1. DRAWBACK – disadvantage. Brilliant clue to kick us off – the word play is ‘of ward?’. The question mark tells us something odd is going on – ‘ward’ = (DRAW BACK)-wards.
5. HALF – a session of football (commonly referred to as a game of two halves). Henry (H) up against Alfred (ALF).
9. SHINY – gleaming. Modest (SHY) about home (IN – are they in/home?).
10. LOOK OUT – take care. Good King Wenceslas looked out…
11. COINCIDENTAL – chance. ‘Accidentally’ really didn’t work here, no matter how hard I tried. Anagram (work) of AT ICE COLD INN.
13. LUSTRE – renown. Anagram (remarkable) of RESULT.
15. AT BEST – under most favourable circumstances. Second grade (B) inside an exam (A TEST).
17. HARD CURRENCY – money that keeps value. Coins rather than notes – cryptic clue – notes are softer – even these new plastic ones.
20. BRAILLE – cryptic clue. In order to read Braille, one feels/touches it.
21. IGLOO – northern home. One (I), almost dark (GLOO)m.
22. TWEE – sentimentally sweet. Message that’s short (TWEE)t.
23. PLAY BALL – cooperate. To act (PLAY a role) and a dance (BALL).
1. DISH – double definition. To ruin/dish one’s chances, a meal.
2. AMIGO – friend. A (A), Russian fighter plane (MIG), old (O)
a (A). I recently attended the very moving fly past for the USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress Mi Amigo which crashed, killing all on board, because they avoided some children playing in the park they were trying to make an emergency landing on.
3. BEYOND RECALL – double definition.
4. COLLIE – dog. Run (R) taken away from miner (COLLIE)r.
6. APOSTLE – Paul, for one. Job (POST) length (L) inside (A)&(E).
7. FUTILITY – uselessness. Quiz question – name a word containing 5 S’s? Water company, for one (UTILITY) after (F)reeze.
8. MORE’S THE PITY – alas. Anagram (off) of POETRY SET HIM.
12. ALPHABET – all the letters. Not quite two letters – (ALPHA), (BET)a.
14. SURFACE – bob up. Wave foam (SURF), fantastic (ACE). I thought that surfing on waves is the more usual definition but the first in Collins is the mass of white bubbles that is formed by waves as they fall upon the shore.
16. ORDEAL – severe test. Gold (OR), transaction (DEAL).
18. CELIA – girl. Spies (CIA) have trapped (E)motiona(L).
19. FOWL – duck or chicken perhaps. Following (F), wise bird (OWL).