EV 1513 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1513 (Hints)

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.

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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9 comments on “EV 1513 (Hints)

  1. Another great example of why the EV (and its equivalents in other publications) put other crosswords into the shade. One of my favourite examples of ‘pretty lights’ – many thanks Vismut and the Numpties. I think I would have struggled to get to the excellent endgame without the hints this week.

  2. Woowee! Definitely on the more challenging end of the spectrum. But, wow! What a construction feat by Vismut!

    Also, looks like I’m going to have to add one more item to my tourism bucket list.

  3. Congratulations to Vismut on a splendid construction – and a theme close to my heart. As we know, Vismut likes bellringing, and her careful manipulation of the clues always reminds me of the changing number patterns of the various methods: and out of the maths surprising beauty emerges. I’ve just been playing at setting again myself and hope I can one day achieve this sort of fluency.

  4. Now that’s what I call an endgame! Some pretty tricky clues made filling the grid quite a challenge, as was interpreting the instructions spelled out. Once the names and date were clear the broad nature of the final task was obvious but positioning it in the grid required further consideration – helped by the location of “what sits in front”.
    Many thanks Vismut and the Numpties.

  5. I think something may perhaps have gone amiss in the hint for 2D, as the first word of the clue is “Exerciser”.

  6. An excellent construction… sometimes I wonder how long it takes a compiler to prepare such a puzzle, I can only shake my head in wonder!
    Thank you.

  7. Thank you once again to the Numpties for all your hard work and

    thank you to those of you who have taken the time to write some feedback to my puzzle. I think that most compilers would agree that the reward for setting these puzzles comes from the response that they get from the solvers. Hopefully good ones :).

    Ledger White at 6, I think that David at 3 would agree that compiling these puzzles is fun, but yes it does take a long time, particularly writing the clues. Most puzzles also get at least one test solve by another setter too. The Numpties for example, test many, many, many. So it is very good to hear when someone has enjoyed them.

  8. Have just finished this, and am very impressed indeed. A superb grid construction, and such an accomplishment to have dealt with the double constraints required for every clue. Congratulations to Vismut and thanks to the Numpties (not sure whether that’s a singular noun or a collective).

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