EV 1458 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1458 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1458 (Hints)

Cover Story by Gaston

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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If you are a relative newcomer to the Enigmatic Variations Series, Gaston will probably be a new setter name for you as he doesn’t set for any of the other thematic cryptic outlets but this is his eighteenth crossword for the EV. In view of the devices he uses, Gaston’s crosswords are among the more difficult EV ones but well worth the effort because of the fine p.d.m. moments.

Preamble: Clues are given in normal order, but there are five unclued thematic entries, one of which must have seven of its letters blacked out in the completed grid; the other four are all of a kind. Solvers must highlight 19 suitably placed cells in the completed grid, thus completing the COVER STORY. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

Remember the advice – think about the title! We are looking for a cover story. On first sight, this puzzle was daunting as we had no entry numbers and no word counts for the clues; in addition we knew some of the entries (five) were unclued. It was clearly important to solve some of them to see where we could begin our gridfill and a careful examination of the first five clues (not very difficult ones) allowed us to start. The fact that one of the unclued lights had to have seven of its cells blacked out prompted us to look at the longer ‘lights’ and we suspected that that thematic entry would be one of the 13-letter solutions.

Released following performance of Albion
We weren’t sure what ‘following’ was doing here but we saw an anagram indicator and it was all that we needed to start our grid.    

Expressing derision, lout describes bishop
‘Bishop’ is another of those abbreviations familiar to EV solvers and the word ‘describes’ tells us that we can put our ‘lout’ around that ‘bishop’.

With those two solutions in place, our gridfill was underway and we had a fair idea of the word-length of the next couple of solutions.

Writer’s audible pulse
Editors would normally ask a setter to rewrite a clue where (in this case) either the ‘pulse’ or the ‘writer’ is a “heard” homonym of the other word but you can see how many cells your solution will probably fill here, so know which to use.

A French scar is an old affliction
This was the first relatively unfamiliar word we encountered but the ‘a French’ prompted us what the initial pair of letters might be.

Obstructs, cutting off fifty warships once
You know the Latin letter for 50 and are going to cut it out of a word for ‘obstructs’ to get another unusual word that was once a name for warships.

Go from cloakroom ignoring the Parisian
See the comment above on ‘a French’. Here we have ‘the French’. You need to think of a ‘cloakroom’ (that’s rather a euphemistic name for the item) and when you have pushed the French out of it, you might need to look for the remaining word in Chambers to see whether it can fit the definition ‘go’.

Less constrained when accepting therapy, another drink in LA
The central part of this solution was the bit that held us up, but we back-solved from the US word for ‘another drink’ to sort out what we needed. It’s in capital letters as a registered official name for the therapy in Chambers.

A rescuer of animals saving the last buffalo
We commented last week about the article ‘a’. The setter would have omitted it had it not been necessary in his solution and that ‘saving’, sadly bodes ill for the last of the buffalos, as it can also mean ‘except’. You will have little trouble thinking of a Biblical rescuer of animals. The buffalo name might not be so familiar.

Ludwig’s agreement to fill European coffee cup
This clue had us totally mystified as the word is, we thought, totally obscure, but Chambers gives us two spellings for it and we are told, in the clue, which of them to use (Ludwig’s word for ‘Yes’) and that has to fill a word that says ‘European’.

Dad represents a negative vote for friend
A clue made up of four small parts (that ‘a’ again as one of them) to give a foreign word for the ‘friend’.

Kick nothing! Pass!
When you have put together the word for ‘kick’ and ‘nothing’, you will need to look up the solution to understand how it means ‘Pass!’ (at least – we did.}

Elizabethan removes the covering of special spurs
‘Of’ in a clue usually introduces the wordplay so we knew that we were looking for what would probably be a Shakespearean word for ‘removes the covering’.

No animal returns to protect an ancient statue
This was the very last solution we entered as we hadn’t met this word for a primitive statue. Remember the comment we made above about setters using ‘a’. The same can apply to ‘an’.

By now, you will have a good idea where some of those unclued thematic words are going to be but it was in solving the down clues that we really had the p.d.m. moment.

Lazy individual. Al’s girl joins American college.
The solution to this really helped us spot what was going on in the crossword. Think of ‘Al’ as a ‘gangster’.

Leaderless area of London in rearward direction
You will probably work backwards from your solution to find which London area can lose its first letter.

They snatch new priests including rector
P is the usual abbreviation for ‘priest’ but we needed a more exotic word for them here (that had to use ‘new’ and ‘rector’ to get the ones who snatch).

According to Trump, part of the world where fish is stored in part of boat
The solution is a slightly unusual use of the word that is produced by the clue but Chambers confirms it. The Trump reference is indicating an American usage.

Declare Spenserian torturer lacks depth
A difficult clue because you need to be aware of a Spenserian way of saying ‘declare’. Remember that the ‘thou’ form of verbs still existed in Ed’s day.

In Ayr rush to beat out
We are encouraged to use ‘double definition’ clues – an identical pair or group of words (like pink in Chambers) that has two or more different meanings under different ‘headwords’ (those printed in bold in Chambers). This solution is an intriguing example since Chambers leads us to a second headword but both the Scottish word for ‘rush’ and the word for ‘beat out’ can be spelled in the same two ways and you might be wondering which to enter. The endgame will help you.

Traveller and relatives’ loving relationships in the past
You need to add a familiar little crossword word for a traveller to a name for some of your relatives to produce an old word for those relationships – it’s an archaic word that came across with the Normans.

Earthenware pot displaying names of old Labour politician transposed
We smiled at this reference to a politician of the sixties – he was the Labour party leader for a while. When we shifted his two names round Chamber had a surprise for us (and we had a p.d.m.)

Stereotypical historical figure imprisoning daughter in very hot cubicle
We smiled again when we had put the daughter (the usual abbreviation) into a word for very hot. The ‘cubicle’ was another euphemism for the same item we met above (and this clue, together with the one above, was all we needed to understand what was going on in the crossword).

Ignores polluted sea hollies
A generous clue (‘polluted’ tells you what to do) and this solution will help you complete the ‘Cover Story’.

Batty perhaps, to climb after a biblical figure
That ‘a’ again tells you how to begin this word and a well-known ‘Batty’ has to do the climbing.

The ‘cover story’ had emerged for us and it was clear which cells to colour black but we needed Google to help us fill the longer of the remaining unclued lights – we remembered the others, as you, no doubt will.

Don’t forget to highlight 19 ‘suitably placed cells’ and 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 fifteensquared.


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9 comments on “EV 1458 (Hints)
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  1. After hours of painstaking toil I have got a filled grid and by using checking letters a pretty good guess at four of the unclued answers. How to get from there to the endgame is still a total mystery. Further head-scratching and Googling obviously required.

    1. Writing that comment seems to have done the trick. The penny has now dropped far enough that Mr Google should be able to do the rest.

      1. Mr Google did indeed come to my assistance and all safely completed and dispatched.
        Thanks Gaston and The Numpties for the hints which I again used extensively.

  2. To begin with I found the lack of numbered entries off putting until I had solved the third clue, which got me started. I decided to try and solve as many as possible without checkers and then see whether I could place the answers. Solving the down clues obviously helped the process. I had answers to 3 of the 5 unclued entries at the end and had identified the 19 suitably placed cells. Using the Internet then gave me the “full Monty”. As usual, I really enjoyed the puzzle and got so much pleasure from completing it, having had moments of thinking I can’t do this! So, many thanks to Gaston and to the Numpties whose hints proved to be so helpful as usual.

  3. Wow, Gaston how did you do it!
    This was a complete contrast to last week’s where I twigged the theme early. Again I have a copy of the theme but this time I stared at the nearly complete grid for ages until the bottom row, combined with the puzzle title, started the penny drop process. Then the top row was obvious and all that was needed was a correction to the vertical thematic entry and to find the 19 cells, which are where one would expect them to be.
    Many thanks to the Numpties for the hints and to Gaston for a most enjoyable puzzle.

  4. Seeing the last line in black and white was a turning point. The lack of numbers gave a great extra twist to make a tough puzzle even more fun.

  5. Phew! Just made it in time.

    I opened this page to write that I had everything except the thematic entry that isn’t of a kind and which squares to black out … but fortunately I suddenly got it, after a half-lucky guess. (I guessed a wrong word (that wasn’t the lucky bit), but by chance it was one of the same length as the correct one. That meant searching for which words could fit in the rest of it did come up with a list including the desired one.)

    Thank you, Numpties, for the hints. I’ll write more on Thursday. Right now I need to go to bed, then get up early enough to ink in the answers before the deadline …

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