Enigmatic Variations 1474
The Mover and the Lover by Ifor
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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There is no need to introduce Ifor to EV solvers who know that his crosswords can be challenging in the Listener, Inquisitor, Magpie and EV series, with intricate wordplay but also with very rewarding endgames. This one will certainly raise a St Valentine’s Day smile.
Preamble: The originally completed grid contains three empty cells, to be filled with letters taken from elsewhere in the grid, so showing a thematic movement. The effect of this movement must be undone by changing one entry to two new words and inserting a bar. Clues to all answers occupying 7, 8 and 9-letter slots contain an extra word. Read in clue order one letter from each (always the second or penultimate) spells out the MOVER; the alternative choices identify the LOVER. Numbers give cells available; ignoring empty cells, all answers and entries are words in Chambers Dictionary (2016).
Clearly we had to begin by highlighting clues to 7, 8 and 9-letter entries – a generous gift from the setter. We listed the extra words that we extracted from those clues on a separate paper so that we could easily draw a wiggly line through the second and penultimate letters to produce our MOVER and LOVER. The only other nudge we needed was to remember that some solutions (at least three) were going to be shorter than the space available
5a Specify supply base storing such oddly green rock (8)
We know, from the given length of this solution that there has to be an extra word in this clue. The convention on Big Dave’s site of underlining the solution words gives you a prompt towards this unusual word, constructed of three wordplay elements.
10a Watchman‘s odd job collecting agreed identity papers (9)
Another unusual word constructed from three wordplay elements. We should warn you to consult Chambers carefully as a two-letter abbreviation you will use identifies a single word in the clue and leaves another, potentially, as the extra word.
16a African rhino experience impressing conservationists (5)
Regular cryptic crossword solvers are alerted by that rhino. The conservationists who are impressed here are indicated by a 2-letter abbreviation.
17a Poet’s cut rewritten tragedy, ignoring isolated cheers (5)
As we compile these hints I am relishing the convincing surface-readings of these clues (like that impressive rhino in the clue above). Of course, we have to return to solving mode and spot an anagram indicator and consider how we can ignore some word for ‘cheers’ that will be ‘isolated’ (split up?) to give us an old or poetic ‘cut’
22a Amino acid as an inclusion within successive ecological communities (6)
The underlining should help and, like us, you will probably back-solve when you have most of the letters in place.
34a Address accommodating artist afraid of poet (5)
An obscure poetic word that we constructed by combining an abbreviation and a familiar crossword pair of letters for the artist.
37a Retires torn covers to rear for teenage children (7)
Our hint really gives the game away! However, the solution is a relatively old usage.
40a Voice enthusiasm, maintaining it with group of media regularly in current attitudes (9)
This, we thought was the toughest clue. Of course one word is extra. When you have six letters in place, four wordplay elements, put together, will give you a ‘foreign’ term.
1d Dress for battle came before truce surprisingly engulfs company (8)
Probably a familiar historical word. Of course one extra word has to come out of the clue.
7d Model dog controlled by hand broom (5)
The name of this character will not be familiar to younger solvers.
16d Monster piranha lethally bites small fish (7)
This tragically expiring small fish will be easy to spot if you remember to extract a word from the clue.
19d Bird from Scotland – one caught by family cat, perhaps (4)
It’s said that cats do enormous damage to the bird population. In crosswords we are eternally astonished by the number of local names there are for birds and how different the Scottish ones are.
23d Interval in music? Leave then, without a second lost (4)
Another of those convincing surface readings – but you have to return to solving mode.
29d Shakespeare’s last folio trial especially suitable in Stratford (6)
Ifor is prompting us that we need a Shakespearean word.
31d Unit rising very much after date (5)
So many units appear in crossword clues. This is a less-known one.
38d Support for unemployed youngsters climbing ladder (3)
The climbing three letters give an unusual ladder.
It was the MOVER and LOVER emerging from those extra words that gave us the p.d.m. and prompted us which letters to move thematically. We were rather sad about having to undo the effect (though it was clear where the change had to occur and great that Ifor retained real words) and we trusted that in true St Valentine’s Day manner, all would turn out well.
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