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.
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