6. Recurrent failure? I interposed observation ESPIAL (I in lapse, rev.) ‘Recurrent’ is used here in the sense of running backwards rather than repeating. Chambers gives this as a specialised usage from anatomy.
24. Overseer follows the flock? BAAS (2 mngs.) A nice double meaning with enough ambiguity in the component definitions to give the solver a challenge.
30. A salmagundi put in oven? One in four roughly LEAP YEAR (a pye in lear) Salmagundi is a specific dish, but also a term for a miscellany, matching ‘pye’, an alternative spelling of pie2. Regular solvers seeing ‘oven’ in a clue will be on the lookout for ‘lear’ and ‘lehr’, and the Scottish ‘oon’.
20. Stokes quits one form of popular sport SEVENS (S evens) No one seems to know where ‘Stokes’ as an expansion of the abbreviation S comes from. It’s been in Chambers (and nowhere else apparently) for many years, but the career of the cricketer Ben Stokes has given it quite a lot of currency in clues recently. Previously it was memorably used by Brian Greer in a prize-winning clue to SCANTITY that commemorated the Cup-winning goal scored by Bobby Stokes for Southampton in the 1976 FA Cup final. The sporting reference in this clue, though, is to Rugby Sevens, newly popularised by its debut at last year’s Olympics.
34. Mawkish bits of Trump speak? TWEETS (twee + T, s, & lit.) Tying in with the competition word is this clever & lit. Dr Watson finds Trump’s tweets nearer the aggressive than the mawkish end of the spectrum, but the idea is well-realised in the clue.
2. Either of two intervals I love in composition of Mahler (endless) HEMIOLA (I 0 in anag. of Mahle(r)) The intervals referred to are tonal intervals in music, in this case either a fifth or those in a three-note triplet. Mahler is known for the length of his symphonies.
4. Fermenting agent given when mixed with skill involving design VINEGAR-PLANT (anag. + plan in art) Azed will no doubt have recalled the Cup-winning clue to VINEGAR in Azed 27 “Given unconventionally for Jack’s head?” (anag. for t in tar; ref. ‘Jack and Jill’).
10. Part of cabin aft is remaining when ——? AISLE (i.e. aft is left when A is LE) A ‘reverse cryptic’ clue, beloved of some but by no means all solvers. In this case Azed has disguised the device neatly in the surface reading, but Dr Watson has seen enough of these to spot it quickly.
11. NFL player may pass one, not yet one on left LATERAL (later a L) A reference to a type of pass made in American Football.
19. Old poet’s included iambs, sort not so complex IMBARST (anag. of iambs (so)rt) No problems with this Spenserian spelling of ‘embraced’, except that on Dr Watson’s smudgy copy, ‘iambs’ appeared as ‘lambs’ making it a difficult one to solve.
26. Scan (in Spenser) verse enveloped in an early freshness ADVEW (v in a dew) A second outing for Edmund – unlike some setters, Azed never calls him Ed.
Across: 1. THRAVE (th(is) rave); 12. REAGIN (anag.); 13. APORIA (po in aria); 14. INTELPOST (anag. in it); 15. MINNEOLA (inn in ME + O + LA); 16. POCO (PO Co.); 18. BOER (E for a in boar); 20. CATATONIA (a in anag.); 22. MADERISED (made + is in red); 27. MOPP (op. in MP); 31. AVIZANDUM (viz. an in ad + um); 33. ENSUED (sue in end); 35. SKELLY (s + Kelly; ref. Grace K.).
Down: 1. TRUMP; 3. RAUNCH (U in ranch); 5. ENTOPIC (top in anag. + I C); 7. SPLATTER-PUNK (platter + p, all in sunk); 8. POPS (2 mngs.); 9. IRON-ON (I + n in roon); 17. CASCADES (ca. + scad in anag.); 21. IMPANEL (an in impel); 23. DATIVE (anag.); 24. WOEFUL (w/o + anag.); 28. PREDY (d in prey); 29. MZEE (m + zee).