EV 1543 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

EV 1543 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1543 (Hints)

Hard Bargain by Opsimath

Hints and tips by The Numpties

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

You will already have encountered Opsimath’s crosswords. He sets in the in the Magpie, Listener, Inquisitor and EV series. This is his third EV and should be welcome to new solvers as he firmly believes in fair and generous clues and doesn’t look for difficulty for its own sake in his crosswords.

Preamble:  Wordplay in across clues gives an extra letter not required in the answer; in clue order, these letters spell out part of a quotation suggesting a HARD BARGAIN. Solvers must highlight the name of the original writer; five participants involved in a related project are unclued. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

We look for the unclued lights and note that four of them appear symmetrically and are of the same six-letter length with a fifth four-letter one. We highlight for ourselves the word ‘original’ which suggests that the work in question might be known to us in a different form or by a different title.


7a            Sack a sack for pin  (4)
The wordplay told us what to do to produce the solution but we needed to check with Chambers that ‘pin’ was a definition of the word we produced.

10a         Pulpit where Dumbledore actor loses head (4)
We needed to know who acted Dumbledore to solve this clue. We also needed to remember that across clue wordplay was producing an extra letter spelling out part of a quotation.

11a         Gents, perhaps in about a hundred aged sewers (7)
The solution is created from five tiny wordplay elements with one of them giving the extra letter.

17a         Sack with large amount in Scot’s measure (6)
The words for ‘sack’ and ‘large amount’ are ones we regularly use (but with a different meaning from ‘sack’s’ use in clue 7ac) but the Scot’s measure, combining the two and producing that extra letter, was an unusual one.

30a         European unknown in short nativity scene (5)
We shortened a word for the nativity scene and introduced one of those letters for an ‘unknown’ into it to produce the European.

33a         Fish seen in form of kipper (4)
The underlining of the definition prompts you about what to look for – remembering, of course, that the across clues produce an extra letter. At this stage, you have probably worked out what the ‘part of a quotation’ says.

34a         When disturbed this plainsman‘s no allure (7)
The clue is fascinating because, unlike all conventional clues, the definition is not at the start or finish of the clue – and yet it is perfectly acceptable.


1d          Attorney and Mafia boss start over (6, two words)
A clue putting together the two people defined. When you have completed the puzzle you are sure to smile at this clue.

8d          Cause nail injury to outmoded accountant with Irish spade (6)
We are prompted here that the word we are looking for is obsolete. However, we know what letters give us the ‘accountant’. Chambers offers us just fourteen possibilities for completing the solution and we know that one of those sets of three letters has to be an ‘Irish spade’.

15d         Hook users initially help big fish (5)
‘Initially’ does double duty in this clue – both for the ‘hook users’ and for the initials needed for ‘help’.

23d         Cup used with zarf carried by ragamuffin janissary (6)
The generous wordplay solved this for us. Opsimath undoubtedly knew that the cup and the zarf would be beyond the ken of most solvers.

27d         Sufficient quantity with joints disguised vessels (6)
Opsimath is one of the setters who likes to make his grid pangrammatic (including every letter of the alphabet). Knowing that might help solvers find the first letter of this solution.

Solvers will have found the original writer’s name in one of the places in the grid that they naturally searched.

Do remember that the name must be highlighted in the grid, and 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.

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.

8 comments on “EV 1543 (Hints)

  1. A very enjoyable puzzle again from Opsimath: elegant construction, straightforward clues, and accessible to everyone. A good place to start for someone new to this sort of puzzle.

  2. I’ll echo David above. Very enjoyable solve. I just needed the final hint from the Numpties as I don’t know too much about the war 🙄. How lovely to have an endgame that I’m not staring blankly at for a day or so. Best get on with some chores then… Thank you all!

  3. Me too – a nice one for a sunny Sunday on the allotment. The original writer’s name couldn’t have been easier to find.
    Thanks to Opsimath and The Numpties.

  4. An enjoyable crossword with very fair clues. One unglued entry had one likely answer leading to the others and the extra letters. That said I was delayed by choosing the wrong entry for one of those unclued; the correct was eventually found. Being a pangram led me to one answer that I wouldn’t have considered otherwise. Many thanks to Opsimath.

  5. Excellent puzzle again :)
    A slight quiggle on 30A… I too shortened the word for nativity scene, but that still left another letter – which needed to be *replaced* by an unknown?
    Also, in 22A I could not find a reference to ‘contract recognised in law’?

  6. Been away from EV for a spell and this was a good one to return to.. Relatively straightforward, though 21A needed Google…

Comments are closed.