EV 1473 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1473 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1473 (Hints)

Sea Shell by The Ace of Hearts

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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On the crossword database we see that The Ace of Hearts has been compiling crosswords since 2015 for The Listener, Inquisitor, Magpie, Crossword and the Enigmatic Variations series. This one is his twentieth compilation.

Preamble: One letter must be deleted from each clue before solving; these letters in clue order spell out part of a definition of a two-word entry in Chambers, the SEA SHELL. Five thematic answers are formed in cells where entries clash. With one exception, these clashes are formed by their answers being too long for the given space. After the clashes are formed, they must be treated as per the definition from extra letters. The final grid will then consist of real words (ignoring content of cells generated by thematic treatment). Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

The compiler and editor have been generous in giving us the length of answers where the convention is to leave the poor solver struggling, knowing only the length of the available space for the answer. (It would be interesting to know your view of this – we, the Numpties, really approve as we are never in favour of ‘difficulty for difficulty’s sake’ in a crossword). Thus, we know roughly where the clashes will occur in the grid and how many letters will be involved. From previous experience, we realise that we are going to combine letters from across and down clues to produce five thematic terms.


1a          Earring big head girl originally traced for military unit (12, two words)
The somewhat absurd surface reading here suggests that the compiler has had real trouble creating his clue and virtually tells you where to look in the clue to produce your two-word answer. Moreover, you have that very helpful word-length that tells you what is going on. We guessed the answer when we had a few letters in place and back-solved to get our first p.d.m. Of course, we remembered that we needed to tease out an extra letter.

10a         Sundowner parking Fiat in middle of showroom (6)
We drive 4-wheel-drive Fiats because of our snow and saw the new electric one in the showroom yesterday when we took one to the showroom/garage for its service. But oh dear, no! The Ace of Hearts is talking of a totally different ‘sundowner’ and ‘middle of showroom’. The term was new to us in this context.

14a        Being all over old small Scottish dame at last, in heather (8)
We had to put together the three elements of the wordplay (two of them commonly used in Scots) to produce this old word.

20a        Sited Warrant Officer cooking sweet dish long ago  (6)
Remembering that we were teasing out that extra letter helped us to find this old word that was new to us.

21a         Biases of Cambodian partners received by ambassador at centre (5)
‘Partners’ are more of those ‘abbreviations’ so useful to compilers. They refer to the N and S playing opposite E and W in bridge. Here we need one set of partners and the heart of that ambassador has to welcome them.

30a        Caledonian onion from old times soon to make return (4)
Grannie Sarah probably used this word when she was cooking but we don’t. ‘Times’ is another compiler’s favourite which can become X or ‘by’. To complete our answer, we needed to remember to extract the extra letter to find another abbreviation.


6d           Camera part framing beer tin shaped like a helmet (7)
The helpful word-length and the usual crossworder’s answer for ‘beer’ will help here and this solution might give you the p.d.m. if you are still wondering.

11d          Some enthusiasm El Cid raised for feasts (5)
The words ‘some’ and ‘raised’ helped us find an unusual word.

19d           Heard French cheese’s indeed found under worn roofed passage (9)
One of our favourite cheeses has to be “heard” in the plural. Again we are helped by the word-length and need to remember to remove an extra letter.

25d          Balts imprison two thirds of enlisted women in recess (5)
There is a slightly unorthodox spelling of the answer here. We had to hunt for the abbreviation for the ‘enlisted women’.

We thought that The Ace of Hearts’ clues were generous and after the first clash gave us our penny-drop-moment, we knew what we were looking for. We needed to use the appendices in Chambers Dictionary to perform the final ‘neatening up’ of our grid using the hint that the extra letters had provided.

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5 comments on “EV 1473 (Hints)

  1. Though largely a lurker, I have commented before. I thought this relatively easy but could not parse the answers, easily put in, to 24A, 9D & 21D. The trouble is that I will have forgotten the problem by the time the solution is published. On the other hand I was one of the first to get vaccinated, so I may have an excuse,

    1. That’s where Bradford’s comes in. I think I use that book to look up elements of the wordplay more often than I use it for the definitions. Many of these EVs would be inaccessible to me without it.
      It definitely has everything you need to parse 24A, and probably the other two clues, which I think you mistyped.

  2. Thanks for the hints, The Numpties. And thanks to The Ace of Hearts for making sure I got my money’s worth out of my copy of Chambers (and thanks for the great puzzle).

  3. I’m a bit late to this party but it was a good one. The theme TBH popped out very quickly aided by the unusually generous indication of where the clashes would be and the hint about the appendices. Sorting out the grid fill took a little while though with some excellent but fair clues. Thanks to AoH as ever.

  4. Late or not I got there in the end. The theme emerged, to great delight [or perhaps relief] in yesterday’s session with about two thirds of the grid filled. Most of the rest followed. However, establishing the “odd one out” took until today when the relevant across clue finally yielded. A nice range of clues, both in variety of construction and difficulty, as well as a satisfying endgame, albeit of two halves!
    Thanks to AoH and the Numpties.

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