EV 1544 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1544 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1544 (Hints)

The Bounty by The Ace of Hearts

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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On the crossword database we see that The Ace of Hearts has been compiling crosswords since 2015 for The Listener, Inquisitor, Magpie, Crossword and the Enigmatic Variations series. This is his ninth EV crossword. 

Preamble: Four normal clues lead to thematic answers, each producing a single-letter clash in one cell when entered. From the answer to every other clue a letter must be deleted wherever it appears before entry into the grid; definitions refer to the full unmutilated answer, wordplay and numbers in brackets to the grid entry.  The omitted letters in clue order spell out a definition of a two-word subheading in Chambers which must be highlighted in the completed grid. This definition, which might be described as THE BOUNTY, gives a cryptic indication of how to resolve the clashes. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended; the answer to 8 down is in ODE.

We read with some dismay that the word-lengths given after the clues were the entry lengths – those produced by the wordplay – and not the longer ones of the defined word, before a letter or letters were removed to spell the definition that we would need to find the thematic ‘two-word subheading’. Thus we realised that in all but four cases, our solutions would probably not be real words. Clearly we will have problems identifying which end of the clue is giving us the definition but, in that regard, the Numpty hints will be valuable to solvers.


1a          Morose Maud’s oddly wasting away (6)
The definition (a very unfamiliar word) suggested to us a word from which any of four letters might be the omitted one. Two of those appeared twice each in the word – but we opted for the most likely letter and the wordplay confirmed our choice.

10a         Bill generated moan at glandular swellings (8)
As in the comment above, this was an unfamiliar word for us. For the shortened entry, we used a two-letter ‘bill’ then ‘moan at’ in a ‘generated’ way.

11a        Ancient Scots cannot assume it in the country (4)
An old Scottish word was used here. The wordplay required a three-letter word for ‘assume’ and one letter for ‘it’ in the country.

17a         Bluish-black mineral consisting of dichroite absorbs conductance  (9)
We consulted Chambers to help with this clue. The word we found there needed ‘consisting of’ and a letter for ‘conductance’ adding to it to give the entry.

25a         Jenny perhaps wearing hat that is initially rivetting feather seller (9)
In our entry, the hat came first, then a short word for the jenny and three more letters indicated by the wordplay.

27a         Five agorot each invested in growth hormone (4)
Again we consulted Chambers, both for the meaning of ‘agorot’ and for the word produced when we used abbreviations for ‘each’ and ‘growth hormone’ with an extra letter interspersed.

31a        Stop overdose in American’s vicinity (4)
We were slightly bemused here since we could find a two or a three-letter word for the ‘stop’ part of the entry – we opted for two letters and Chambers obligingly confirmed the word we entered.

32a         Word conveying definite idea of contents of memo before empty marriage (8)
The definition suggests a word from linguistics. We composed the grid entry from three wordplay elements; a couple of letter pairs and a word for ‘before’.

34a         Describing old chuch council talks using Latin liturgy at Nicaea originally (6)
The last word of the clue will help.


2d           Germany intercepts suspicious heavy metal (4)
A familiar abbreviation for ‘Germany’ went into a short word for ‘suspicious’.

3d           Your books upset Conservative (4)
Again we consulted Chambers to confirm a rather unusual meaning of the word this ‘Conservative’ gave us.

4d          Part of crust casing mum’s curried dish (5)
The ‘crust’ we opted for here was not pastry. It went round a familiar word for ‘mum’.

6d           Harshly criticise the one indicated in New Mexico – religious doctrine (9)
A short word for ‘harshly criticise’ is followed by a four-letter word for ‘the one indicated’ – in an abbreviated New Mexico. We needed to remember that the deleted letter might appear more than once.

14d         Disproval against pleasure overwhelming me after Ecstasy (9)
Complicated wordplay here: we put together short words for ‘against’ and ‘pleasure’ with ‘me’ and ‘Ecstasy’.

24d          Old twisted weak railway decade old (6)
We were prompted that we needed an archaic word for ‘twisted’.

This was a challenging crossword since the omission of those letters left us coping with words that were not real and, in addition, we had to spot the ‘two-word subheading’ that would help us resolve the single-letter clashes. Congratulations to solvers who managed to cope with a truly tough EV crossword.

Remember to highlight the definition 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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4 comments on “EV 1544 (Hints)
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  1. Challenging is a bit of an understatement – this was a real stinker. Of all the ways of generating letters for a message the incomplete wordplay technique must be the most difficult [at least for me to get my head round]. The clues were not exactly generous either, altho the definition was easy to spot once the grid was full and the resolution of the clashes followed logically.
    Thanks to AoH for the challenge and The Numpties for the help.

  2. Quite the challenge. Penny drop for me was that sometimes more than one of the same letter had to come out of the definition. Must learn to read the preamble more closely. What sometimes seem infelicities of expression are almost always important instructions instead. Many thanks to Ace of Hearts and the Numpties.

  3. Very enioyable challenge.Thanks Ace of Hearts.Unfortunately ,the Numpties were of no help to me (had already solved the clues that they offered help for) so had to struggle to the end.

  4. This was really tricky. A lot of research was necessary to solve many of the clues. Even the four normal clues were awkward because of the clashes. Thank you Ace of Hearts for a challenging puzzle.

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