Enigmatic Variations 1543 (Hints)
Hard Bargain by Opsimath
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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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.
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