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Crossword Sudoku by Anax
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I'll admit I haven't exactly been swept up by the current Sudoku craze in comparison to crosswords I find them rather repetitive and mechanical  but I was intrigued when Anax, a regular and esteemed contributor to this site, sent this crossword combining the two types of puzzle. Here it is, an ingenious thematic which uses a Sudoku style grid to modify the answers to cryptic clues. As expected in Anax's case, the clues are clever, fair and very challenging. This is a fiendish puzzle and well worth the effort!

sudoku.jpg

The solver should imagine the grid divided into 9 equal segments, as in a Sudoku puzzle. The puzzle title will help to identify the shaded squares, each of which is unique to its segment. Each solution requires a single alteration before entry. Subsidiary indicators and letter counts refer to grid entries.

ACROSS
1 "Neutral" in America see in "poor losers" (8)
5 Some American police force's bootlicker (5)
10 Pirates can sure be found at sea (9)
11 Gloomy man loses heart (5)
12 Ignoring first offer of fresh coffee (5)
13 A friend may be encouraged to follow rank (9)
14 Take-away introduced country music for nightclubbers (7)
16 Rejected county's work, offering location in code (7)
18 River bisecting Louisiana (3)
19 One's always right to score more runs (7)
21 Makes harder words with small gaps between letters (7)
23 Nazi leader's bone deformed by surgery (9)
26 When cooking, learn to add fat (5)
28 Fighters could have both started scrap (5)
29 Roman ruins around ancient battlefield (9)
30 Brief note to banker (5)
31 A Samson amongst jockeys, to a point (8)

DOWN
1 Ordered locks settle order first (5)
2 Isn't vocal about cardinal's delegate (9)
3 Swimmer in Gulf resort hotel (7)
4 Female provided for Moroccan prince (5)
6 Evil spirit, it might be assumed (7)
7 Bird ignored when taking off? Taken off, that is (5)
8 Legal undertaking as politician enters legal action (8)
9 Blows against hand, side that's injured (8)
14 Tip husband's vehicle over, being a pest (8)
15 Sacred religious ceremony (8)
17 Twin's affected by evergreen shrub (9)
20 Look to judge for false bank charge? (7)
22 Weapon stabiliser filled with plastic glue (7)
24 Second-class work cheers Columbian city (5)
25 On time for show-time (5)
27 Managed to secure an oared craft (5)

Solution to Crossword Sudoku by Anax