Enigmatic Variations 1494 (Hints)
The North American One by Sea-kale
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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Sea-kale has the honour of opening the ladies’ month that is having its second annual airing in the Inquisitor series (see yesterday’s i) and is now happening in the Enigmatic Variations series too. In the EV more lady setters are to come, Vismut, Chalicea and Skylark and the themes will cover much of the world, with The European One, The Asian One, The African One, The Australasian One and the South American One still to come. Sea-kale is the newest lady setter who made her debut with a couple of delightful crosswords in The Crossword Club. This is her very first EV.
Preamble: The unclued entry at 6 down (three words) is the title of a version – THE NORTH AMERICAN ONE – of an earlier work. Each of the first three clues is really two clues side by side but not overlapping, leading to the two numbered entries (either may be clued first). Their answers, thematically placed, hint at two opposing groups. The worplay in 17 of the remaining across clues leads to the answer plus an extra letter not to be entered in the grid. The extra letters spell out the surnames of the two creators of the work. In the completed grid, solvers must highlight the first names of the two protagonists and the place they desire.
We check that there are 22 across clues so that over three-quarters of them will produce an extra letter and we also notice those intriguing shaded cells dividing the grid into two as well as 6d, the unclued light, down the centre.
12a, 37a In Aviemore barley cut short alongside nameless valley; bailiff reflected mountain pasture not in the past level (6,5)
It will clearly be a great help to find the two thematic words. As usual Mrs Bradford helped us to confirm the unusual one for the first of these when we had trimmed the Scottish barley and the valley.
6a Gets the better of argument backing street signage initially (6)
Three wordplay elements here; the argument has to be backed, followed by an abbreviation and a single letter.
14a Scots aren’t able to stick around North America (6)
Think of a different kind of ‘stick’ here around North America to produce a Scottish word.
18a Bone beef, for example, topside; lastly salt (6)
What a beautifully deceptive clue! Of course, the convention of highlighting in Big Dave’s hints will be a help here. You need a small word for a bone, a word that is ‘beef’, for example, (and don’t forget that letters are extracted from most of the across clues) and ‘topside’ lastly.
24a Exotic illegal stimulant drawing out that man from alcove (6)
A very entertaining clue gives us another of those letters. This clue has nothing to do with drugs prompting a fellow to emerge from hiding. A short word for a stimulant is added to a word for an alcove that loses a couple of letters used for ‘that man’, giving us a word that can mean ‘exotic’. This solution and the one to 26ac might prompt you about the theme, or help you understand the paired clues.
26a Propose to enter disreputable bar and split up (6)
This is probably a clue to back-solve. From the word for ‘split up’ remove the short word for a disreputable bar and you will see which letters are needed to complete the entry and which one must be extra.
38a Mineral expert holds in hand (6)
The usual crossword word for an expert is ‘holding in’ a popular word for a hand giving us an unusual word for the mineral.
8d Making better sound almost uplifted musical (8)
A very successful musical turns up after most of a word for ‘sound’; add them together and we have a rare word for ‘making better’.
10d Bard’s sightless insects love Sea-kale (7)
Here’s another amusing clue with three elements, the insects, love, and a couple of letters for our compiler. They add up to a word that was new for the Numpties.
20d Over US city come luckily upon base type of marble (8)
There are several minute wordplay elements here. Crossword solvers are familiar with the one for ‘over’ and the city is usually LA or New York in crosswords, we needed a short word for ‘come luckily upon’ and a letter for ‘base’, all added together to give the marble.
29d Spenserian works without false airs written with such? (6)
What a brilliant clue for our last hint! Think of Spenserian ‘working’ – remove the ‘false’ airs and you have his word for what he wrote with. Indeed, this has to be our clue of the day.
With so much material in the grid, there were several different ways to produce the penny-drop moment. For the Numpties, it was when 6d appeared. Remember to highlight those two first names and the place the two protagonists desire in this much loved theme (it probably has you singing!) With so many delightful clues, Sea-kale surely has you looking forward to her next compilation.
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