EV 1476 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1476 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1476 (Hints)

After Steelman by Chalicea

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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Chalicea’s crosswords are generally welcomed because they are not too difficult and often because they have abundant thematic material in them. This one is a typical example.

Preamble: Solvers must highlight the person (3,8) who assisted 38 (unclued) in his development of his 1,16 (also unclued), and his description of that person (11,2,6) who came AFTER STEELMAN. An extra letter not entered in the grid is generated by the wordplay in 21 clues; read in order, the extra letters give three expressions that were used to describe that person’s father. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended..

There are 45 clues and the wordplay in only 21 of them is going to lead to an extra letter. That is a rather sneaky device – more difficult than having extra letters generated by wordplay in all the across or all the down clues. We realize that there are going to be three figures identified in the course of our solve and that one is going to be the father of another of them. The rather obscure title will probably help us to understand the theme (and, of course, solvers will see whether it anagrams to something helpful) but, at ths stage it is a little early to go to Wiki for help.


13a           Long forgotten title role in play (4)
As usual in the hints on Big Dave’s site, the underlining of the definition part of a clue can be all the help a solver needs.

21a         Mixed very ordinary drink for Moscow concierge (7)
Unless you have a knowledge of Russian, this word is likely to be unfamiliar but, of course, Chalicea has anticipated that with a generous clue.

28a         Gasp in front of boundlessly sonsy slippers in Troon (7)
As in the above hint the solution might not be a familiar word but you are told that you have to add four letters to ‘boundless’ sonsy.

31a         Willingly in bygone days depart (4)
In order to find this archaic word you need to be prompted that we are looking for 21 extra letters in the wordplay of clues.

33a         Removing last of wrapping untangled messy little fillet (7)
We removed the last bit of wrapping here and sorted out the following word to get an unusual ‘little fillet’.

34a         In a lower position for Burns – an end of life (6)
The Scottish indicator and another reminder that we are extracting letters from the wordplay should suffice as the hint here.

40a         Jock’s from remote area oddly (4)
The solution will be immediately evident and you will need to backsolve to work out what that word ‘remote’ is doing in the clue. (Think again of the extra letters!)

41a         Hardened clay up to time that it essentially set (7)
Obscure words like this solution are almost forced on compilers attempting to construct a grid with a substantial amount of thematic material in it. The requirement is to clue such words generously whilst keeping a plausible surface reading. There are three wordplay elements that do that here.


3d           On the alert caught in an attic room (6)
Another obscure word here. We need to remember the abbreviation for ‘caught’ and use that in another relatively old word for an attic room. (By this time those extra letters are probably spelling out a familiar description and you will be able to work out which letter could be extracted.)

8d           With spirit and soul creep very slowly up for Persian hookahs  (7)
There’s a crossword compiler’s old chestnut at the start of this solution, then the ‘up’ suggests how to ‘creep very slowly’ and complete an exotic name for these hookahs.

10d           North of the border stretch supply of food to supplement mostly (6)
Yet another Scottish word! The ‘supply of food’ will produce another extra letter and the ‘supplement mostly’ uses  another of those crossword compilers’ old chestnuts.

11d       Be deplorably proud to dribble (6)
An old word is used here.

19d         Balmoral’s fox is first of themes for poet (5)
This word for a fox is familiar and possibly used by most northerners in preference to the southern ‘fox’. Of course, you are still extracting extra letters.

27d        Het up over expression of fright and singular sounds of derision (6)
There are three mini wordplay elements used here to produce the sounds of derision.

28d         Casual infatuation with people of fashion for exotic language (6)
The word ‘casual’ suggests that this part of the solution is a commonly used word for ‘infatuation’.

There were several ways to discover the theme of this crossword – the title, of course, the inventive figure and his device that were unclued, or the description provided by the extra letters. That probably gave most solvers the penny-drop-moment and led to the rather astonishing star of the crossword.

Do remember that 30 letters in the grid need to be highlighted and 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 1476 (Hints)

  1. Chalicea’s puzzles are always a treat, and as you say on the easy side. I spotted the theme quickly, probably because it’s one in my area of expertise, and thus jotted in most of the thematic material, and the letters to be highlighted. The description to highlight was new to me, but readily found. Lots of fun, and as I’ve said before I’d welcome more EV’s in this vein.

  2. Another very enjoyable puzzle from Chalicea that should be “doable” by most who attempt it. 38a was where I began. Yes I know it has no clue, but look at all those crossing letters… Well-constructed, well-clued, and well worth a go.

  3. I found this far more friendly than those of the past few weeks and was encouraged by some easy solves to get me going. I twigged the theme fairly early – 1a was my light bulb moment. Thanks Chalicea, most enjoyable.

  4. Yep, abundant thematic material for sure. Had a lot of fun with this one, and learned a few things about the star of this puzzle that I didn’t know before.

  5. Enjoyable puzzle, like David above I started with 38a and from there everything fell gently into place.
    Thanks to Chalicea and the Numpties.

  6. A pleasant change from the rigours of the last few weeks. 1 and 16 were my quick way in and the assistant followed shortly after. Filling the grid was straightforward but I managed to create a bit of ambiguity with the extra letters from the across clues. The downs were enough to confirm paternity and enable the acrosses to be tidied up. I hadn’t met the 11,2,6 description before but a quick Google was sufficient to pull it all together.
    Thanks to Chalicea, and the Numpties as ever.

  7. A real gem from Chalicea! Getting the theme early always motivates me to put the time in and makes it more enjoyable.
    Like others I ‘got in’ via 16 and 38. Stupidly happy that I had identified and entered all the themed words and phrases and entered most of the grid without resorting to any artificial means other than a pencil but to be fair the theme was well-known to me.
    Had to start using dictionaries for the obscure words to finish Sunday but that’s liveable with when you have plenty of theme in the grid. As the Numpties point out at 41a, that’s the inevitable price you pay.
    For once I didn’t look at the Numpties tips until afterwards but very enjoyable to read through their tips now. I had glanced at the last few EVs but had stopped doing them as they looked like needing too much time.
    I will look out for Chalicea again, loved this one, more please!

    1. I spent far too long with [incorrect answer redacted wait for the results before giving answers right or wrong. BD] for 8 across especially because my list of Greek islands had an unhelpful spelling of the eventual entry!
      Very enjoyable puzzle. Thanks EV for lighting(!) up my Sundays…

  8. Finally manage to crack one again after a long break when they were just too difficult for me.

    Like most folks, the theme became clear 9nce I had twigged 1a and 16a.

    Thanks to Chalicea and to the Numpties

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