EV 1502 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1502 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1502 (Hints)

The Name of the Game by Ranunculus

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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We find from Dave Hennings’ Crossword Database that Ranunculus has been setting crosswords for the Enigmatic Variations series since 2014, and that this one is his tenth..

Preamble:  The eight unclued entries are thematically linked and each must be entered in an appropriate style. Pairs of clues in numerical sequence provide (one per clue, in either order) a one-word definition and a letter mixture (beginning or ending at a word boundary) of a word that will fill an unclued slot, giving two alternatives for each of seven slots. The theme dictates both the correct choice for each specific grid location and the style in which it must be entered. Were the non-thematic options used instead, their eight unchecked letters (read in conventional grid order) would spell out THE NAME OF THE GAME, which must be entered under the grid; this provides a further hint to the final thematic entry. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

We counted 28 clues and, from the given clue numbers, were able to identify eight spaces for unclued entries. We realised that we were going to be given, within those 28 clues, 14 ‘definition-letture-mixture’ (DLM) solutions, seven of which would be ‘thematic’ and would fill the spaces. There would be a final, eighth thematic entry. We marked the clues off into 14 pairs, but could not spot a single one of these DLM solutions. It was rather like the format of the regular Spectator crosswords – the unclued lights would have to wait until we had most of our grid filled. In fact, we had filled the entire grid, using the generous clues, usually to familiar words, before the part-words that had appeared suggested to us some of the unclued entries, all of them with at least one alternative and some with several. Of course, the DLM hunt became easier as we found and eliminated clue pairs. As usual, we worked in pencil, since we were told that we were to adopt a ‘style’ for the entry of these words. Consider the NAME OF THE GAME. The ‘game’ will guide you about the ‘style’ of entry of those eight unclued entries.

Solvers will be aware that ‘unchecked’ letters are the ones between bars, that are not confirmed by crossing entries. It is useful to know that Ranunculus has, by design, made sure that the letter mixtures always involve at least two words

4           See crust on lasagna in marketplace, reflecting excellent Mediterranean food (9)
We had to juggle four clue elements here including the crust round the lasagna and an exotic name for a marketplace.

9          Unable to walk properly, overturned quite fine plate (7)
The highlighting of the definition (the convention with hints on Big Dave’s site) probably helps you here, showing that ‘overturned quite’ has to follow a word for ‘unable to work properly’.

13         Guess American Unionist leader ditches uniform at last (5)
As with the above hint, this one spells out for you the three elements that will produce the ‘guess’.

14         Husband apparently returning top-class item of headgear (6)
We ‘returned’ a short word for husband and one for ‘apparently’ and completed the ‘item of headgear’ with ‘top-class’.

22         Penning her first letter in Greek, goddess kept lover (7)
If you are not a Greek scholar, you may be surprised by what is the ‘first letter’ of the goddess in question. We back-solved from the word that was appearing in the grid and Chambers confirmed the form of the letter.

23         Seat for jumbo user hard, endured without upset (6)
A lovely little clue for a word you probably know but, if not, can construct from its three elements ‘hard’ ‘endured’ and ‘without’ – two do have to be upset.

36         Doubt that man’s upset to take relations in (8)
The small word for ‘relations’ that often appears in crosswords has to be taken in by the other two parts of the clue – ‘that man’s’ and ‘upset’.

Like the Numpties, you will probably have spotted that ‘eighth’ unclued solution and had a penny-drop-moment, since it will guide you as to which of the paired words you need to enter and which, had you entered them (those that you didn’t put into the unchecked cells), would have spelled out THE NAME OF THE GAME. Don’t forget to write it below the grid. We needed to consult the Internet to be sure of ‘the style’ in which we were entering the different words.

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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7 comments on “EV 1502 (Hints)
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  1. I thought this was the hardest puzzle for a few weeks. I completed the grid relatively easily (as The Numpties say the clues were generous) but the endgame took an awful lot longer. I stared at the grid for a long time before the penny dropped with 31a and even then it was a while until I got all the pairs sorted.
    Thanks to Ranunculus for the enjoyable workout and to The Numpties for the tips.

  2. Probably the toughest and certainly the most time-consuming endgame this year. The clues were fair enough and 21a is lovely but there are a couple I still can’t parse. Getting started on the endgame took forever. 6d, with only two options, eventually provided an intro followed by 18a, which in turn suggested that 31a would be the odd one out [to provide the correct number of unchecked lights] and that gave a hint to the theme. The rest was relatively simple – but can we please have a quick one next time!
    Thanks to Ranunculus and, especially useful this week, The Numpties.

  3. Neat endgame! I’ve grown accustomed to searching the grid after solving all the clues, but I don’t think I’ve ever had to search the clues themselves. Lots of cool ideas here. Thanks, Ranunculus! And thanks again to The Numpties!

  4. That was tough! All fair of course and well made (thanks to Ranunculus) and a puzzle series needs harder ones as well as easier ones (thanks to the editor). The theme emerged in mid-game but there was then quite a lot left to do to work out the remaining clues and check the parsing, so a rather slow finish for me.

  5. I needed a few more hints especially regarding the preamble. In the end I took a chance on those remaining answers and gambled on a style of entry. Will have to wait another week to see if my guess was correct.

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