Enigmatic Variations 1489 (Hints)
Dating Agency by Ifor
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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Ifor is familiar to Listener, Magpie, IQ and EV solvers. You can be sure of a challenge wirh fairly difficult clues and an endgame that will be theme-packed and substantial.
Preamble: All three- and four-letter entries are new words formed by thematic treatment (a change then a loss) of their answers. The unclued entries are two names associated with a DATING AGENCY. Letters of these names appear in the same (thematically significant) letter position in the 22 clues to five, six and seven-letter entries; in clue order these letters suggest what they did. Solvers must thematically replace the letter in one numbered cell in the originally-filled grid. Some abbreviations used are not in Chambers Dictionary (2016) which is otherwise recommended; numbers refer to entry lengths.
Our first hint is to identify the clues which have three- and four-letter entries, we highlight ten, eight of them mutually intersecting, and since ‘numbers refer to entry lengths’, we suspect that the solutions to those clues will be longer than the cells available. The solutions are going to all be treated thematically so we solve some but enter nothing for the time being. There are going to be several ways to identify the theme which will tell us what the ‘significant letter position’ is (probably ‘first’, ‘last’ or a number) – we have two names that are going to appear at 1ac and 35ac and we wonder about their ‘dating agency’. Finally, we notice that all but four of the remaining clues have five, six or seven letters. A letter from each of those will contribute to 22 letters that will spell (jumbled,obviously) the two names and suggest to us what they did (read in clue order).
9a Life force restraining judge in direct understanding of the truth of religion (6)
As we usually comment, 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. Here it helped to have a definition of a word that was new to us and to be given a hint about how to construct it.
12a Replicating nominal value, returned acclamation with thanks (5, two words)
The ‘acclamation’ that we needed to ‘return’ to get this two-word solution was an Australian usage that wasn’t familiar to us. (It came 5th in the definitions of the word in question in Chambers. That is part of Ifor’s style. He isn’t going to use the most obvious of the definitions.)
14a Web link downloads will do, overwriting page in copies (7)
The clue instructs us how to play with ‘copies’ in order to produce the ‘web link downloads’.
19a Scots loth to maintain unbridled hate for leisurewear (7)
What would we do without Mrs Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary? Of course, she has a Scots word for ‘loth’. Actually, she has two, but only one of the two will produce the leisurewear when ‘hate’ is ‘unbridled’ and added to the word.
22a They are first in prizes maybe (7)
We were puzzled by the second part of this clue but it was confirmed by Chambers.
25a Got up in alarm, seeing gentleman’s return (4)
This is one of the clues it is important to solve in order to understand the crossword’s theme. To find the word for ‘got up’ we had to return, or reverse, the ‘gentleman’ within a word denoting an ‘alarm’. Of course, once we had the solution, we needed to adapt it, deploying a ‘change and a loss’ presumably one letter changed and one removed. Solving four down clues, 21, 20, 3 and 16 gave us a change, a loss and a new real word.
28a Nonreactive tablet put back by the way (7)
This solution, for us, needed a back-solve. The answer springs to mind at once and helpful letters that you may well already have in the grid spell it out – almost – but we needed to confirm that the second part of the clue, just two letters, could be ‘back by the way’.
29a Ditch in Wellington, taking special order from ground (3)
The ‘ditch’ is a crossword setter’s favourite and there is more than one ‘Wellington’. The ‘ground’ from which we were taking ‘special order’ was not the earthy kind. Of course, again we have to solve intersecting down clues, bearing in mind that we are to remove a letter and change another.
30a Roman impromptu’s at most painful without following new reforms (5, two words)
Those crossword abbreviations for ‘special’, ‘judge’. ‘following’, ‘new’ etc. will be becoming familiar to newer EV solvers. With those in mind, the ‘Roman’ expression will be easy to find.
32a Sardonic articles rejected, to some extent better on track here in Washington (6)
The solution is a relatively obscure word so Ifor has clued it generously.
7d Harm to the elderly in suburban environment (3)
This clue was the one that showed us the ‘way into’ the crossword. Ifor’s generous clue gives you the word from which you must remove a letter and the words entered at 10 and 12ac will indicate which letter must change. We needed to think about what the letters in question could represent.
15d Answer that’s left with sneaky catch (4)
Ifor uses ‘left’ in a specific way here. Solvers need to think what ‘with’ can represent in a crossword (and what ‘sneaky’ means). As in 15d, the letters that are being played with (one changed, one removed) will guide you to the theme.
23d Painter – no amateur – reproduced colour in butterfly’s wings (6)
A fascinating and unusual word appears when you do what the clue instructs.
The changes we had to make to the three- and four-letter entries, which became evident as our grid filled and ‘clashing’ letters dictated the changes, shared a common feature and prompted us about the dating agency. We needed the Internet to clarify for us why we were making those changes and to confirm the two names – and prompt us which letter in each clue we were using to receive a hint. When you have found that, you will smile at the ‘one letter in a numbered cell’ that has to be changed. Don’t forget to do it!
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