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EV 1495 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1495 (Hints)

The African One by Skylark

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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This will be Skylark’s third year of crossword compiling. She has set crosswords for the Magpie, the Listener, the Inquisitor series and the Enigmatic Variations series. A ladies’ month Inquisitor will be appearing shortly.

Preamble:  Information on four characters linked to a region (THE AFRICAN ONE) is given by extra single letters to be removed from 34 clues, read in clue order; four extra words to be removed from other clues give further information about one of these. Corrected letters of misprints in five further clues providing key entries name the region. Solvers must change key entries, each time using one or more letters of the region and highlight four characters (28 cells in total). Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended; the final grid contains real words and names.

We count 45 clues and since we are told that 34 have extra letters giving information about four characters, that four have extra words that add information about one of these, and that a further five have a misprint to be corrected with the correct letters spelling the region (THE AFRICAN ONE), we realize that something is happening in all but two clues. 


12a          African village community‘s cream filling united abstainers (6)
To find this unusual word you need to put a small word into abbreviations for ‘united’ and ‘abstainers’.

15a         Briefly disagree about Ishiguro’s last Nobel in spring in Scotland (4)
Chambers has a Scottish word for ‘spring’ as does Mrs Bradford, of course. You need to shorten a word for ‘disagree’ and put Ishiguro’s last into it.

24a         Will’s appeared on radio once, Penny (4)
Rather complicated wordplay here to spell out the four-letter word that, for the bard, said ‘appeared’. Remember that there is an extra letter produced by most of the clues.

28a         Scots lose rural shute (4)
The Numpties knew neither of these words – neither the dialect nor the Scottish one – but the convention of underlining the definitions in the hints on Big Dave’s site will surely help.

41a         Mistake in colour on prize fruit of some American shrubs (8)
We put a short word for ‘mistake’ into words that were synonyms of ‘colour’ and ‘on’.

43a         Male Cajun perhaps tuts receiving American snacks (13, 2 words)
After an abbreviation, we used another word for Cajun, receiving letters for ‘American’ and to complete the snacks, we needed to remember that we were removing extra letters.


1d           Shot in the field watch Jock’s expression of anger (8)
This is a solution where you would be wise to ‘back-solve’ from the word which mostly appears as solving progresses. The Scottish word needs a one-letter abbreviation, a word for ‘in the field’ and a rare word for ‘watch’.

7d           Old soap, band receives recipe (4)
An abbreviation goes into a short word for a band.

13d         Formerly valiant prince rang (4)
This must be a very rare old word for ‘valiant’. It isn’t even in Mrs Bradford‘s book. However, the ‘Prince’ bit is easy and to that you need to add another three-letter word, not forgetting to extract a letter from the clue.

16d         Wellington’s medal which bears borders of ledum shrubs (7)
When you have extracted a letter, you need to think of the NZ Wellington. The ‘borders of ledum’ give you two more letters and a short word for ‘which’ completes this solution.

19d         Historic surveying instrument‘s rare, girl in countryside speaking at last brought up (5)
That it is a local girl who ‘brought this up’ suggests that we need to reverse the five letters the three wordplay elements produce. Mrs Bradford‘s list contains a range of dialect words for girls.

34d         Dali’s embracing black armadillo (4)
She does have armadillo words too.

Three of the  characters linked to the region were unknown to us so we were glad of those four extra words which suggested a familiar figure in the ‘African’ domain. This prompted us about the five-letter region and we needed a little Internet research so that we could use those five letters to convert words in the grid to the other three characters giving us those 28 letters to highlight. As so often with an EV, it was good to learn something new.

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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6 comments on “EV 1495 (Hints)

  1. Something to admire here (and a puzzle where careful reading of the preamble is more than usually important) At one time or another we’ve all complained that “I’ve filled the grid but can’t see what to highlight / modify”. The two pointers – changes involving just the region’s letters, and taking place in entries from the clues from which those letters derive, materially assist with the final step. I’ve not seen this device before, but will remember it for future use! Thank you, Skylark, for an enjoyable solve.

  2. Still in awe of how you EV setters are able to get these endgames to work out so elegantly. Always makes the effort worthwhile.

    Thanks, Skylark, once again, for the wonderful puzzle!

  3. Other duties meant I came to this later than usual. Quite a workout with all the different devices in play. A couple of very tricky clues too. I’m still word searching for character number 4 but the rest is all worked out. Thanks to Skylark for another good pesky (her word) puzzle to keep my little grey cells exercised.

  4. I’m in the same position as DT [above] – looking for number 4, who should have a 10 letter name if the other 3 are correct. That fact alone should make the task simple – or am I up the wrong tree completely?

  5. Thanks to Skylark for another enjoyable puzzle. Like The Numpties I hadn’t heard of three of the characters so needed quite a bit of Googling to complete the end game.

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