Enigmatic Variations 1525 (Hints)
Needles by Chalicea
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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Newer solvers enjoy Chalicea’s crosswords because they are among the less difficult advanced thematic cryptics and usually have a fairly graphic endgame or lots of thematic material, often appearing in grid diagonals. What, wonders the solver, is she up to here? – Some sort of ladylike topic, ‘sewing’ at last instead of the usual engineering, literary or scientific themes.
Preamble: The state of the 18 led to 1ac and 38 (all unclued). Solvers must highlight a name (10 letters in a straight line) four unclued NEEDLES are examples of the way he overcame the problem. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.
We recognise that we are going to encounter a problem and the name of someone who solved it. That there are seven unclued lights in the grid prompts us that the other clues are likely to be generous.
9a Romps of birds circling old yard (7)
The birds are the ones you might expect to see in a yard and the remainder of this unusual word for romps is produced by short forms of old, and yard.
12a Down with black cloaks for women (4)
This is almost a ‘double definition’ clue since the words for ‘down with’, when put together, give the name of the cloaks.
16a Crosses territory for ancient Greek waistbelt (6)
‘Crosses’ in crosswords often refer to this unusual version of the word. When you link an abbreviation to the crosses an obscure name for the waistbelt appears. (Usually, when we are solving and one rare letter appears, we say “Oh, he/she’s writing a pangrammatic crossword.” But that isn’t one of Chalicea’s quirks; crosswords that have to contain J, Q, X and Z tend to have a plethora of obscure words in them and that isn’t her style, so, we wonder, what is that letter there for?)
21a Speak insolently in Perth without turning back on husband (5)
Is this a Scottish or Australian hussy, we ask, facing up to her husband? Of course there is an abbreviation for him so the ‘without’ has to ‘turn back’ to produce the dialect word.
23a With stealth regularly involved, cry plaintively for sweet tuber (6)
The underlining of the definition gives the hint. The plaintive cry is of an animal kind.
35a Suitable tense for archaic song (4)
We hadn’t met this old word before but simply put together a short word for ‘suitable’ and an abbreviation.
2d Rustic British belief system in political philosophy (7)
Three wordplay elements come together to give the name of a type of political philosophy, a brief name for the ‘rustic’ followed by British, and a short term for a belief system.
7d Temperature of the immediate past essentially echoing Italy’s fourteenth century (8)
The Italian system of identifying centuries is unusual. Here the word is a compilation of three wordplay elements, two single letters surrounding a word.
11d At hand, has broadcast with Three Tenors I don’t want to hear any more (12, three words)
This clue produced a smile. Who wouldn’t want to hear any more of the Three Tenors? We spot an anagram indicator and, together with the three ‘tenors’ are able to find the three words we need.
24d Sturgeon’s direct publicity time (4)
The Scottish indicator tells us to put together a word for ‘publicity’ and an abbreviation for ‘time’.
Once the nature of the needles appears, an Internet visit might be required to complete the rest of the unclued lights and find the name of the problem-solver.
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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