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Puzzle #199 December 2017  "Finale"

Instructions: Guess the words defined by the cryptic clues (answers vary in length from three to eight letters, and six are capitalized) then enter them in the grid one after another in the same order as their clues, starting in the upper left corner. Across words that don't end at the right continue on the next row, and down words that don't end at the bottom continue in the next column. Four across words and four down words won't fit in the grid unless one of their letters is omitted. Those eight letters, taken in order as they occur in across and down words, spell a word related to the X in the middle of the grid, the significance of which solvers must determine.  Thanks to Kevin Wald for test-solving and editing this puzzle. If you are having trouble printing these puzzles, you can download an Adobe Acrobat version of the puzzle and grid.

Across

  1. Cheer about British automaton
  2. Oil  producers cope badly
  3. U.S. camera breaking down around one
  4. Mother is without regular companion
  5. Debtor, single, and a loafer
  6. Fish is hot and gaudy
  7. Tired, worn, and lacking energy, in filth
  8. Strong river shelter
  9. Celebrate about a show
  10. Wrong letters in framework
  11. Model target has triangular shape
  12. Count Peter replaces father of guard
  13. Badly need a rabbi to get to be liked
  14. Cut small, Latin dessert
  15. Weight of unit in a body of water
  16. Silly farce captures nephew Anatole
  17. Swear to include old order
  18. Stuff in ceramics
  19. Harry treats right leavening material
  20. To signal, run road around island
  21. Table with wings? About time!
  22. A crane flying in secret
  23. Criminal type drops mark for large sea creature
  24. Stake rotates around volcano

Down

  1. Split money
  2. Morning in Paris endlessly coupling
  3. Alone, legislator is without number
  4. Supersede fabric with yarn
  5. Ultimate reality to a bull
  6. Sizable Old Testament for narrow-minded believer
  7. Agreement involving copyright for sticker
  8. Cabot wrongly traps base feline
  9. Pert or saucy narration
  10. Eye of lead beginning to emerge
  11. See about university jet
  12. A word in French turned up for jot
  13. Mean in mind
  14. Last electron underground
  15. Pater's cooked a meal
  16. Allen seen with a piece of glass
  17. Scarce inside for a reason
  18. Improperly rated her earring
  19. Went back and sowed again, so to speak
  20. Carter worked with fine angle
  21. A river's flowing reaches an end
  22. Bar a dance around Serbian mountain
  23. Added large mushroom
  24. Northbound chicken, e.g., is a layer