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Seven by Mrs Richards
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Although I normally stick to one puzzle per setter, it was obvious that an exception should be made here! This is a superb thematic, similar in both style and quality to the thematic puzzles which appear in the Guardian. Those who enjoy Araucaria's puzzles will love this its clues show flair and imagination and Mrs Richards has made extraordinarily good use of cross-references between clues. I'd choose 2 down and 17 down as favourites, although it's difficult to single out individual clues when they're all outstanding.


1/20 Speccy bloke snatches gold at end of day just how 7's task is prefaced (3,4,4,4)
How to get bus from Sir Matt's when you visit unexpectedly (4,2)
8 7's precious adversary sees Spice Girl straddling old fogey's head (10)
9 He's in fashion with ponytail (4)
10 7's learned adversary currently driving back? (2,2)
11 By which one got higher (Is "plate" the answer?) (8)
13 How things stand when one has McCourt's bestseller (2,2,2)
15 Flashgun lit up choir's lukewarm rendition thus? (4-4)
16 They're packed forever in 7's title (8)
19 Designs record players? Not  us! (6)
20 See 1a
21 See 1d
23 'Metal' by Zeppelin initially requiring only the white notes? (4)
24 With which you can make 'E' really help friend's predicament (5,5)
25 Blair accepts h-heat in slimy matter (6)
26 Anticipating 7's ball with a clap (7)
Welsh favouritism, or conversely what's on 7's gift tag? (4,6,4,4)
2 Receiver ends 1d 22 21a  clutching princess (5)
3 Half-minute retained by what precedes 7's '7'? To America, it's threatening (7)
4 It's fine for Tories to find love with husband (5-2)
5 Zoologist to fight over posh car with learner (7)
6 7's army adversary has month at work, getting soapy without granny... (9)
7 ...her type of security speaks of 25-ing's hero (4)
12 Butter in rennet? I've churn to give to King (10)
14 Stupidly ate much - my child's complaint? (9)
17 Remedy when the strings have snapped on guitar? (7)
18 Cram garment possibly, on leaving Valerie (7)
19 Clue for 'U' gets solver's authorisation (4,3)
21 Harold silently filmed Dolly's bust (5)
22 See 1d

Solution to Seven by Mrs Richards