EV 1453 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

EV 1453

Enigmatic Variations 1453

Four-letter Words by Piccadilly

Setter’s Blog


Overlapping eight-letter words are formed from four-letter words around the perimeter.

[Editor’s note: Piccadilly does not use the internet (or even computers, with his grids drawn by hand and clues typewritten) and he is the EV’s only current compiler to correspond by post. I usually print off the Fifteensquared blog and comments to send to him for feedback on his puzzles. I will do the same with any comments left on this post]

With help from my parents I started solving easy cryptic crosswords in my teens. Several years later I was able to attempt (with limited) success Mephisto, Azed and Listener puzzles. Eventually I tried my hand at setting and after nine rejections, PRIMES was accepted for publication in the Listener. Other puzzles for the Listener and the Independent magazine followed.

I briefly met J. W. Leonard, the originator of the EV series, at a Listener setters’ dinner and my first EV puzzle was CHAINS, EV135 in 1995.

Having had the initial idea for FOUR-LETTER WORDS, the first step obviously was to make the peripheral chain of words, I started with THUNDERSTORM, OPERATIONAL and CASTLE HOWARD and eventually filled the rest of the grid. Then I checked that (assuming all clues had been solved) the majority of answers could be filled in and the ambiguities resolved. Finally the clues, which I hope were neither blindingly obvious nor too obscure.

A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.


8 comments on “EV 1453

  1. Thanks, Piccadilly! I had a lot of fun with this one, and I enjoyed reading about your process.
    My favorite clues were the straightforward, but funny 2D and 23D.

  2. I’m a newcomer to the EV crosswords. This one took me some time to complete and new words were learned. I did enjoy seeing the 4 letter words beginning to emerge and correctly anticipated some of the letters which helped with the solving process. A very satisfying feeling when I had finished! For the first time ever, I submitted my grid to the prize draw. Thank you Piccadilly for providing hours of entertainment. I found it interesting to read your comments above. Solving EVs could very easily become a regular pastime for me, especially during the winter months.

  3. Another solver who is new to solving EVs and in serious danger of becoming addicted to them.
    A real pleasure to slowly unravel all the complexities, especially with the added complication of not knowing, when solving the clue, what letters have to be moved to the perimeter.
    Thanks Piccadilly.

  4. I loved this crossword. Sorry for such a late comment: I finished the puzzle by the deadline, but have been busy since this setter’s blog was published.

    With the benefit of having experienced the previous 2 EVs, I managed to solve more answers myself before looking at The Numpties’ hints (thanks). It was such as satisfying feeling as the crossing letters began to anchor the entries, and the four-letter words started to appear round the border.

    And I’m now 3 out of 3 for coming to a halt about 3/4 of the way through, having seemingly exhausted all hints and electronic searches, thinking “Well, I’ve got quite far; maybe finishing this is going to me beyond me,” then somehow finding just one more answer, then another after that, and being surprised to find that actually I have a full grid.

    I think my favourite clue was 24d, “Prince followed by many lackeys”.

    I appreciate why these kinds of puzzles have to use obscure words as answers in order for the grid to work. But with those and the added challenge of working out which letters to move to the edges, it seemed unnecessary (especially in a month of easier puzzles) to also have the better-known words use obscure definitions. I still don’t know what a kitty has to do with a jack, for instance (and the Fifteen Squared review doesn’t explain either).

    I got lucky with the trees because a recent Puzzled Pint featured 2 lists of clues where, it turned out, each answer in the second list sounded like one of the answers from the first list with an “oh” sound added — and by a process of elimination we eventually deduced that the barbecue wood went with the bloodsucking insect.

    Thank you so much to Piccadilly. This is so clever, and I can’t imagine how you manage to devise something like this.

    And if anybody sees Mr K, please remind him he was “saving his comment for the full review” — I’d be interested to read what he thought.

      1. Thanks. And sorry — my error there, failing to spot what was in front of me.

        (Admittedly with The OED rather than Chambers, but, as usual, it does have it; I’d been too quick to skip over the “A prison, jail, or lock-up; a house of correction” meaning, which then goes on to mention the bowls one.)

      1. Ah, thanks. I somehow translated “full review” into “the blog post after the entry deadline” without actually thinking which blog post that would be.

Comments are closed.