EV 1481 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1481 (Hints)

-V 1481: M-nd — — by -r–x

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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The Numpties can make no preliminary comments on the compiler this week as the solver has to spend a few amusing minutes working out who he or she is and sorting out what the solver is required to do. Of course the very first missing letter and those of the last two words will be a great help.

Preamble: -V 1481: M-nd — — by -r–x

– —— -n my –m-u–r m–ns s-m- -nsw-rs -r- — s–r- -nd s- –n —-s -r- –f- -m–y. —s –n —ur

-nyw–r- -n -n-r–s. S–v-rs mus- us- —- -f — —–rs -m—-d fr-m —s -r–mb– (-nd — —–)

— f— — -m–y —-s. F-n– -r-d -n-r–s -r- — r— w-rds -r –r-s-s, -n–ud-n- -n- d-r-v-d fr-m –

—dw-rd –n —mb-rs D—–n-ry (2016).

Commentators have been discussing preambles during the past few weeks. Here, we have a most original one that clearly requires some understanding before you can confidently begin to solve the crossword. The Numpties’ prompt is to fill the gaps and record the letters you are using to do that. Familiar preamble words are sure to be in there and after a few minutes, you should have the gist of what you are going to do.


1a          Wine and unopened cheese put in bin (10)
Of course you must ignore -r–x’s throwing out of wine and cheese in this surface reading. He/she had opted for a couple of rather fine French and German ones. Clearly a gourmet.

11a.        Last to scorn a feature that’s outmoded (4)
The usual Numpty comment – the underlining device in the hints on Big Dave’s site can really help a struggling solver.

12a         180 grain bundles heading to port  (4)
A new word for the Numpies but we were able to decipher the fact that bundles were ‘heading to port’.

13a         In DC he was the man to beat (7)
We had no problem (sadly) working out who ‘he’ was. If you are still wondering how to fill your grid, this solution will be invaluable and you will realize that intersecting down clues need to be solved before you can be sure that the letters are going into the correct cells. 

15a         Stops interminable cough on farm (4)
Two dialect words produced here – both indicated by ‘on farm’ where you would probably hear the first of them most.

16a         Muscle supplement used outside of Georgian hospital department (6)
A tough clue, we thought. The supplement is relatively dated and you need to consider the word ‘Georgian’ to identify the letters needed for the hospital department.

19a        Plump old man about 50 (4)
The wordplay spells out a fairly rare word.

20a         Murdered shepherd  found by butt of pine tree (7)
Once you have identified the murder victim, Mrs Bradford will help you spot the tree.

23a         Request pianist entertains one (I was here with the King) (4)
This entertaining clue tells you to think of a familiar request to a pianist (entertaining one) and a well-known  film. 

26a         A US minor criminal and the things he’d once stolen (10)
The ‘once’ prompts that this is an old word. ‘Criminal’ was a great help and prompted the Numpties to discover our first solution – and what was going on in the grid.


1d          Be keen to bamboozle headhunters? That’s not hard somehow (9)
The experienced solver will have spotted a very well-disguised subtractive anagram. (The two rather original anagram indicators help). When you have a few words in your grid, putting this one in will be a helpful hint – like 26a above.

4d        Mystic with foot chopped off crawled? (4)
There are not many words for mystics that can lose ‘a foot’. You need this word to show you, for example, how to enter 1a and 13a,.

6d        John‘s slow, DNF (4)
Oh dear, poor John! So often used by compilers to indicate a loo, bog, lav etc. Of course, Toughie solvers are used to the frustrated DNF of some commentators (Did not finish).

7d         Kinks star upset about lines (5)
-r–x is not just a gourmet but pretty old-fashioned in his/her musical taste – ah, no – these are different, rather unusual kinks.

10d         Shut up about sculptor’s stone wall! (9)
The 3-letter sculptor was familiar but the stone wall gave us a new word.

14d         Joint shifting barrels upstairs downstairs (6)
A rather lovely surface reading suggesting lots of rather fruitless activity but when you see the nature of the joint and remember Chambers use of barrels this solution will help you resolve what might have been a problem with entering 20a.

16d         Paper consumed by perverse sex’s hairy bits (6)
The paper here isn’t the Times or Telegraph – possibly one more like The Sun.

21d         British game lacks power punch (4)
An unusual word that will help you to place 20a and 26a.

22d        Top form for youngster (4)
‘Top’ can, of course, be an imperative.

Happily, with the patchy preamble creating a solving device, -r–x needed no other crossword gimmick and was able to give relatively generous clues, where the solver will, as usual, have been helped by the Big Dave hints requirement to underline the definition part of clues. The Numpties think an entertaining crossword like this demonstrates the edge that thematic cryptics have over the plain back-page cryptics. You will now have a very clever little 10 X 10 grid.

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3 comments on “EV 1481 (Hints)

  1. This was a lettuce of a puzzle, well a Little Gem anyway. Those used to preamble-ese should have no difficulty deciphering the one here, and less experienced solvers can be reassured that there are no silly tricks being played. All is then revealed and it is just a case of watching out for the preamble’s requirements as you solve the clues. 1a was my favourite of course.

  2. So refreshing!
    Rewarding without being exhausting, and tons of excellent surfaces!
    Favorites were 4D, 10D, and 19D. I’ve even learned to find humor in a clue like 2D, which doesn’t even come close to working where I’m from.
    Thanks to, uh, the setter (I’m 99% confident I know who it is), and thanks, as always, to The Numpties.

  3. Clearly not one for the beginner. I’ve been doing these regularly for 6 months now and still struggled to decipher the preamble – only the realisation that the character set was restricted enabled me to finish it and so begin the grid-fill. The ambiguity of 10d was only noticed at the start of the endgame – perhaps this clue could have been written differently. The endgame was straightforward except for 10d again, only done by elimination [must get a new Chambers].
    Thanks to -r–x and The Numpties.

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