Enigmatic Variations 1484 (Hints)
Herculean Task by Check
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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I believe we have a new setter here so we had no idea what to expect but found generous clues that generally led to familiar words, with the most challenging aspect being the solutions that had more than one clash in them – fortunately, there were only three of those.
Preamble: Single-letter clashes occur in 13 cells and must be replaced by the same suitably thematic symbol (representing a four-letter word), each time; three entries contain two clashes each. To complete the HERCULEAN TASK, solvers must add 16 straight lines to the grid in a manner to be determined. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended..
Again, of course, we recommend solving in pencil as a symbol is going to be inserted into the grid wherever we find clashing letters and we suspect that somehow we will be be joining those 13 examples of the ‘suitable’ symbol with those 16 straight lines to create some kind of diagram or drawing. Hercules had rather a lot of tasks to complete but one of them would probably prove to be relevant.
1a I’m hesitant to mix in robust alcohol (10, two words)
We simply put two wordplay elements (‘I’m hesitant’ and ‘to mix’) inside the third to produce the alcohol.
12a Once at entrance loves being announced (6)
‘Once’ tells us that we have an obsolete word here, and we know that ‘announced’ indicates a homophone.
19a Local chap with tips for ethnic translator (5)
We back-solved to find this translator when down clues had produced four of the letters of the solution, since the word for the ‘local chap’ is also quite a rare one.
21a Call for attention of phone network following echo intermittently (5)
‘of’ is often the permitted link word that joins the definition to its wordplay, but it can also be abbreviated. Remembering that helped us put the three elements of the wordplay together.
29a Time to abandon fast loan from RBS (3)
We are noticing how very well Check has worked on the surface sense of his clues – they all read like logical statements you might overhear in a pub, say, as they should. However, the RBS is our bank and you won’t get anything from it ‘fast’ – ah, but he’s using that as a Scottish indicator, isn’t he!
35a Thorny past hides proposition director overlooked (6)
Here’s another where we had to back-solve from an ‘obvious’ solution to work out how to ‘overlook’ or omit the ‘director’ from a word where Check has used almost the last of its many Chambers definitions.
40a Siemens pursuing European Commission support to change plan (10)
Another probable back-solve since a couple of familiar abbreviations are hinted at and we know that setters use TEE, BRA or PROP as words for a support.
2d South African’s fine second over with India (4)
Not, of course, a comment on a test match but a rare word produced from three tiny wordplay elements.
8d Scots needle Welsh feeling of resentment (4)
As we comment in almost every set of hints, the convention of underlining the definition part of the clue says it all.
16d Tree continually clipped within boundaries of hacienda (5)
Mrs Bradford‘s lists are invaluable when clues leads to horses, plants, trees etc. and this tree is in there. We noticed here how unambiguously Check’s clues are indicating the clashes.
32d Measure roubles dropping in capital (4)
Mrs Bradford also has almost two pages of measures, but there are no unches (unchecked cells) in this solution and the ‘capital’ the roubles are flowing through will certainly produce a smile (I don’t think you’d find a lot of roubles there!)
Those words ‘a manner to be determined’ were intriguing. Something was going to be spelled out that would help us make sense of the apparently random placing of those 13 clashes, and tell us what symbol to use to replace all 13 of them. Obviously it had to be in the clashing letters. When we had seen the hints (with a huge smile – this was clever), we spent a long time hunting on the Internet for an exact version of what our sixteen lines would produce. We went up a number of blind alleys before Wikipedia gave us exactly what we were looking for.
When you have drawn those 16 lines and the 13 examples of the symbol, 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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