EV 1477 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

EV 1477 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1477

Overlapping by Piccadilly

Hints and tips by The Numpties

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

Piccadilly gives us a relatively gentle solve with an original device affecting eleven entries and no other complicated device to unravel. This one is sure to please our newer solvers (and of course, the old hands too!)

Preamble: Eleven clues hint at two OVERLAPPING words. Letters in thematic entries not checked by normal entries could spell MANIC CHAV BARRY JILTS PAST LOVER. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

We hadn’t been solving for long before we realised that Piccadilly was being particularly generous. The word lengths that didn’t match the space in the grid (either a two-cell or three-cell difference) told us where to find the eleven thematic overlapped words and in each of those cases, we realized that we were simply given two definitions – or, rather cleverly, one definition that contained two elements that we could combine into the overlapping entry.


13a          Public walk, in part made Ma late returning (7)
The convention on Big Dave’s site of underlining the solution words gives you a prompt towards this unusual word.

14a.        Scotsman’s bound to care for son at the beginning (5)
We were not familiar with this Scots word.

17a         Supporter of gunpowder arranged a treaty  (7, two words)
There was an unusual use of a word here but, again, the underlining is all a solver needs.

24a         Game bird (4,4)
Of course, the word count tells us that we are looking for one of the thematic overlapping words. The game was familiar and that gave us the first two letters of the rather less familiar bird. You need to be careful here and be sure to pick a game (with horses, maybe) and not just an adjective that might go in front of a card game.

30a         Artist holds end of furry rug (3)
The rug is probably familiar to solvers. Setters often use this convenient word but I have never encountered the foreign word in any other context.

31a         Hour I’d wasted putting money in cigar box (7)
Piccadilly has chosen some original anagram indicators in this puzzle.

41a         Russian workers’ guilds having no compliance in political alliances (6)
An unusual word that we found by removing ‘compliance’ from a term for political alliances.


2d          Big name (4,5)
There are pages of names in the Chambers‘ appendix of first names, so setters are not usually encouraged to use them in crosswords. However, here we already have the first two overlapping letters of the five-letter name. Should you be left with any doubt when your grid is full, there is that phrase made up of unchecked letters to resolve any issues.

11d        Courage lecturer lacked making thrust in fencing (5)
There’s a fine surface reading here of a rather timid lecturer faced with a bout of fencing. However we solved the clue by thinking of a familiar word for courage and removing the lecturer.

19d        Hybrid cattle dead; appeal for help (4)
There are so many words for hybrid cattle and they are more ‘old chestnuts’ for crossword setters.

28d         Note number beginning to record ringing with six bells (5)
We constructed this unusual term from three wordplay elements.

29d         Swords group’s used to protect king (6)
Weapons provide so much material for setters too.. 

There was no endgame where we had to head-scratch to work out what to circle or highlight. We were left with just a final task where that list of unchecked letters confirmed the words we had entered. In fact, the only one we really needed (though we checked for the sake of these hints) was the double V in that rather suggestive extra letter phrase.

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.

Could new readers please read the Welcome post and the FAQ before posting comments or asking questions about the site.

As this is a Prize crossword, please don’t put any ANSWERS, whether WHOLE, PARTIAL or INCORRECT, or any ALTERNATIVE CLUES in your comment.

Please read these instructions carefully – they are not subject to debate or discussion. Offending comments may be redacted or, in extreme cases, deleted. In all cases the administrator’s decision is final.

17 comments on “EV 1477 (Hints)

  1. I don’t understand Enigma Variations but I always have a look. I managed three – 4d, 31a and 28d. I got the latter because I used to be a member of a group who did this as well as other variations. That’s if I have the correct answer, of course!

  2. I am a longtime lurker on your site and have followed the cryptic crossword blog for a number of years. I would sometimes look at the EV puzzles but never attempted them until you started this new blog last year. Some weeks these puzzles are still way over my head but I was pleased to be able to finish today’s puzzle with just one of your hints, along with the BRB and Bradford. A great feeling of accomplishment! I really appreciate all your bloggers and love reading all the comments – you have formed a great online community.

  3. A very good one to have a go at if you’ve tackled straightforward cryptic crosswords but not tried these ones with a twist. No nasty surprises that I could see and not too many outings to the dictionary needed, though Piccadilly has included a few obscurities (one in 32a was new to me for instance). Grateful thanks for a happy solve after some mountain-climbing in another weekend puzzle.

  4. I have a look every week, but have no idea what the instructions ever mean. I would enjoy a ‘normal’ one, I’m sure.

  5. HIYD – those of us who set this type of puzzle recognise that the preamble (as it’s usually called) can sometimes be off-putting to newcomers. You’ll find that when a suitable example comes up the Numpties will offer some general advice based on that puzzle’s specific requirements, so do please keep reading. We aim to convert you and others like you!

    1. Referring to my comment at #1, I do hope someone will explain the the logic behind solving EVs. I never am able to make sense of them and I would like to.

      1. This would be an excellent one to try to solve. Just keep plugging away at it, starting with the normal clues. The only gimmick different from a normal crossword is the overlapping answers.

        I’d suggest 9d as a good thematic one to attempt first, so you get the idea. It is a five-letter word for Little overlapping with a five-letter word for Mix — seven cells available, so that tells you the words share three letters. The thematic entries are all two words overlapped and the result will not be a real word.

        1. Thanks, proXimal. I will have another look at it and see if I can get any further.

    2. Thanks, I appreciate the reply. I guess the simple fact is that the EV’s are set for experts, of which I am definitely not one!
      Without the preamble being explained to me, I would have no idea what the second sentence means. To attract new solvers the instructions would have to be much clearer, perhaps with an example.

      From the previous week…

      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..

      I have not the first idea what this means.

      For the same reason, I cannot enter the MPP on here, though maybe that’s why there are confusing instructions, to keep the likes of me away!

      1. After solving a few of these, I’ve learned that the preambles are often intentionally cryptic, and if you try to make sense of them prior to solving the puzzle, you’ll probably be barking up the wrong tree. I’ve found that the preambles always make perfect sense AFTER I’ve filled the grid. So don’t let the preamble stand in your way!

      2. Hi again. As in any field those of us familiar with it are sometimes guilty of assuming that newcomers will understand the jargon. So – referring to your comment about the second sentence – the MANIC LOVER sentence is what we call an “unch message” (see what I mean about jargon?). “Unches” (properly “unchecked letters”) are those that don’t appear in a crossing entry. An unch message is often used by setters to provide a check for solvers that they have in fact correctly completed an entry not produced in the usual way. In general these will come from a ragbag of such letters forced by the gridfill and so the “sentence” produced often has no relevance to the theme – it amounts to saying “there are four A’s, no B’s…”
        I hope this helps, and apologies if you knew it all already!

  6. Two gentle ones in a row – there must be something scary coming.
    Thanks to Piccadilly and The Numpties.

  7. What a pleasant solve!
    This theme would be right at home in an American crossword puzzle like the Sunday New York Times. Such fun.

  8. Thanks to fellow-commenters for thoughts on preambles. It’s a good discussion to have. As someone who’s just starting to try setting puzzles of this sort I’m finding it challenging from that end too. The general approach seems to be as concise as possible (the newspapers only allow so much space), with key information about special sorts of clues and special ways of entering answers given in quite formulaic terms, which is made as clear as possible but still involves an assumption of what the words mean. (Even a simple one like “the wordplay” could be confusing at first until it is understood that a typical clue has quite rigidly two elements, a definition and then after or before it a little puzzle “generating” its letters in one way or another, by an anagram for instance – the wordplay.) And then cutting across all that I personally want to try and wrap the preamble’s instructions in a sort of mini-story to arouse the solver’s interest – and perhaps one that creates one idea of the theme at first (the Royal Family, say, to be topical) but then turns out to be something else (a card game involving the King, Queen etc). I suspect all that is vulnerable to being cut out though!

Comments are closed.