Enigmatic Variations 1520 (Hints)
Consequences by Stick Insect
Hints and tips by The Numpties
+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +
Stick insect is well into double figures for the EVs he has produced and solvers will be familiar with his Listener and Magpie puzzles too, and confident that there will be an entertaining endgame.
Preamble: Entries to six normal clues must be modified to show the CONSEQUENCES of a quotation. All other clues contain a word to be removed before solving. The words appearing in clues of entry length 7, 8 and 9 provide the beginning of a quotation: the remaining clues can be paired up to provide further thematic examples. Numbers in brackets refer to the grid entries; number of words to clue answers. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is the primary reference, 22 is in ODE.
The preamble led us to count the clues and do some colour-coding. We had to find six clues that were to be modified. The comment about numbers in brackets suggested that these might provide words of different length. We highlighted the 7, 8 and 9 clue lengths in one colour and the other lengths in another. We were intrigued by the instruction that extra words were going to be thematically paired up.
11a Commanders dissected bits of DNA (5)
A new word for us. The Big Dave convention of underlining the definition part of the clue is a real give-away here.
23a Guides take care of French art trip in return (5)
As above! The very short word for ‘French art’ uses an archaic form.
24a ID card regularly designed for country bash (3)
This clue is not difficult once you have worked out how to spot the extra words in clues. You will then be able to use the wordplay to find a regional word.
27a Upset, Dave disbarred Nero in American trial (8)
The ‘American’ is prompting us that we need a US spelling of this eight-letter word.
34a Academician is in bits, forms “clergymen” grammatically (7)
There were three tiny wordplay elements here. The ‘bits’ used an unusual word for scraps or bits.
2d Female challenging defrocked German dean, heading off into retirement village finally (9)
A relatively rare word for a challenging female is made up from four elements, an abbreviation, a word losing its head, a word for ‘retirement’ and a final letter.
3d Soldier doesn’t stir for South American winger (7)
We suspect that one word of the quotation is to be found in this clue – which leaves us with just two wordplay elements to give the ‘South American winger’. Both of those words are used in ways we frequently meet in cryptic crosswords, as is the word ‘winger’.
4d On coming back, notice a disillusioned baboon (6)
As in the above clue, ‘on’ (which has to ‘come back’) is another of the words used deceptively by setters. The ‘notice’ is the one we frequently encounter.
5d Orange Iapetus confused astrologers like moonwort perhaps (13)
The Numpties encountered a new word in Iapetus and, though the clue gave an evident hint to solvers, we couldn’t make it work until we found that the first letter of the second word was not an L but a capital I.
16d Ed’s unchivalrous linesmen think gels supply society (10)
The rather odd surface reading prompts us that we are looking for a Spenserian word here. We needed to use three of the words (one as a single-letter abbreviation) to give us a word we wouldn’t have guessed meant ‘unchivalrous’.
20d Setter discovered it involves range for American shooter (9)
The underlining prompts that we are looking for a US term – probably for a gun. We need to ‘discover’ the setter and include a word for ‘range’.
28d Perhaps release liquid sphere following some French magicians (6)
Again, the underlining prompts where to find the wordplay. The ‘perhaps’ suggests that the definition is somewhat putative.
When we had spotted a feature that seemed to be appearing in many of the extra words, the penny-drop moment followed and solving became easier as we could anticipate the words that had to come out of clues. We were left with the entertaining task of pairing up those extra words. We had a couple of doubts, but that didn’t really matter as the grid was filled anyway. We thought that this was a lovely crossword for the first of 2022.
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