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Puzzle 1 by Poins

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Poins is another talented new setter. This puzzle shows all the hallmarks of a very promising compiler clues which are fair, concise and elegant, and which also make for good surface reading. For me, the difference between a mediocre puzzle and a good one is whether or not the clues conjure up some sort of image when read literally, and Poins has excelled in this respect. I think 5 across and 22 down are especially neat but they are very much first among equals.


1 Vessel held by mothers in service (6)
5 Wayward salesman turns to poetry (8)
9 Doctor tests brine for sharpness (10)
10 Worker loses piano part (4)
11 Alienate European leader? Extraordinary! (8)
12 Reg sat rewritten Oxford exam (6)
13 Sudden attack results in prisoners of war returning around the beginning of October (5)
15 Come in one inside can amuse (9)
18 Anticipate enjoyment of free toast for a change (9)
19 Revolutionary model describes military student (5)
21 Nobleman receives coppers for plant (6)
23 Reappoint fool taken in by rule (8)
25 Stood up for girl (4)
26 Every bird comes to the first hoop in fairly brisk time (10)
27 A grave situation (8)
28 Hidden soldiers retreated in fast time (6)
Raise new sign (5)
3 On-site rep forced to mediate (9)
4 Weapons mounted around North Beach (6)
5 Abnormally friendly ringing about bird at return game (15)
6 Troubled designer gave up (8)
7 Mountain home sounds strange (5)
8 Game bird (9)
14 Complete a few to get healthy (9)
16 Fleeting river engulfs the centre of Grange and is rising (9)
17 Coach deportment (8)
20 Cattle food causes disease at port (6)
22 Bit part (5)
24 Advance fare (3,2)

Solution to Puzzle 1 by Poins