Enigmatic Variations 1460 (Hints)
A Human Connection by Ranunculus
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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Regular EV solvers will have met Ranunculus already. This is his ninth EV crossword and he has set as many for the Inquisitor series but with a different pseudonym, and others for the Listener and Magpie with other pseudonyms yet again. NTSPP solvers will know him as Phibs.
Preamble: The definitions in nine across and nine down clues contain a misprinted letter which must be corrected before solving; in clue order the incorrect letters provide two people who contributed to works with A HUMAN CONNECTION. In eight instances, the last letter of an entry matches the last letter of its clue; one checked letter of each such entry must be thematically modified – this may produce a non-word, but all other entries in the final grid are real words; newly-introduced letters could spell MIND BURN. Solvers must highlight an entry in the grid which links the themes. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.
A warning! If you are a regular solver of thematic cryptic crosswords, you are accustomed to the misprint device. It has to be used very well by the setter or it is a most generous hint to the solver who can spot the ‘misprinted’ words that stick out. However, the convention is to use the corrected misprint letters to spell a name, or two names (as here) or a message, but Ranunculus has used the ‘incorrect’ letters. Like us, you will probably need to keep on nudging yourself about this.
We are always looking for new devices and Ranunculus has given us one here. We are going to identify a total of eight solutions which have the same last letter as their clue. What a fine idea!
1a Origin of remarkable old stone, found around Egypt area (7)
There’s a term you might not have encountered, &Lit. which refers to a clue where the wordplay and definition all function as one. You will probably immediately guess the solution of this clue and smile when the wordplay spells out what the entire clue (‘and literally’) says
12a Bangle going round ankle various clasps (5)
I commented on misprints giving obvious hints but sometimes they are nicely incorpotated into the clue. Think of the significance of ‘going round’ and ‘clasps’ and remember to use the misprinted letter, not the correct one.
12a Faith perhaps shown in Mao mistakenly by China (6)
We dislike this kind of clue where we are expected to know some media or sport personality. However, we worked backwards from our word for ‘china’ attached to ‘mao mistakenly’ and the Internet provided us with our ‘Faith’
15a Bromide is put in teacher’s first drink (6)
A lovely little clue. Look up the definition in Chambers and you will be abe to add together the three mini elements of the wordplay to produce the solution.
20a Take aged vessel containing article from Roman province (7)
Like us, you will probably guess at the answer then have to work out the wordplay. A letter for ‘take’, a couple of letters for ‘aged’ then an article going into a word for ‘vessel’.
24a Sharp pull pinching rear of wearer a particular characteristic of thong (5)
One of the first things a setter learns is that his/her clue has to have a ‘surface reading’. The words have to make a logical sense and be a statement that you might hear at the dinner table or in a bar, say. Ranunculus has amused himself here with this suggestion that a thong might be uncomfortable. However, remember that we are hunting for misprints and one word here seems to be a good candidate. Remember, too, that editors will remove any redundant articles, so that A here is probably needed in the construction of our solution word. We needed Chambers to confirm that the remaining part of the solution was a ‘sharp pull’ and we were told that the little word is ‘principally Scottish’. (And ‘Jail’, in 28a ‘slang’).
25a Featured prominently in last Republican blast, turning back one lone Democrat (7)
We all know the letters for Democrat and Republican. Clearly we were looking for a misprint here and the clue is not difficult but we couldn’t resist commenting on that politically relevant clue.
37a Married, say, young ruffian in Edwardian dress (7)
The ‘young ruffian’ is a crossword staple to provide that essential three-syllable conclusion of a past tense verb and we needed to put a four-letter word for ‘say’ in front of it then scratch our heads to work out how ‘Married’ (or a misprinted word?) fitted the aswer we had come up with.
38a All sat about in tidy yard (5)
We struggled with this one. Again, we had a good idea of the solution (remember those misprints!) and knew the single letter abbreviations for about (A or C)- such a useful word for crossword compilers – but we needed to think of a rare word for ‘tidy’ and to consider a different ‘yard’ (not the back garden) to construct our word.
You are not likely to have had the ‘aha’ moment yet but could, perhaps, spot the words where the solution and clue have the same last letter and a pattern might emerge – they have something in common.
4d Wide craft capsized on Lake Como (5)
Knowing that we have one-letter abbreviations for Wide and Lake, we were looking for a word for ‘craft’ that we could ‘capsize’ or turn upside down between them. This was another fine but deceptive surface reading. Our lovely Lake Como was going to have to change somehow to produce a word that corresponded with the answer/definition.
8d Queen, a fine synth-pop act (7)
Despite our ignorance of media, we have heard of Queen, but the three mini parts of the clue combined to give one we were not familiar with.
9d Gutted Lewis Hamilton possibly gets into arguments (6)
‘Gutted Lewis’ gave us two letters, of course, and the ‘possibly’ suggested that it was another ‘Hamilton’ who was going to ‘get into’ them to give a fairly rare word for ‘arguments’.
11d Reach finals of dance contest receiving one 10 after another (5)
Another clue where we back-solved with a smile to fit the elements of the wordplay into the answer that had appeared in the grid.
22d Wise beginning to develop striking top note (6)
We had the suggestion of a name appearing in our misprints (as we had already solved the relatively easy final four clues and produced the last three misprints) so we had a good idea what we might find in this clue. Still, we needed to ‘strike’ the ‘top note’ (only one of the Ns) from the word for ‘beginning to develop’ to produce this important solution that gave us our penny-drop-moment.
27d Scratching backside on tub, bidet’s badly positioned(5)
This clue will give you no problem when you work out what the ‘backside on tub’ gives and think how you can scratch it but we are including it as we think these slightly raunchy clues can add a touch of humour to a crossword.
We felt that this crossword was another that was within the range of difficulty of the four September ones with not too many difficult devices to handle. When you find four down clues that have the same end letter as their solution, you will be amused how the theme has been handled in two different ways and the word to highlight links them nicely.
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