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Puzzle by Nico
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This is Nico's first ever puzzle, and it's a very promising start – if only my first puzzles had been as good as this! There are plenty of original ideas and the clues are devious but tightly constructed and fair. The clues to the long answers are all excellent and I particularly like 2 down.


The assured expertise I put to half of clergy (8,7)
9 Left what must be charged for one’s share (7)
10 History without the French is very serious indeed (7)
11 Detailed oak container of endless rice wine in this city (5)
12 Bird eater is natural at dancing (9)
13 A concentrated Spanish water found high in the Andes (9)
15 Habitual pot user backs into a red target? (5)
16 The wife is beheaded in Alexander’s battle (5)
18 Addicts' treatment: You start off on half-life of herbal remedy (9)
20 Description of royal party free for all, with unknown absentee (9)
23 Missing odd man’s spleen found in ski resort (5)
24 Reduce poundage in transit or leave immediately (2,3,2)
25 A vessel dipped into wine that could be turned into tapioca (7)
26 Horror house producers and directors attend to a freakish predator (10,5)

Secret container for qualification I got in first aid treatment – leave it alone! (10,5)
2 Position of fascists in the past – it’s a mixed bag (7)
3 Hints about Iceland’s troublemakers (9)
4 A golden rule for two films which could be viewed either way round (5)
5 In harmony with a carbon thread worker (9)
6 Run it around an Olympic city (5)
7 Learn to swear and knock people out (7)
8 Cry ‘Behold’! (11, 4)
14 My ship got capsized but this four circumnavigated the world (5,4)
15 Runs through play about male idiots (9)
17 Cruel words overheard in an island gorge (7)
19 Swedish university offers up short song of praise to Angstrom (7)
21 Topless game of cards seen on a rooftop (5)
22 Half-holy spies in the birthplace of St Nicholas (5)

Solution to Puzzle by Nico