EV 1499 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1499 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1499 (Hints)

The South American One by Gaston

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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For EV solvers, Gaston needs no introduction. His recent puzzle gave us a map of the Grand National course. We  always enjoy his generous and very fair clues.

Preamble:  Each of 18 across clues and 18 down clues leads to a single superfluous letter in its wordplay. Read in clue order, these extra letters give an indication as to six elements (THE SOUTH AMERICAN ONEs) which must be highlighted in the completed grid – 39 cells in total, with some cells doing duty in more than one element. Every element bar one is symmetrical and they are (very approximately) where solvers would expect to find them. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended; one answer is an abbreviation.

We count the clues and find that there are 23 across and 26 down so that well over half of both the across and down (18 of each) will have an extra letter, produced by the wordplay, that we will record in the coloured strip we draw down the side of our clues.


5a           Protests about out-of-date estimate for party (9)
We needed Mrs Bradford to tell us what the ‘out-of-date estimate’ could be. We surrounded it by protests to produce the party.

15a         Spinning drier protecting colour in cotton (7)
Gaston clues this rare word for cotton generously, telling us what to do with the drier.

19a         Resin from varnish repelled Asian nurse before food (9)
Again Mrs Bradford gave us the name for the resin. We constructed it by reversing a word for ‘varnish’ and using a famiiar crossword solution for the nurse and familiar letters for ‘before food’.

30a         Rock operettas’ creators receiving bad reviews in Hamburg (6)
Two letters give the operettas’ creators and Hamburg’s negatives are what they receive.

35a         That Miltonic poem’s incredible (4, two words)
At first, we thought that Gaston had slipped up and identified the wrong poet. Not so! We smiled when the significance of the first two words of the clue sank in.

39a         Ventilate church at any time in Ayr (4)
Just two abbreviations for ‘church’ frequently appear in crosswords and this Scottish word needs one of them after a short word for ‘ventilate’.

45a         American explosive horrifies gutless Elizabethan idiots (5)
Yet again Mrs Bradford has the word for these idiots. We back-solved to find a slang word for the American explosive.


3d            Type of mobile jazz music covers I forbid (7)
With ‘covers’ as a container indicator, we put the ‘jazz music’ around words for ‘I forbid’.

4d          Woman who did good works failing to get arsenic for killer (3)
The name for the killer and the lack of ‘arsenic’ led us to most of a word for an organisation named after the woman who did good works. The words that were appearing in our coloured strip helped us complete this name.

7d          Express pleasure when Sydney lout has keeled over (3)
Very easy to make a mistake here (we did) if you just opt for any ‘lout’ word and fail to see that it is an Aussie word for him that is required.

16d        Weird billionaire protects Kurdish stronghold (5)
A new word, for one of the Numpties, that we didn’t find in Chambers. Gaston is obviously aware that this might be tough on solvers and has clearly prompted us in his clue.

36d         Friends sanction Greek Socialists (5)
There are two wordplay elements here; a familiar one for ‘friends’ and a brief one for ‘sanction’. Together they produce an acronym for the Greek Socialists.

The extra letters have very neatly spelled out what six elements we are looking for in our completed grid and the title tells us where these elements will be located. Grid searching in our usual way (across clues, down clues, then diagonals) we spot our first element to highlight, in an appropriate shape, and realize that in each case, the shape of the letters is dictated by the element in question, one of them, as we were told, not being symmetrical. We highlight our 39 letters – do remember to do that.

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3 comments on “EV 1499 (Hints)

  1. Gaston comes through with a very Gastonesque puzzle! Always a joy to marvel at the finished product.

    I really want to visit South America now.


  2. A good work-out from Gaston. Not too hard on the clue front and another of his clever uses of the grid – but as often I found the wordsearch took a while especially when neither the exact words nor their exact locations are known. But it all worked out beautifully in the end so many thanks to our setter and to this site and the N’s for helping make these puzzles more accessible.

  3. The clues were good fun and I laughed out loud when the 30a penny dropped. The grid searches were mostly straightforward but care was needed to ensure symmetry in all but 1. The 2nd of the 6 elements was the tricky one because, whilst obvious in retrospect, it didn’t come to mind until other, larger, options had been exhausted.
    Thanks to Gaston and The Numpties as ever.

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