! (6)
STEADY A word for a regular boyfriend or girlfriend that can also be used to mean hey or calm down.
3d Wholly indebted for not stopping (8)
ALLOWING A word for wholly or entirely followed by one meaning in debt.
4d Cat returning, no milk -- edges away (4)
LION NO from the clue plus the inner letters (edges away) of mILk, all reversed (returning).
6d Indisposed? A get-well card may extend it! (6)
AVERSE A word for indisposed or unwilling could be read as what a greeting card might contain or extend. (Hmm...)
7d Who made sure the dates were correct (8)
CHAPERON Cryptic definition of an adult who ensures there is no adolescent hanky-panky at a social event for younger people such as a prom.
8d Shut up, breaking heart's skipping beats (8)
THRASHES An exclamation meaning shut up or be quiet goes inside (breaking) an anagram (skipping) of HEART'S.
11d Took coat off, getting soaked (7)
FLEECED Another double definition, in which soaked means ripped off or overcharged.
14d Circle low above, ensuring boat is safe (7)
MOORING A word for a circle, with a verb meaning to low (as of a cow) above it.
17d Set complicated paper and left (8)
PREPARED An anagram (complicated) of PAPER and a word meaning politically left-wing.
18d Aspiration to be a doctor? Not I -- I will cook (8)
AMBITION A from the clue followed by a US bachelor of medicine and an anagram (will cook) of NOT I -- I.
19d A sweet cow passing by might catch it (5-3)
BULLS-EYE ...if a fully endowed male its kind is in the vicinity.
22d Not those short-changed, note having been pocketed (6)
OTHERS An anagram (changed) of SHORT goes round a musical note.
23d 'Run', in small type (6)
SPRINT The abbreviation for small plus a word for published text.
24d It's one of twenty-six he leases (6)
LETTER A unit of the Roman alphabet and a landlord of a rental property
27d The 'Four Keys' in which one had a meal? (4)
CAFÉ An eatery consisting of four musical notes.
OK, so there were perhaps too many notes and keys, and 29a and 6d (unless I am missing something) seem a little unfair, but there were many clues to enjoy here. I'll pick out 13a, 21a, 25a, 4d (lovely image) and 18d - but what were your favourites?
Over to you - please rate and comment on this puzzle below.