Monthly Club Special No 20275 – August 2023

Another delight of entertaining words from the hidden corners of the dictionary and inventive wordplay that we have come to expect. I got all the way through the across clues and then up to 5D before I got my first answer and finished with 25A. It took me about 1 1/4 hours in total. Lots of fun along the away, especially 26A, 15D, 22D and, my favourite, 19D. Thank-you clever setter!

Definitions underlined in bold italics, (Abc)* indicating anagram of Abc, {deletions} and [] other indicators.

1 Derision of WI cheat stops one without manners (6)
PICONGCON (cheat) in PIG (one without manners). WI here is West Indies not Women’s Institute.
4 Express pleasure in bets, flipping gold coin (4-4)
SPUR-RYALPURR (express pleasure) in LAYS (bets) [flipping] -> SYAL.
10 Heading away from Slough (initially in Slough), waved from Waverley? (9)
WAMPISHED – Lose first letter from {s}WAMP (slough), [initially] In, SHED (slough).
11 The way to follow something like a nocturnal seabird (5)
CAHOWCA (circa; something like) HOW (the way to). The endangered national bird of Bermuda.
12 Universal image distorted in mass materials (14)
EVANGELIARIUMS – (Universal image)* [distorted]. Nice word.
14 Hickory stick, tip first, is behind pressure (5)
PECANP (pressure), CANE (stick) putting the last letter first -> ECAN.
16 No more trivial banter, outwardly banal: maybe skate around it (9)
FRIBBLISHFISH (maybe skate), around RIB (banter) and outer letters of BanaL. I’ll have to remember this one and try to revive its usage.
18 Scandinavian rounds stuffed with Greek character’s herb (9)
FINNOCHIOFINN (Scandinavian), O O (rounds) outside CHI (Greek character).
20 Noble husband blocks former spouse (5)
PHEERH (husband) in PEER (noble).
21 When over front, northern spring breaking possible flight for bird found in Georgia (7-7)
SAVANNA-SPARROW – AS (when) [over] -> SA, VAN (front), N (northern) and SPA (spring), in ARROW (possible flight).
25 Trumpeter’s third note beyond range (5)
AGAMIAGA (range) MI (third note of the do-re-mi scale). I tried in vain to make something of U as trumpeter’s third. My LOI.
26 Dec’s follower interrupts attempt to gulp down chilli sauce (9)
GOCHUJANGJAN (Dec’s follower) in GO (attempt) CHUG (gulp down). One of the handful of words in the puzzle that I’d heard of. Great surface!
27 I’ll leave with a dashing air like a demon (8)
RAKSHASARAK{i}SH (with a dashing air) without the I [I’ll leave], AS A (like a).
28 Football team touring US hostels closed walkways for exercising (6)
XYSTOIXI (eleven; football team), outside YS (Youth Hostels in the US) TO (closed, like a door). What a great word!
1 Something in compact disc’s intro, doubtful vocalisation in Wham! turned up very loud (6,4)
POWDER PUFFDisc [‘s intro] ER (doubtful vocalisation), in POW (Wham!) UP reversed -> PU, FF (very loud). Nice surface and wordplay with neat deception in having to separate “compact disc”.
2 Minute interval when pacifist introduces extreme combat sport (5)
COMMACO (conscientious objector; pacifist)  MMA (abbreviation for Mixed Martial Arts; extreme combat sport). I came across this when reading about the tuning of gamelan’s after a gamelan ensemble concert I attended last year.
3 To bother with last of plumbing sister grips power tool (4,3)
NAIL GUNAIL (bother) [last of] plumbinG, in NUN (sister).
5 Lotus position and difficult Mountain asana for beginners (5)
PADMA – Initial letters of Position And Difficult Mountain Asana.
6 Do a new scaling of play area extension (7)
RECLIMBREC (play area) LIMB (extension).
7 Unknown person typically hugging the man with two-way attraction produces aphrodisiac (9)
YOHIMBINEY (unknown) ONE (person typically), outside HIM (the man) BI (with two-way attraction).
8 Did you ever walk out? (4)
LAWK – (walk)* [out].
9 Senussi leader or king, one occupying one of two parts of the Muslim era (8)
KHALIFAHK (king), I (one) in HALF (one of two parts), AH, anno Hegirae (Latin), in the year of Hegira (i.e. from the flight of Mohammed on 13 September in 622AD; of the Muslim era).
13 During long nap, a naked, private and deliberate incongruity (10)
SHARAWAGGIA RAW (naked), in SHAG (long pile of a carpet; long nap), GI (private in US Army).
15 A wand’ring minstrel, I have skill to check trio after Nanki-Poo’s head (9)
CANTABANKCAN (have skill) TAB (check; bill) NANKi-Poo [the three letters after the first one]. In Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado, Nanki-Poo is, and sings, A Wand’ring Minstrel, I. Lovely.
17 Because of corrosion, leaky cork is in crumbs (4-4)
IRON-SICK – (cork is in)* [crumbs].
19 Shortest book of Ring opera mounted for the insiders in Bayreuth (7)
OBADIAH – My favourite. O (ring) with the central letters of BayreutH replaced by AIDA (opera) reversed, [mounting], -> BADIAH. Obadiah is the shortest book of the bible.
20 Reverse flow in freedom of movement, not going through normal channels (7)
PLANURY – RUN (flow) reversed -> NUR, in PLAY (freedom of movement. The discharge of urine through an abnormal passage… not going through normal channels. Ha ha.
22 What’s notable in vegan omelette but not energy drinks? (5)
NOGGS – Another clever one. A Vegan omelette, if you could imagine such a thing, would have NO eGGS. Lose the E (energy). And, of course, you have to split “energy drinks”
23 Not all areas that produce Arbroath smokies? (5)
REAST – Hidden in aREAS That. Another source of smoked fish (albeit herring rather than haddock) is Craster, where I’m going on holiday in a few weeks time. Kippers for breakfast? Yes, please!
24 Mate in India or Burma, not the first to skip New Mexico (4)
YAAR – Another ingenious one to finish with. Burma is now called {M}YA{nm}AR. Lose the first letter and skip the NM (New Mexico).

4 comments on “Monthly Club Special No 20275 – August 2023”

  1. Again, an enjoyable puzzle, where seemingly impossible words come together as long as you do what it says on the tin. (CHUG has a rather different meaning in Scots slang.) Thanks for the blog.

  2. Not the hardest this year by a long way but 1 hour 15 minutes is an impressive time. It took me 3 hours and 38 minutes. I love the word sharawaggi and I must try and use it in conversation!

      1. Thanks. I’ve been trying to win it for a few years now. I love the Monthly Club Special, it’s much better than the Mephisto IMHO. I love the ingenious clue constructions; they must have taken quite a while to come up with. Each clue seems to be perfectly crafted and several clues show a lot of innovative thought. Arriving at the answer is only a small part of the solving; it is unpicking how all of the clue works which provides the greatest entertainment. My compliments to the setters!

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