Enigmatic Variations 1532 (Hints)
How? by Vagans
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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Solvers will already have met Vagans whose first Inquisitor, ‘Excess Baggage’, (with Dante’s Divina Commedia as the subject) appeared last year. In his ‘Encounter’, his first EV, Stanley met Livingstone at Ujiji. His first Listener crossword, ‘Hear, Hear’ gave us another theme that required some background knowledge. Where, we wonder, will he be taking us this time?
Preamble: Wordplay in all clues indicates the answer with an extra letter that is not entered in the grid; these spell out the author and beginning of a quotation, apart from three words of which two are in the grid (clued by wordplay only) and one is elsewhere. Solvers must resolve a clash in one cell and highlight a cryptic representation (11 cells) of a further phrase of five words in the quotation (leaving one non-word entry) suggesting HOW a conundrum can be resolved. The quotation is in ODQ (7th edition) Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.
We realise that finding those extra letters is going to be the key to our solve and that the generous indication of an author’s name and where to find the quotation will probably prompt us which ‘two words in the grid’ and ‘one elsewhere’ are the ones we need to fill out a quotation which will have a further five words that are going to appear ‘cryptically’ in the grid. We encountered a number of unusual words in the grid with wordplay complicated by the extra letters, so we provide plenty of hints.
1a Complicated symmetries not yet structured to show repetition of elements (6)
We recognise that here we have a subtractive anagram so that the letters of one little anagrammed word are going to be removed from the longer anagrammed word, leaving us with an extra letter and the six letters of the word that will define ‘repetition of elements’.
13a Cereal from bloody fine earth (4)
We take a word for a ‘bloody fine’ that frequently appears in crosswords and an abbreviation. After removing the extra letter, we are left with a common word for the cereal.
16a Health resort in Rome westbound delight for Americans (6)
‘Westbound’ in an across clue, of course, prompts us that we will reverse what the wordplay produces. An American spelling for the solution is indicated.
19a Ed’s woes from yen held in bonds (5)
Here a Spenserian word is indicated. We must put an abbreviation for ‘yen’ (there are two possible ones) into a familiar word for bonds to produce the archaic Spenserian ‘woes’.
20a Disturbed lout with matches rarely remains in the open (7)
The solution has nothing to do with a deranged yob aiming to commit arson. We are prompted that the solution is an unusual word for ‘remains in the open’. The ‘disturbed ‘lout’ has to be followed by a four-letter word for ‘matches’.
30a Row French sea for shellfish (5)
A short word for row is followed by the French ‘sea’ giving the shellfish and the extra letter.
37a Revs use the short tatty old-fashioned robes (8)
There is a touch of humour here that will become evident when the theme emerges (and the profession of the setter that I am sure he will reveal in his setter’s blog – see below). ‘Tatty’ is a lovely original anagram indicator.
1d Content in triumph, retsina for old Albanian rulers (6)
The solution might not be a familiar word to solvers. It was certainly not easy to create a clue for it but we smiled when we saw how this clue got round the problem – think what ‘content’ can mean.
2d Fury of old Ireland over grandchildren in Argyll (6)
An old word for Ireland and a Scottish word for grandchildren were put together to give the name of a classical fury.
15d Vagans regularly vague in Hawaiian island (4)
When a setterr refers to himself, it is usually suggesting ‘I’ or ‘me’. After that we needed to consider the word ‘vague’ to give us the remaining letters.
24d Letter confused shy sea nymph (6)
There are two wordplay elements in this clue that will give us the sea nymph. We used the name of a foreign letter and the ‘confused shy’ (nymph) remembering to look for an extra letter that could have come out of either of the wordplay elements.
26d Irish county’s in volte-face regarding ecological changes in area (5)
The Irish county, with its apostrophe s, has to do the ‘volte-face’ to provide an unusual term for the definition.
29d Bond’s Soviet spycatchers changing money for Western bitter in Dounreay (5)
There is another Scottish indicator here as well as the six-letter spycatchers who have to exchange a couple of letters to get the bitter (producing the extra letter too, of course).
31d Pascal starts to Haussmannise around sixteen Maori settlements (4)
Setters sometimes resort to the ‘initial letter’ device when a really obscure word like the one for these Maori settlements has to be clued.
The cryptic indication of those further five words made us smile. In his setter’s blog on Big Dave’s site, I am sure Vagans will tell us what has led him to select this comical theme. Do remember to highlight those eleven cells.
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