EV 1538 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1538 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1538 (Hints)

Tour by Vismut

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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This is Vismut’s thirteenth EV crossword. Solvers were delighted by her ‘Pretty Lights’ last year and know that her crosswords introduce us to activities and scenes from her home area. We wonder where this TOUR will take us.

Preamble: Alternate down clues have an extra word, to be removed before solving, taken from a prayer which is always said before the start of an annual TOUR, which can have different high spots; their position in the clue indexes which letter to use from that word. In clue order, these letters have undergone some ups and downs and must be restored to the correct order to give the title of this prayer which indicates what runs around the perimeter of the grid in a clockwise direction and completes four unclued entries. Finally, one thematic destination must be changed to a general location. Unchecked letters of thematic entries give A DARK HILL HUMOUR SHOWS A BIT and all words before and after changes are proper nouns or can be found in Chambers Dictionary (2016).

We guess from what is given to us by the preamble that the theme is some kind of tour with hills included. Clearly we are going to have to recognise extra words in alternate down clues. Vismut has used her special technique of indexing a letter to give a message, but we realise that we will need to anagram the nine or ten (yes, helpfully she has prompted that they come from alternate clues) letters that we find to discover the theme – or perhaps it will emerge from possible words in the grid perimeter or the unclued entries.


12a          Its about Vismut getting glimpse of Scotland (5)
The wordplay spelled out this Scottish word. We remembered that setters use their name to produce I or ME.

15a         A son goes off leaving quiet excuses in former times (7)
The wordplay told us that there were three elements here (‘leaving’, used by setters, tends to mean ‘losing’ or ‘dropping’) producing an old word for ‘excuses’.

20a         Greek philosopher stripped shows little muscle (3)
We needed to ‘strip’ the Greek philosopher to see the ‘little muscle’, so realised that he must originally have five letters.

23a         Allow German with shed through (3)
An amusing image here of a German carrying a shed, maybe through the customs. We needed to consider a different meaning of the word ‘shed’ and of ‘with German’.

31a         Store generated Italian enthusiasm (5)
Again Vismut is exploiting the possibilities of European languages.


5d           Trials ignoring top youth time in pursuit of new bikes(5)
We approached this clue remembering that we were looking for extra words. The rather odd surface reading suggested that we might find one here. This meaning of the definition ‘bikes’ was new to us.

6d           Old body-builder possibly losing core becomes bonelike (7)
The body-builder in question is one we encounter in disputes about body-building in sport.

7d           Slug shooter great under zinnia installation initially (3)
One clue usually makes us smile. The image of someone shooting slugs was comical. However, these slugs were not the kind that might hide under the zinnia.

11d         Nature annotators represented of withdrawn Cornish member of parliament (9)
Here, like us, you might need to consult the Internet for that ‘member of parliament’.

16d         In perfectly executed moves past president’s courage expunged Republican in clubs (6)
The Republican had to be removed from these clubs (replaced by the past president).

21d          Fumes God cut off by this devilish triad possessing papa priest (7)
The underlining will help here.

28d          Heads to see foreign beauty of oriental type make oath to Bill (5)
Here we have yet another of those oaths used in Shakespeare’s plays.

The theme emerged from those letters produced by the extra words in down clues but we found some of those to be cunningly concealed. We were on unfamiliar ground and suspect that we will not be the only solvers who will need to access the Internet to help with the contents of the shaded cells. We needed to make one replacement in the grid but had no trouble with that as it clearly had to make real words and one candidate in our grid was of the right length.

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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18 comments on “EV 1538 (Hints)

  1. Thanks to the Numpties for this blog. If you could see the size of the slugs around here, you would understand why we have to shoot them. :)

  2. This excellent puzzle took me all day, bar some bouts of weeding in the sunshine. The endgame was tricky, requiring scrupulous attention to the preamble. As well as learning all about an event and place I knew nothing of, I also realised that corner cells counted as unchecked letters.

  3. Just as well the clues were very generous given the grid restrictions and the lack of non-thematic checkers. I didn’t twig the significance of the “ups and downs” [which is neat] and simply solved the anagram to introduce the theme. Thereafter it was quite tricky given the long list of potential thematic candidates. The general location was obvious and the candidate for replacement equally so.
    Thanks to Vismut and The Numpties.

  4. A fine puzzle from Vismut, well put together and well clued. I’d seen this at an earlier stage of its life so pleasant memories rather than a solving challenge. And wow: 13 EVs already: that’s impressive! Thanks Vismut and keep them coming.

  5. ….and looks like being my last one unfortunately as the Telegraph is cancelling the EV series. :(

    1. That’s terrible. The only reason I buy the Sunday Telegraph. Can we start a petition?

    2. That is really sad news. The EV is the highlight of my puzzling week and the only thing I can use to persuade my husband to buy the Sunday Telegraph. Do let us know if there is anything we can do to make them change their minds.

    3. This is really very disappointing news. The EV is the highlight of the puzzle week for me (and I expect for many others). I remember that the Sunday Telegraph considered axing it about a year or so ago but were persuaded by EV fans to change their mind. The Numpties always urge us to submit our completed puzzles each week which suggests to me that the EV editor measures the popularity of the puzzle by the number of entries received. If this is the case I think it results in a vast under estimation of the puzzles worth. I’m sure many people simply don’t bother to submit an entry, the prize is an irrelevance, it’s the fun and challenging nature of the puzzles that we’re addicted to not the opportunity to win a pen. Likewise the EV setters are clearly not in it for the money as pointed out by Ifor below, so if they are happy to continue why on earth drop them? If the Sunday Telegraph really needs to save a couple of hundred pounds a week then it really must be in dire straits.

    4. This is such a shame. I only started doing them regularly in January and was only just getting good at them! Will certainly be writing in to express my disappointment. Many thanks in any case for your labours, Vismut.

  6. Not again. It is the highlight of my puzzling week as well.. I’ll join any petition going.Surely the contributors are not so highly paid (although they deserve to be) that cancellation is going to save enough money to make losing an intelligent readership worthwhile? Please do keep us all posted.

  7. I’ve been told The Telegraph is only going to offer interactive versions of puzzles to on-line subscribers in future and will therefore not offer the EV, as it cannot be made interactive and they will not supply puzzles in pdf format alone. The result is that this loses solvers who access the version on-line and that makes the print version (in the newspaper) of the puzzle unviable.

  8. The three press outlets for themed cryptics all pay in the region of £150 – £200 per puzzle. I’m one of many setters who produce puzzles simply because I enjoy doing it and because they provide entertainment for others – payment, certainly for me, is an irrelevance, and I imagine has little bearing on the Telegraph’s decision. The first question, I suggest, is at what level this decision was taken, so informing individual notes of concern that solvers here and elsewhere might consider.

    1. Thank you. Email sent.

      In case this does herald the demise of the EV, a huge thank you to all the wonderful setters and their imaginations for challenging, educating and amusing us.

      Does anyone have any suggestions as to which paper to swap to for a substitute barred crossword should the worst happen?
      The standard of the EV is about my level. Thank you in advance.

      1. There is a barred crossword in the Spectator too but I believe it is part of the same stable as the Telegraph. Last week it was Lavatch/Picaroon/Robyn and I did ok at it. This week is anew to me setter Doc

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