EV 1452 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1452 (Hints)

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!

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22 comments on “EV 1452 (Hints)
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  1. Knowing how long it takes to produce a review / hints, a big thank you to the Numpties for the comments on the crossword. I probably spent more time looking at the clashing letters wondering if I was losing my marbles (too late, some may say) than solving the clues until the penny dropped.

  2. Lot of trouble with this one – The nature of bridges is such that I can’t rely on checkers. I amhaving to solve each clue as a standalone exercise and I am not quite at that level yet.
    I will persevere but still too many blanks to get started on the theme yet and I fear I won’t be getting over the line this time
    Thanks to X-Type and the Numpties

  3. With a lot of help from BRB and MRS B we eventually got a completed grid and are sure we have identified the 8 squares where ‘Bridging’ occurs. However even over-night cogitation has not yet enabled us to get from that point to the penny- drop moment.
    And this is an easy EV? Blimey!

      1. And personally I think it’s that ‘Whee!’ feeling is Exactly what makes thematic puzzles so addictive to solve!! Great to hear how you got on.

    1. 2 Kiwis, stick with it as you have a lovely penny-drop-moment to come. Our trick when at this stage of a puzzle is to write out the two sets of letters produced by the clashes, one row above the other, and read them in various groups ‘the entry making the bridges (quote from the preamble) will appear. Consider that the setter is likely to have been obliged to introduce ‘an unusual letter’ so that any rather odd use of a letter is probably one you need. Usual letters for setters and solvers are ETAOIN SHRDLU – the most frequently used letters in the English language.

      1. Thank you Numpties. We had written out the letters pretty much as you suggested and eventually it worked.
        With regard to the reference books you mention. We have commented on here previously that the BRB and Mrs B are two books that have no place on our bookshelves. This is because they are always beside us and never get put away.

  4. I guess there is no shame in using the BRB to complete EV puzzles, in which case my solve could be described as shameless. It took a while, but I did at least fill the grid and complete the endgame without looking at the hints above. I was feeling pleased with that accomplishment until Kitty told me she had it all done and dusted in what some here call a “Toughie gallop”. Evidently blogging these things regularly (see e.g. https://www.fifteensquared.net/2020/08/29/enigmatic-variations-no-1448-cits-lpte-by-oxymoron/) has made her an Enigmatic Virtuoso. Thanks to setter and hinters.

    1. Keep going John Bee. The preambles in EVs can be daunting but if you enter the solutions you are getting, you will find that there isn’t really as much need for ‘standalone’ or cold-solving as you initially thought.

  5. No shame at all, Mr K. I certainly couldn’t have solved this without the BRB – we use it for all our solving – of Toughies and Listener crosswords too. It even travels with us on the laptop, iPhone and often on a passenger seat in the car too (as does Mrs Bradford!).

  6. I spent most of yesterday evening looking at this and, in the end, have completed the grid to my satisfaction. I think I have got my answers correct but so far am unable to find the significant link to the title. I shall keep on looking until either I solve the mystery or the answer is available on this blog. I don’t give up easily! Last week I mentioned I was going to buy a new Chambers Dictionary. I did and it has proved invaluable when solving the clues here. Thanks to all involved.

      1. X-Type here….I’m pleased that you felt that your time had been well spent, once you got the link with the puzzle’s Title. That’s the fun of Thematic puzzles: solving the clues is all very well – and for those who enjoy “plain” cryptics, that’s fine – but getting that extra connection to what is in the Setter’s mind is highly satisfying. I like setting the Back Page ones; but they are very simple to set: it’s the Thematics that I really enjoy setting: because every single one is different, in a completely different way.

        1. Kind of you to take the time to acknowledge my comments. I suspect I’m being drawn in to a new pastime (or potentially an addiction) and shall be interested to see how I get on with solving post September puzzles. That’s where this blog will come in handy for the hints. I admire your skill, and that of others, in compiling crosswords: they bring so much pleasure to lots of people and help to keep the grey matter functioning.

  7. I completed this, after spending more time on it than I should have! Had trouble in the SW corner, didn’t know the dog, but knew the answer was right soon as I saw it on Mr G as there are 2 very large examples of the sprites not far from here!! Some of the bridges hid at first as I didn’t read the clues carefully enough… but once I realised where they were going to be that was sorted, and I spotted the answer fairly quickly. Struggled with the long one at the bottom, as not familiar with it, and my anagram solver failed on it!

  8. Phew. I think that was just as tough as some previous “normal” EVs. Sure, many of the clues were very kind but a few took a good while to click. I struggled with 25a/21d, wanting to put the wrong woman in and I’m still not sure I grasp 22d completely. But the significant link just leapt out once the clashes were written out. Good fun – thanks to X-Type and The Numpties.

  9. This is my second EV, having long been a back page fan I was tempted in by the promise of a more gentle puzzle – the preamble had always put me off, making it sound like something only Alan Turing could solve.
    I don’t have a BRB but with the help of this blog and the internet I’ve filled in about half this week and a bit more last week, but not enough to get anywhere close to the penny dropping. There’s a lot of head scratching punctuated by moments of enjoyment and enlightenment, I just need to work on getting the ratio round the other way.
    I’ll persevere though. Once they’re published, I shall go through the solutions thoroughly to (hopefully) understand what and why.

  10. Yay, I’ve managed to finish this! What do you mean this is last week’s puzzle and you’re all already on to the next one?

    Thank you so much to The Numpties and X-Type (if any of you are still reading). I managed a sprinkling of answers before looking at the hints — way more than last week. A few that I didn’t get straight away caught me out by being straightforward than I was anticipating: that they didn’t have hints provided the nudge that I was overthinking them!

    Fortunately I got a couple of clashing letters early on, and guessed where the others would be. (Thanks again to The Numpties for suggesting that would be possible, however sceptical I was when I read that.) That helped with getting more answers, because for several words the choice of alternative letters was so limited.

    Again, I thought I was going to come to a halt with a few answers to go, but working out the final link provided a few more letters, and then suddenly I had a full grid. Counter-intuitively, the clashing letter aspect actually provided some help that wouldn’t be in a traditional crossword. I’m still apprehensive about attempting a non-easy one of these though …

    25a was my favourite, making me laugh when I eventually got it.

    1. Smylers, that is great news and we really appreciate your input as it is useful guidance about how and what to hint.
      Indeed, the clues where we prompted nothing at all were ones where we felt that solvers of the plain cryptics would be on familiar ground – and we’ll continue to work that way so no need to over-think. There have to be (and always are) some easy clues to give solvers a way in.
      I’m rather anxious that we are giving the impression that these four September puzzles are a lot easier than the usual EV puzzles and that solvers fear a massive rise in difficulty in October. We Numpties are ordinary solvers (we don’t know what is to come) but we have found last Sunday’s and today’s EVs to be fairly typical – if ‘at the easier end’ of the EV scale. Good luck today – it’s fun.

  11. Literally solved this at the eleventh hour! Hopefully solved anyway.
    My second ever EV and I echo 2Kiwis “And this is an easy EV? Blimey!”
    Spent too much time thinking about the link too early on.
    The fact I had what I think is a valid alternative for an early answer which yielded an incorrect important cell option misled me. Enjoyed it, though it required weighty dictionary use for some obscure words that internet dictionaries failed to yield (Chambers with a magnifying glass – old school!).

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