EV 1539 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1539

Enigmatic Variations 1539

Recovery by Eclogue

Setter’s Blog

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Initially-empty cells are filled with THE SCREAM by EDVARD MUNCH, two versions of which have been stolen and recovered.

Well, it looks like our 13th EV outing could well be the last, as the “unlucky for some” number at the time of writing, will be the last to appear in the series slated to end in July.

In an era where subscriptions are being cancelled and publications need all the hooks, bells and whistles at their disposal to attract punters, the decision to promote the online offerings at the expense of the printed output (which EV can apparently only occupy, although it cannot be beyond the wit of somebody with sufficient IT nous to code an electronic version!), appears short-sighted.

If this is indeed our last appearance in this series, then it seems positively jarring to offer a puzzle entitled “Recovery”, but that was next up for the EV editor.

The Scream is an eminently recognisable work and is in fact one of four such that Edvard Munch created, two in paint and two in pastel. Likewise, the tales of the theft and recovery of the work(s) will have been reasonably well known to many solvers, some of whom would have spotted the connection from the preamble alone. It’s nice when that happens, although some solvers feel short-changed, but remember that not everyone will have been quite so fortuitous or possibly well-read, so balance that with the frustrating puzzle you knew nothing about (and had no further wish to discover further about either).

The grid construction is relatively straightforward in identifying words that remain as such once the components of the title and its artist are removed. Everything else can then be fitted around these ‘spokes’ emanating from the central panel and the symmetrical bar pattern determined accordingly.

The main issue for clue-writing is to try to keep the clues of the high number of short word answers moderately interesting, which we hope and believe we achieved in this outing.

Throughout history there are plenty of things that have been stolen and recovered, so this format held the basis for a potential series of similarly themed puzzles, but solvers may need to track them down elsewhere if there is to be no reprieve for the EV.

So, to mark what is probably our last puzzle and blog in this series then, a small roll-call to reminisce on happier times (see how many you can remember):-

1066 Taxing

1127 Nightmare

1214 Zoophily

1238 Reckonin’

1277 Remake

1352 Corruption

1375 Ciao

1420 Trisector

1454 Ramjets

1478 Excusez-moi

1498 The Australasian One

1522 Consequences

1539 Recovery

Thanks for being there. Until we meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I’m sure we’ll meet again some solving day!,


A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.

4 comments on “EV 1539

  1. POSTSCRIPT – we’ve just been informed that the Enigmatic Variations series has been saved from extinction and will carry on in print form only. So we look forward to renewing our acquaintance with you before too long.

  2. Thanks for an excellent puzzle and the heartfelt defence of EV. Without this puzzle I’d question whether I really need my Telegraph Puzzle website subscription as the rest can be found in similar style from other sources. I do hope there’s a properly genuine reason for the removal, because a lot of people’s Sunday mornings just won’t be the same!

  3. Wow! That is most excellent news.
    I have only started doing EVs in the last year or so since the Numpties started giving their encouraging hints and I find it so satisfying to even half complete one.
    I was utterly dismayed to find out that it was being cancelled for no good reason that I could ascertain.
    Thank you and well done to everyone who helped to change the DT’s mind…..if that is the right word.

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