4059 Child's Play by Dysart

Dysart gave us a puzzle that was great fun. The thematic clues, which had no definitions, were easily spotted to be Snakes and Ladders. In the completed grid the ladders could be discovered rising diagonally and the snakes descending in a snaky fashion. Solvers had to connect the relevant cells with drawing, thus creating a game of Snakes and Ladders. The letters given by misprints gave the message – “Delete all but seventy-five thematic letters”. The given number of letters seemed to clear any ambiguities with the ends of COBRA and ANACONDA.

Misprinted letters and corrections are shown in [ ]

Across
1 Spenser's lan[d] is nearly ploughed, last of deer having left (5)
LEANY [Spenser’s lank]Anagram NEARLY less R (last letter of DEER)
4 One who might advise slimmers to skip b[e]tter is in conference (patient's last) (7)
DIETIST [...to skip butter] DIET (conference) + (patien)T containing IS
9 Sta[l]e show wants energy and life (5)
EVITA [stage show] E + VITA
13 Informer fails to complete hotel ch[e]ck (4)
NOSH [chuck] NOS(e) + H (hotel)
14 [T]ore green and yellow card up after trimming ends (8)
CALLOWER [more green] Anagram (y)ELLOW CAR(d)
15 Changes alon[e] with bits of old vest in decay (8)
COVARIES [...along with] OV (1st letters of Old Vest) in CARIES
16 One workhorse at the front is certainly no m[a]re (4)
IWIS [certainly no more] I + W(orkhorse) + IS
18 America's [l]acked Civil Defence with a number not being protected (6)
CANNED [sacked] A + N (number) + NE (not) in CD
20 Heaven is running s[l]ow (6)
PARADE [show) PARADISE less IS
23 Cut short drunken revelry - each is on the [b]rink (6)
ORGEAT [drink] ORG(y) + EA (each) + T (the)
24 P[u]nched volunteers in front of disreputable house (5)
TAKEN [pinched] TA + KEN
27 Pupil looks back to see someone holding up [t]ank on Fifth Avenue? (4)
PERP [... holding up bank...] PREP reversed
29 [S]ing of wagons, missing the central character of Wordsworth for example (4)
LAER [ring of wagons] LA(k)ER lacking central letter
30 W[e]lter's shelter in battle in which France surrenders to Britain (5)
BIELD [Walter’s shelter (ref. Sir Walter Scott)] FIELD replacing F (France) with B (Britain)
31 One of two sha[v]ing the same mass; one's uncovered so goes inside (7)
ISOBARE [... sharing the same mass] I + BARE containing SO
32 Director cares about large plan[e]s (6)
CEDARS [large plants] Anagram D + CARES
33 Thi[n] compound with uranium is utterly explosive (6)
TETRYL [this compound] Compound Anagram UTTERLY = TETRYL + U (uranium); &lit.
34 Disables sentries guarding [t]ower (6)
LESSEN [lower] Hidden
 
Down
1 Movements of fiddl[y] player maybe (and fast one) (5)
LENTI [...  of fiddle player] LENT (fast) + I
2 Poetic description of [F]rance fails after the beginning when translated into German (7)
AISLING [trance] Anagram (f)AILS + IN + G (German)
3 Pla[i]t first sample of yarn for Department in Asian city (5)
YACCA [plant] DACCA changing D (department) To Y (1st letter in YARN)
5 Fellow failing to satisfy [V]icky (3)
ILL [dicky] FILL less F (fellow)
6 Pric[e] of tenor instrument (5)
THORN [prick] T (tenor) + HORN
7 Place stone in wall to [t]ell perhaps if stone's even (5)
STEEN [well] ST + EEN
8 Figure [h]acking head and limbs from traitor's offspring (5)
TORSO [lacking head...] Hidden
10 Bottom's bl[e]nder for a lover, formerly yours, is inside (6)
THISNE [Bottom’s blunder] ‘S in THINE
11 [M]an perhaps was worshipped in these temples arranged in a circle (4)
NAOI [Pan] Anagram IN A + O (circle)
12 Put on just for Sh[a]w the beginning of Pygmalion - non-professional, amateur cast in the end (6, two words)
PLAY AT [put on for show]
17 Woman to we[t] soldier's hair regularly in empty wash-tub before sex (vulgar!) (8, two words)
WAR BRIDE [... to wed soldier] AR (even letters of hAiR) in W(ash-tu)B + RIDE
18 Share a F[i]at, possibly half cost? Book it (7)
COHABIT CO(st) + HAB (book of Habakkuk) + IT
19 Ignoring cold, stopped and smoo[c]hed ... (5)
EASED [smoothed] CEASED less C
20 ... fellow having his end away [l]ater (3)
PEE [water] PEER less last letter
21 Have [e]ight to dinner initially, taking recipe from book (7)
DESERVE [have right] D(inner) + RESERVE less R (recipe)
22 End of enjoyable drive north east in u[t]e (5)
ENURE [use] (enjoyabl)E +RUN reversed + E
25 Pe[t]s, having overturned vessel (aluminium), start to skedaddle (6)
KRAALS [pens] ARK reversed + AL (Alaska) + S(kedaddle)
26 Heads of Devi and Lakshmi are desecrated in shrin[e] (5)
ADLER [shrink] Anagram D + L + ARE (ref. Alfred Adler)
27 Duke informally grabs a bottle (that could contain [r]ose drops) (5)
PHIAL [nose drops] A in PHIL (ref. Prince Philip)
28 Glorify a [s]od locally before backing mobster (ignoring the odds) (5)
ROOSE [glorify a god] OR (before) reversed + mObStEr odd letters
Thematic clues: Set 1
(a) Contender admits pressure (5)
VIPER P in VIER
(b) Japanese city without its alcoholic drink ... (4)
NAGA NAGA(saki)
(c) ... a strong drink, knocking bishop out (5)
RACER (b)RACER less B (bishop)
(d) Measure area divided by breadth (5)
COBRA COR + A including B (breadth)
(e) One wandering about having lost the leader (5)
ADDER (g)ADDER less letter
(f) Secure the German team first (10)
SIDEWINDER SIDE (team) + WIN (secure) + DER (the in German)
(g) Tales to deceive local old man (8)
ANACONDA ANA + CON  + DA (old man!)
(h) Wife leaves spiteful person (3)
ASP WASP less W (wife)
Set 2
(i) A nincompoop struggling after giving up work (9)
COMPANION Anagram COMPANION less OP
(j) Boy looking embarrassed about ... (6)
LADDER LAD + RED reversed
(k) ... taking a snap of bather undressed (3)
RUN Hidden
(l) He sculpted a lion that's unfinished (5)
SCALE SC (he sculpted) + A LE(o)
(m) Indeed in the past this would be frothy (3)
STY YEASTY less YEA
(n) Half of associates dropped in recession (4)
TRAP PART(ners) reversed
(o) One experimenting with ecstasy? (6)
ÉTRIER E (ecstasy) + TRIER