Year in Review News Cryptic 2023

Sometimes themed puzzles are more difficult because of the problem of getting the theme words in.   However, in the case of this puzzle, most of the theme was in the clues, not the answers.   In fact, it would have been entirely possible to clue this puzzle without any reference to current events.

It is also very possible to solve this puzzle without understanding all the political references.   I just treated the clues like those in Mephisto, but since the resulting words were not obscure, and seemed to fit the literals, in they went.   The only place you might get stuck is the Russell Brand clue.

Across
1 Notice Selby upset – these votes can be significant (2-9)
BY-ELECTIONS – Anagram of NOTICE SELBY.
7 For Aussies, English player’s out most originally (3)
POM – First letters of P[layer’s] O[ut] M[ost].
9 Backlog at terminal amid NATS meltdown causing great concern (5)
ANGST – [backlo]G in an anagram of NATS.
10 Poll of polls direct: Labour more popular (9)
PREFERRED – P[olls] + REFER + RED.
11 Urgent drive by Artificial Intelligence company’s leader to hold on to person seen as good (7)
DRASTIC – DR A.(ST.)I. + C[ompany].
12 Crooked House inn finally gone? Monstrous! (7)
HEINOUS – Anagram of HOUSE IN[n].
13 Crablike motion of Labour leader moving right in drift (5)
SIDLE – SLIDE with the L moved to the right.
15 Perhaps cap equipment for fossil fuel extraction? (8)
HEADGEAR – HEAD + GEAR.
18 Mutinous Wagner mercenaries fail at last in disputes (8)
WRANGLES – Anagram of WAGNER + [mercenarie]S  [fai]L.
21 High Speed Train cut by head of administration — line dividing on way north unnecessarily fast? (5)
HASTY – H(A[dministration])ST + Y.   I think ‘line dividing on way north’ refers to the Y-axis.
23 Turn on minister seen internally as contender (7)
NOMINEE –  ON backwards + MIN + [s]EE[n].
24 Depression following eruption of crumbling RAAC, holding, ultimately, school education back (7)
CALDERA – Anagram of RAAC around [schoo]L, ED backwards.
25 “Organised by Cummings”, say, is key to render haphazard (9)
RANDOMISE – RAN + DOM  + IS + E.
26 Al fresco party better? (5)
OUTDO – OUT + DO.
27 European Union knocked back/Ukraine discontented after Hungary’s appearance (3)
HUE – H + U.E. which is either EU backwards or U[krain]E.
28 Protest more attend, mobilised after Suella’s initial intervention (11)
DEMONSTRATE – Anagram of MORE ATTEND around S[uella’s].
Down
1 Show off like a comedian making headlines in 2023? (8)
BRANDISH – Somewhat like Russell Brand?
2 Lionesses flipping tailless antelope as another comes around (7)
ENGLAND – E(GN[u] backwards)LAND.
3 Give peerage to me? Badly nettled, Dorries’s first to be forgotten about (7)
ENTITLE – Anagram of I + NETTLED – D[orries’s]
4 Perplexing COP, it’s issue… (5)
TOPIC – Anagram of COP + IT.
5 …of vitally starting to enter transitioning, or the sea warms excessively (9)
OVERHEATS – Anagram of  V[itally] + OR THE SEA.
6 Trying to catch a glimpse of monarch (7)
SEEKING – SEE KING, an escaped Quickie clue.
7 Argentine president winning is not half a character (7)
PERSONA – PER([i]S)ON + A.
8 Man once famed for golden touch in mess, losing X ads disastrously (5)
MIDAS – MI[x] + anagram of ADS.
14 Interminable arguments covering Green Belt area? (3)
LEA –  Hidden in [interminab]LE A[rguments].
15 That man will bring up case of marbles in England in pro-Greek spirit (9)
HELLENISM – HE’LL + M[arble]S IN E upside-down.
16 Two thirds of timetable cut — when is the train due? (3)
ETA – [tim]ETA[ble].
17 Some cry, distraught about a tree (8)
SYCAMORE – Anagram of SOME CRY around A.
19 Cameron’s reshuffle fairytale (7)
ROMANCE – Anagram of CAMERON.
20 Sisters together, indefinite number remove head coverings (7)
NUNHOOD –  N + UNHOOD.
21 Provide assistance to get Beatles record released (4,3)
HELP OUT –  HELP + OUT, another starter clue unless you’re too young to remember the Beatles albums.
22 Ranges of position in leadership dividing party on Rwanda, lacking magical device? (7)
SPECTRA –  S(P[osition])ECT + R[wand]A.
23 Abandon orthodoxy to hold part of England where “Red Wall” seats are (5)
NORTH – Hidden in [abando]N ORTH[odoxy].
24 Beginnings of citywide low emissions area not without mishap (5)
CLEAN – starting letters of C[itywide] L[ow] E[missions] A[rea] N[ot]

13 comments on “Year in Review News Cryptic 2023”

  1. Thanks for the blog and Happy New Year.

    This was fairly straightforward but I’m not sure 3d works. If it was I plus an anagram of nettle that would be ok, but as it is the anagrind splits the anagrist. Shouldn’t it be “Nettled badly…”?

    1. The word ‘about’ indicates that the anagram of NETTLE [badly nettled, Dorries’s first to be forgotten] surrounds I.

      1. Ah yes, clever stuff! Thanks for the explanation.

        But I still achieve my New Year resolution of being first to comment on a blog!

  2. Hmmm… OK. A few too many words in the clues for my liking. A bit surprised to solve it given the theme, with only one NHO – the HEADGEAR at the top of a coal mine. Plenty of unknown references, though.
    Two unparsed: missed the hidden LEA, thought it might be interminable PLEAS! And no idea at all about SPECTRA, biffed from crossers. Agree 3dn is dodgy; and I parsed the Y in hasty as a line starting bottom centre, going upwards/northwards, and dividing left and right to pictorially produce a Y. It was that sort of puzzle.
    COD to Midas for the surface.

  3. I found it a bit disconcerting that there was little topicality in the answers, especially as a seasoned solver whose first rule when attempting clues is to ignore surface readings.

    I agree with Isla’s parsing of the Y in HASTY.

  4. 36:17. I enjoyed the topical references in the surfaces of the clues. I read HASTY the same way as Vinyl, with the Y referring to the vertical axis.
    LOI was PERSONA.

    Thanks for the blog. Happy New Year everyone.

  5. Re HELP OUT- the reference to “Beatles record” puzzled me. I remember the group opening for Roy Orbison, Del Shannon and maybe Brenda Lee in the early 60’s, but surely they never recorded anything? I recall the boys had a lot of energy but don’t think they ever amounted to much.

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