EV 1536 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1536 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1536 (Hints)

Gallimaufry by proXimal

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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Solvers have already met proXimal, (also known as eXternal in his Inquisitor and Listener crosswords) the EV editor, twice in these hints, and he sets some of the Toughies.  In his last EV he reminded us (with fish) that ‘One man’s meat is another man’s poisson’. You can be sure of a challenge but fair and carefully constructed clues too.

Preamble: Answers are entered around the appropriate numbered square, clockwise or anticlockwise, beginning anywhere. Clues are a GALLIMAUFRY of types (three of each per quadrant): (i) a letter needs removing from the clue (ii) a letter needs adding to the clue (iii) wordplay gives the answer with a superfluous letter; these letters must be entered in the central square of the entry. The central squares in three quadrants, read in the same way, define names in a novel; solvers must replace these letters to show the names and rearrange the letters in the fourth quadrant to show a synonym of one of the names, all reading in the same way as before. Finally solvers must highlight the author’s name in the grid (10 cells in two straight lines). Unchecked corner cells could give EASTER NO MORE; Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

We have to check what a gallimaufry is before beginning to solve and Chambers tells us it’s ‘Any inconsistent or absurd medley’ so that we know that these three different types of gimmick are going to appear in any order in the four sets of nine clues. We are really glad that we drew that coloured strip down the side of our clues as well as putting the letters into the central square of each ‘eightsome reel’, (the name for this design of puzzle – of course each solution has eight letters so no word lengths are required) as it was a word that appeared down the side of our first set of nine clues that led to our penny-drop moment. We also needed to remember that those letters might be going into or coming out of the definition part of the clue, and not just the wordplay. This design of crossword is somewhat difficult to begin but tends to become easier as the gridfill progresses (Well that’s true of most crosswords isn’t it?) as sometimes a word is spelled out by the solutions surrounding it.

NW Quadrant

1         Geographical region sown in fine areas tilled (two words)
A helpful first hint since, for us, it was so important to find those letters going into the little central boxes. The underlining of the definition will help solvers to see what is spelled out for us in the clue.

7         Idiot keen about chiding Spain for historical treaty
The treaty is described in Chambers as one, for example, between Spain and Britain regarding the slave trade. We used a familiar three-letter word for the idiot and a four-letter word that says one is ‘keen about’ a subject.

8        Earth spirit having idea sinned, tiger’s mauled
Back-solving sorted this clue out for us. A likely foreign word for the ‘earth-spirit’ needed us to ‘maul’ the tiger’s but we needed to somehow discover the letter the clue was producing, to give us two more letters that we needed.

NE Quadrant

5         For each one, wildfowl taking off tend to reach astronomical points
Those wildfowl were the ones that led to the remarkable landing in the Hudson River by Captain Chesley Sully Sullenberger. Two other wordplay elements need to be put in front of the birds to produce the astronomical points.

6         I’m not sure metal including germanium is pliant
After a pair of letters indicating that hesitation, the germanium has to be introduced into a very common metal.

16       Tinted the oil preserving very large fish
The underlining is probably helpful again here. A familiar abbreviation for very large was needed with the oil to produce these fish.

17        Box very new in food store
This box is named after the Swedish botanist who invented it. We had to remember the third part of the GALLIMAUFRY in order to work out the wordplay.

SW Quadrant

26       Scotsman’s most wary figure receiving fibs in heart of matter
Clearly we had a Scots indicator here. We needed a three-letter figure, then those fibs had to go into the ‘heart’ of matter. Of course, an extra letter had to be produced.

32        Defences succeeded, boxer’s absorbing damage
Three wordplay elements again; ‘succeeded’, then a name for probably the most famous boxer, and a short word for minor damage you might have in your car’s metalwork.

SE Quadrant

22         Original specimen sold with set in intense enthusiasm
A three-letter word for the set goes into a relatively modern word for intense enthusiasm.

23         Manual for navigating Iberian city district
We added together the name of an Iberian city and a word for a district.

24         Maybe King Edward sealing current end of mansion that’s draughty
We smiled when we realised which King Edward we were dealing with here. Two other single-letters were needed to complete the answer.

28         Bring shame with Gaelic tongue and independent existence
A four-letter name for the Gaelic tongue went into another four-letter word.

35         Male birds in southern reservoir rest after flying
A new word for us: we put together ‘southern’, a word for a reservoir, and followed it with the ‘rest, after flying’.

The very helpful information that these definitions of names in a novel were ‘all entered in the same way,’ helped us once we had seen the first one. The south-west quadrant quickly followed but we needed Wiki  to provide the fascinating information that helped us to fill our fourth quadrant. It was a surprise to find the relevant name in Chambers too. (We understood, then, why this crossword is appearing today!) Solvers will have no trouble spotting the ten letters to highlight once they have entered three names that appear in the novel – but do remember to do that highlighting.

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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8 comments on “EV 1536 (Hints)
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  1. “Gallimaufry” used to appear regularly in the Saturday Telegraph a couple of decades ago: Ben Schott had a weekly feature ‘Schott’s Original Miscellany’ (also a book), which would often carry the tagline “a gallimaufry of uncommon knowledge”.

    Thank you so much for the continuing service you provide with these hints. I haven’t seen a crossword this shape before, but I’m intrigued enough that I might give it a go …

  2. Pre-solve comment for once: Steve B in fierce (as well as probably fine) form: definitely one that will need concentration. I’ll accept the kind hints of the Numpties if needed, but diving in now with just their reassurance that there’s enough in the letters from the first set are enough to spark a penny-drop moment.

    Today marks a number of occasions from the sublime to the ridiculous. I’ll not list them in case I inadvertently let a cat out of the bag but they raised a smile to begin the solve.

  3. Just to say to anyone relatively new to the EV, this is well worth persisting with – it’s an excellent challenge. Once you gain a foothold in the grid by solving and entering a few intersecting answers life becomes easier.

  4. Ifor is right; once I started solving the interlocking nature of the blocks meant that five of the eight letters of each new one were often already in place, which really speeded things up. Like the Numpties, I also found the first block gave the theme away, but the reason for the appropriateness of the date (which was not completely new to me but had not surfaced) was a lovely final touch. Not so fierce after all, but the bar is set high for setters to follow.

  5. This was certainly different – a sort of “backwards” puzzle, the whole point of which was to generate the central squares, having figured out the category of each clue. Once done the rest was simple, there being only one [well-known] NW person. I liked the fact that the author could only be seen once the substitutions were done.
    Thanks to proXimal and The Numpties – the hints really were a boon this time.

  6. Thank you so much to the Numpties for their hints. I couldn’t’ve got this far without you: on my first pass by myself I only had the King Edward answer — and now I have all the 8-letter words, most of the central letters, 3 quadrants fully processed, and the highlighted author. Cheers!

    However, I have a couple of problems with the central letters in the SE: I don’t have one for number 29 (I have an answer and can see part of the wordplay there but not how the lawyer fits in), and I have messed up one of numbers 22, 24, 28, or 34, because I used the same clue type to generate all 4 of their extra letters, and the rubric clearly says there should only be 3 of each type per quadrant.

    And apparently I’m not good enough at working out the 9-letter term with 1 letter missing and another one that’s wrong! With the letters I’ve got, I can see a 4-letter word in there which might be relevant, but can’t think of another word to go with it that would be 5 letters long.

    So close! But it’s still been fun getting this far, and at least at this point I’ve only got a couple of days to wait for the solution to be published.

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