Enigmatic Variations 1531 (Hints)
The Correct Solution by Gaston
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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This will be Gaston’s 24th crossword in the Enigmatic Variations series. Solvers will remember his puzzle 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’ and his ‘Quest’ that took us back to Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author. With such a range of topics, there is no guessing what his theme might be.
Preamble: Gaston is not 21 (unclued, four words), so his solution in the perimeter of the grid (running clockwise from the top left cell and made up of ten words) is completely incorrect. Solvers, once the grid is complete, must highlight 21 cells (three words) to show that they are 21 and thus give THE CORRECT SOLUTION. Unchecked and mutually-checked letters in the perimeter and 21 might make NICE RECIPIENT INNOCENT? UNTRUE! Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended, one entry is an abbreviation.
With no clue gimmick except an unclued central row and perimeter, we simply have to begin solving to discover what prompt those are going to give us.
8a Rejected all of disgusting material I found in our nation’s grass (6)
There are three wordplay elements here, a short word for the disgusting material (rejected) and ‘I’ in this country.
15a Sacred place that man imprisons a king … (5)
Solvers will need no prompt for this clue but commenting on it and the almost identical one that follows was irresistible.
16a … exactly the same for doctor (5)
We use the same clue (with a different abbreviation for the king) to produce a doctor, rather than a sacred place. These must be the ‘clues of the week!’
19a Often gets sliced Asian bread (5)
Solvers are used to the bread in clues not being the kind you can toast.
24a Almost embrace, having fulfilled destiny (6)
The embrace is cut short, followed by a short word for fulfilled. The word for ‘destiny’ is more familiar to us in a different context.
32a Inconclusive farce is short book (4)
The name of the ‘short book’ is frequently met but we were not aware that adding a letter to it produced a word for a farce.
33a Try gathering positive old compounds (5)
An abbreviation for ‘positive’ must go into a word for ‘try’ in a legal sense.
36a Retrospectively allowed lease to be rewritten for this type of deal (8)
This is a type of deal that is becoming familiar. ‘Lease’ has to be rewritten after you ‘retrospectively use a short word for ‘allowed’.
38a Going west, follow dapple-grey from Perth (5)
We know that ‘from Perth’ can be a Scottish or Australian indicator so this solution is not likely to be a familiar word. ‘Going west’ suggests to us that we will be reversing a word for ‘follow’.
1d Glide round lake, dull grey in Glasgow (6)
The Scottish indicator suggests that we have an unusual word for ‘dull grey’ when we use a word for ‘glide’ and an abbreviation for ‘lake’.
10d Agency’s northbound vessel (4)
It is a name for a vessel that is produced when the ‘agency’s’ northbound (a down clue using the same device as in 38 across).
12d Hairy finding US city in distress (7)
We are used to finding LA and NY as abbreviated US cities but back-solved this clue to find another abbreviated city in a word for distress (one we are familiar with in French).
18d Sponges are supporting standard type of dye (7)
A familiar word for ‘standard’ is followed by an unusual word for a type of dye and one other wordplay element to give a name for sponges.
25d Abominations when animal is found in drink (6)
This clue produced a smile. The drink is a popular British one and you certainly wouldn’t like this unpopular creature to get into it.
28d Make small old cars hot (6)
The underlining says all that you need. We have an archaic word here for ‘make small’.
It was words that seemed to be appearing in the perimeter that prompted us about the theme, where we did, indeed, need a correct solution. We hunted in the places we usually hunt for that (diagonals in both directions, across then down clues and in a circle if we are still stumped). Do not forget to highlight 21 letters.
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