5:39. A decent time for a tough puzzle, with the last several seconds dithering over whether I might have 21 across wrong. In any case, it’s a great word I hadn’t heard of and I intend to use it more often in everyday speech.
My conventions in the solutions below are to underline definitions (including a defining phrase); put linking words in [brackets]; and put all wordplay indicators in italics. I also use a solidus (/) to help break up the clue where necessary, especially for double definitions without linking words.
|1||Wizard banner returned / and brought in (7)|
|GANDALF – FLAG reversed with AND inside
Tricky wordplay here!
|5||Mark one [in] staff that represents authority (4)|
|MACE – M + ACE
I hadn’t known about the association with authority. Normally I associate maces with centaurs.
|7||Way / too old maybe to be presented in theatre (6)|
|STAGED – ST + AGED
Very fooling. This was one of my last in and didn’t make sense of it til writing the blog.
|8||Check / more unusual protective coating (6)|
|CHROME – CH + anagram of MORE|
|9||Provide food and support — grub (11)|
|CATERPILLAR – CATER + PILLAR
This feels like it should be a chestnut, but I’ve never seen it before.
|10||Happened to fit iron in ring (6)|
|BEFELL – FE in BELL|
|12||Not one criticism of thin wine? (6)|
|NOBODY – NO BODY|
|14||African country that may produce erotic video (4,7)|
|COTE DIVOIRE – anagram of EROTIC VIDEO
Côte d’Ivoire, that is.
|17||Riddle / that had many variations (6)|
|ENIGMA – double definition, the second a reference to Elgar’s Enigma Variations|
|18||Voracious eater[’s] place at head of table (6)|
|LOCUST – LOCUS + first letter of TABLE
Once again, easier definition than wordplay.
|20||Boundary [is] square (4)|
|FOUR – double definition, one relating to cricket, the other to math(s)
Forgive my ignorance of cricket, but near as I can make this out, ‘boundary’ here refers to a type of stroke (where the ball goes out of said boundary), and ‘four’ is another name for this stroke, so named because one scores four runs for such a shot.
Makes sense, sorta like if we called a home run in baseball (with bases loaded) a ‘field’ or a ‘four’.
|21||Female, busy type, finally down [in] drinking den (7)|
|SHEBEEN – SHE + BEE + last letter of DOWN
For the record, Chambers defines ‘den’ as “a haunt of vice or misery”, which made me laugh out loud.
|1||Become somewhat fidgety (3)|
|GET – hidden in FIDGETY|
|2||Close match that’s not put on till late? (7)|
|NIGHTIE – NIGH + TIE
The wordplay here eluded me but it must be a chestnut.
|3||Tree [is] more bare, having top removed (5)|
|ALDER – BALDER without the first letter|
|4||Dissenting group force lawsuit (7)|
|FACTION – F + ACTION|
|5||Painting artist stuffed into Scottish chimney turned up (5)|
|MURAL – RA in LUM reversed
LUM being one of those words you should know.
|6||[In] university, arrived to speak / on card game (9)|
|CAMBRIDGE – homophone of CAME + BRIDGE|
|9||[In] street unending / party getting louder and louder (9)|
|CRESCENDO – CRESCENT without the last letter + DO
I tried following the wordplay but then just biffed it from the music definition (I’m a musician). Hopefully you did, too, because CRESCENT is not likely to come to mind.
|11||Spooner’s crazy convicts [have] mildly pornographic publications? (3,4)|
|LAD MAGS – switching the first letters of MAD LAGS|
|13||Gusto shown over half of cheese roll (7)|
|BRIOCHE – BRIO + first half of CHEESE|
|15||Fierce type good in row (5)|
|TIGER – G in TIER|
|16||Worth siting university in dale (5)|
|VALUE – U in VALE
I was thrown a bit by ‘siting’ but it was easily ignored.
|19||Star has gone down? Not quite (3)|
|SUN – SUNK without the last letter|