EV 1506 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1506 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1506 (Hints)

Potato Scraps by The Ace of Hearts

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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This will be the 7th EV by The Ace of Hearts. Solvers will have enjoyed his last one about the Beaufort Scale. Like many advanced thematic cryptic crossword setters, he also sets for the Magpie, the IQ Series, the Listener and Crossword magazine.

Preamble:  One letter must be removed from each clue before solving; in clue order, these letters spell out four headwords/subheads (2 x two words, 2 x one word) in Chambers which have similar meanings. A trickster (six letters, to be highlighted) has implemented the definition of one of these words (which might be cryptically described as POTATO SCRAPS) on the completed grid; solvers must restore the grid to its original state by changing four letters in one entry. All entries in the original and final grid are real words. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

We note that the letters are going be extracted from each ‘clue’ and not just from the wordplay, and prompt ourselves to remember that. The fact that a letter is coming out of every clue is welcome – it’s easier than the device of having a letter removed from just some of the clues. As usual, of course, we solve in pencil, as we are ultimately going to change four letters in a single word in our filled grid. There is an unusual number of long entries in this grid but the Numpties felt that with their generous definitions, there was no need to give hints for them.


5a           Suffering from extreme cold, raising temperature very complicated (8)
‘Complicated’ is a prompt about how to handle this clue. The definition ‘suffering from extreme cold’ uses the solution word in the way it is used in parts of rural England. It isn’t what most people understand the word to mean.

14a         Fling short grass into rural river (5)
Remember that you are removing a letter from the definition or wordplay of every clue. The grass, here, is cut short and put into the rural word for a river (another of those setters’ favourite words).

15a         Indian for beginners to imitate yet again (5)
‘Beginners’ is the important word to apply here.

20a         Old American bird travelling barmaid endlessly pursued in Central America (5)
The answer was a new word for us. ‘Endlessly’ had to apply to the barmaid, and we placed her in Central America.

27a         Priest voices to imitate set of questions (5)
Like us, you will probably need to back-solve from the word that is mostly appearing in the grid, as the letter to remove has subtly rendered this clue difficult.


1d           Australian farm hand hurdled hosepipe to avoid Greek character (6)
The convention of underlining in Big Dave’s hints probably helps here. Not forgetting that letters are coming out of every clue, you need to work out which small Greek letter has to be ‘avoided’ to leave this farm hand.

3d           Enzyme agent possessed by ergates abandoning interior ant home (7)
Three wordplay elements come together in this difficult clue. Use a short word for ‘agent’ and surround him with ‘ergates abandoning interior’ and a short word for ‘at home’.

6d          Diminutive man with moustache at Langley regularly (4)
We were surprised to find that this ‘man with moustache’ is in the appendix of first names in Chambers. The solution is a short form of the name.

13d        Rarely separates records including starters for meat: rabbit and pork (8)
Use a familiar word for records including three letters to produce a word we didn’t know.

21d         Drink that’s harmful emptied over police officer by operator (7)
Again a familiar word, this time for the police officer, is at the heart of the soution. The removed letter makes the wordplay a little tricky again.

23d        Doubly boost Hamilton’s grass (6)
‘Hamilton’ (like ‘Perth which can refer to Scotland or Australia) is an ambiguous indicator – of course, there is a Hamilton near Glasgow and one in New Zealand. Mrs Bradford has the grass we needed in her Crossword Solver’s Dictionary.

26d        Road from River Avon going north (4)
For the ‘going north’ remember that this is a down clue. When we ‘saw’ the solution, we needed to confirm the unusual word in Chambers.

In the coloured strip we draw down the side of our clues, we had six words that told us what we were looking for but our usual hunt on the Internet provided a number of likely candidates. However, Chambers gave us all we needed when we looked up one of the terms there. As usual, we prompt solvers to remember to highlight the six-letter trickster.

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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10 comments on “EV 1506 (Hints)

  1. Got there. Had to fumble with the removed letter in 20A – thanks to your tip on barmaid I stumbled unto it!
    I like the final restoration bit. Clever.

  2. At first glance I thought this would take quite a while. The clues looked to be a tad more challenging than usual but it eventually yielded, with some help from the hints. The headwords seemed to almost spell themselves out and the title was a big help. The whole thing was nicely put together and made a very satisfying solve.
    Thanks to The Ace and The Numpties.

  3. After a slow start I didn’t going I would complete this one, but with the hints for 5a an 13d it fell into place. The substitution took z while longer but wa well worth the effort. Very clever.

  4. After a slow start I didn’t going I would complete this one, but with the hints for 5a an 13d it fell into place. The substitution took a while longer but was well worth the effort. Very clever.

  5. I enjoyed this, having benefited from the helpful hint for 6D. A nicely-constructed puzzle with an endgame that wasn’t overly intricate. I do, however, have a concern about the use of “endlessly” in 20A – I don’t think this word can legitimately be used for the function it is required to perform here. Chambers XWD Dictionary lists it as a tail deletion indicator.

    Thanks to setter and the Numpties.

    1. Different editors react in different ways to this use of the word ‘endlessly’. Some tell the setter that it can only refer to the tail of a word and others say it means both ends come off. I suspect that you will find both usages in EVs.

      1. Yes, I have seen it used elsewhere as a both-ends deletion indicator, and appreciate that different editors have different views. I hope you will agree, however, that such a view has to be justifiable by reference to one of the main dictionaries. The EV series has Chambers as its primary reference, and there is nothing in the definition that source provides of “endless” which seems to me to sanction the use of “endlessly” as other than a tail deletion indicator.

  6. My first EV after a lifetime of DT cryptic – different wavelength – Took me until Friday but finished it – after 2 hours on Sunday I had 9d and nothing else – so quite proud of this feat.
    I got 14a from the definition, but the clue and the hint above remain opaque to me. My Australian wife has never heard of 1d

    1. Congratulations on that… I’ve done them since EV 1 and some of them still take a week to solve! For 14A, the ‘grass’ is ‘rice’ and the ‘rural river’ is ‘ea’.

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