Enigmatic Variations 1496 (Hints)
The European One by Vismut
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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Vismut bexame one of the rare lady setters of advanced cryptic crosswords three years ago and her compilations have appeared in the Listener, the Magpie, the Inquisitor series and the EV. This will be her ninth in the Telegraph Enigmatic Variations series, and solvers enjoying the ladies’ month will be challenged by her Inquisitor next week in the i. With her wide range of themes, music, horses, books, art, (the list goes on) you can never know what to expect but can be sure of succinct and fair clues and an entertaining endgame.
Preamble: The 24 unnumbered clues contain an extra translated word thematic to their clue number, to be removed before solving, (except the first, which has two to be treated as one). The position of these words in each clue indexes the letter to be selected from that word and in the order presented they spell out an invention. The remaining six from the group run around the perimeter of the grid and the group’s name in the source language (THE EUROPEAN ONE) is given by the circled letters when they are read in the conventional way from the grid. Something, read in a straight line within the completed grid, was destroyed prior to this invention and must be restored to complete a description of the one from the group that should be highlighted (four letters). Unchecked letters in the perimeter might make YOU CRACKING VERBS. The final grid contains real words and phrases; Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.
As usual, we solve in pencil, as we are told that we are going to ‘restore something that was destroyed’. This will involve changing letters as ‘the final grid contains real words and phrases’. Vismut has made her own the device of using the position of words in a clue to ‘index’ a letter in an extra word that must be removed before solving. These words are in some way, to be ‘thematic’ and we already have a hint since they are ‘translated’. This crossword is THE EUROPEAN ONE. It is typical of an advanced thematic cryptic crossword that the preamble makes sense as solving progresses but here we are being given generous hints.
Six generous numbered clues started our grid fill. All led to words that frequently appear in crosswords except perhaps:
6 Down Priest possessed by crazy, fabulous nymph (6) As usual with the hints on Big Dave’s site, the underlining helps us find this nymph (not the NAIAD who appears even more often in crosswords!) We put a short word for ‘crazy’ around a short priest’s name (another of those crossword old chestnuts).
* Inhabitants of Asgard talk about keeping guinea fowl eggs on vacation (5)
‘On vacation’ are not words suggesting that these ‘inhabitants of Asgard’ are on holiday. They are a compiler’s hint about how to use a word. Solving this clue will give you an idea about the ‘type’ of ‘translated word’ we are removing from clues, though here, for the letter to be ‘selected’ we are told to treat two words as one.
* Perhaps need mint harvest seen first, it’s used to make resins (6)
We put a very short word for ‘harvest’ first and completed this ingredient of resins with an anagrammed word ‘perhaps’ suggesting the anagram.
* Mark word suspect, old country artichoke spelt with s instead of z (7)
There’s another unusual word here. You might well leave this clue to be ‘back-solved’ when a number of letters are in place and you can work out which country with a Z needs that letter to change to S.
* Man’s given speedwell name of blue arum (4)
This clue exploits the wide range of meanings of ‘blue’. A word here about fitting these solutions into the grid. When we read the preamble, we didn’t understand how the extra translated word could be ‘thematic to its clue number’. As light dawned and we realized what language we were translating from, we went to Wikipedia so that we could relate those words to numbers. I am sure a good solver, with the first six solutions in place, could fill her (or his) grid but a reference book or Wiki will really help. (I can hear the ‘tut-tut’ of the purists but I am happy to use all the resources that are available).
* Irish peeled long shallot before it’s stewed for satire’s employer (7)
Three wordplay elements here. What a fine surface reading Vismut has engineered – it has nothing to do with peeling shallots.
* Turkish soldier adding variable cumin to staple from the south (5)
If you are not using any resource to help you find the clue numbers, it will be a useful prompt that this ‘staple from the South’ suggests that the staple into which we are putting a ‘variable’ is being read ‘upwards’ and therefore that this is a down clue.
* Insipid bleach taking off alkanet base and colour primarily (4)
We simply had to remove the ‘base’ and ‘hint of colour’ from bleach to give a word we have never used.
We had our 24 removed items and the list we were using gave us the remaining six (translated) to fit around the perimeter. We didn’t need to use YOU CRACKING VERBS (we rarely do use those unchecked cell contents – only occasionally for a final check) but with a full grid we still had to find the thing that had been destroyed – in a straight line in the grid – and restore it. When you have recognised the theme and which ‘European One’ we are dealing with, it becomes clear what you are looking for. Remember where to look; if columns and rows yield nothing, the diagonals are a likely place, up or down. The circled letters have identified a ‘group’ and only one of those is available as four letters to be highlighted.
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