Enigmatic Variations 1454 (Hints)
Ramjets by Eclogue
Hints and tips by The Numpties
+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +
We have been finding crosswords by the Eclogue team in a range of publications of thematic cryptics over the last ten years, the EV, Crossword, the Inquisitor series and the Magpie, and we know that the clues will challenge us but be fair and that there will be a smile when we spot the theme.
Preamble: An extra letter not entered in the grid is generated by wordplay in each clue; read in clue order, the extra letters give three names which will lead solvers to the definition of RAMJETS, the eight unclued entries. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.
Of course, we examine the title as we know it will be related to the theme and I admit that it told the Numpties nothing at first, but suggest you think of it as two separate parts – the first used in a way that the word is frequently whimsically used in cryptic crosswords.
The device of each clue producing an extra letter that is generated by the wordplay (note that word ‘generated’ – not necessarily ‘in’ the wordplay) is a very popular device with the thematic cryptic setters. Actually, it is one of the easiest ones available to produce a message, which might, of course, help us to spot the theme. Again, it didn’t help the Numpties as the theme leapt out at us very quickly without those names, but it’s a good idea to draw yourself a magic marker line and keep a careful eye on those letters.
10a Old itch to redevelop Warsop (5)
A gift to start us off. That ‘old’ tells us that the word is archaic or obsolete but we find the word in our Bradford, and have our first extra letter. (We notice, here and all the way through the puzzle, that Eclogue is generous with anagrams.)
13a Glasgow gangsters kill in new style (4)
The Scottish word often appears in crosswords. Here, to get your extra letter, you need to look in Chambers for the probable abbreviation for ‘new style’.
14a Watchmaker sits awkwardly on spot (6)
General knowledge required here but if you don’t have the names of well-known watchmakers to hand, the word has no unchecked lights and will ultimately appear anyway.
15a Rhode Island involved in current gibe from the Emerald Isle (5)
You can work backwards from your solution to find the letter that setters use for ‘current’ (Chambers again, of course). Then you need to work out which word for ‘gibe’ gives you the extra letter – think ‘horses’. Remember to watch the names that are appearing in those extra letters too.
18a Contemptible person against programming language (4)
A short word that also means ‘against’ here, and a fairly obscure word for a programming language – but you can again work backwards from your solution (though one of the Numpties really resents those little amphibians being a synonym for odious creatures – I rear them and they are delightful, friendly and intelligent little things).
20a Muddled trio in anti-aircraft vessel (5)
Some Eclogue trickery here. He’s trying to make you think of ships operating that AA. Remember, there are other types of vessel.
23a Antiseptic powder aged badly all the way inside (5)
We didn’t know this word but it is in Chambers and Bradford. Like us, you might need to work backwards to find the two-letter word that means ‘all the way’.
25a Scrap stone around urban rail system (5)
Two little words reversed here to give you the obvious answer, and produce the extra letter. The word for ‘scrap’ is a dialect word. It’s used in my area of the Yorkshire Dales.
27a Drizzling mist in the highlands returned right in the middle of trees (4)
Probably a new Scottish word for you but return those trees, with ‘right’ in the middle and you should be able to have a stab at the word and extra letter.
29a Most dissipating in energy and extremely fluffy (8)
An extremely unusual word here (it’s used in physics and radio engineering). Bear in mind that ‘extremely’ can also mean ‘the most’ – Eclogue has used two words that are not very different (just one extra letter!) to get the extra letter he needs.
36a Hindu god of wisdom adult has somehow seen in Georgia (6)
Be careful! We slotted in the familiar name – but there are two spellings. ‘Georgia’ is the clue to which of them you need.
1d Like Shylock you reported disparagement with promises to pay (8)
Such a generous long word will really help you with the grid-fill, especially if, like us, you often begin with the down clues (one of those useful tips we have learned – try starting at the bottom of the grid sometimes too – often those are the last ones the compiler enters and slightly less crafty – and crafted). The problem here will be finding the extra letter from a four-letter word for ‘disparagement’.
2d Shortcoming encountered in gypsy girl (6)
We don’t like names in crosswords but here Eclogue was clearly struggling to produce that extra letter.
5d Frozen girl leans obliquely (4)
If you didn’t see the Disney film, you might need to ask a child for help here. My little granddaughter imagined herself as one or other of the two royal children and sang the songs rather tunelessly for weeks after we went with her to see Frozen II. Actually, it isn’t as awful as you might imagine.
8d Wordplay in their unholy number, such as 666 (7)
New to me but the other Numpty explained that this is any number with repeated digits – like 999, say. The ‘wordplay’ here is a very short word (“You can tune a guitar but you can’t tuna fish” is an example).
11d Played in lively fashion well beyond northern creek and mountain pass (7)
You are told, here that the word for ‘well’ goes ‘beyond’ or after the other components of the solution. One of those (the northern creek) is another word frequently seen in crosswords but rarely elsewhere – except in remote parts of Scotland where it is a gully or creek.
19d Optical problem, for instance, to lament in data transmission (8)
We were surprised by this word (a hyphenated one in Chambers but it is a convention in the barred thematics that those are enumerated as though they are a single word). Use the obvious letters for data transmission.
22d Introducing synthetic polymer over one afternoon (8)
Our vocabulary didn’t include this word but, by now, we had asked Wiki for the three thematic names and knew which letter of the anagrammed words we had to extract (remember abbreviations for ‘one afternoon’ can be combined with the longer anagrammed word in a thematic cryptic) – and the word to fill the light appeared.
28d Sandy’s vacated spot that’s out of the way (6)
‘Sandy’, like ‘Ian’, ‘Morag’ and ‘Mac’ etc. is, of course, a Scottish indicator but you probably won’t need to check in Chambers that the three-letter word you will be using here to add to the ‘spot’ means ‘vacated’ (it’s most of the way down the third full column devoted to the word in the Big Red Book!) The Scottish word for ‘burns’ (31d) and the Orkney shed (33d) are both there too but the clues hint generously at them.
34d Classes not on? Not so much (4)
This was another clue where the solution was obvious but thought was needed for the wordplay. We needed to remove ‘on’ from a word for classes to give us ‘not so much’ and, of course the extra letter.
35d Fish course after starter of offal (4)
Oh dear those interminable fish that swim into crosswords! Mrs Bradford has more than 16 columns of the horrid little monsters so don’t be embarrassed if this didn’t splash out at you.
You are most unlikely to be reading these hints still, as, if you have been looking at the silvered unclued words, like us, you will have seen what they have in common and filled in the rest long ago, to render your solve far easier – a real example of how a barred cryptic has that extra delight as you solve.
We hope you will agree that this crossword was fun to solve with a fine penny-drop moment. Do please send in your entry and add your comments here and to the setters’ blogs that are appearing on Big Dave’s site on Thursday’s and to the detailed Blogs that also appear on Thursdays on fifteen squared.
As this is a Prize crossword, please don’t put any ANSWERS, whether WHOLE, PARTIAL or INCORRECT, or any ALTERNATIVE CLUES in your comment.
Please read these instructions carefully – they are not subject to debate or discussion. Offending comments may be redacted or, in extreme cases, deleted. In all cases the administrator’s decision is final.