EV 1460 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1460 (Hints)

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.

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 Thursdays and to the detailed Blogs that also appear on Thursdays on fifteensquared.

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7 comments on “EV 1460 (Hints)

  1. Another excellent puzzle in this series. I solved the whole grid before thinking about the theme, which was a mistake I think. The down hidden name was looking obvious for some time, and thinking through the theme would have given me a useful leg-up with some of the trickier clues. I followed the usual Numpty advice of starting in the bottom right hand corner, for what it’s worth. It feels counter-intuitive as you don’t have initial letters, but it does often work. In the end it all came together very neatly so many thanks to Ranunculus.

  2. Like DT above I solved the grid first, helped by clues which were, for the most part, not too taxing. I was held up a while in the bottom right – the quadrant bounded by 29a and 29d is rather isolated so there was almost a sense of starting again here. Altho the down name was fairly obvious, as was his major work, I needed Wiki for the across person – but his list of work contained one item clearly worth thinking about. Then it mostly fell into place altho I spent too long looking at the 8 “identical” letters despite the Numpties advice to look at the words containing those letters. Deciding how to amend the across words took a shamefully long time but all done now and the linking word is as clear as it could be.

    Good fun, so thanks “Buttercup” and thanks to the Numpties, especially for suggestions re proceeding to the endgame.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. Like the two contributors above I completed the grid first and then did a bit of Googling to finish the endgame.
    A big thank you to the Numpties, your hints and tips have made these puzzles accessible for me. So far I’ve completed all bar one (Ifor) of the EVs covered here. Please keep doing them, although I’ve learned a lot these last few weeks I’m nowhere near ‘flying solo’ – yet.
    Also, thanks to Big Dave, the bloggers and all the contributors that make this site what it is, informative and fun. I’ve been a ‘lurker’ for years but have never contributed as I do the back pager either late at night or more often the following morning by which time it’s all been said.

  4. Lovely to see you here Denise. There are more approachable puzzlesi in the pipeline and we’ll be giving the Numpty hints until the powers that be decide they have served their purpose.

  5. Easier than EV 1459 but I still needed t’interweb to find out who the first person was. Then things dropped into place and the endgame was satisfying. I spent quite some time in parsing 20A because I had never met the first letter or the following two-letter word as abbreviations before.

  6. I appreciated the humor in this one. After doing some research on Wikipedia (once again), the PDMs just kept coming. So satisfying.

  7. This felt harder-than-average to me, but mainly from the clues rather than the mechanisms: I had very few answers on my first (unaided) pass, and even on my initial go with the hints I still skipped about half the hinted answers.

    In the end I managed nearly all of the top-left, top-right, and bottom-left quarters (missing a few single unchecked letters), and I have enough of the across person’s letters to have found them on Wikipedia. Like Halcyon above, I found the bottom-right corner isolated. Unlike Halcyon, mine is still blank: I failed to solve any of the “relatively easy” final four clues, and don’t have crossing letters either (well, a lone vowel for one them). Nor have I spotted what the answers with the same letter as clues have in common.

    So I await enlightenment on Thursday. Depending on how the solution is presented, I hope to first look only at the basic explanations of the clues; filling in my blanks should give the down person’s name, and I’ll see if I can do the penny-drop bit from there.

    Thank you Ranunculus for the puzzle, and so much to The Numpties for getting me this far. It amused me that my general knowledge seems the exact inverse of yours: I hadn’t heard of the Roman province and didn’t know the stone was anything to do with Egypt, so constructed both of those from the wordplay. Nor did I know that Hamilton, but I was familiar with the arguments; and I knew both Faith and the synth-pop band, so those were the clues I worked back from the answers.

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