EV 1511 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1511

Enigmatic Variations 1511

Encounter by Vagans

Setter’s Blog

Extra letters give I COULD NOT HOPE FOR PRIEST, LEVITE OR SAMARITAN, part of a journal entry by LIVINGSTONE shortly before an encounter with STANLEY at UJIJI in 1871.

ENCOUNTER began its life when I was looking at a list of upcoming anniversaries and saw that November 10th was the 150th anniversary of the famous meeting between Stanley and Livingstone at Ujiji, near Lake Tanganyika in present-day Tanzania. Well, that’s what I thought until a more authoritative source than Wikipedia explained that although Stanley dates the encounter thus in his journal, both he and Livingstone had lost track of time and it actually took place on October 27th, so October 30th looked to be the most appropriate publication date to commemorate it with an EV.

I’m still very much a newbie at setting, so all the best bits in the puzzle have come from the generous help that other setters and the editor have given me. Thank you – to them and solvers who also pass on encouragement and ideas for improvement.

Two intersecting diagonals seemed the most interesting way to “mark the spot”, and the N in both STANLEY and LIVINGSTONE sealed the deal. I must remember though not to get carried away and give myself undue difficulties in then creating and filling the grid. The words near the intersection in particular become very constrained and the resulting vocab can be on the hard side. Adding UJIJI was a personal challenge and I was unduly chuffed to find a way to get it in that didn’t seem to forced and hopefully didn’t jump out of the grid too quickly.

Plenty of bibulous references were obligatory as I know the Numpties watch out for them, and my own background means you will have had a good dose of ecclesiastical ones as well. 9d “Sex and alcohol lead to sinning when rector is away for Methodist preacher? (9)” brought them together rather naughtily. Hopefully my Wesleyan friends will forgive me.

As you have perhaps realised, it’s the words and fun of clueing that appeal to me (I nearly ended up working for the Oxford English Dictionary a long time ago), and thanks again to all those who have lent a hand in helping me use the enforced leisure of lockdown to turn my coat and become a gamekeeper and not just a poacher in this small but splendid corner of life.


A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.