1. Again, host subtly exceeded / mutton broth, cold, with warm round bit of polenta. OVERSHOT hotCHPOT (over, anag. / c, p in hot) The reader is drawn to the natural divide in the surface of this clue, between praise for the host and the description of the fare. Adding some suitable punctuation mark there would have been too much of a giveaway.
11. Fit to function after visit to theatre, a rebel reread / church extract, fine following page. PERICope OPERABLE (p, eric / op, anag; in reverse order) All solvers will know the feeling.
14. Destination for junk star guided by height / the moon turned in about star. TRASHcan CANICULA (anag, h / Lucina (rev.) in ca) Dr Watson has tried without success to find any sensible meaning in the surface of this clue, although the reference to ‘height’ would appear to refer to the orbital distance of the ‘moon’ from the ‘star’, if that were possible. Some encouragement for competitors, perhaps.
16. Earliest stirring in workshops / to adjust subject of painting for all to see shifting base? MODULate ATELIERS (U for e in model / anag; in reverse order) ‘Earliest stirring’ is best read as meaning ‘Those stirring earliest’. When this is done the clue makes perfect sense as a request to others to attend to the adjustments stated.
18. Forbidden meal interrupted by whistle-blower – last, for sure. YESter TEREFA (yes / ref in tea; in reverse order) A fine example of concision in a complex clue. Azed has allowed solvers the luxury of the dividing dash, here, at least
29. Like e.g. Cameron once welcoming southern European national, / perhaps warn one going after bit of ice creamier than the rest. IVORIest ESTONIAN (i(ce), vor, i / S in Etonian; in reverse order) Watson doubts whether Mr Cameron could slip into Buckinghamshire dialect as readily as Edgar (of Gloucester) in King Lear IV.6.247, ref. vor (q.v.).
31. Overwhelmed , nursing damaged lung, I took food / making slow progress with date in fruit basket. TRUDGing INGULFED (d in trug / anag. in I, fed; in reverse order) Snap out of it! They weren’t so very difficult, solvers.
1. Work on volume once causing grief for eye expert. OPTOMETRIST (op, tome, trist) ‘Once causing grief’ is the indication leading to the archaic adjective ‘trist’. This type of clue involving a series of elements is known as a charade.
8. Pick mercenary, but lacking old gun. HACK (2 defs: hack1 & 2; hack(but)) Azed has chosen to double up on cryptic indications here, perhaps trying to improve the clue’s surface. Take your pick.
10. Wretchedly triste, Danaë may appear so? TEAR-STAINED (anag. &lit) This clue jumps out at the solver as an immediate way into the puzzle, an obvious anagram.
12. Tomboy exhibiting extremes of roguery. RANDY (i.e. ‘r’ and ‘y’) The first (and, perhaps, the more readily spotted) of two clues (with that for RUINATE) in which the solution may be read as the device used to indicate it cryptically.
13. Evidence of horse-doping? Objection leading to end of licence. BUTE (but, e) From the British Horseracing Authority’s website, it is stated under Dope Testing: “With the exception of racing in the USA, where many states permit the use of substances such as bute (painkiller) and lasix/salix (stops internal bleeding), all recognised racing countries aim to run their sport completely drug free”.
17. By implication, a true Shakespearean smash? RUINATE (i.e. ‘ru’ in ‘ate’) The second of the two solutions which may be read as explaining the cryptic device employed. The focus here is on the phrase: ‘a true’.
20. Rabbit from part of SE Asia that’s indulged in. TAPETI (pet in Tai) This clue exploits the ambiguity of the apostrophe, so meaning ‘... from part ... that has ‘indulged’ in (it)’. The adjectival ‘Tai’ is obtained from ‘from part of SE Asia’.
24. Anything tiny, of matter principally. ATOM (initial letters, &lit) Everything one needs to know about an atom in five words, up to a point.
28. Cross male, Unionist sketch writer sent up. ZOBU (U, Boz, all rev; s.v. zho) Zho – every crossword solver’s favourite ‘cross’ word − rounding off a very enjoyable puzzle, not forgetting Boz, too.
Across: 30. SEMANTRA, TRABEATE (The Competition overlap)
Down: 2. VERBOSE (bo(ok) in verse) 3. RISQUE (Qu in rise; s.v. risk) 4. SCHI (inits.) 5. HOCK ((s)hock) 6. TENDER (hidden) 7. CRIBLÉ (crib, le) 9. OLLA (’Allo, (’Allo) rev.)) 15. ATTENDS (TT, (win)e, all in ‘and S’) 19. SLUING (‘in’ in slug) 21. FENNEL (n,n in feel) 22. AMNIA (mania, with 1st 2 letters switched) 25. AVER (aver(age)) 26. GRAD (darg (rev.)) 27. STAG (’t in sag; s.v. saag).