Enigmatic Variations 1542 (Hints)
Battle by Stick Insect
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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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.
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