EV 1503 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1503 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1503 (Hints)

The Proverbial Way by X-Type

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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This is X-Type’s fourth EV crossword. His generous cluing style, large number of anagrams and use of familiar language will give a speedy solve to old hands and be a pleasure to solve for newcomers to the advanced thematic cryptics.

Preamble:  Solvers must highlight THE PROVERBIAL WAY to the destination in the unclued entry, comprising three phrases (1,7), (1,4) and (5,2,2,2); the WAY is continuous with right-angled turns. Finally the proverb (3,4,2,4,2,5,4,4,10) which is alluded to should be written under the grid. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

With only one unclued entry and a proverb to find as well as a WAY to highlight, the Numpties head straight for the clearly indicated anagrams – three long ones begin our grid-fill most helpfully.


14a          Keep for oneself, European, northern strong liquor (5)
Three wordplay elements put together gave us a term we didn’t know.

15a         Bundles of hay produced using Wisconsin horsepower (5)
We guessed what the Wisconsin part of the clue must be and were rather surprised by the letters for horsepower which Chambers tells us is of German origin.

24a         Raises cut poles (7)
A clever little succinct clue – it has two wordplay elements, a word for ‘cut’ and letters for the poles.

27a         Fine covering for the soil? Hard to go and put in last of peat (5)
The convention of underlining the definitions in Big Dave’s hints will help with this difficult clue. ‘Hard’ has to ‘go’ from the word for soil covering and, when we add the last of ‘peat’, we have a word for ‘fine’.

35a         Decorative piece from the skating arena in Yorkshire: English tango (7)
Chambers justifies the use of a letter for ‘the’, claiming it is a northern English dialect form. I grew up speaking Yorkshire dialect and would certainly never use that letter in front of the word for a skating arena – but we have to bow to the Big Red Book. Complete the decorative piece with letters for English tango.


6d           Prank, in the olden days, concerning one king (4)
An unfamiliar word but X-Type spells it out.

7d           “M” has a tail orgnised for this monastery leader (9, two words)
Again X-Type spells out for us what we must do to find the title of the monastery leader.

8d           Aerial using current power within state distribution system (6)
The abbreviations for current and power go into a word used for what the state distributes to the unemployed.

21d          Long ago, heated articles in garden plot (7)
Put a couple of articles into a short word for a garden plot to get this archaic poetic word for heated.

23d         Hat fabricated from two types of grain? (6)
The question mark alerts us to the fact that X-Type is giving us a cryptic clue to the hat. He is playing with the idea of ‘two types of grain’ but not putting one of them after the other.

Finding the unclued light prompted us about the proverb and we were given generous indications of the three phrases that illustrated it. Don’t forget to highlight them!

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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12 comments on “EV 1503 (Hints)

  1. It’s not often I finish an EV. In fact, it’s not often I manage to even start one, given the complexity of some EV preambles. However, this one was a pleasure to delve into. I was surprised to get the proverb before solving any clues, though that had no bearing on the solve. Right at the very end, there seemed to be two ways to finish the WAY. I hope I chose the right one, as I’ve submitted it. More easier ones, please.

  2. Very generous clues got the grid filled in record time and the enumeration of the proverb more-or-less gives the game away. The grid search wasn’t too taxing either, even for me. But, as Philip [above] notes, there’s a choice of a way to and a way into. A good one for those unsure of tackling EVs.
    Thanks to X-Type, The Numpties and proXimal for giving us an easier one!

    1. I’m surprised that people think there’s a choice of ways – both to and into – the Proverbial Way…surely, if you stick to the given word-lengths for the 3 phrases, I cannot see where any alternative options might be (but then, Setters occasionally don’t see things that Solvers see as obvious). Let’s see what the consesus is, in due course…Thanks for having a go at it, anyway!

      1. See Wilber and Denise below. The final word of the 5,2,2,2 phrase can be marked going vertically down or horizontally to the left.

  3. I had all but one answer before these hints appeared, so must be one of the easier crosswords. Unfortunately the hints did not include that missing clue, but re-reading it helped me to solve.

  4. Given the preamble wasn’t written in double Dutch, and the first couple of clues fell in easily, seemed worth pursuing. Not too hard to complete the grid and then work out the route. Thanks for the ongoing hints effort, maybe one day I will be able to do the harder ones!!

  5. I thought this was a very appropriate puzzle for what is essentially the one-year anniversary of the Big Dave EV hints. If anyone is still looking for an entry point to these thematic puzzles, this is the one!

    Some really smooth (and friendly) clues here. I think my favorite was probably 29D.

    Thanks to X-Type! And happy blogging anniversary to The Numpties!

  6. A personal best time for me this week.
    Loved this puzzle and it has certainly boosted my confidence.

    I could only see one way into the proverbial way….but what do I know?
    Definitely sending this one in!

    Thanks to X-Type and to the Numpties

  7. I reallly enjoy the hints so thanks to the Numpties for the effort they put in.
    I too believe that there is an alternative, but probably being picky, on old maps the “way” to a city would stop outside the main gate, in the centre of the front wall. The last two-letter word of the phrase can be vertical in which case it goes into the destination, or it can go horizontally and leave you outside the ‘middle of the long wall’, where the gates might be. I plumped for vertical but who knows, I’ve coloured in the wrong thing before!
    Thanks to the setters, X-Type for this one particularly, but all the others too for the entertainment value, picking a theme and then getting the words to fit must be a true test of endurance.

    1. I liked the comment about getting the words to fit being a true test of endurance…when you read my Setter’s Blog, you’ll see what I have to say on the matter…

  8. I’m with the ‘two choices’ camp. Like Wilbur above I reasoned the vertical to be the most likely, so fingers crossed! No doubt X-Type will reveal the right answer and the thinking behind it in his setter’s blog in due course.
    Thanks to X-Type for the puzzle. I agree it was easier than most but still a very enjoyable solve and thanks as always to The Numpties.

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