1. It detects errors: gold coin with king replacing centre of gap, i.e. a / bloomer -- this country’s millions revolted CHEC-UKSM-ROSE; checksum, musk rose (ecu K for a in chasm; UK’s M rose). This was the first across clue to yield to Dr Watson’s solving efforts, as the clueing method became clear. The ‘i.e. a’ doesn’t appear to have any purpose in the clue except to improve the surface marginally, and to clarify the meaning of ‘centre of gap’.
10. Male fellows note one pursuing pleasure / installs stone one in seat HEDO-NSTI-ATES; hedonist, instates (he dons ti; st I in nates).
11. Thing that’s created attention and start of friction in diplomacy / drew jagged rent, serious affliction in the herd REDW-TEAR-FACT; redwater, artefact (ear f(riction) in tact; anag. + tear).
12. Groove, scratch circling barrels of / northerly old boy, authentic SC-OBRE-AL; scrobe, boreal (b in score; OB real). The ‘of’ at the end of the first clue is part of the indicator for ‘b’, i.e. ‘barrels of (oil, etc.)’. There is one other possible solution to the first clue that would lead to jumbles of both words in the centre, i.e. SCORBE, so the second clue is needed for an unambiguous solution.
15. Supporter of monarchy, English, in newspaper strip / gets confused about extent government lost? STEA-REAG-LIST; stearage, regalist (E in rag + list2; area in anag.).
17. Cup for sampling savour, volume in turns imbibed, / I turn, tucking into new series – are they green? TAST-NIVE-ERS; tastevin, enviers (v in, all rev., in taste; I veer in n s). Dr Watson couldn’t find evidence for s = series in Chambers; ‘section’ would have done just as well in the surface reading.
19. Italian governors imprisoning foreign troops in endless chain, / dying, indicate vital juice is receding PAS-NGIS-ORIA; passing, signoria (GIs in noria; sign sap, rev.). About the most vivid of the across clue surfaces.
23. Those encouraging sailor to be in French street, / genuine sport when it’s going after women ABET-REST-LING; abetters, sterling (AB être St; (w)restling). The wordplay in the second clue is the most imaginative in the across clues, in Dr Watson’s view.
25. Stage circle taken in by poet’s / carriage, gold, variable weight AR-BAOR-DS; arroba, boards (arba or; O in bard’s).
28. Crime involving unruly youth squashes / environmental creativity maybe, in Delaware ornament DECO-ARTE-DSON; decorate, treads on (Ted in arson; eco art in DE). A somewhat unexpected phrase solution to the second clue made the last four letters difficult to pin down.
30. A pop presenter, one including cheap stuff, officer / anti getting corrupted in trial, smarter than the rest ADJU-TATN-IEST; adjutant, nattiest (a DJ + tat in un; anag. in test). The second clue offers several possible variations of the central letters, but the first has only one.
31. More than one power supply that is restricted by Greens upset / the old author last night YEST-ERNE-GIES; yestreen, energies (i.e. in anag.; ye Sterne). Again there are several valid solutions for the second clue, and at least one author called Steren discoverable on the web, but there’s no doubt that Azed here intends ‘Tristram Shandy’ author Laurence Sterne.
1. Church singer, third released, I’m surprised supermarket’s taken in for present occasion CHRISTMAS DAY (ch(o)rist + Asda in my!). Azed has asked competiors to supply a Christmas-themed clue to their choice of ‘Christmas Cracker’, and here provides his own seasonal contribution to the grid.
8. Clubs introduced some tennis parties SECTS (C in sets). The wordplay is more challenging in this clue than in most of the downs. ‘Some tennis’ indicates ‘sets’, into which C for clubs is introduced.
9. Managers of landed property, form of asset Earl Grey’s gone into? ESTATE AGENTS (tea gent in anag.). Lateral thought is needed to recognise that Earl Grey could be called a ‘tea gent’, though an Earl is surely some way above a gent socially.
13. It’s lashed trunks afloat CAT (double mng.). This may appear to be a straightforward cryptic definition, but Azed doesn’t do those. It’s a rare double meaning clue where the same words define two different meanings of ‘cat’. The obvious one is for cat-o’-nine-tails, but it can also mean a traditional catamaran consisting of logs strapped together. Azed can’t and wouldn’t take credit for the idea, which belongs to Roger Phillips (aka Kea), winner of Azed competition no. 891 in 1989.
16. Old despatch boat, power in its belly, turned up? AVISO (vis in (b)oa(t), rev.). Another less straightforward piece of wordplay, with ‘its’ referring back to the ‘boat’ that appears in the definition.
Down: 2. HEELTAP (heel tap); 3. COW (2 mngs.); 4. UNTORN (’unt ’orn); 5. STAR (star(ling)); 6. MIRE (mir + e); 7. RAFALE (a f in rale); 14. BEIGE ((ro)be I ge(t)); 18. SINUOSE (anag.); 20. STROUT (’s trout); 21. STRENE (hidden); 22. OLD ((s)old(o)); 24. BREDE (bred + e); 26. BATE (2 mngs.); 27. ARAR (hidden) ; 29. DIG (dig(it)).