Enigmatic Variations 1504 (Hints)
Pick up by Vismut
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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Solvers enjoyed Vismut’s last EV during the ladies’ month – she needs no introduction.
Preamble: Two across clues have an extra word that will give two colours when jumbled together. One colour must be used to shade the cells of two unclued crossing entries which should be filled with the rank (entered cyclically), title, name and regnal number of the theme; the second colour must be used to shade a further 78 cells to complete a display of his allegiance. Eleven down clues have an extra word; first letters of these in clue order followed by the last letters in clue order show his breeding; the English version of this completes two more unclued entries. To PICK UP a view of him you must visit the remaining unclued entry, which is his residence. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.
Warning – there is an error in 6d, mentioned below – apologies from the team.
As usual in Vismut’s crosswords, there is a lot going on. We note that we are looking for two colours, jumbled together in two extra words of across clues. The very unusual shape of the grid hints to us what we may be colouring and we see that the ‘rank, title and regnal number’ of the theme will fill 9 and 16 intersecting cells. We speculate with regard to the ‘regnal number’ – some kind of ‘royal’? The word ‘cyclically’ refers to another advanced cryptic device where a word is cycled’ so that DONKEY, for example, might be entered as KEYDON.
There are 22 down clues and 11 of these will contain an extra word. We suspect that Vismut will have used this device skilfully and that we can hunt for those words in every second clue. We are going to read the first letters of these 11 words, then the last letters of these words giving us, possibly an 11,11 ‘breeding’ in a language other than English, since it is the ‘English version’ that will complete two more unclued entries (there are entries of 12, 7 and 4 letters that we will be filling). The remaining one of these three entries will be where ‘he’ lives.
1a Now and then looking back along my tracks to see what’s coming (4)
You are most unlikely to use this short poetic, archaic or dialect word, but Vismut has spelled out how to find it.
12a Cry like a baby once Scots roll their eyes (4)
A second unfamiliar word. Vismut has given us a ‘double definition’ clue and tells us that one of the meanings is a dated Scottish usage.
13a Managed good mixture of oil in floor decoration (7)
Putting together three wordplay elements (‘managed’, ‘good’, and ‘mixture of oil’) gave us another unfamiliar word.
15a Caught off man’s iron from St Andrew’s (4)
Here is one of those Scottish words we frequently encounter in crosswords. The wordplay, using an unusual word for ‘man’ appears less often but is also a crossword ‘old chestnut’.
20a Endless open space in bed giving pleasure (4)
We needed Chambers to confirm that the word we produced by removing the ‘end’ of the open space could mean ‘giving pleasure’.
31a Bad casual catching dropping opener (6)
This clue, for us, required ‘back-solving’ to suss the wordplay. The word for ‘bad’ had almost appeared in our grid but we needed to find a ‘casual’ word for catching from which we could remove the ‘opener’.
34a Briefly uses keys coming back to hotel one carelessly manages for festival (12, two words)
A tough clue! We shortened and turned (‘coming back’) a word for ‘use keys’ (I’m doing it now), followed by ‘hotel, one’ then completed our entry with ‘manages’ carelessly. One has sympathy with a setter who is faced with writing a clue for a couple of words like this (and maintaining a certain surface sense, as in the huge bed, golf, and cricket clues above).
35a Zulu emperor scratching head and bottom (4)
Take care! The letters already in our grid almost led us to an emperor but he had to have his head ‘scratched’ to produce the ‘bottom’.
2d Boring work issued across first class university (7)
The word for ‘issued’ has to go round this ‘first class university’.
3d Papaya lozenge with hole is part of fruitier US treaty (6)
The word we saw here was a heraldic term.
5d 13 taking off right and left hit tallest tree (5)
You need to have solved clue 13 before tackling this one.
6d Get to minus one without first and last hints of early sun in swamps (4) We’ve been prompted that there is an error in this clue and that it should read ‘plus’ one. Apologies on behalf of the team.
14d First 50% of ferns to get moth (4)
With the help of Mrs Bradford, we found the moth. Working out the wordplay (the 8-letter ferns) took us longer.
25d She might carry her offspring as well as lute (4)
Another double definition clue.
28d Busy boys boxing Scottish spring onion (4)
Another unusual Scottish word but Vismut gives it to us.
Our initial guesses about what we were colouring were correct and our speculation, somewhat amusingly, on the right track. Like us, you may well need Google or Wikipedia to give you some of the information concerning the unclued lights. Of course, you will remember to colour all but 42 cells producing a very pleasing final grid to display ‘his allegiance’.
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