Apex 2016 solution

It was generally considered a hard puzzle with not a lot of feedback from the grid in some cases – that was one reason I put the word to be clued on the diagonal, so that even incomplete solutions might allow the solver to determine the word to be clued and enter.

The winning clue did so by what I think was the largest margin yet, and the winner is now set up for a hat-trick.

The additional letters spelled FRENCH BRANDY, a definition of ARMAGNAC, an anagram of ANAGRAM + C.

ACROSS

1              MORTICIANS; anag. – c in moans; + F => INFORMATICS

11           EURUS; rue (rev.) + US; somewhat n; cloudy = OVERCAST

12           ROAN; ro(M)an

13           SMATTERED; S mattered; of heavenly beings = ANGELICAL

14           OCTAVES; o + T in caves; + R => OVERCAST

15           MICRON; M1 + cron(y); + E => INCOMER

16           SPET; P in set

18           EPHAS; EP has; have some food = DIG IN

20           VARECH; rec. in hav(en) (rev.)

22           GHERAO; H in oar e.g. (rev.); IT = INFORMATICS

23           LONGE; N in loge; without much sense = NUMB

24           LUSH; (f)lush

26           DENMARK; den mark

28           SALTIRE; salt ire; + N => ENTRAILS

31           GALILEAN; L I in gale + an; + C => ANGELICAL

32           IAGO; I ago; wise woman = SAVANTE

33           KNELL; n in kell

34           SEA SERPENT; easer in spent; + H => PARENTHESES

DOWN

2              MUN; m un; + B => NUMB

3              FRATCHES; F ratches; generating heat = THERMAL

4              OUTROAR; outro a R

5              MAEVE; Am. (rev.) + eve(N); American University =YALE

6              AIRER; ire in Ar

7              HAMLET; elm (rev.) in hat; + R => THERMAL

8              CODA; cod s; new arrival = INCOMER

9              LESS; hidden; + A => SALSE

10           IN AT THE KILL; e in anag.

11           ESPIEGLERIE; espie(d) + RI in glee

17           PENANCES; n in pen aces; additional comments = PARENTHESES

19           AVESTA; vest in a a; + N=> SAVANTE

21           ROMAINE; ro(w) Maine

25           UNCAP; c in U nap; volcano = SALSE

26           GINI; G in I; + D => DIG IN

27           ELECT; (s)ele Ct.

29           TOGA; A got (rev.); guts = ENTRAILS

30           LEA; lea(d); + Y => YALE

Winning clues to ARMAGNAC

1st        Car man excited about Silver Spirit  (Ross Beresford)

2nd        Waving of American flag may convey such spirit and life (Don Manley)

3rd        Athletic grandma caught daughter out playing bingo (Chris Brougham)
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