EV 1465 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1465 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1465

Change by Piccadilly

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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Piccadilly will not be a new name to thematic cryptic crossword solvers. Dave Hennings’ Crossword Database lists almost 100 of his crosswords in the Listener, Magpie, Weekend and EV series so you can rest assured that you are in safe hands. Indeed, he set one of the four September EVs that were selected to encourage new solvers. This one should be enjoyable and not too difficult.

Preamble: The wordplay in each across clue leads to the answer plus an extra letter, not to be entered in the grid. The extra letters in clue order show how all clue answers are to CHANGE.  Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

We guess at once what is going on here. This brief preamble has told us how we are to discover a single device that is going to affect every clue answer. We assume that solutions are going to be jumbled, anagrammed, inverted or lose their heads, hearts or tails. We speedily find solutions for the first nine down clues and, consequently, can see which of those options is the gimmick, but, of course, there is work to do as 5d, for example, gives us three potential answers. Crossing clues are needed and those are not so easy to solve, with extra letters to extract.

Here’s a suggested tactic. Take a long solution that is unlikely to have many entry options. 22a, for example will produce just one alternative entry and that will fix which of the ones for 20d, and 5d to use – and, in this way, you can begin to fill your grid.


1a          Bygone emblematic device from Byzantium preserved (7)
The solution is an obscure word but Piccadilly has given a generous clue to it when you remember that a letter has to be extracted to start the message.

7a         Fool losing wages for service from county (4)
We worked backwards in this clue from our 4-letter fool and the ‘wages for service’ to produce a county that gave us the extra letter too.

12a         Walked upon highway following wager (6)
The solution was a word we have never used but we constructed it from the wager followed by a word for a highway (out of which, of course, we must extract a letter).

13a         Student of prison management taking case from prison wine expert (11)
This was another clue where we worked backwards towards the end of our gridfill. It will become clear to you what ‘changed’ solution will fill the grid because of the letters that are in place. The clue indicates the solution very clearly but our initial attempts to find the word in Chambers failed as the actual word is not there – though it is clearly indicated.

15a         Old delicacies and a drink served in Cannes on vacation (5)
‘Old’ tells us that this is an archaic word. Remember that ‘on vacation’ has nothing much to do with holidays and this is not ‘a drink’ that the Cannes locals are likely to choose.

30a         Lyre-string broken finally at festival (4)
There’s another obscure word for this ‘lyre-string’ but Piccadilly has prompted us by giving its initial letter.

37a        Fish served in wine sauce gutted after I’m insistent (11)
This was the hardest clue for us, possibly because of all the elements we had to fit together. ‘Gutted’, as we all know, means ‘with the contents removed’ (and don’t forget the letters we are extracting). We needed to put that fish (a common one) into the wine to produce our solution.

39a         Without sun never see flying grass moth (6)
The wordplay spells out a name for the insect that was new to us.

40a        Fresh fish in tin (4)
This was the last clue we solved (as is so often the case with the very short solutions). The tin gave us no probems but we went through a number of fish before finding the one that gave us the extra letter we needed and a surprising word for ‘fresh’.


10d         Curse beetle beginning to erode Elizabethan instrument (7)
You have to put together the elements of the wordplay to find this unusual word

16d         Former kingdom settled most of America (6)
A little bit of historical knowledge needed here but the solution is interesting as there is only one ‘manipulation’ of it that will fit the grid.

18d         Poets imaginatively including 80 figures of speech (6)
We always need to consult Chambers to find the letters that represent numbers.

23d        Pennsylvania girl shows Eucharistic plate (6)
We were not aware of this fairly rare usage of the solution word.

25d         Pair of rollers on loom let me free outside right-hand edge of warp (6)
Yet another word that was new to us in this context (though the sound of the looms is an indelible part of my childhood) but Piccadilly kindly spells it out in his wordplay.

26d         Occupation as Shakespeare’s singer (6)
An intriguing Shakespearean spelling of a familiar word for a singer.

33d       End missing from glossy black side piece of wagon (4)
There are no unchecked letters in this solution. The four letters produced by intersecting solutions prompted us to work out the ‘glossy black’ (with its end missing).

35d        Note is obsolete money of account (4)
The same comment as for 33d to find yet another unusual initial solution (before manipulation).

We thought that this crossword was fairly challenging as we had to manipulate words to fill our grid, but an enjoyable exercise and engagingly different from those of the past couple of months.

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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9 comments on “EV 1465 (Hints)

  1. At first I feared a complex puzzle of trying to work out how all the changed words interlocked, but Piccadilly was being kind to us and as the hints suggest the transformations are straightforward and the options limited, so this should prove a straightforward solve even if the dictionary and perhaps some electronic help will need to be at your elbow. Enjoy!

  2. Newcomers to these puzzles may not have come across quinapalus.com. Quinapalus is an occasional setter whose puzzles are invariably outstanding; more relevantly here, his website (navigate to “things cruciverbal”) contains useful lists as well as an excellent dictionary-search program, ideal for puzzles like this where answers must be modified before entry.

    1. Thanks, Ifor. I think I’ll hop over there right now to figure out why the answer to 19a is what it is.

  3. The only good news about lockdown is that I have been able to complete all the recent EV’s. Long may they continue. Another belter this week but what do I do until next Sunday???

  4. Progressing quite slowly as I need to have it on screen on top of my printed version which misses the clue numbers. Any tip on how to print it properly would be appreciated. Thanks.

  5. The clues for this one seemed particularly gentle, although the hints were a help to speed up the solving process which I did without recourse to the grid. The hidden instruction emerged easily enough but the end game i.e. filling the grid, was quite nerve-wracking. There was a constant fear of a non-word emerging or nothing at all that fitted – so it was a relief when it finally fell into place.

    A bit different this time – thanks to Piccadilly and The Numpties

  6. Well, I didn’t think I would finish this one…but I have!
    At least I have a filled grid with answers that I think are correct.
    Thanks to Piccadilly and to the Numpties for their most excellent hints.

  7. Pulled in to attempt it as a chunk of (mainly down) clues were swiftly solvable. The nature of the theme was quickly apparent but by it’s nature meant that great care needed to be taken working through the rest.
    It required some heavy hammering of online dictionaries to finalise the last few – but finally happy to use pen instead of pencil.
    I found myself wanting an extra space to write out the theme at the end so I must be getting hooked!
    I guess this was one of the easier ones to old hands but I thoroughly enjoyed it, thank you.
    I’ve had a look through this week’s clues and I’m not getting a way in so far so I will have to resort to an early poring over of the helpful Numpties blog. Unless that sparks a mini-flurry I’ll probably give this week’s a miss.
    so happy Christmas all

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