Enigmatic Variations 1500 (Hints)
The Obvious One by proXimal
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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Solvers have already met proXimal, the EV editor, a couple of times in these hints, and he sets some of the Toughies. You can be sure of a challenge but fair and carefully constructed clues too.
proXimal added this comment to the hints:
We are coming up to the anniversary of the introduction of the EV hints blogs on Big Dave’s site, so it would seem like a good idea to review their effectiveness. Undoubtedly, there was some initial success and some solvers have become hooked on the series, helped through these blogs. However, the blogs do seem to only attract a small number of comments, often from the same people not necessarily needing the hints. While all comments are appreciated, it would be good to hear from other solvers to find out whether the blogs are fulfilling the purpose of helping novice barred-grid solvers understand and enjoy these puzzles. The Numpties put in a considerable amount of time to provide these hints, so we would like to understand whether the effort is worthwhile. Finally, I hope you enjoy the puzzle!’
Preamble: With one exception, each down clue has an extra letter provided through wordplay to form the entry; extra letters, in clue order, spell out the first part of the theme (THE OBVIOUS ONE). Solvers must replace the contents of two lines of eleven cells each to show the second part of the theme. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended; all final entries are real words.
We have just travelled the world with The North American One, The Asian One etc. and now we have The Obvious One. We assume that we are coming home, and we examine what is in front of us very carefully. Seeing that this one is by the Enigmatic Variations Editor, our suspicions are aroused. The instructions about all but one of the down clues prompt us that those solutions might not, initially, be real words, since we are told that we will replace two sets of eleven cells producing ‘all real words’. Clearly, it make sense to attempt the across clues first.
5a Used to be no difficulty turning tool (8, two words)
‘Turning’ suggested to us that we were reversing the three clue elements to produce the two-word name for this tool.
11a Unfinished oatmeal dish makes Scots shudder (4)
I’m currently reading Ian Mortimer’s Time Traveller’s Guide to Restoration Britain. He tells how oats were just about all Scots had to eat and no dish would be unfinished. However, here you simply have to remove the last bit of that ‘oatmeal dish’ that is perhaps familiar because of Dickens’ Oliver Twist.
22a Trapping national in deception, established Mac’s most severe (8)
Another Scottish word: we needed an abbreviated word that we put into a term for deception, followed by another abbreviation.
32a Anatolia’s prime locations for places of worship (4)
Clues using this device appear rather rarely in crosswords. Think of ‘prime numbers’.
34a Mediterranean surrounds versatile bard Shakespeare’s produced in passion (7)
The bard had to be ‘versatile’ and surrounded by the Mediterranean to give us a most evocative Shakespearean term.
38a Browning’s to drive off any sort ignoring initial shot (6)
This poetic word is more familiar to us when used by Macbeth’s witch describing what ‘the rump-fed ronyon’ cried. We are told which letter to remove to produce the six we need to use.
1d Flimsy sides of special rowing boat (7)
This first down clue is a gift but it makes sense to include a hint for it, since it helped us understand what was going on in these clues. The definition gave us a real word but we were instructed to enter that with an extra letter. That letter, which was the beginning of the 19-letter spelled-out ‘first part of the theme’, had to be entered in the grid. Here, a real word resulted, but that was not the case in most of the down entries.
2d Ed’s visor dead centre in basinet cupped in hands (7)
We used a word for ‘dead’ then the heart of the ‘basinet’ surrounded by (cupped in) what are usually ‘hands’ in crosswords.
7d Birds from north losing wings so lie around (8)
We removed the wings from one word, then ‘so lie’ had to be ‘around’. Remember that the letter that is added to the ‘bird’ definition is part of the ‘spelled-out’ theme.
13d Once split new tyre badly (5)
So many old past participles, like this one for ‘split’ begin with the same letter. ‘Badly’ suggests an anagram so we clearly needed an abbreviation for one of the two clue elements.
23d Lumpsuckers, sprat and elvers occasionally sampled (7)
You probably don’t know the word for these ‘lumpsuckers’ but the clue tells us how to find it.
Should you be having trouble deciding which 22 letters to replace, look for places where ‘non-words’ appear in the down clues. Changing the words in question to ‘real words’ should give you all you need. You will almost certainly have spotted what is special about this crossword and realized why the editor has set it himself. James Leonard (setter Mr Lemon) who created this series almost 29 years ago, would certainly be. delighted that his very special creation has survived.
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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