Enigmatic Variations 1552 (Hints)
Instruction by Piccadilly
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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For the Numpties’ return to hint-writing (we’ll be alternating with Phibs from now on) it is a pleasure to begin with a crossword by Piccadilly who, as we said when writing hints for his last EV where he gave the postal address for Telegraph crosswords, has been setting crosswords for 33 years and EVs since 1995 – this one is his 51st Enigmatic Variations crossword. Of course he sets for the Listener and Magpie too.
Preamble: Some clues are really two clues run together. Their combined answers must be treated in accordance with an INSTRUCTION (four words symmetrically placed, to be highlighted) in the grid. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.
‘Some clues’ originally had us pondering but, as soon as we started solving, we realized that Piccadilly has generously identified seven where we are given two word-lengths and we focus on those. We see, for example, that the answers to 10 across are going to give us fourteen letters but the grid only allows us eight so we must somehow ‘treat’ the combined answers to remove or doubly employ six.
5a Numbers reduced over US city (6)
We used the usual abbreviation for numbers and a short word for ‘reduced’ then turned both ‘over’ to get a US city we really like to visit. Yes, it wasn’t the LA or NY that setters so often use in crosswords.
10a Orange colouring matter from hearts of crow, duck and grouse spiced raw leg of great auk (6;8)
This was the first of those double clues and the one that gave us the p.d.m. I particularly like those clues that use a series of ‘parts’ (in this case ‘hearts’) of words, and again the first answer was not that setter’s old chestnut ‘annatto’. ‘Spiced’ was an original way of telling us how to get the second word; another name for the great auk. We put the two solutions together and ‘hey presto’!
16a Contrite dropping off Spanish wine and coin for Spenser (4)
We removed a four-letter name for Spanish red (the third definition under its head-word in Chambers) from a word for ‘contrite’ and had an old (Spenserian) word for a small coin.
21a Recycled uranium left mine free from sticky stuff (6)
When you have done the ‘recycling’ using two single-letter abbreviations, you will have an unusual word for ‘free from sticky stuff’.
29a Leaders of Arapahos say this island wine region fermented 50% of Moet for Apache chieftain (4;8)
The underlining of the definition parts of these two should help any solver who isn’t already smiling at yet another imaginative way to clue that crossword ‘old chestnut’. ‘Fermented’ is another way of telling us how to get that famous Apache chieftain’s name. Again, putting the two answers together will give the game away if you haven’t already understood what is going on.
39a Bone found inside shed recalled old religious ceremonies (6)
The ‘shed’ needs to be ‘recalled’ before the small bone goes into it. If you look up your answer in Chambers to confirm it, you might be glad that such ceremonies are ‘old’.
2d Perhaps she upset nun, poor Clare wandering outside large underground room (7;6)
‘She’ is the key word in the first of these two definitions. ‘Upset’ and ‘wandering’ are both setter’s instructions to solvers about how to handle his clue(s). I had to smile at the way Piccadilly has managed to produce a plausible surface reading when he combines the two ‘clues’.
3d Poet’s foot twitching to cheer time on Haiti and Pacific island (7;6)
The whingers will be saying that Piccadilly has used rather a lot of anagrams in this puzzle, but it can be justified by the challenging task he has set himself – how do you make a clue that convincingly combines a ‘foot’ for a poet and the name of a Pacific island (Fabulous island! I was once ‘dumped’ there for a week from a triply over-booked UTA flight on the way to a ski-instructing job in New Zealand – how could I complain?)
8d Assassin among dozen in Japan protecting drug Gina synthesised (5;8)
The first half of this clue uses a different device.
11d Beef extract not very important? That’s falsehood (3)
It’s a long time since we encountered this name for a beef extract (named after its German ‘inventor’). We removed the ‘very important’ to be left with the three-letter ‘falsehood’.
23d Travellers by lake start to sell handkerchiefs (6)
This was a new word for us but the wordplay tells us how to create it from a short word for travellers, followed by two single letters.
33d Uproar in Shakespeare‘s ‘Titus’ cast, leading character having left (4)
Don’t waste time hunting in your collected Shakespeare (it’s a pretty awful play anyway – thank goodness he progressed to his superb later plays!) Simply dock the leading character and interpret the ‘uproar’.
Of course the penny-drop moment produced a smile, as it usually does in a Piccadilly crossword. There were two ways of reaching it; either by spotting how those ‘run-together’ clues provided a consistent set of extra words, or by scanning the grid to find ‘four words symmetrically placed’ providing the instruction (which you need to remember to highlight).
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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