Enigmatic Variations 1513 (Hints)
Pretty Lights by Vismut
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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Solvers will be familiar with Vismut’s puzzles that are usually challenging and rich in thematic material. Of course, she starred during the ladies’ month in the EV and IQ series.
Preamble: Each clue contains a single letter misprint; in clue order, correct letters spell out what to read sequentially, creating two messages in parallel to reveal two names and a date. Solvers must shade 43 cells (touching at two or more corners only), so those between them (to be shaded yellow) appear lit and show a thematic location. A curve must be drawn through four more cells to illustrate what sits in front of the PRETTY LIGHTS. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.
We see that cells we will be shading in yellow will appear to be lit and that they will show a thematic location. An item (probably) will require a curve through four cells and give us a further hint. We expect that our final grid will be richly graphic but we also notice that the corrected misprints are going to appear in either the definition or the wordplay of every clue. That is challenging. We wonder how two messages are going to appear ‘in parallel’.
10a Helter-skelter unicolour, striking painted in lone annatta (6)
We suspect that we have a subtractive anagram here, where we have to remove some anagrammed letters from a longer anagrammed word. Of course our solve is complicated by the fact that we are hunting for a misprint. The convention of highlighting definitions in the hints on Big Dave’s site will be helpful here.
11a Troops on foot once,Twice manoeuvred by second letter from you (6)
Again we spot a word that prompts us that we are anagramming something. A letter from ‘you’ will be ‘by’ or follow the manoeuvering.
20a Original ability in pert doggy (3)
There is no difficulty here but an entertaining and concise clue.
22a Real ale in these spares I sent effervescent (6)
Yet another anagram indicator putting fizz into the real ale. Of course, we had to remember that we had to correct a misprint in order to spot what we were anagramming.
36a For bribes, sacred object is “it” in mysterious Oman (6)
The ‘sacred object’ has an unusual name but you will find it if you look for yet another anagram word and put ‘it’ into the result.
38a Edinburgh’s nights have soul coming back to capture heart of Briton (6)
When we returned a word for ‘soul’ and the heart of Briton went into it, we had to use Chambers to confirm that we had found the defined word.
2d Exerciser awfully early to see skinny plume bearer (7)
We suspected that this clue had something to do with birds but needed to look up the word that was being spelled out for us by one of the usual words for exercise and another anagrammed word.
8d Inmate with tea in outer bar (6)
We put together the usual words for an inmate and tea.
14d Edible crabs from Scotland having baby fish hats (7)
The Scottish indicator suggested to us that we might need to check the word we found. We suspected that crabs would not be wearing baby fish hats so the corrected misprint (yes, remember those) had to come from those.
24d African lender in demand for payment gets ante (6)
The underlined definition will hint that this is not a familiar word.
27d Punky lad adult cut hair of (6)
There are three elements to the wordplay here; adult, cut hair, and of.
30d Poet’s at full speed auto locked up by old dictator (5)
There are a number of old dictators but not many that will give you the 4-letter one who leaves room in the definition to ‘lock up’ the ‘auto’ which must produce one letter.
Like the Numpties, you probably had the penny-drop moment, understanding how the messages were ‘in parallel’ when the corrected misprints spelled out a number of familiar words that prompted you about what Vismut was doing. We needed the Internet to help us with the rather spectacular highlighting.
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