EV 1494 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1494 (Hints)

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.

Paired Clues

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.

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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13 comments on “EV 1494 (Hints)

  1. Congratulations to Sea-Kale on her first EV and a fine opening volley for Ladies’ Month. I hope other potential new lady setters are encouraged to have a go: the contributors to the “month” will I’m sure be glad to help you learn the ropes.

  2. Thank you so much David for your very kind comment. I can assure any potential lady setters that it has been a wonderful experience setting an EV puzzle, with help and encouragement all the way. My warmest thanks, too, to the Numpties for their kindness and for their excellent hints. It must take almost as long to think of a hint as it takes to write the clue!

    1. unable to complete ev today as no supplement in my sunday telegraph and cant get in touch with anyone to get a copy.
      Really annoyed.

  3. What a brilliant debut for Sea-Kale. A lovely puzzle with a nice range of difficulty across the clues. My favourites were 10d & 29d, both made me smile. I thought the ‘paired clues’ were fun and certainly produced a couple of penny drop moments as the theme emerged.

    Many thanks to Sea-Kale, I look forward to more EVs from you and as always thanks to the Numpties for the hints.

  4. Thanks and congratulations to Sea-Kale for an excellent and elegant puzzle. Clearly, something is coming from this setter!

  5. This was great! Pretty neat how everything came together.

    Looks like the title (The North American One) is part of a larger theme for the month, but I wonder if it’s common knowledge that within this puzzle, there’s a connection to the North American cryptic crossword scene. Can’t be a coincidence…

  6. Thank you very much for your heart-warming comments – I’m so glad you have enjoyed the puzzle.

    I am intrigued by Lee’s reference to “a connection to the North American cryptic crossword scene” within the puzzle. I think it must be coincidence.

    1. What a perfect coincidence! I probably shouldn’t say anything more about it at this point since it could potentially spoil the theme (especially if there are any other solvers from North America reading this). I would hate to rob anyone of the brilliant PDMs that this puzzle induces.

      Thanks, Sea-kale, for the fun, and thanks for dropping by the blog!

  7. Ah, how sweet! A lot of generous clues helped the first surname to emerge fairly quickly and the second was thus fairly guessable, as was 6d. Once the 3 pairs were interpreted in relation to the shaded cells the rest was obvious – though there appear to be 2 options for highlighting the second first name [5 would have been allowable?] All that remained were the non-generous clues: the magnificent 29d and the devious 42a.
    Thanks to Sea-kale and The Numpties.

    1. 29D really was magnificent. I also have to add 30D to the list — that clue really took me for a ride. I’ve never seen crosswordese used so deceptively. Good stuff.

  8. Impressive EV debut. I look forward to seeing more Sea-kale puzzles. Also quite intrigued/excited by the idea of the “round the world, continent by continent” theme so will be making an extra effort to solve EVs for the whole series.

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