3973: Collusion by The Magpie

This was an excellent puzzle, in which Mr Magoo and Pieman (presumably) colluded to create what was, in effect four crosswords. The clues were difficult with extra words, misprints and, in some cases, altered spacing in the manner of a Printer’s Devilry clue. When the clues were solved it was evident that there were 9 down entries without clues. Using redundant words, grouped by length, as definitions it was possible to complete the grid in three ways.

5- letters

6- letters

7- letters

24 noise = clack
11 sword = steel
18 latch =sneck
25 ogles = eyes
19 naked = bared
16 style = chic
21 tomes =books
28 garbs =gears
13 ranks = grees
 24 CLEVERCLOGS

24 remiss = slack
11 regard =steem
18 supper = snack
25 washes = tyes
19 howled =bayed
16 gallet =chip
21 thumps = bonks
28 sprees =tears
13 flight = grees
24 SMARTYPANTS

24 boycott = black
11 bullock = steer
18 deflect = snick
25 hastens = hyes
19 blunted = bated
16 letters = chis
21 retches = boaks
28 fosters = rears
13 Hellene =greek
24 BRIGHTSPARK

This gave the descriptions of the three solvers, CLEVERCLOGS, SMARTYPANTS and BRIGHTSPARK.

Finally, by giving letters numerical values (A=1, B=2, etc) and adding in columns, the word COLLUSION, the checked letters of the 3 descriptions, and the corrected letters of misprints it was possible to find the final answer to 24 across.

A

L

Z

U

M

O

H

K

I

C

O

L

L

U

S

I

O

N

C

L

E

E

R

C

O

G

S

B

R

I

H

T

S

A

R

K

S

M

A

T

Y

P

N

T

S

B

R

A

N

S

T

U

S

T

In the final solution the description of this “collusion” was, aptly, BRAINSTRUST.

 Extra words and misprints in clues are shown in bold type.

ACROSS
1 Pick local return flight for Joe Blake? (11)
DIAMONDBACK DIAMOND = pick + Back (Joe Blake rhyming slang for SNAKE)
9 Maid (or any of her sisters), perhaps, getting cipher to decipher (5)
OREAD  (Maia) O (cipher) + READ (decipher)
10 In old age, man (Will) gets uppercut following performance-enhancing drug (6)
In old age, man will get cut following performance-enhancing drug
EPOCHA EPO (drug favoured by cyclists) + CHA(P)
12 Stark naked, initially, getting out of train (5)
STRIG (stalk) STRING less N
14 Gorilla's relative spelling out just three letters (4)
ATOC (zorilla’s relative) A to C
15 Has ten surges up port in revolt to begin with (7)
Urge support in revolt to begin with
UPCHEER UP (in revolt) + CHEER (support)
17 Heartless one casually looking round to sick up again (6)
RESORB (suck up again) BRO(W)SER reversed
20 Spenser's clever book amongst whole ranks (5)
HABLE B in HALE
22 Knight: more than one being pale (6)
KENTIA (palm) K + ENTIA (beings)
23 Sounds like someone's not paid me for remiss communication technology (5)
I-MODE Homophone I’M OWED
27 Menial fosters king being repressed and delicate (5)
LACEY LACKEY less K
30 Missing beginning, checked noise is called out (6)
EVOKED (R)EVOKED
32 Fail to open cla ret chess set as first piece is placed to the right of left joint (5)
Fail to open class eta’s first piece is placed to the right of left joint
ANKLE (R)ANK + L + E (first letter of ETA)
33 Fingal lets cornmill finally round edges of Staffa (6)
Fin scorn mill finally round edges of Staffa
DORSAL SA (S(taf)A) in  DOR (scorn) + L
36 Meld letters from holy man penned in holy land, mostly (7)
CANASTA ST in CAANA(N)
39 An anger without name (4, two words)
IN RE (on) N (name) in IRE
41 All but the last of spek removed, carcass of reeking bullock remains (5)
KRENG (SPE)K + RE(EK)ING
42 With two bills in Australia garbs plant (6)
ACACIA AC + AC (2 bills) + I (in) + A (Australia)
43 Mark howled fraction after me for interest (5)
USURE US (me) + URE (one eighth of a mark)
44 One spinning a naked yarn is almost all of the novelist? (11)
THREADMAKER TH(E) + READ MAKER (!)

DOWN
1 A group of testy Lents don't make peace (5)
A group of tents don't make peace
DOWAR Do WAR
2 Was he so fair, a topless demigod? (4)
Washes of air, a topless demigod?
AERO (of air) (H)ERO
3 Redcoat, shell enemy opening! It may secure pudding bag! (6)
Redcoat’s (Hellene) my opening! It may secure pudding bag!
MASCOT M + ASCOT (pudding bag = a piece of good fortune)
4 Flat chunk of Iberian river for docking (5)
Flunk of Iberian river for docking
ODOUR O (of) + DOUR(O)
5 Strike's raised regard in Clydeside plant (4)
NEEP PEEN reversed
6 Cricketer's word amateur supports as well (6)
Cricketer amateur supports as well
BOTHAM BOTH (as well ) AM (amateur)
Cricketer' [sword] amateur supports as well
7 Provided backing to this measure for coach sprees (4)
ACRE with IF (provided) reversed gives FIACRE
8 Laddie thumps guard changing black suit (6)
CHIELD SHIELD changing Spades to Clubs
28 Former red, a blunted supporter at Wembley? (6)
ANARCH AN ARCH
29 Chuck for instance ogles exiting Grace (6)
ELANCE ELEGANCE less EG
31 Posting around this state makes Maoris boycott sailing (6)
ORISSA Hidden in MAILING
34 It may protect the gold on account of my country uprising (5)
OAKUM (may protect the hold) OA (on account) + M(Y) UK (reversed)
35 "Scalp" good-natured American brave (5)
LEVER (brake) (C)LEVER (US good-natured)
37 Noble gases in short tomes (4)
NEAR Ne + Ar (noble gases, neon + argon)
38 Daddy's died from shame! (4)
TOAD (diddy) TOO BAD less OB (died)
40 In Scotch Corner, deflect atomic bomb having repositioned base (4)
NEUK NUKE with E (base) moved