EV 1570 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1570 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1570 (Hints)

Scratching the Surface by Cranberry

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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We have a new setter name: welcome to Cranberry. As a debut crossword this is no cake-walk. No doubt it will keep solvers busy for a while, as next Sunday is Christmas Day so there will be no EV.

Preamble:  Clues are listed in conventional order. All bars touching the perimeter (SCRATCHING THE SURFACE, say) are provided. Locations of further bars, displaying 180º symmetry, are to be deduced (but need not be entered). Ten clues contain single extra words. For each of these, one or two letters (not always consecutive), as indicated by the extra word, must be removed from the defined answer before jumbling the remainder to make the thematic grid entry. All other clues lead to the answer plus one extra letter. In order, these spell out the theme. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

We had in front of us an almost carte blanche. We wondered why we were being deprived of bars but, on close examination, saw that the first clue produced a nine-letter word for an eight-letter space. Clearly this was one where we had to remove a letter from the defined answer and jumble the remaining eight to give one of the ten thematic entries. There would be nine more of these and Cranberry was obvioulsy giving no early Christmas presents. Fortunately, as our gridfill progressed, he had given us a 180º symmetrical grid which eased our task a little. Solvers will probably work the way we did – spot some of the thematic set and work backwards, anagramming it without the likely letter or letters produced by the extra word, to find what those original clued words were (though we didn’t always need to know them.)


*           Leaves warning about Latin American as trouble returned (9)
Every solver will spot that clues are listed in conventional order, and since the space for this solution is eight letters long, we are kindly being told that this solution is thematic. The warning is one that is used in golf (when my ball gets rather close to the three old ladies who take forever on the hole in front). One letter, indicated by an extra word in the clue, must be removed from the solution before it is jumbled. Two words in this clue can have a single-letter abbreviation. We opt for one that leaves us with ‘Latin as trouble returned’ and put the warning word round those letters to get the term for ‘leaves’. Take away that single letter and jumble the rest and hey-presto, you may already spot the theme.

*         Naked African, knocking back wine left meatball on braai (8)
We were given African indicators here. We ‘undressed’ the African to produce five letters then used a common word for the wine, extracting one of its letters for the extra-letter message. The last letter of the word was spelled out for us.

*         With head covered by cloak French college director returned (8)
An unusual word for ‘with head’ was created by a four-letter cloak that ‘covered a well known French director who returned. We were left with the ‘college’ which helped us cope with the rest of what we had to do to produce the solution.

*         East Londoner’s sack that is caked in mud (4)
Of course, there is more than one ‘East London’. This word was new to us but the very generous clue tells us to put the ‘mud’ round ‘that is’, but one of those five letters is needed for the message.

*         Ill-natured sort from Georgia, scoundrel, not first to blur boundaries of opinion (10)
I liked this clue as the initial solution is one of my own crossword setter pseudonyms, adopted in a grumpy (ill-natured) way when solvers kept saying how sweet and ladylike the main pseudonym was. Put a short word for a scoundrel in front of a word for blur (what you might do to ink) with the first letter removed (‘not the first’) and add two letters – the boundaries of ‘opinion’. ‘Georgia’ will be redundant and you will probably be as impressed as we were by Cranberry’s manipulation of this. You will also discover the theme, if you hadn’t already done so.

*        Sulphur finally thought to be causing deadly smoke in Pennsylvania (5)
We used the abbreviation for sulphur and a series of letters suggested by ‘finally’ remembering that we needed an extra letter for the message. An American indicator helped us find the word we needed and Chambers confirmed it for us.

*         New song on the radio may amuse (8)
The convention of underlining in Big Dave’s hints will help here as this clearly points to ‘new’ as a single extra word. However, it was difficult to resist hinting for this lovely little clue. ‘May amuse’ gave us a two word homophone for the song.

*       Shoot detective following ordinary person from Mexico City (7)
We used a familiar three letter word for ‘shoot’, then ‘ordinary’ followed by a short term for the detective. This produced a word that Chambers told us was a person from Mexico. A single extra word prompted us what to do with that solution.


*           Fungus diminished fur Indian garment carried by mother (8)
Three elements came together to give us this word for ‘fungus’. We diminished the ‘fur’, added the Indian lady’s dress and a short word for ‘mother’ remembering that an extra letter was coming out of clues that were not thematic.

*         Poetic smear encapsulating essence of stupidity: “Thou unclothed empty newt!” (4)
That’s some ‘poetic smear’! But we approached it in crossword solver mode – unclothed the ‘thou’, added the ‘essence’ of ‘stupidity’ and completed our poetic word for ‘smear’ with a hollowed out ‘newt’. Of course all of that gave us an extra letter.

*         Visibly embarrassed about meeting doctor (3)
New setters often overdo the difficulty of their compilations and need to be prompted that this crossword tussle is one that the solver has to win. Those wise old owls amongst us who are into our second or third thousand compilations always give a handful of really generous clues to help the solver on her way. What a pleasure to see that Cranberry has done that here. The definition is a gift and is made up of ‘about’ and the ‘doctor’, clearly indicating which letter is extra.

*         Trip over Dutch language (4)
You need to ‘turn’ the term for trip then the ‘Dutch’ will prompt what the language is (not just the usual D).

*         Drained swamp – horribly grim, unless … hush!  There’s a sign of life! (8)
A fine clue for a difficult word that defines ‘a sign of life’. Draining four consecutive words (taking out what is in them leaving just the shells) gives the eight-letter word. You still have ‘hush!’ and probably already have in your grid one of the set of ten. We had.

We found that fitting the smaller clues in the heart of the grid was the most difficult part of the crossword. We spotted the theme and were able to identify the ten thematic words, and back-solving to the original clues allowed us to see what the extra letters were spelling. That’s a wonky way to solve but probably the one many solvers will adopt. Good luck!

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 1570 (Hints)
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  1. Thanks Numpties, excellent hints! (Glad you enjoyed the poetic smear and drained swamp, I was quite pleased with those two!)

  2. This was made much easier by the kick-off provided by the first hint, which both clarified the preamble and helped considerably in revealing the theme. Several clues took a lot of time to crack, in particular the subtractive clues like the [very satisfying to solve] penultimate across clue and a couple remain unparsed. Overall an impressive feat of grid engineering and an enjoyable solve to accompany the football.
    Thanks to Cranberry and to The Numpties for the valuable hints.

  3. A fine debut puzzle indeed, with a well-worked grid and engaging clues and nicely tweaked gimmicks. A bit of me would have enjoyed a more Christmassy theme but I know that’s not to everyone’s taste so thanks to Cranberry (whose handle is suitably seasonal), our hinters and editor Steve for another good EV year.

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