Enigmatic Variations 1529 (Hints)
Pine Box by Vismut
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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Vismut’s last EV crossword, ‘Pretty Lights’, produced that beautiful baptistry window. ‘Pine Box’ we read with a hint of dismay. This sounds more funereal. We know that a Vismut crossword is going to challenge us.
Preamble: The across clues must be entered where they will fit; wordplay in each omits a letter of the answer; when read in the order given, they identify where one might find PINE BOX and information to complete the perimeter entries going clockwise and what to put in the central square. Unchecked letters in the perimeter (excluding those shaded) might make the message given by extra letters from the wordplay – not to be entered and read in clue order – in each down clue. This message gives an example of what might be causing the first unclued entry (entered with his honour) enough concern to create the second unclued entry. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.
There is a lot going on here. We understand that each across clue will have a letter omitted from the wordplay, whereas each down clue will have an extra letter in the wordplay. We spot an original device; the unchecked perimeter letters (we count 22 of them, including, of course, the four in the corners of the grid) ‘might’ make the message that will be spelled out by those extra down-clue letters. We realize that the ‘might’ is telling us that they will be anagrammed. Since the across clues are not numbered (clearly so that Vismut can use them to produce a thematic hint) we will have to begin solving with down clues and work towards understanding of one or both of the messages, or what will appear in the shaded cells (it was the second set that gave the Numpties the way into the theme).
New power say to collect from Rotary perhaps (5)
Here we decided that the ‘rotary’ in question was some way of drying clothes – perhaps one of those spinning outdoor frames. The wordplay, with, of course, an extra letter, spelled out the solution for us.
Silicon filling to comply with condition of spare tyres (7)
You need a brief abbreviation for the silicon that goes into a word for ‘to comply with’. The extra letter gave us a version of the solution that made us smile.
No good records for old hills (4)
The ‘records’ in question had to have ‘no good’ and include the extra letter to give us a word we would not have expected to define hills – quite the opposite, in fact.
One who doesn’t miss anything of Will’s line in frothy ales, essentially merry (7)
Big Dave’s convention of underlining the definition in the clue will help since the remainder of the clue spells out all but one of the letters (three wordplay elements in addition to the extra letter).
Water colourist and artist in retrospective beginning to draw large, hairy dog (6)
The abbreviation for the artist (retrospective) is the usual one used in crosswords; the one for the water-colourist is less familiar. Like us, you will probably back-solve this clue from a word (one of only two of the right length) that is appearing in the grid.
Wine younger in the year of Hegira (5)
As well as the extra letter, we needed two two-letter abbreviations. ‘In the year of Hegira’ resembles AD (Anno Domini).
Bachelor abandoning bare anonymous Spanish hamlet (5)
The ‘bare’ that the Bachelor abandons here is of the ‘bare-headed’ type.
Scottish shout Low Latin in the old church (7)
The Scottish indicator prompted that we needed a rare word. This clue was tricky because we initially mis-read the way to use ‘old’. We needed a two-letter word followed by two two-letter abbreviations that surrounded the extra letter.
3d Yarn has grand maiden lacking name (4)
The five-letter word for a maiden has to lose ‘name’. The rare word for the yarn begins with ‘grand’ and the final letter of the ‘maiden’ gives us that extra wordplay letter.
4d Poison comes from this plant of the air, Ionantha primarily (5)
The word we expected appeared with all its letters checked towards the end of our solve. We were puzzled by the unfamiliar lonantha but decided that its initial letter was ‘i’.
9d Drove over highland mountain lane (6)
Another new word for us but we used a rare four-letter word for ‘drove over’ followed by a three-letter Scots word for a mountain which produced the extra wordplay letter. This, like the ‘Scottish shout’ mentioned above, was tricky to solve (and doubtless tricky to set too).
10d Because Shakespearean occasionally lifts heart (4)
A surprising word appears when you apply the ‘occasionally’ indicator, remembering that you need an extra letter..
15d First time out, stupid tweeters forgetting English for Australian all right (5)
We are told to remove the ‘first’ time and ‘English’ in order to get the Australian ‘all right’ – and another letter, of course.
28d Little valley river outside of Liverpool (4)
It is the name of a river, probably the one that appears most often in crosswords, that is used here.
29d First two letters I enclose from the past (4)
This clue really puzzled us until we realised that ‘I’ was part of the wordplay.
We needed the Internet to show us what the across-clues’ omitted letters told us to put in the central square.
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