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ACROSS

 1 Daunting challenge for an aspiring lawyer—or an alcoholic? (7,3,3)

 9 Speak of zero value (5)

10 Madcap LA notions that can add spice to things (5,4)

11 Chief of Houston transportation company—one that’s susceptible to recession? (8)

12 Server to cut around tart’s filling (6)

14 Souvenir, like a gift from Barbie perhaps? (5)

16 Population of idiots to show contempt for Western capital, suppressing a hint of intelligence (9)

17 “Father Time” comes after such a serial (4,5)

19 Uncredited actor appears in complex tragedy (5)

22 King, for example, and god chasing gold (6)

23 Largely guarantee assessment of diamonds in a card game (8)

26 Wise guy’s awkward wait amid rise (4-2-3)

27 Drug would be 3 if I were Tim (5)

28 Skip backward, and no plump chickens play (5,2,6)

DOWN

 1 Sibyl returns on the radio (7)

 2 Cake sis baked will make you nauseous (7)

 3 What we aim for when you cut? (5)

 4 McDonald’s’ most basic need: street-level buzzer, loud (6,4)

 5 Successor heard a song (4)

 6 Suppression aplenty in Indian city (9)

 7 Expanses with pines once again? (7)

 8 Fix broken plates (6)

13 Type of book chain is in for retrospective (5,1,4)

15 In Borneo, “log” is Malaysian term of recent vintage (9)

17 Cross Kentucky with one of our gang? (6)

18 In fact, Southerner misbehaves (4,3)

20 Bug in pursuit of chewed-up tree, for the most part! (7)

21 Goddess is tamer, unfortunately (7)

24 Start to curtail brute’s influence (5)

25 Suffering in European country with loss of leadership (4)

SOLUTION TO PUZZLE NO. 3276

1 2 defs. 6 PUC (rev.) + E 8 D + REAM 9 anag. 11 REP + RESENT 12 hidden 13 T(A PRO)OM 16 OXH(E)ART (thorax anag.) 18 “in” 19 NAN + KEEN 20 SURGE ON 21 2 defs. 23 C(HI + NASH)OP 26 GREEN(C)ARD (garnered anag., &lit.) 27 TARS + I 28 [k]ENYA 29 SAC(RAMEN)T (cats anag.)

DOWN 1 UNDER + STANDING 2 I + CEUP (puce anag.) 3 NUMB + ERON + E (Nero anag.) 4 hidden 5 anag. 6 P + ROVE 7 CAST(I)GATE 10 anag. 14 hidden 15 anag. 17 HER(BALTE)A (table anag.) 22 anag. 24 INDIC[t] 25 “whored”