EV 1488 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1488 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1488 (Hints)

Carbon-Neutral by Kruger

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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Kruger has been setting crosswords for over a quarter of a century for all the outlets for thematic cryptic crosswords so certainly needs no introduction. We have come to expect fairly difficult but completely fair clues from such an experienced setter.

Preamble: Nine clues each contain a misprint in their definition. Correct letters, in clue order, give a location (to be written beneath the grid) where you might participate in a CARBON-NEUTRAL activity and hinting at how several answers must be treated before entry. All final grid entries are real words or phrases. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended..

As usual, we solve in pencil, as some answers have to be ‘treated before entry’ and we suspect that we will have entered some of those before we learn what is going on. A second device tells us that we are going to find nine corrected misprints that will explain how a CARBON-NEUTRAL activity will help us understand the changes we are going to make in answers.


15a           Generate energy following beginning of race possibly (6)
We struggled to understand how the wordplay led to this definition but prompted ourselves that misprints might  help us in the end. The ‘possibly’ in the clue was puzzling but Chambers explains it.

16a         Took away loaves etc. from that woman in unfinished business (7)
The definition surprised us here but when we had put a word for ‘that woman’ in an unfinished word for ‘business’ and looked up our solution in Chambers, we found that it was justified.

17a         Element of Jock’s first-class service (4)
Clearly we were looking for a Scottish word and the two parts of the wordplay spelled it out for us.

21a         City tax in Eire after middle of autumn? (6)
We needed three letters for the ‘middle of autumn’ and three for Eire to produce this rather obscure word.

29a         Wildcat American leaves for European tour (4)
This corner of the grid was the last little bit of our solve with this clue puzzling us. We had to remember that the word ‘for’ can be telling us to change one letter for another.  The wildcat was familiar but not the ‘tour’. Of course, it is in Chambers, but is an old word that we don’t use any more.

36a         Having male partnership in UAE Nigel’s gay (8, two words)
There’s an interesting use of the word ‘gay’ here – it is telling us what to do with the words that precede it.

40a          A hundred engineers focus (6)
If you think of the French for a hundred and the familiar abbreviation for ‘engineers’ this clue will make sense.


1d            Storing religious books in tower upset Primitive Methodist (6)
Think of a verb for ‘tower’ and store a standard crossword abbreviation for ‘books’ in it and you’ll find a very expressive word. Of course, like us, you have found that your solutions are not intersecting as they should. We looked for letters that were common to this solution and the ones we had found for 1 and 15 across, and the penny dropped, leading to a most enjoyable solve.

4d           Prepare whale oil (5)
A succinct clue like this suggests to us a double definition clue (and, as usual, the convention to underline definitions on Big Dave’s site says it all).

9d           Gate in the centre spooks ostrich (6)
This ‘gate’ is a technical word.

20d          Travelling here, I am receiving a Maori welcome (8)
Lucky Kruger to be visiting NZ in these lockdown times!  Oh, dear, no! It’s his wordplay that is doing the travelling.

26d           Woven material found in El Salvador storehouses (6)
You can guess what letters El Salvador gives us. The word for the storehouses is not often heard in English.

A number of very generous clues revealed to us fairly quickly how we needed to enter fifteen of our answers and we Numpties had realised that before nine corrected misprints made it clear to us why we were adjusting our entries. You may well have seen the word for the location where one might participate in a CARBON-NEUTRAL activity faster than we did, but it will certainly earn a smile when the penny drops, whichever comes first.

Don’t forget to put the word below your completed grid 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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4 comments on “EV 1488 (Hints)

  1. Many thanks to Kruger for an enjoyable puzzle, though I found it hard to get going – probably because there was more than one complication involved. Once the full penny had dropped on the modification I speeded up a lot, and a wordsearch app which allows wildcard strings meant the excellent hidden location soon revealed itself as well. Hats off to solvers of old who didn’t have these “helps”. And thanks too the Numpties for the useful hints.

  2. Managed to determine the “location” with just 5 of the 9 letters, and then the penny dropped hard. From there, I was able to enjoy watching Kruger’s vision unfurl.

    I agree with David’s sentiment on electronic aids. I’ve given myself permission to use any means necessary to solve these EVs. Chambers, Bradford, The Numpties, Google, regular expression matching, you name it. Maybe some day I’ll be able to do these without references (probably not), but for now, the “cheating” is allowing me to enjoy some incredibly creative puzzles which would be completely off limits otherwise.

  3. And of course the other side of the coin, Lee, is that without a different but overlapping set of electronic aids setters would be far less able to create puzzles such as this. As you say, it’s an entirely personal decision as to how much and what sort of “help” a solver chooses to employ. Just continue to enjoy the puzzles!

  4. Something of a circular puzzle to begin with, but once the penny drops it all falls into place. One has to admire the ingenuity [or the software] of the setter of something like this.
    Thanks to Kruger and the Numpties.

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