EV 1486 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1486 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1486 (Hints)

Satisfaction by proXimal

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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New solvers have already met proXimal, the EV editor, in EV 1468 some months ago, and he sets some of the Toughies. You can be sure of a challenge but fair and carefully constructed clues too.

Preamble:  All clues are normal, but each of the answers to 43 clues must be entered with a single-letter misprint, always occurring in a cell shared with a crossing entry; in clue order, correct letters spell out a question. Solvers must change the contents of four cells in the grid to demonstrate the answer to SATISFACTION. The grid contains real words at every stage. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended. 

“Read the preamble” we frequently remind ourselves. We have a device here that I suspect we haven’t seen before. We count 49 clues and read that a misprint is going to be entered in 43 of their answers. That misprint will be provided by one of the crossing answers; but be careful! It is the correct letters that will spell out for us the question and we are going to read those in clue order (not, as is sometimes the case, in the order they appear in the grid). Six answers will be entered with no misprint – we prompt ourselves to keep a very careful record of how we are solving, so that we will find that question and perhaps discover why there was no misprint in those six solutions.


18a           Opponents of Steve disembowelled in conflict (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. We interpreted ‘in conflict’ as an anagram indicator. We have already realised that any of the three letters of this solution that share crossing cells could produce the solution’s misprint, so we need to find a clashing letter, and have to solve 4d, 5d, and 18d (carefully recording which was the misprint, as I said above, as there will be answers where three clashes appear in the final grid and we need to remember which belonged to the across clue, in order to spell out that question).

19a         Egyptologist cut short Dutch bore (6)
The Egyptologist is probably the best-known one, known for his discovery almost 100 years ago. We have to ‘cut him short’ and Dutch completes our solution.

21a        South African group‘s cardinal hugging the Queen (6)
Compilers seem unable to avoid using these letters for the Queen. The ‘cardinal’ in this case is not a religious one. The word they produced together had us resorting to Chambers.

24a         Dealer in Belgium arranged for ammo belt (9)
We know that ‘for’ in a clue often introduces the definition part. Here we have an evident anagram indicator and need to work out which nine letters of the clue will give the answer. (Looking back, after completing the endgame, we realised how cleverly this word was chosen and how aptly inserted in the symmetrical grid to serve the setter’s purpose.)

39a         A hot fluid contains unknown element of alchemy (5)
The letters that symbolise ‘unknown’ are used by setters to indicate X, Y, and Z. This ‘element of alchemy’ is a fairly obscure word.

41a         Inclined to horizon,  see earl borne by horse (7)
‘See’ and ‘earl’ can both be abbreviated and when a horse ‘bears’ them, a most unusual word appears – not one we knew.

42a         Campion, perhaps, is back by noon in shade (6)
We are often astonished by the wide reach of Anne R Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary. She even includes this word for a campion. Three clue elements need to be put together to produce it.


6d           Fish from south roving endlessly (6)
Again Mrs Bradford gives the fish. It wasn’t one especially swimming in southern seas. ‘From’, here, was another link-word (like ‘for’ mentioned above) but, in this case introduced the wordplay.

9d          Farmer (King) George is over indignation (7)
‘Over’ in a down clue can indicate how one clue element is above the other – as in this case.

13d        Immense foot area swollen, except centre (8)
Again there are two familiar crossword abbreviations needed, then a word for ‘swollen’ with its centre removed. Here again, on looking back after completing the grid, we were amazed that the setter managed to find this word to fulfil his purpose.

23d         Atom compared to another is nothing basic (7)
The highlighting here will help you to find a rare chemical word. (The comment on 13d applies here too.)

29d         Anchor close to rock on side (5)
We are sailors but didn’t know this nautical word that is spelled out by two wordplay elements.

30d        A resident of Fleet Street’s not in concert (6, two words)
A clue to produce a smile when you back-solve, probably, from the two words that almost appear in the grid.

34d        Abroad, weight is measured in these craft on a lake (5)
The wordplay tells us that this is one of the many words for units of measurement.

If you have worked out the question or pieced it together from some or most of its letters, you will probably have heard it before. If not, Google will help you with the answer when you feed in the key words. Look in the obvious place and you will find the four letters that need to be changed.

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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8 comments on “EV 1486 (Hints)
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  1. A very SATISFYING endgame. A few of the clues are still foxing me but most were enjoyably doable and the message popped out fairly quickly. Not “entry level” but an excellent example of EV-eness as one would expect from the editor! Thankyou.

  2. The preservation of real words throughout was quite amazing. If only I remember the meanings of half of ’em. But what sort of mind comes up with a theme like this! About halfway through it was at risk of becoming a bit of a chore, at which point I twigged and fell about laughing, even tho it’s a real old chestnut. That made the rest of the grid fill somewhat easier and the 4 cells were not too hard to find.
    Terrific fun – thanks proXimal – and thanks, of course, to The Numpties.

  3. That was a trip! What an incredibly unique puzzle!

    I assumed that all the unches would make this extra difficult, but proXimal played nice and gave us some beautifully balanced clues. Fair to the end.

    Bravo, proXimal, for maintaining balance, real words, and symmetry. And for making me laugh!

  4. That was pretty good – taxing and well worth the solving… a delight as it all worked out. Thanks.

  5. 15a proved tricky as lave in Scots means the remainder or spare so OFF I went down a rabbit hole! Brilliant puzzle so thanks to ProXimal for a helping me through the last stretch of lockdown.

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