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EV 1514 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1514 (Hints)

Quest by Gaston

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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This will be Gaston’s 22nd crossword in the Enigmatic Variations series. Solvers will remember his puzzle this spring, where we drew a map of the jumps in the Grand National, then his final puzzle after the EV Ladies’ Month where he included geographic features in ‘The South American One’.

Preamble:  Three of the unclued perimeter entries each contain one or more thematic members of a group which is celebrating the centenary of its QUEST this year. The fourth perimeter entry reveals (in the country’s language) where the group first met. Eight clues contain an extra word; solvers should extract two consecutive letters from these words, which, read in order, will give a reaction (in English) to this first meeting. Solvers must write this reaction under the grid and highlight two parallel chains of cells (15 in total) which reveal the source of the QUEST. Unchecked perimeter letters could spell HALF HELD REGRETS and BOO; Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

We are prompted by the preamble that a second language is involved and we know that at least four members of a group will appear in three sides of the perimeter. We are also prompted that the theme of this crossword is something that is currently celebrating its centenary. When we receive such a prompt, we are tempted to look in Wikipedia for events that occurred in the third week of November 1921.


8a         Vessel put back on a hot griddle (5)
The convention in Big Dave’s series of hints will help you here. We underline the definition part of the solution so that you know you are hunting for an obscure word for a griddle (not a vessel). We have commented before that an editor will strike out an article (a, or the) if it is not an integral part of the solution so you are left with a three-letter vessel to put back.

12a         Tenor breaking into song entrances (5)
Again, the underlining is probably all that you need. The Numpties admire these impressive surface readings; these are really phrases or sentences that would not be clunky if you overheard them in a bar, for instance.

20a         Once before European broadcast decree (6)
We needed to remember that ‘once’ could be prompting us to an old, or obsolete usage, and that ‘broadcast’ was suggesting a homophone.

21a         Jockey oddly ends race without front of bridle (6)
The jockey was not one we were familiar with, but he emerged when we used ‘ends’ oddly and added it to a familiar race, dropping that front of the bridle.

26a         Restless canine of teenage years (6)
The wordplay led to a word we didn’t know.

31a          Lutherans ignoring article about empty distances in space (6)
We removed an article from the Lutherans (of course three articles were possible) and realised that ‘about’ must be an anagram indicator here.


2d          Quietly suggest daughter is lacking complete protection (6)
A difficult clue, we thought. ‘Quietly’ is an old chestnut for compilers requiring just one letter. Then you need a word for ‘suggest’ but the ‘daughter’ is lacking, giving a surprising (to us) term for ‘complete protection’.

3d            No time for bullish Goldfinger (5)
Gaston is having a bit of fun here. To make sense of his clue, you might need to check on the Bond Goldfinger.

5d           Did this footballer move like a duck at Hampden Park? (6)
What a fine double-definition clue! Remember where Hampden Park is; this is clearly a Scots indicator.

19d         Presents from cross and upset elder brother in Paris? (5)
Just two wordplay elements here. The cross is one of the usual compilers’ crosses and you need to upset the French older person.

24d        Locally-sourced fans’ equipment supplied by good Rovers team? (6)
‘Locally-sourced’ is an indicator of a word of an unusual origin. We recognise the part of the solution that must be the town that provides the Rovers team.

25d         Shilling not pence for smoke – in LA, it’s remarkable  (6)
When we have changed the pence for a shilling in a word for ‘smoke’ we find an American word for ‘remarkable’.

Like us, with this set of very fair and approachable clues, you have probably filled the grid and been led by what appeared in the perimeter to identify the theme. Of course, we remembered that we had to find those 15 letters to highlight in horizontal, vertical or diagonal lines (which could go up or down) and fit together eight pairs of letters extracted from the superfluous words to create a 16-letter reaction – in English this time. Wikipedia confirmed this last touch.

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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5 comments on “EV 1514 (Hints)

  1. A classic puzzle from a very experienced setter. The clues are not too complex and a bit of research should illuminate the theme and therefore the periphery quite quickly. But pulling it all together was good fun and a pleasant reminder of an old friend. So many thanks to Gaston – and the Numpties, though the hints weren’t needed this time.

  2. The clues were mostly straightforward enough although I’ll be interested to note the reactions of solvers not resident in the UK to a couple of them. I also found a superfluous word not included in the 8 – which got in the way of using these as a way in to the theme. Googling the centenary also proved fruitless so I was lucky to spot the source of the quest in the grid, after which it all fell into place.
    Good fun -but 14a remains unparsed thus far.
    Thanks to Gaston, and The Numpties for the hints [but please try harder to pick the ones I need!]

  3. I got the answer to 14a from Bradford’s but I think there is a printing error there, which I had to correct.

    1. Sorry Aldhelm, I thought you meant a typo in the puzzle. You are right about the entry in Bradford’s – which isn’t consistent with Chambers.

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