EV 1504 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

EV 1504 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1504 (Hints)

Pick up by Vismut

Hints and tips by The Numpties

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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’.

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.

Could new readers please read the Welcome post and the FAQ before posting comments or asking questions about the site.

As this is a Prize crossword, please don’t put any ANSWERS, whether WHOLE, PARTIAL or INCORRECT, or any ALTERNATIVE CLUES in your comment.

Please read these instructions carefully – they are not subject to debate or discussion. Offending comments may be redacted or, in extreme cases, deleted. In all cases the administrator’s decision is final.

16 comments on “EV 1504 (Hints)

  1. After last week’s benign offering, back to impenetrable! I was pleased to get a handful of clues…

  2. Another quite tough but very fair and well-constructed puzzle from Vismut. The long unclued across entry was where I concentrated my efforts, picking up letters from crossing clues, and Mr Google was helpful, as the Numpties say, with what I started to find. Good fun when all was revealed, as it was new to me, so many thanks to Vismut for an enjoyable discovery.

  3. There is an error in 6 down, which should read ‘plus’ instead of ‘minus’, Apologies for the mistake.

  4. The way in for me was through spotting the answer to the unclued entry in the top line at a reasonably early stage. I’m grateful to the Numpties for explaining the meaning of “entered cyclically”, which I hadn’t fully appreciated. Thank you, Vismut, for a most enjoyable challenge.

  5. Vismut is one of my favourite setters so I was delighted to see her again so soon.

    I focused on the down clues to start with which gave me the likely answer to the unclued row 1 entry which along with the letters spelling out the ‘breeding’ and some help from wiki led me to the solution to the 16 letter unclued entry. The theme was new to me and really made me laugh.

    Thanks to Vismut for the amusing challenge, and to The Numpties for their blog.

  6. Well I never knew! What fun.
    I found the clues a bit tougher than usual but struggling with 23d drew my attention to the 4 and 7 letter unclued entries and a penny dropped which helped clarify the emerging “breeding” and away we go.
    Many thanks to Vismut and, as ever, to The Numpties – and lots of fish to his nibs.

  7. Yippee. I got there! Thanks to the Numpties hints…particular pointer was the 9 and 16 letters and the shape of the grid. Only my third completion of an EV but worth the slog. Last ones in 2d.and 25d

  8. Yippee. I got there! Thanks to the Numpties hints…particular pointer was the 9 and 16 letters and the shape of the grid. Only my third completion of an EV but worth the slog. Last ones in 2d.and 25d

  9. It’s so lovely to hear when people have enjoyed my puzzles (despite a big blooper at 6d). Thank you, Thank you.

  10. Brilliant! Another wonderful solving exercise and very rewarding when the theme comes through the clouds… :) As difficult as it is, the solving is surely a hundred times times easier than finding the theme and then producing such a wonderful puzzle! Thanks to the compileress ;)

Comments are closed.