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Players' Choice by Radler
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Make sure you haven't made any other plans when you sit down to start this thematic puzzle from Radler - it is absolutely engrossing and brain-twistingly difficult! Here we have a puzzle which is every bit the equal of those that appear in the Guardian Genius series. Among these superb clues, 9 across and 8 down were my favourites.

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Eight of the solutions together can determine the players' choice. Their clues lack a definition.


ACROSS
1
Lemon drops initially swallowed (6)
5 9's predecessors habitually somewhat impressionable (4-4)
9 Challenge conclusion resulting from spread of flu panic (3,5)
10 Pronounced authority having a lot of knowledge (6)
11 Ruining composure with ale, becoming less elegant (10
)
12
Spot one of theme? (4)
13 Brought about drunken revelry, reckoning on a shambolic scene (8)
16 Keep an eye on gold (6)
17 Prejudice has been around for a thousand years (6)
19 Ray, one who fights for wrong end is fought against (8)
21 10 symbolically being somewhat on a cliffhanger (4)
22 Take into account accident reported in operation by joker at hospital (6,4)
25 One exposing 12's expression in email perhaps (6)
26 Hit target on rebound after boob (5,3)
27 Being coincidental having one sister and one child (2,6)
28 Lose consciousness without any lift (3,3)

DOWN
2
Lay to rest after a lot of running around (5)
3 F-Ford's first and last author (5)
4 Argument against strike (3,4)
5 Bond one invested in (7)
6 Small animal has obligation to take refuge when retreating (7)
7 Wobbling, being unbalanced, slip in Gateshead (9)
8 Free of sole too? (9)
14 With force doubled, might one remain on top? (6,3)
15 Hear hear! Halt disorderly running contest (9)
18 Victims taking small railway vehicle from the South (7)
19 Screwed without having climax. Charming! (4,3)
20 Somebody's underpants? (4,3)
23 A lewd interpretation of “bush
(5)
24 In the event that's partially covered by leading article (5)





Solution to Players' Choice by Radler