EV 1542 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

EV 1542 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1542 (Hints)

Battle by Stick Insect

Hints and tips by The Numpties

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

Stick Insect has been setting EV crosswords for some years. He sets in the Toughie series and also appears annually in the Listener series and has recently set for the Magpie too. With such an experienced setter you can be confident that his clues will be well set and fair. 

Preamble: In each clue, half of one word must be removed before solving, always leaving a real word. The initial letters of the removed halves, in clue order, spell the beginning of a line referring to a BATTLE whose author fills the unclued lights, initially blank. One unclued entry must be modified in accordance with the end of the line and the result shaded an appropriate colour. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended, 4 down is in Collins Dictionary.

As in so many of the EV crosswords, we have a different and imaginative device giving us a thematic message. We realise that our task will be made easier by the fact that only words with an even number of letters can lose half. We check the clue numbers to establish where the unclued lights will be.


1a           French thefts after city chap in New York produces digressions (7)
An amusing clue with three elements that immediately shows us how Stick Insect has used his device. We need to remember the US slang word for a ‘chap’ as well as an abbreviation for ‘city’. Of course, we were recording the initial letters of the ‘removed halves’.

8a          Part of squid is senile suppressing copy (6, two words)
The answer is possibly a new word for solvers. ‘Suppressing’ here is used as a container indicator.

12a         By guardhouse, hospital of African people (6)
We used an abbreviation for ‘by’ and a short word for ‘hospital’ as two of the three elements of this answer.

16a         Beatniks endlessly curve around pivots (6)
A short word for ‘curve’ has to ‘go round’ to complete this answer.

41a         North America beginning to help mostly inland Israeli settlements (6)
With the first two elements of this solution spelled out for us, we consulted Chambers which gave us the unfamiliar word for these settlements.

42a         Asks American if Republican hero’s second darling (7)
We constructed this solution from four clue elements, then needed to consult Chambers to confirm that it is an Anglo-Irish word for ‘darling’. A three-letter word produces the ‘American if’.


2d           Timeline beginning to diverge after brief work (5)
The underlining of the definition, that feature of Big Dave’s crossword site hints, says it all.

7d           Handle rare garnet in silence  (6)
Crossword solvers will have met this old word for a handle before. The wordplay tells us to put a ‘rare’ usage of a word into a familiar pair of letters for ‘silence’.

9d           Foolish journey entering overpass when cycling (7)
A four-letter word for ‘journey’ enters a short word that is ‘cycled’ to give an unusual term for ‘foolish’ (one that is familiar to the Numpties who live in France).

10d          Roasts young starfish with half of chestnut  (7)
With the generous underlining, the two wordplay elements of this clue become evident. You may need to check the word for the young fish.

22d         Medium’s object is confusing pastor about pageants (7)
We are prompted by ‘confusing’ to use an anagram here.

25d         Dance hit cannot sound advanced (7)
Another clue to produce a smile. Once you have removed the ‘half’ word that, at this stage of the solve, is probably evident, you have two words that lead to a three-letter negative word.

28d         Trades offers in return holding flowers  (6)
‘Holding’ tells us where to look for these flowers.

Like the Numpties, you will probably have needed the Internet to give you the last words of the line which will have produced a smile when you realised why Stick Insect was using that device of ‘removing halves’. The author’s name (which you might have spotted from the letters that appeared) and the location of the quotation will guide you with regard to what to modify and how, and the appropriate colour to use, when you shade the ‘result’. Like us, you will admire the way real words are left in your modified grid. Do please send in your entry.

Could new readers please read the Welcome post and the FAQ before posting comments or asking questions about the site.

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.

5 comments on “EV 1542 (Hints)

  1. I usually run through the puzzle until I get stuck and then refer to the Numpties to get a kick start. This week happily, I did it all by myself 😁🏆…unlike last week when I got absolutely stumped. Nice finish helped by getting the line; which sorted out which half of the words I needed to drop. The bottom half was the easy way in to get started.
    I am, as per usual stuck on the final instruction. HELP.! Is it the last three words of the same line that matter? Ie swapping one abbreviation for another. I’m left with two meaningless words 🤔

  2. What a nice a appropriate theme!
    Like Seymour I managed with little help (or have assumed I have managed) but am stuck on the final modification. Two conflicting ideas with one producing a non-word.
    Very enjoyable all the same. Many thanks to all.

  3. A new theme to me, but wonderful Wikipedia came to the rescue. I stumbled a bit at the end but if you have the quote and look at the end of the line given by the half-words, and take to heart the hint given by the Numpties about the location of the parts of the author’s name, the penny should drop about what to modify and how. Keep the faith! – And isn’t it good that the EV is going to continue after all. Hooray!

    1. Thank you David! And I’m glad to hear a bit of consumer pressure has bourne fruit. Hooray!
      Well done Mr Lancaster!

  4. I’ve been staring at the full grid for half a day now and am still unsure of the endgame involving a change to the [end of line], although the colour seems obvious. I can see 2 options, both of which seem rather anticlimactic. Either I’m wrong or just over-thinking. There was enough fun in the very straightforward clues to make solving enjoyable and identifying the words to chop was simple enough with a couple of clever exceptions. Google readily found the end of the line and its context, which was nothing like what I expected.
    Thanks to SI and The Numpties.
    ps Thanks DT [above] – I’ve just realised that the “displacement of the parts” may be explained by one of my endgame solutions.

Comments are closed.