EV 1524 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1524 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1524 (Hints)

Flight Plan by Ifor

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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Ifor’s crosswords are appreciated in the EV, IQ, Magpie and Listener series because of their very subtle and masterly level of cluing. You can be sure of a fine challenge and a rich endgame.

Preamble:  Across clues and entries are normal. Down clues (presented in column order for solvers’ convenience) are of two types. Twelve, one per column, are normal, but each answer must be replaced by a word thematically related to it as the entry. The other twelve must be considered as six pairs in presented clue order. Within each pair a single letter must either step up from the lower or step down from the higher before solving; there are three of each type. In order, the six letters spell out a surname. Solvers must highlight 22 cells showing his FLIGHT PLAN. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended; 22 is in Collins.

We are intrigued by the two things that will be happening in the down clues. Evidently, it will be important to solve as many across clues as we can to see whether we spot how ‘a thematically-related word’ replaces the solution of twelve of them. When we have worked that out, we colour code the other twelve clue numbers so that we can spot which clues are going to send letters up or down and spell out that six-letter name.


1a           Refuseniks in society border imprisoned by forces (10)
The word for the forces that ‘imprisoned’ the ‘society border’ surprised us here.

11a         Food crop in Germany that is universal, arriving from the East (6)
We are used to i.e. in a crossword representing ‘that is’. Here it was ‘in Germany’. We are accustomed to something ‘from the east’ telling us that it has to go from right to left

12a         Regular rattle outside experience, reflecting pedal wear (8, two words)
We are being instructed to surround a word for ‘experience’ with a term for ‘regular rattle’. We notice that the short term for experience requires ‘reflection’.

17a         Long-distance call (across the Globe?) quiet when interrupted by first of two rings (4)
We had to work out why this ‘long-distance call’ was ringing across the Globe then one of the rings went into the ‘quiet’.

20a         Shark dropping contents of meal being eaten (6, two words)
As is usual, the convention of underlining the definition part of a clue in the hints on Big Dave’s site will help here. ‘Dropping’ is not used in the verbal sense here.

28a         Author in no place to conceal new name after comeback (6)
Here we were told ‘no place’ had to ‘comeback’ and conceal in it the ‘new name’.

29a         Democratic party backed as losing before polls (4)
There are three mini manipulations needed here to produce the ‘polls’. We needed to back an abbreviation and a short word for the party then subtract another letter from another short word.

33a         Innkeeper paid regularly to run this? (6)
When we had extracted the letters we needed to ‘run’ this, we encountered an unfamiliar word for what an inkeeper might run. Of course you will find the term in Mrs Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary.

35a         Group of flowers grew around hole in one area (8)
We had to smile when we worked out what the ‘hole in one area’ might be.

40a         Systematic groups chasing game with many sat around outside (10)
The word for the game is a short one. The last two words of the clue tell us how to fit it into the fairly obscure term for the ‘systematic groups’.


2d            What might be turning up on margins of Rumoi (4)
This clue functions as an &lit. clue. The last six words play their part in both the definition and the wordplay.

4d           Dundee’s fruits are in sales under length (5)
We had to remember that two of the words in the clue could function as single letters in order to get the letters of these fruits in the right order.

14d          One taken in by priest carrying name plate (6)
The solution to this generous clue and the two mentioned above gave us one of the crossword’s penny-drop moments. The foreign word for the priest had to take in and carry ‘one’ and ‘name’.

24d          Bangle‘s fate to lose money (4)
This rare word for a bangle confirmed what the above clues that we mentioned had suggested to us.

7d            Fawn has doe upset, hiding head in shame (6)
This graphic little picture had little to do with the animal world. We had to do some upsetting  and conceal the start of the shame to produce an unusual ‘fawn’. The doe in this clue puzzled us until we remembered that letters were moving up or down between clues. We decided that a letter from this clue could move to clue 21.

21d          Cap on information from Port Jackson about whales’ food (4)
The three-letter ‘information from Port Jackson’ had to go about but we needed a single-letter abbreviation in order to produce a rare word for ‘whale’s food’. One of those moving letters came to our rescue.

Once that entertaining device of moving letters up or down had spelled out a name, we understood the thematic reasons for the devices and what form the 22 letters that we must highlight would take. Full marks for Ifor in so effectively relating his devices to his theme (and, of course, to the title too).

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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4 comments on “EV 1524 (Hints)

  1. Great offering from Ifor. Accurate and inventive clueing with some neat misleads and a sweet @lit, and as always a well-thought-out (rather Iforish) theme and skilful construction. Many thanks to Ifor and the editor and the Numpties too. If anyone’s struggling to get going, I suggest they hunt for the surname in particular which (unlike some of my newbie attempts at construction) is a real help in the solving journey.

  2. I found the endgame considerably easier than filling the grid. Some of the clues were real stinkers although I made heavy weather of some which, in retrospect, were straightforward [eg 4d]. It became reasonably clear what was happening with only 2/3 of the clues solved and the relevant name, which emerged fairly quickly, confirmed matters. Loved the Title!
    Thanks to Ifor and The Numpties

  3. I found this a tough but enjoyable grid fill. Once I had the name I was able to identify the ‘Flight Plan’ reasonably quickly to complete the endgame.
    Thanks to Ifor for a beautifully constructed puzzle and to The Numpties for their blog.

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