Passacaglia with Variations – solution

I remain very pleased with this grid, even after nearly three decades.  There’s a lot going on, with nine fairly specific (five unavoidable) themewords, interacting with 12 with latent letters, which have a degree of positional limitation.  There are quite a few shortish entries, and some ‘old friends’ (HA-HA, ETHE, INGE…), but somehow it all hangs together.

The ground bass was DSCH-DSCH-DSCH.  DSCH was the musical monogram of Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (22a), but the letters also form the initials of the suits in a pack of cards (Themewords B).  TREY, KING, JACK and ACE are all cards (Variations C).

ACROSS

1              STICKER; s ticker

12           PRELIM; miler p (all rev.)

13           AIA; a(r)ia

14           AARON; a + Nora (rev.)

15           INCEPTS; anag.

18           HA-HA; Ha(t)ha(way)

19           ETHE; cf. thee

20           DIAN; I in dan

25           BALL; b all

27           AMEN; a men

28           INGE; (s)inge(r)

30           ALIT; al(l) it

33           GUARANA; guaran(tor) a

36           RAZOR; (c)zar (rev.) +_ or

37           ORD; or d

38           CACHET; ache in c,t

39           SATES; a for I in sites

40           SEEKERS; ker(nel) in sees

DOWN

2              (S)TRAIT; St. RA it

3              CLOT(H); Cloth(o)

5              (S)EMI; Semi(tes)

6              RANSA(C)KER; ran sacker

7              C(H)ICANO; chican(e) 0

8              LA(D)E; lad E

9              UN(S)PARING; anag. + (h)aring

10           BATHE; b a the

11           SAS(H)AY; SA’s hay

16           S(C)HOLIAST; sch(m)o + I in last

23           TABAR(D)S; bar in tads

25           BA(D)GES; bad (a)ges

26           ALULA; palindrom

29           GRO(C)ER; re corg(i) (all rev.)

31           BRAE; bra(C)e

34           ROE; 0 in re

 

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