EV 1491 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

EV 1491 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1491 (Hints)

Pioneer by Wickball

Hints and tips by The Numpties

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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.

Could new readers please read the Welcome post and the FAQ before posting comments or asking questions about the site.

As this is a Prize crossword, please don’t put any ANSWERS, whether WHOLE, PARTIAL or INCORRECT, or any ALTERNATIVE CLUES in your comment.

Please read these instructions carefully – they are not subject to debate or discussion. Offending comments may be redacted or, in extreme cases, deleted. In all cases the administrator’s decision is final.

9 comments on “EV 1491 (Hints)

  1. A very neat puzzle that’s worth the puzzling over. The breakthrough for me came in working out the characters to use in the first of the discoveries, which rang a bell (from another crossword rather than specialist knowledge). That and decoding the first part of the message were enough to help me sort out the second discovery and see me home. Thanks to Wickball for a pleasant diversion and the editor and the Numpties for their roles too.

  2. A bit of a struggle but well worth the effort. Thanks to the Numpties for the help that pushed me over the line.

  3. Ah, yeah. This makes me happy. A puzzle made just for me! I might have a slight advantage when it comes to this theme (finally!). Just beautiful.

    Favorites this time around were 22A (funny) and 2D (clever). I also got a kick out of “one further clue is perversely informative” — didn’t quite know what it meant until the endgame, but then realized it was a very apt description.

    Thanks to Wickball, the Numpties, and most of all, the PIONEER.

  4. Yes, quite a struggle! It reminded me why I gave up the subject after O level. Relatively kind clues in the NW corner provided a deceptively quick start but many of the rest were on the tough side. The Pioneer was fairly easy to deduce from the 20 surplus letters but the 2 discoveries needed more thought, the lower one being expressed in a non-standard form. The significance of the perverse “cross-check clue” only became clear at the very end.
    Respect to Wickball and thanks to The Numpties for particularly helpful hints.

  5. There was a lot going on in this puzzle and I had to keep referring back to the preamble to remind myself of the different elements. It was the 20 addition letters that gave me a way in and after quite a bit of reading on Wiki (a lot of which I didn’t fully understand!) I managed to crack it. I wasn’t clever enough to solve the ‘perversely informative’ clue early on but when the penny eventually dropped it certainly made me smile.
    Thanks to Wickball for the entertaining but tough challenge and to The Numpties for the hints which helped me move along.

  6. I enjoy these crosswords and submit them on completion, but why is so much help provided for a prize crossword that is still live?It seems unfair to give such heavy hints that may increase the number of correct entries at the expense of those who have solved the puzzle unaided.

    1. Hi DJ, I am the EV editor. I don’t believe that the EV hints are any more generous than those in the blogs for the Saturday or Sunday prize puzzles. The primary reason for the blog is to provide help to those interested in attempting barred puzzles, but not knowing where to start. The Numpties do a brilliant job of providing this resource and they have my full support.

      The Welcome post at the top of Big Dave’s site explains the reason for the existence of the blogs. Quoting directly from this, he says ‘ I am interested in helping true crossword enthusiasts rather than serial prize seekers. Comments on these puzzles which give answers, whether whole, partial or incorrect, or alternative clues before the closing date will be redacted or deleted.’

      There are other sites from which you can get full answers for any puzzle, so the fact that solvers can get help on prize puzzles is inescapable. I believe this blog does far more good than harm — in fact, I don’t even believe in the existence of serial prize seekers.

      I am pleased to hear that you enjoy the puzzles. Thanks for your support.

  7. DJ. We began to write the hints some months ago when the EV was threatened with extinction partly because of the low number of entries (compared, say, with the plain cryptics) and we perceived that one problem was that solvers were somewhat daunted by the advanced thematic cryptics and would even abandon when they failed to make immediate sense of the preamble (which is, of course, normal in a thematic, where the obscurity can be part of the game). We do consult the editor about whether the hints are too generous and, for the last few which have been unusually tough, his reponse has been that solvers will only consult the hints if they are struggling. I can reassure you that a July ladies’ month is coming up with puzzles that we Numpties feel are less daunting and the hints will be far fewer.

Comments are closed.