3956 A & D by The Tall’n

In this puzzle, the grid (without any horizontal bars) was presented with an irregular numbering scheme. Some answers, we were told, had to be entered in an unspecified thematic way. The entry method had to be deduced from a theme word linked to some of the thematic clues. This made for an interesting and enjoyable challenge.

Thematic answers of one type were HITCH, SHAPED, BASEBALL, DUST, DOVE, KOH-I-NOOR, CULLINAN, BEETLE (all of which can be linked with DIAMOND to create a longer word or phrase), SPARKLER and RIVIERE (both of which can be associated with diamonds). Therefore, D answers had to be entered in the grid using adjacent cells, forming a diamond shape as the answers were spelled out.

The other ten thematic answers were PAPER, LEATHER, IRON, WOOL, STEEL, LINEN, LACE, CHINA, RUBY, and GOLD, which are all gifts associated with wedding anniversaries. These had to be numbered with the clue number appropriate to that anniversary, so that RUBY was numbered 40, etc. This completed a sequence of  numbers from 1 to 50 in the grid. Finally, (the puzzle being timed to coincide with the 60th wedding anniversary of the Queen and Prince Philip) QUEEN’S WEDDING ANNIVERSARY and SIXTIETH had to be completed - these appeared as two D answers, and had to be highlighted.

A Clues

2 For heavy cargoes, fastening hydrant’s an irritation (5)
[DIAMOND-]HITCH H (hydrant) + ITCH (an irritation)
8 Like a lozenge apothecary dropped outside? (6)
[DIAMOND-]SHAPED AP (apothecary) inside SHED (dropped)
N [40] Move with pressure to unknown port (4)
RUBY RUB (Move with pressure) + Y (unknown)
N [6] Weapon returned before entering Ulster (4)
IRON OR (before) inside NI (Ulster), all reversed
15 Kuala Lumpur’s crossed by one avoiding firework (8)
SPARKLER KL (Kuala Lumpur) inside SPARER (one avoiding)
17 Reprehensible to enjoy oneself in part of field (8)
BASEBALL [DIAMOND] BASE (Reprehensible) + BALL (to enjoy oneself)
N [1] Settlement for each bill (5)
PAPER PA (Settlement) + PER (for each)
N [12] Stuff with new cloth (5)
LINEN LINE (Stuff) + N (new)
21 Clean – the result from polishing (4)
[DIAMOND-]DUST Two meanings (one for the wordplay ie “clean”, the other for the full answer)
22 Special Constable’s put in first rate cells (4)
ASCI SC (Special Constable) inside AI (first rate, ie A1)
25 Ice on ropes in tug? That is right (7)
RIVIERE RIVE (tug), containing IE (that is) + R (right)
N [7] Animal hair’s left on court (4)
WOOL L (left) added to WOO (court)
N [13] Many lost by transfer over reprimand (4)
LACE D (Many ie 500) removed from DECAL (transfer), reversed (ie over)
N [3] Hide article in oven (7)    
LEATHER THE (article) in LEAR (oven)
33 Australian bird came down through the air (4)
[DIAMOND-]DOVE Two meanings (one for the wordplay ie “came down through the air”, the other for the full answer)
34 Bitterness resulting when financial record is uncovered (4)
EDGE (L)EDGE(R) (financial record, minus first and last letters)
N [20] Aggressively question a mate (5)
CHINA CHIN (Aggressively question) + A
37 Promote lecturer in terribly short haircut (5)
BALDY L moved nearer to the beginning ie promoted, in BADLY (terribly)
39 Call for attention to drama in castle about something shown in Tower of London (8)
KOH-I-NOOR [DIAMOND] HI (Call for attention) + NO (drama), inside KOOR (ROOK ie castle reversed)
Though not in Chambers, the answer should be sufficiently familiar, and it can be confirmed in Brewer if necessary
41 Gather current idiot almost the biggest yet found (8)
CULLINAN [DIAMOND] CULL (Gather) + I (current) + NAN(A) (idiot almost, ie minus last letter)
Another one in Brewer
N [] Type of standard influential man keeps in Luxembourg (4)
GOLD  GOD (influential man), containing L (Luxembourg)
45 Legal distraint putting money aside in favour of new bread (4)
NAAN NAAM (Legal distraint) with M (money) replaced by N (new)
49 Six-footer John, perhaps, takes drug for it (6)
[DIAMOND-]BEETLE BEATLE (John, perhaps) with E (drug) for A (it)
N [] Stone fish knife sharpener (5)
STEEL ST (stone) + EEL (fish)

D Clues

4&5 Pin for shipbuilding atelier collapses, with Northern lookout reporting someone cutting timber (8;4)
TREENAIL Anagram of ATELIER + N (Northern)
HUER Homophone of HEWER (someone cutting timber)
8&10 Rejecting diplomas, scoundrel counters jokes about St Andrews (4;4)
SCAB BACS (diplomas), reversed
BARS (two meanings)
9&18 Old relatives seem decrepit – father holds up with condition that’s concealing a dramatic change (4;8)
EMES Anagram of SEEM
PUPA-CASE PA (Father) containing UP, + CASE (condition)
14&14 Regretting not finishing inferior gin, drives endlessly intoxicated on Sabbath (4;4)
RUIN RUIN(G) (Regretting, minus last letter)
RUNS (D)RUN(K) (endlessly intoxicated) + S (Sabbath)
16&19 Put another way, sharper English possibly is trying to Cockney faculties (8;4)
REPHRASE Anagram of SHARPER + E (English)
EARS (H)EARS (is trying, as a judge would do, minus H, indicated by Cockney)
18&29 A tense impudent person badgers a sea monster (4;4)
PERT PER (A) + T (tense)
CETE (two meanings)
23&23 Greeting US agency’s given to old char active in Colorado (4;4)
CIAO CIA (US agency) + O (old)
COAL A (active) in COL (Colorado)
24&26 To taunt bachelor in judo costume, Reg’s sprinkled with vile larvae (4;8)
GIBE B (Bachelor) inside GIE (judo costume)
27&38 Olive returns to Scotland very depressed, endlessly blue, struggling to reduce friction in Perth (4;4)
OLEA AE (Scottish word for “very”) + LO(W) (depressed, endlessly ie minus last letter), all reversed
LUBE Anagram of BLUE
“In Perth” indicating Australian, and not Scottish as Gregson expected
28&31 A good-looking girl admits she misses the odd restricted opportunity being mentioned (4;4)
DISH Odd letters removed from aDmItS sHe
TIED Homophone of TIDE (opportunity)
29&29 Cabbage and fish running short, starts to call on neighbour, expecting fruit (4;4)
COLE COLEY (fish), minus last letter
CONE First letters of Call On Neighbour, Expecting
30&41 Produced round cheese errand boy cuts in ribbons (4;8)
EDAM MADE (Produced), reversed
CADDICES CAD (errand-boy) + DICES (cuts)
Care is needed here as CADDISES also fits the definition
32&32 Slip showing at first, the man suppresses hysteria once on board ship (4;8)
SHIM S (first letter of SHOWING) + HIM (the man)
SMOTHERS MOTHER (hysteria, once) inside SS (ie on board ship)
35&44 In shifting guilt, one’s not found simpleton’s overeating to reduce energy quaintly pleasing (8;4)
GLUTTONY GLUT (Anagram of GUILT, less I ie one) + TONY (simpleton)
CUTE CUT (to reduce) + E (energy)
36&47 Make insinuations concerned with unfortunately undone judge leaving Guardian’s opening (8;4)
INNUENDO IN (concerned with) + NUENDO (anagram of UNDONE)
ANUS J (Judge) removed from JANUS (Guardian)
42&46 Scotland’s own invasion regularly seen, for them one in progress many years (4;4)
NAIN Alternate letters of iNvAsIoN
AEON AE (Scottish word for “one”) + ON (in progress)
Here, “for them” is referring back to the first part of the clue, to indicate a Scottish word
43&48 Religious study without the love’s dull, you will cry (4;4)
LOGY (THEO)LOGY (Religious study), less THE + O (love)
YELL YE (you) + ‘LL (will)