EV 1540 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1540 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1540 (Hints)

Going Postal by Piccadilly

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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When we check on Dave Hennings’ crossword database, we find that Piccadilly has been setting crosswords for 33 years, most of them for the Telegraph’s EV series (but also for the Listener, Magpie and Weekend series). This will be his 97th!

Preamble:  Solvers must omit one letter, wherever it occurs, from each answer, the omitted letters being placed at the end of the row/column. The omitted letters from the leftmost/uppermost are placed at the leftmost/uppermost cell in the row/column. Two cells must contain single-digit numbers. Identification of the GOING POSTAL theme allows ambiguities to be resolved and the central cell to be filled. Numbers in brackets are answer lengths; Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

We needed to take note of the words in the preamble ‘wherever it occurs’ which was telling us that a letter might be omitted more than once from a word. Clearly, intersecting letters of across and down clues were going to help us identify the letters of our solutions and those to place around the grid. The hint that ‘numbers in brackets are answer lengths’ was telling us that some answers were going to be shortened – a check of the grid and comparisons with given word lengths told us which ones.


6a          Cloth that’s corded and slightly wavy (6)
The cloth that’s corded is a short word we frequently meet in crosswords. The term for slightly wavy is a botanical of zoological one. Of course, we need to solve 6, 7, 8, and 9 down (or some of them) to work out which letter goes to the right.

20a         Crazy arrogant king ignoring tense event in Norse myth (8)
‘Crazy’ was prompting us where to find the name of this mythological event. There are some cases where we will need to work out what the perimeter is spelling out in order to know which of a pair of letters to move to the side.

29a         Star guests regularly shown corbel (5)
The underlining leaves self-explanatory wordplay for a word we hadn’t considered to be a corbel.

40a         Little Elizabeth embracing danger to get meat (7)
There are a number of short forms for Elizabeth. Here a very short one needs to embrace the ‘danger’.


2d           Roar surrounding educated Oxbridge vice-chancellor’s mace bearer (6)
Chambers confirmed that the surprising spelling of this ‘mace bearer’s name is specifically used for one in Oxford or Cambridge.

6d            Argue with me about turning of wine bottles (7)
The word needed here comes from the French.

13d          Northern companions mark missiles for archers (7)
The Numpties are northerners but do not use this term for companions. However the two elements of the wordplay spell out the term.

22d         Seals books with sign (7)
Crossword solvers are accustomed to these ‘books’ appearing in grids. Adding the ‘sign’ produces a different type of ‘seals’.

29d         Thrusts the hips, beginning to train with aircraftsmen (6)
The solution is a slang word that is made up of three wordplay elements.

34d         Scots stood performing duets (5)
Again, the underlining says all you need for this Scots word.

What we ultimately saw in the perimeter, and its completion, made sense when we considered the information Dave Hennings’ site gave us about all Piccadilly’s EVs. Of seven pages of Piccadilly crosswords, more than half have been for the Sunday Telegraph EV series. Indeed Piccadilly will be sorely missed as will the EV crossword now that its demise has been announced. The theme of this crossword would be particularly familiar for Piccadilly. It also helped us understand an anomaly in the indicated lengths of three of the solutions.

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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10 comments on “EV 1540 (Hints)

  1. Finished on the same day! Wow! Thank you to the Numpties for the usual fine hints. Particularly for elucidating the ‘wherever it occurs’. 30 D held me up at the end! And the solution produced a wry smile/grimace!
    I have written to Mr Lancaster to appeal to his better nature. Fingers crossed!

  2. I think the double entendre of the title and the content of the theme are both an expression of the setter’s feelings and an invitation to solvers to express theirs in an appropriate form!

  3. Is it just me? I can’t get the grid to print out (just the clues). Pity as I feel I had a chance with this one!

    1. Paul – there’s a discussion about this on the crossword help forum that may assist. But be careful as there will be hints and comments that you might not wish to see.

  4. Thanks goodness for the generous clues. This took considerable concentration until the penny dropped and the periphery could be completed with reasonable confidence. Even then the “end of the endgame” took some figuring out – like Seymour [2 above] I struggled with the second numeral.
    Thanks to Piccadilly and The Numpties.

  5. I like the way the theme is portrayed in the final grid and I enjoyed the process of deciding which letters to put on the outside. Thanks to Piccadilly and The Numpties.

  6. Thanks to everyone who helped me to print the grid. Now making progress with the puzzle

  7. Excellent. As mystifying as they get… thoroughly enjoyed the thinking to solve it! Wonderful construction. Thanks.

  8. Lovely clues from Piccadilly. Not surprising given his record. I really enjoyed this puzzle and a useful piece of information for the future perhaps. Thanks for the blog Numpties and to Piccadilly for the puzzle.

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