Enigmatic Variations 1541 (Hints)
Difference by Ifor
Hints and tips by The Numpties
+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +
Ifor’s crosswords appear in the Magpie, IQ, and Listener series and we can be sure of carefully-crafted clues that will give us a challenge. We have learned in the past how important it is to carefully read his preambles.
Preamble: In one down clue in each column the wordplay produces a real-word answer that differs from the defined entry by one letter, the clash always appearing in an unchecked cell. Each letter-pair must first be used to generate a number by DIFFERENCE. This number must then be converted into a letter using A = 1, 27…; B = 2, 28 …etc. and that letter written underneath the column. The completed grid is pangrammatic bar one letter, whose Chambers Dictionary (2016) entry will assist with the first manipulation. One normally-clued entry is an abbreviation; 3d is a variant spelling in Collins..
We realize that 13 clues are going to give us an answer that can produce a different word when one letter, always in an unchecked cell, is changed (a word that will be derived from the wordplay of the clue). 25 of the letters of the alphabet are going to appear in this grid and we are going to learn something about how the DIFFERENCE is generated by consulting Chambers Dictionary, when we have worked out what that missing letter is.
1a Lucky stake not won in two-up (6)
Ifor starts with a tough clue. We didn’t know this slang word for ‘lucky’ or the alternative name for ‘two-up’ that was going to lose a letter (not won!) and incorporate a word for a stake.
11a Everything fine in short wood with nothing in the middle (3)
We needed to move ‘nothing’ to the middle of the ‘wood’.
14a Unplanned performance better to finish early (6)
The term for ‘better’ needs to ‘finish early’ in order to get this short word for a performance that is not rehearsed..
28a Once recently advanced, and elsewhere retreated (5)
‘Once’ suggests that the answer here is no longer a current word. We know that following ‘advanced’ we need a four-letter word and that it has ‘retreated’.
37a Headgear leaves stuffing badly shaped (9)
This headgear was not a hat and ‘leaves’ was used deceptively (stuffing ‘badly shaped’ with ‘badly’ giving us a hint).
40a See without network’s backing (6)
Again Ifor is tricking us by suggesting a verbal usage when his solution is a noun. We needed a brief expression for ‘without’ before the reversal of the ‘network’.
3d A sorry track restricting one lacking in willpower (7)
Three elements of the wordplay produce the required adjective.
6d Joint initially offering spirits in large bowls (6)
Again there are three wordplay elements that we put together to get the large bowls.
8d Any formerly rejected book rattles cages (3)
‘Formerly’ suggests an old word to us. The words ‘rejected’ and ‘cages’ both give us hints about what we are looking for. We do remind ourselves that the defined word and the word produced by the wordplay might differ by a single letter that will appear in an unchecked cell.
11d No organised design in awfully grainy quantised particle (9)
We realize that we have to manipulate the words ‘design’ and ‘grainy quantised’ to produce the word Ifor is giving us here.
16d Trainspotter sounding more stupid (6)
You might not be familiar with this name for a ‘trainspotter’ but most of it will have appeared in the grid and we are being prompted to find a homophone for ‘more stupid’.
21d Size up verse, one from here and there on the page, perhaps (8)
We find an amusing example, here, of the solution.
34d The countryside’s on work, for the most part turning up (3)
We are told here that this short word is dialect usage.
I wonder how many solvers, like the Numpties, will initially produce a non-word underneath the column. We needed to fully absorb what the preamble was instructing us to do in order to produce a real word (there was no way Ifor would leave us with gobbledygook in his endgame).
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.
As this is a Prize crossword, please don’t put any ANSWERS, whether WHOLE, PARTIAL or INCORRECT, or any ALTERNATIVE CLUES in your comment.
Please read these instructions carefully – they are not subject to debate or discussion. Offending comments may be redacted or, in extreme cases, deleted. In all cases the administrator’s decision is final.