Enigmatic Variations 1569 (Hints)
Coexistence by Skylark
Hints and tips by Phibs
+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +
I’d like to tell you where the pseudonym Skylark comes from, but I can’t. Is she perhaps a diminutive songster, or someone who enjoys the occasional drop of a blithe spirit? Or could the fact that Chambers gives the verb ‘skylark’ as meaning ‘to trick’ be relevant? I’m hoping that our setter might come to my assistance…
…which she has very kindly done – see the first comment below. A much better reason for choosing the name than any of my suggestions!
Preamble: An extra letter in 21 clues, which should be removed before solving, reveals what COEXISTENCE with a group causes a character. A surplus word in 10 other clues describes the group. Starting from the top left cell, three works of the character’s creator are given in the perimeter; unchecked letters around the perimeter could give EMBELLISH SALLOW DOG. Finally, solvers must highlight the creator’s name (10 cells in a straight line). Chambers Dictionary (2016) and ODQ are recommended.
We’ve got 21 clues with an extra letter, 10 with an extra word, and 8 normal ones; there’s no entry gimmick, so all solutions can be written straight into the grid. Only one way to proceed – crack on and solve some clues…
9a Charming Frost, cue sweetener (8)
You might be tempted to assume that the anagram indicator here is already on view, but in fact a change is required.
15a Labelling, accepting last of pale young salmon (9)
A useful device when writing ‘extra letter’ clues is tacking the bonus letter onto the beginning or end of a word from which the first or last letter (respectively) is to be selected, eg ‘first of March’ for A, with the M having been removed. It’s often a good way of accommodating the extra letter when other approaches fail.
23a Energy parts atom perhaps and sodium chain (6)
When a form of the verb ‘part’ appears in a wordplay it almost invariably indicates an insertion, in this instance of a single-letter element between one of three letters and one of two.
26a See people following around line of soldiers in Elizabethan times (4)
The question of whether a cathedral city can legitimately be described as a ‘see’ has long been debated, but here such a one is portrayed in those terms, and it’s a small example in all respects.
31a Broadcast with shot bird (4)
The presence of an imposter makes this homophone clue much trickier than it would otherwise have been.
37a Buddhist’s trope about the French Staff Officer is dismal (8)
The aspect likely to tax solvers here is interpreting the wordplay element comprising the first two words. Once the extra letter has been removed from the second word, checking it in Chambers will reveal a definition by example (although it’s not flagged as such) of a common four-letter word.
1d One received objection, shamed going topless (8)
The convention of underlining the definition will help with the identification of the imposter, while the second part of the two-element charade involves a word that is perhaps more familiar in the sense of ‘sullied’ rather than ‘shamed’.
6d Abash tipsy idiot (4)
After the extra letter has been removed, a 2+2 charade leads to a word that could describe a certain class of Bond villain.
8d Record missing base of Celt’s sword (4)
The comment for 15a is equally applicable here.
17d Briefly show Asian cash (4)
The ‘show’ in this clue is the sort that might be scripted.
19d Occupied with son getting lower, believes nothing (4)
Once the isolated imposter has been removed, the clue becomes much easier to deal with, involving the movement of a single-letter abbreviation within a four-letter word.
21d Curie surrenders note for East Caribbean tale (8)
‘Curie’ as it stands might perhaps have indicated ‘CI’, but in fact it must give up the extra letter before delivering an eight-letter word to be manipulated in accordance with the subsequent wordplay.
34d Major rejects common northern aluminium type of house (4)
Here the key element of the wordplay is the first word, which leads to a seven-letter adjective that could also be indicated by ‘formative’.
Having filled the grid (or at least the core of it) in a puzzle where we’re asked to highlight a linear group of cells, it’s always worth buying a ticket for the Chalicea Line. I wasn’t familiar with the quotation (the only one from the ‘creator’ given by ODQ), but I was well acquainted with that person, having several of their works on the shelves close to where I am writing this blog. Thus I was readily able to populate the perimeter cells (checking off the newly-inserted letters against the ‘unch message’ as I went along), but in any event the web will come to the aid of those who are unfamiliar with either the creator or their works – and even without ODQ those who can’t spot the name in the grid will readily track down the three-word part of the quotation using a search engine.
The clue solving might prove slightly tricky at times, but the well-signposted endgame shouldn’t cause anyone with internet access a problem. I did look to see if there was any evidence of the ‘character’ in the grid, but given the lengths of their names that would have been little short of a miracle. Dare I say that my thanks for an enjoyable solve are ‘owed to a Skylark’? Probably not.
Phibs Toughness Rating : 🥾🥾/🥾🥾🥾 (Novices may find the random clue variations awkward, but the puzzle is suitable for all except absolute beginners)
This is my last EV blog of the year, so I will take the opportunity to wish you all a very happy festive season with plenty of good solving to accompany the mandatory eating and drinking. Here’s to many more puzzles next year of the same quality as those that we’ve been treated to over the last few months.
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5 comments on “EV 1569 Hints”
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So glad that you enjoyed it and are too a fan of the subject’s work. I came across their works at university, collected and read them all, so was unaware of one that had been published since then, which I was delighted to find last year, which prompted me to create this puzzle.
Jo (Skylark – name chosen because of Erroll Garner’s rendition of the Johnny Mercer / Hoagy Carmichael song, on a record of my Dad’s, which entranced me as a youngster.)
I’ve often thought it would be interesting to have a list of setters’ pseudonyms against real names (such as that already available on the Listener site for those prepared to share the latter) which included the reasons behind the choice.
More to the point, I enjoyed the puzzle and admired the construction. It’s not giving anything away to say that the three works actually used are drawn from a larger number, which always suggests a lot of patient trialling to get a working grid (which three? And in what order? And starting where?), especially with the further 10-cell inclusion imposing another restriction.
Some tricky clues here but once down to the last handful it’s fairly clear what needs to be removed from each before solving. Grid completed the endgame is readily got from the web. I had heard the 10-letter description before but was unaware of the source and now know a little more about that author.
Thanks to Skylark and to Phibs.
By coincidence I’d recently read one of the author’s books so when their name started to appear in the grid I quickly spotted it. This enabled me to complete the perimeter which was a great help in filling the rest of the grid. Overall a very enjoyable puzzle.
Thanks to Skylark for the beautifully constructed challenge and to Phibs for providing the hints and tips.
I was quite unknowledgable about the subject and would never have deduced the perimeter cells without the 10 letter name and the Internet … and of course I wouldn’t have got that far without Phibs’ hints.
A tricky puzzle. Some well hidden extra words and letters meant a degree of back solving required. Thanks Skylark.