EV 1485 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1485 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1485 (Hints)

Elementary by Opsimath

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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You will already have encountered Opsimath’s crosswords. He sets in the in the Magpie, Listener, Inquisitor and EV series. This is his second EV and should be welcome to new solvers as he firmly believes in fair and generous clues and doesn’t look for difficulty for its own sake in his crosswords.

Preamble:  Wordplay in some across clues and most of the down clues generates the answer plus a superfluous letter; in clue order, these letters spell out the titles of two works. Solvers must highlight the author and the original title of the ELEMENTARY work. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended; one answer is a prefix.

The information that wordplay in ‘some’ across clues and ‘most of’ the down clues will generate an extra letter is initially daunting as we know that it is easier to hunt for a letter in every clue. We suspect that there might be a reason for this ‘different’ treatment of the extra letters. We also highlight for ourselves the word ‘original’ which suggests that the work in question might be known to us by a different title.


12a           Corresponding with Soviet agents in heartless content  (9)
As usual in the hints on Big Dave’s site, the underlining of the definition part of a clue might be all the help a solver needs. You need, here, to find letters for the Soviet agents to put into that ‘heartless’ content.

16a         Capital city where monarch replaces a busy person (4)
The letters for the monarch are the familiar crossword ones. The capital city in question is a less familiar one and we needed to remember that we were watching for extra letters in the wordplay.

19a         Georgie so not English at all, and not Zingaro (6)
Again we reminded ourselves that we were watching for extra letters. Removing all the English gave us a Romany word that we didn’t know.

32a         Refuse the Parisian hosting square dances (8)
You might well eat this kind of refuse. The dances are ones you have probably never heard of or performed in – we hadn’t.

34a         Fourth month in Cannes that was Bulwer-Lytton’s idea (4)
Occasionally, when a setter is struggling to clue an awkward and very unusual word (like this one that Chambers will confirm), a clue falls miraculously onto the page. This must have been one of those for Opsimath. It earned our smile.

38a         Poor workers in Australia with a plum in scrambled eggs (9, two words)
Australia produces a wealth of expressions unfamiliar to outsiders but luckily Chambers includes a lot of them. We didn’t for a moment believe that Australia’s poor workers would really be scrambling eggs and putting ‘a plum’ in.

40a         Woolly merino loses its head (4)
The answer that is spelled out by the wordplay produced the ‘woolly’ word. ‘One letter is a prefix’, we were told in the preamble.


5d          Jones perhaps first person to enter? (5)
Jones is one of the most common names in the UK but this ‘Jones’ was rather distinguished.

7d          River of Italian city (6)
Again, the underlined definition probably says it all. You don’t need to get out your atlas to see which cities the Po, Adige, Arno or Tevere run through!

9d          Only roughly unknown burden, but what a surprise! (9, three words)
Four wordplay elements, two of them single letters, give this rather colloquial three-word expression.

21d         Ornamental works of Cellini destroyed (6)
The generous wordplay solved this for us. Of course Cellini’s works are undamaged.

29d         Loans underpinning celebrated library at Ephesus (6)
This clue could only be one of Opsimath’s – he lives very close to the famous classical site.

Solvers sometimes comment that they completed a grid then spent almost as much time ‘grid staring’ to find the matter to highlight. We don’t think that will be the case here since we were given broad hints by the extra letters provided. However, this might be the place to comment that we automatically hunt in the perimeter rows and columns, then in the diagonals of a crossword (in both directions – forwards and backwards). We know that skilled setters will, as far as possible, hide thematic matter symmetrically. If we are still hunting, we look for a thematic shape of letters – a circle, maybe.

Do remember that the work in the grid needs to be highlighted and its author, 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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5 comments on “EV 1485 (Hints)

  1. Another fair and approachable puzzle from Opsimath, with an elegant endgame. It’s good to have these to balance the stinkers!

    1. Are you serious?

      “Wordplay in some across clues and most of the down clues generates the answer plus a superfluous letter; in clue order, these letters spell out the titles of two works. Solvers must highlight the author and the original title of the ELEMENTARY work. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended; one answer is a prefix.”


      1. Haha! Well…not “beginner” beginners. But if anyone is looking for an entry point to thematic crosswords, this puzzle is very appropriate. It’s on the same level as the September EVs, which were published with people like me in mind (people who got frightened just by looking at the published solutions). I’ve been hooked ever since.

  2. It’s nice to have a puzzle every once in a while in which I don’t have to consult a dictionary for every single entry. And I still learned something from the endgame!

    I really liked 37D. I had never seen that device before.

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