Monthly Club Special No 270 – Jan 2024

A fine confection of chewy words and wordplay to start the year, and with a new numbering system to boot. A typically devilish Monthly Club Special that kept me scratching my head for over an hour and a half. The top half went in first, but I didn’t help myself with the bottom half by having an unparsed VIEWDATA for 14D initially, until the POTOROO hopped up and fixed it. LOI was TOFFISH. Great stuff, as always. Thank-you clever setter.

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

1 Hanging out on rock in a wind, needing a hat (8)
SAXATILESAX (a wind instrument; a wind) A TILE (hat).
5 Cheers welcoming trumpeter for one’s race in Africa (6)
TSWANASWAN (trumpeter; a type of swan) in TA (thanks; cheers).
10 Making plain cake, one’s initially smothered in sticky stuff (15)
ECLAIRCISSEMENTECLAIR (cake), I’S (one’s) S{mothered} [initially] in CEMENT (sticky stuff). A chewy confection indeed.
11 With ill temper, briefly waves when breaking with girl (7)
SURLILYSUR{f} (waves when breaking) [briefly], LILY (girl).
12 Working hard, go off, turning over excellent cases (7)
INDUSIAINDUS{try} (working hard) without the TRY (go), AI (excellent) [turning over] -> IA.
13 One’s getting vial, up for replacing ancient basins (8)
IMPLUVIAI’M (one’s) (vial up)* [for replacing].
15 A necessity for going around park improbably short distances once (5)
MIKRA -Reverse hidden [a necessity for going round] in pARK IMprobably.
18 Some vocal music prepared with loudspeaker backing (5)
ALAAPÀ LA (prepared with or in the style of, like à la Florentine (with Spinach)) PA (loudspeaker) [backing] -> AP.
20 Old warships making one area of ice or reversing (8)
DROMONDSD{ia}MONDS (ice) turning the IA (one area) into OR [reversing] -> RO -> DROMONDS. Tricky stuff!
23 Aussie native put in pocket gold pair of spectacles (7)
POTOROOPOT (of a snooker ball; put in pocket) OR (gold) OO (pair of spectacles). Pair of spectacles – ho ho.
25 “Nobby’s canned tuna”, maybe no longer fashionable (7)
TOFFISHT{in} OF FISH (canned tuna, maybe) without [no longer] the IN (fashionable).
26 Plant hormone in Cecil, laid out after babble (11,4)
GIBBERELLIC ACIDGIBBER (babble) (Cecil laid)* [out].
27 Rating Angus’s one grand? No longer paying (6)
ABYINGAB (Able-bodied seaman; rating) YIN (Scottish for one) G (grand). “No longer” indicates the word is archaic.
28 Tent for Indian’s collection of fake items? (8)
SHAMIANA – A bit of whimsy. If Victoriana is a collection of Victorian items SHAMIANA might be a collection of sham items. Ho ho.
1 Noticed Henry’s trousers hung up: that’s drawing a snort from Hamish? (6)
SNEESH -SEEN (noticed) in H’S (Henry’s) -> HSEENS, reversed, [hung up] -> SNEESH.
2 Axes one who’d do a bit less Queen: graduate music maker (9)
XYLORIMBAXY (axes of a graph) LORIM{er} (a maker of metal parts of a horse’s harness; who’d do a bit) without the ER (Queen), BA (graduate). Tricky stuff again, but I knew the word, so that helped.
3 Up to banks with one billion to make pick (7)
TWIBILLW (with) I (one) B (billion) in TILL (up to). I was slightly surprised by the definition as Chambers has “a double-headed axe”, but Collins has “a type of mattock” as the definition, and “mattock” is defined as a pick, so I suppose it’s OK.
4 Informal power cycle for exercising (5)
LECCY – (cycle)* [for exercising].
6 Vilification of Republican’s opponent perhaps upset resolve of SNP? (7)
SMEDDUM – MUD (vilification) DEMS (Republican’s opponent), all reversed -> SMEDDUM. “Of SNP” indicates the answer is a Scottish dialect word.
7 Forgotten calls to pack in promotion of beer by international rugby team (5)
ALEWS – WALES (international rugby team) with the letters ALE (beer)  moved to the front [promoted] -> ALEWS. “Forgotten” as in not used any more.
8 Moulding of netball player into star (8)
ASTRAGALGA (Goal Attack; netball player) in ASTRAL (star).
9 Fungi’s russet gills oddly ignored previously (8)
USTILAGO – Alternate letters, [oddly ignored], of rUsSeT gIlLs, AGO (previously).
14 I kicked up in dismay, finding info brought to screen (8)
VIDEOTEXI,  TOED (kicked) [up] -> DEOT, in VEX (dismay).
16 Character often dropped in Black Sea had idea ultimately to become avenging tribesman (9)
KADAITCHAAITCH (character often dropped) in final letters of BlacK SeA haD ideA [ultimately].
17 Short shock about no good work reflecting Italian might have blown it? (8)
ZAMPOGNA – AMAZ{e} (shock) [short], about NG (no good) OP (work), all reversed -> ZAMPOGNA.
19 Leg for one that’s crawling, or for all ages? (7)
PERAEONPER (for) AEON (all ages).
21 Ices with something skimmed (7)
OFFSCUMOFFS (kills; ices) CUM (with).
22 Respectful title of house music player entering into the spirit (6)
KHODJAHO (house) DJ (music player), in KA (spirit).
24 Squat alongside, beneath bar after climbing (5)
TUBBY –  BUT (bar) [climbing] -> TUB, BY (alongside).
25 Working hard in support of sporting attempt (5)
TILTHTILT (sporting attempt) H (hard). Working as in cultivation.


6 comments on “Monthly Club Special No 270 – Jan 2024”

  1. DNF

    Can I write that in any bigger capital letters? Picked at this off and on during the month but there was a lot of very tricky word play which combined with the standard very tricky synonyms and never-heard-of-words made it undoable for me. Maybe a third done.

    Right, let’s get started on February’s!

    Chapeau to, and thanks for the blog, John

    1. Bad luck and thanks for commenting. The MCS is really not doable, for me at least, without some aid – at least Chambers and sometimes Collins dictionaries.

      1. Electric Chambers, with its facilities for filling in the gaps and unscrambling anagrams can be especially useful, but of course even for the MCS I never…

  2. Quite a few of these went in without any looking up, though I did essay ECLAIRCISSEMENT without the second C until it didn’t reach the end. Surprised LECCY has made it into usable existence.
    I’d have clued KHODJA with an “old” soundslike – too tempting, but perhaps in this context too much of a giveaway.
    Off to Boots now to see if they’ve got any GIBBERELLIC ACID, though maybe I should try the garden centre first.

  3. Judging by my time taken, I thought this month’s was one of the hardest we’ve had for a while.

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