Enigmatic Variations 1491 (Hints)
Pioneer by Wickball
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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Dave Hennings’ crossword database tells us that this is Wickball’s sixth thematic cryptic crossword. He has set for the Inquisitor and Enigmatic Variations series.
Preamble: Seven answers are too long and must be accommodated by displaying two discoveries in the grid, each comprising seven characters, to be entered in the appropriate format. In 20 other clues, an extra letter produced by wordplay spells out an allusion to one of the discoveries; one further clue is perversely informative. In the completed grid, the contents of two cells must be amended to reveal the name of the PIONEER (13, two words) responsible, which solvers must highlight together with the discoveries (25 cells in total). Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended; one answer is an abbreviation.
“Read the preamble” we frequently remind ourselves. Here the word ‘characters’ and the information that they must be ‘entered in the appropriate format’ alerts us to the fact that some things that are not just letters will be appearing in our final grid. We have met numbers, Greek letters and symbols before and we are on the lookout for those again. We wonder about a PIONEER but realize that that can be an explorer or a pathfinder in a wide range of fields.
11a Anthem during jog around institute (7)
Three wordplay elements lead to a fairly unusual word for an anthem.
13a I imagine a pie’s OK upsetting the rule (6)
This clue completely flummoxed us until we had had the penny-drop moment and re-read the preamble. It might be a useful prompt to some clever solvers.
16a Hope beginning to fade sadly in fat cat (7)
We wondered whether Wickball had, by some second sense, got news of Boris, our very fat, blind and rather useless cat, but after losing that bit of hope and thinking of another word for ‘fat’, we realized that his cat was rather larger and of a different kind.
22a Highly regarded territory – one’s scalp (8)
Remember that we are looking for twenty extra letters in the wordplay. A very entertaining clue here gives us one.
24a Victorian cadges craft (4)
Here is another of those sneaky crossword indicators (like Perth which can be in Australia or Scotland). ‘Victorian’ can be indicating a word from the century before last or just telling us that it is used in Australia. This was not a usage familiar to us.
29a US statement is nothing special (4)
There are no unches in this four-letter solution and Chambers confirmed for us that the letters that appeared in our grid were a US statement. We needed the first three to provide ‘nothing’.
34a Funny old diary, Asian tongue (5)
We are always astonished by the wide reach of Anne R Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary. Of course this obscure language appears in her list of languages.
35a Potentate‘s tree planted between two rivers (5)
The underlining probably says it all. That three-letter tree is one that we have come to know (like ASTI, the TSETSE fly, THETES, ETAS and ESNES) through solving crosswords.
36a Fellow oddly ill felt broken bone (6)
The wordplay here required us to do three things; use the fellow, consider how one is ‘oddly’ ill and do the breaking to produce the bone. We needed to remember to hunt for another extra letter too.
41a Involving shared responsibility to consider carefully, we hear (4)
Remember that ‘seven answers are too long’ and that we are looking for those ‘characters to be entered in the appropriate format’.
44a Ambassador abridged very large passages of notes (7)
Words like ‘tenuto’ and ‘piano’ are more words that become familiar to crossword solvers. This one is a slightly less familiar musical term.
45a Part of running track: Pink Floyd’s Arnold ______ (4)
It is a good idea, here, to check the spelling of Pink Floyd’s Arnold.
4d Allegedly composed a rondo (4)
We had to tell ouselves that ‘allegedly’ might be a prompt about a homophone.
7d Fat one absorbed in old record papers (3)
This clue helped us understand what was going on. The ‘old records’ are usually LPs or EPs and you might well carry the papers around with you but there was something suspect about the given word length.
14d Rough and ready Romeo leaves fish market in chaos (5)
As in the clue we commented on above, there was something suspect about the given word length that didn’t tally with the solution that was spelled out here when we removed Romeo from a chaotic fish market.
30d Friends essentially upgraded to best epicures (5)
‘Essentially’ in these crosswords usually refers to the central letter and ‘upgraded’ moves it forward in the alphabet, creating a less common word and, again, giving us a puzzling word length.
34d Bad law upset some hearts perhaps (5)
We were so busy working out how to fit in over-long words that we had almost forgotten to look for those essential extra letters needed to spell out the ‘allusion’.
37d Left part of supermarket heading off for yarn (4)
Again, the letter count was what puzzled us.
The penny-drop moment for the Numpties was when we had worked out those twenty extra wordplay letters. We needed Google to help us find that allusion and the person who made it. If, like one of the Numpties, you are out of your familiar ground in this field, you will be able (by asking Wiki about the PIONEER) to identify both of the discoveries and the two sets of seven characters needed to display them. Note the word ‘characters’. In each case, three will already have appeared in your solution grid.
Remember to amend those two cells and to highlight the pioneer’s name and his two discoveries.
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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