Enigmatic Variations 1452 (Hints)
Bridges by X-Type
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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This is the second of the series of gentle puzzles with hints and tips to help newer solvers.
Previous crosswords in the series by X-Type have been noted for his classic style of cluing. With a different pseudonym, he is a Listener and EV setter of long standing (over thirty years!) who can be relied on to produce relatively gentle puzzles.
Preamble: Some answers form BRIDGES at a point where two entries cross with clashing letters; the entry making the bridge goes over (and therefore hides) the crossing letter of the other entry. Solvers must deduce which letter forms the bridge, as both options lead to real words. For example – if FILL crosses with CLANG at the vowel, then the options are either FILL and CLING or FALL and CLANG. In the final grid, a significant link to the title (eight cells) must be highlighted.
The aspect of this thematic crossword that will be unfamiliar to a newer solver is the use of clashes. As X-Type explains with his example, solvers are going to find that one letter in a down entry doesn’t fit with those already in their grid for an across entry, (or the opposite if they solved the down entry first). ‘Something’ to do with BRIDGES is going to tell us which one to enter in our final grid. Obviously hint number one is to use a pencil! There will be a stage in your solve when you will see a pattern emerging in those misprints and you may well be able to predict where the others will appear.
The Enigmatic Variations requires of setters that they use the title of the crossword in their preamble. This obliges them to use a thematic title and to focus on the theme in the preamble. We were initially puzzled by the first four lines about BRIDGES, but we assumed that the resolution of our clashes was going to give us that ‘significant link to the title’ (and it did!) Don’t be put off by the frequently mystifying preambles in the thematic barred cryptics. All becomes clear in the end and you will have a delightful penny-drop-moment (p.d.m.)
1a Club member (old) certain to create disturbance (12)
We had the good fortune to solve this clue at once and, like the obvious anagram in its opposite number (38a) it gave us a great start to our grid-fill. Break the clue up into its parts (there’s a club, we are so used to the abbreviations for ‘member’ and ‘old’) and fit them into a 12-letter word.
9a Pretended oddly ignored earl’s wind (6)
X-Type has a number of solutions that only rarely appear in a standard blocked cryptic puzzle. I cannot recommend strongly enough purchasing Anne R Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary. When you have ‘oddly ignored’ a couple of letters of ‘earl’ you know you need a six-letter word for ‘pretended’ or ‘wind’ – she has the list you need. She gives you the obscure words you require for ‘gullies’ in 35a, ‘tongue’ in 2d, the ‘Aussie dog’ in 17a, the ‘retreat’ in 22d and ‘fair gamble’ in 30d. That last one is obviously a ‘double definition’ clue (where the two definitions appear under separate headwords in Chambers). We had three of the four letters and guessed at the fourth but were surprised to find two meanings of the word that were new to us when we hunted in Chambers.
In the hints below, we have mostly commented on those unusual words, as they are what will probably give newer solvers the most problems in this crossword.
11a Drink with queen and American, as above (5)
‘Old chestnut’ here for ‘drink’ and ‘the queen’ and the abbreviation are undoubtedly familiar to solvers but they combine into perhaps a less familiar word of Latin origin.
16a Caught two short fellows … (6)
Our second ‘short fellow’ was obvious and clearly had to complete the word we needed but we didn’t know that the first part of this word was actually a short form of a name and again, we needed Mrs Bradford to confirm that we had a relatively obscure word for catch/caught.
18a … thump Glaswegian in development (5)
Yet another obscure word! One of us is a Scot but didn’t know this word – however, X-Type clearly expected this and spells it out for us.
20a European: sadder, troubled, finding corpses (7)
We were mildly troubled as we have never used this word but ‘troubled’ was the hint we needed (like ‘corrupted’ in 8d and ‘could be made into’ in 38a). Here we see an important deviation from what would be allowed in normal Telegraph cryptics: using an abbreviation as part of anagram fodder, i.e. E for European, then anagramming E,SADDER.
22a That man close to Manhattan, New York, cock (5)
This was another new word for us but we compiled a word from the five letters the clue prompted us with, and Chambers confirmed the surprising word that appeared.
35a US soldiers going over Orkney primarily to find these gullies (4)
Solvers often complain about Scottish words but this clue uses another ‘old chestnut’ for the American soldiers and spells out the solution as well as indicating the ‘Scottishness’ of the word.
37a The French Arabian territory returned grand piano (6)
Focus on the word ‘returned’. Turning round two parts of the clue will give you the word you need – yet another that we didn’t know in this context.
3d Pluto quit: threw away prepared wool, say (6)
We thought this was a difficult clue; you have to think of another name for Pluto and that has to ’quit’ a word for ‘threw away’ to give the solution.
6d Worker contracted by another (below second-rate, that is) (6)
A new word for us but Chambers confirms it and we find the charade of ‘below’, ‘second-rate’ and ‘that is’.
15d Quickly circling (one might say) small woodland? (6)
There is a touch of humour here. Focus on the second part of this double definition clue, then when you see how X-Type has ‘created’ the first part, you will smile – ‘one might say’ it indeed, but we never did!
22d It’s a toss-up as to whether you’ll see this (5)
Earns another smile.
33d Local put forward an argument in case pressure may be applied to left journalist (4)
This is yet another where X-Type has spelled out the solution in order to give solvers the ‘local’ or dialect word that he has used. We work out the word and have the pleasure of finding that it fits the definition Chambers gives.
A number of clashes will have appeared and this is where you have that extra pleasure a thematic barred crossword gives – the endgame. Selecting one letter from each of those clashes will provide that ‘significant link’. Please send your entry in and don’t forget to highlight those eight cells – it is all too easy to forget that!
As this is a Prize crossword, please don’t put any ANSWERS, whether WHOLE, PARTIAL or INCORRECT, or any ALTERNATIVE CLUES in your comment.
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