EV 1471 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1471 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1471

What’s Earned by Jaques

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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Jaques has been setting thematic cryptic crosswords for almost twenty years in the Listener, EV and Magpie series. He has one in the current edition of the Magpie crossword magazine. (It is still live, so no comment but there is still time for you to subscribe if you haven’t done so yet. Six crosswords each month with a range of difficulty – the easiest usually easier than an EV, and the most difficult D and E crosswords something like the one we are hinting on today.) https://www.piemag.com

Preamble: Solvers must switch a pair of words within each clue before solving, often to the detriment of the surface reading. In the completed grid solvers must swap two thematic entries and then highlight WHAT’S EARNED (two words). Each pair of switched words has only one letter in common and these, taken in clue order, may be of assistance along with ODQ and 34 across. All entries in the final grid are words; Chambers (2016) is recommended.

You have probably spent some time attempting to solve this puzzle before approachng these hints. We found the puzzle as difficult as any we have met for some time. The extra letters didn’t really help us until we needed them and 34 across to prompt us about the theme, since in several clues, there seemed to be several words that could switch places. However, Big Dave’s format for crossword hints will give you a great leap forward, since there is a requirement to underline the definition part of clues. Good luck!


11a          What’s corresponding in Zurich? Ultimately mobile clones financier grasps (6)
Of course knowing which words to switch makes sense of the clue but we still met an expression that was new to us in the definition.

12a         In some places below returned eidolon’s shocking in vacant haunt (7)
That ‘In some places’ is usually a hint that we have a dialect word in the clue.

13a         Catching knot in flock of plovers and tying four (6)
We can only smile at the picture created by the surface sense of the clue and generously give you some underlining to help.

14a         American university plant cherished floral area (7)
The definition surprised us because of its first word but Chambers confirmed it.

16a         Hundred at hill being sharp parking in the Cairngorms (4)
Our earliest Scottish ski-ing was in the Cairngorms (one Numpty lived in Kingussie) but the Scottish word was new to us.

22a         Mouldy coffee in Edinburgh that is rejected/accepted (5)
As in 16a, the Scots word surprised us, but seeing the prompt for the last of our five letters helped us find it. (I wonder whether anyone would drink the mouldy version!)

24a         Producers of staunch Americon sitcom to stay mushy (7)
Yet another obscure word but the wordplay spells it out.

34a         Hearts in hand was what won’t come again? (4)
We struggled here but the underlining of the definition will give you the help you need

36a         Saliva maybe in one with excessive fawn (7)
The ‘maybe’ suggests that Jaques is ‘defining by example’ here and the example he uses was a new one for us..


2d          Confused pies with load more for printing in chase again (8)
We needed Chambers to confirm this unusual definition.

3d          Nave’s chamber ultimately to introduce into burial ground (7)
The definition is a fairly obscure usage.

9d         Lifted anonymous heaps of potatoes and covered grass (5)
We had to hunt for the four-letter word that the wordplay told us to reverse.

25d         Motto arising from piece of Santayana in miscellany (7)
You will realise how clever this clue is when you have switched two words.

26d         Climbing one chasing marmoset it’s caught by ingenuity (7)
Like us, you will probably have to back-solve from what must be the answer.

35d         Constant sound cut off, maybe bay’s twigs on hard surface (4)
The ‘maybe’ is part of the wordplay. 

We fed some of the words the letters had produced into Wikipedia and were given the quotation we needed. Of course, we could have worked that out by looking for words that could change places still leaving real words. That is always a commendable final touch.

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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8 comments on “EV 1471 (Hints)

  1. Great fun! It has taken me, on and off, most of the day! And thanks for encouraging me to try it.

  2. Very challenging but managed to finish it. Most enjoyable! Some of the words were very obscure though.

  3. This was certainly a challenge, and it took a while for me to get my eye in on the unusual (and welcome) way of treating the clues. Once the message started to emerge things speeded up, and in the end the grid-fill was completed in reasonable time (with some thankful help from the underlining in particular). I just wish I had followed up the hints/leads in the preamble earlier, rather than witting until I’d solved all the clues, as that might have speeded things up more. Congratulations to Jacques on a fine construction.

  4. The word-swapping gimmick seemed like a sadistic choice. But then the theme revealed itself (long after the grid had been filled), and I realized the word-swapping gimmick was actually the perfect choice.
    What a workout!

  5. Really tough but great fun! Took me a while to get into the mindset required for the word-swapping gimmick and then it all gradually came together.

  6. Please tell me they don’t get too much harder than this! i.e.”solvers must write their own clues from the list of words supplied”.
    It did get a bit easier once one got into the swing of it but the requirement for the swapped words to have just one letter in common did seem to be something of a Procrustean bed as far as writing the clues was concerned. Even with a full grid and the extra text it took a while to find the right quotation. The quotation is familiar enough though [mea culpa] I had no idea that either of the revealed authors [or 34a] had originated it. After that it was just a grid search and confirming that real words remained after the swap. All told, apart from learning a bit more about the origin of a famous quotation, the chore to fun ratio was slightly on the negative side. The hints were a real help to get started so thanks to the Numpties and to Jaques for an excuse not to do the chores.

  7. Yes, honestly, Halcyon, we, the Numpties, really struggled (bear in mind that we didn’t have any underlining either!) but I can promise you from some we have tested that are coming in the future that there are much gentler ones too. For us, this was just about the most difficult of the full EV range.

  8. Wow. I feel wrung out after that! Loved it!
    Thank goodness for brilliant crosswords and racing on tv to keep me sane! Liz

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