EV 1572 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1572 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1572 (Hints)

Find the Title by Gaston

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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Dave Hennings’ crossword database tells us that Gaston sets uniquely for the Enigmatic Variations series. This crossword  which opens the New Year will be his 25th in the series.

Preamble: In the context of the puzzle’s theme, the top and bottom lines (three and four words respectively) appear logical, but the central column (two words) disproves this; four affected characters appear as further unclued entries. Unchecked/mutually checked letters in all these might give REPENT ABYSMAL INNUENDO. When the grid is complete, solvers must FIND THE TITLE by changing an appropriately placed entry (to be highlighted), always leaving real words. Chambers 2016 is recommended; one answer is an abbreviation.

We had no clue gimmick but simply those unclued lights symmetrically placed that were going to give us two logical phrases and one that disproved them. In addition we were to find four affected characters – names, we presumed. It was, in fact, a guess at those names that we fed into Wikipedia that helped the penny to drop for us, and from that ‘boing’ as it hit the floor, we were able to work out what those three phrases were telling us and which ‘appropriately placed’ entry to adjust to give us the title.


8a           Ochre removing front of pedal (6)
The ochre here is of the kind that is used to mark sheep in the Dales and the pedal is of the kind my grannie had on her sewing machine (that tells you which of the range of spellings of the word you need to opt for).

9a          Quaver alarmingly before old herdsman in El Paso (7)
We are being told that we need a term that originally comes from Spanish and we are also told how to produce the word and what letter will conclude it.

11a         Retiring swimmer hasn’t time for brief recovery (5)
A short form of that word for ‘recovery’ is used here and we need to ‘retire’ that ‘swimmer’ and take away ‘time’ from him.

24a         Old stories involving sucess and alcoholic drinks (8, two words)
The old word for stories was a new one for us. We put a short word for success into it and produced the kind of alcoholic drinks that are on the dinner table most days.

28a         Weaver turning back a cover (4)
The weaver is not one sitting at a loom and the cover he is ‘turning back’ is just a small item of gear – not a major woven thing.

29a         Old Irish judge reviewing absence of plant (6)
‘Reviewing’ has the same function in this clue as the ‘turning back’ in the clue above. The old Irish judge takes us all the way back to medieval times – a rather obscure word! You will be able to work out what the aromatic plant is from the letters, since none of them are ‘unches’.

36a         Faithful follower consumed bird inside (7)
Take a word for ‘consumed’ and put the bird inside it. This South African bird was not a familiar one for us and we had only its first letter since the third letter was part of one of those unclued names, but Mrs Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary offered us only seven with that inititial letter and only one of those produced ‘a faithful follower’.


4d            Intricate agreement with director at its heart (5)
“Does that word really mean ‘intricate?” the other Numpty asked me, so I have included it in the hints as an unusual word. We knew how the ‘director’ was to be at the heart of a four-letter word for an agreement (that you might shake hands on).

11d          In Glasgow, scratch legal document reportedly (4)
The Scottish indicator here tells us that we need a Scottish ‘scratch’ that is a homophone for a word that describes a legal document.

18d         Macbeth’s old promise disheartened chief witch? (4)
In school, I acted that old hag who comes to congratulate the three witches later in the play. We need to ‘dishearten her’ to produce the old Scottish ‘promise’.

23d         Where Gaston’s pet has something to drink? (7)
In hint terms, I had difficulty deciding what to underline in this lovely little clue. If you consider ‘Gaston’s national origin and opt for the animal that is probably his pet and what it is probbably given to drink (not milk, they tell me it’s not good for them!) you’ll get the place.

29d         Missile that snares type of spider (5)
A ‘double definition’ clue that uses two relatively rare definitions.

The Numpties needed an almost full grid to work out what the theme was, but then all fell neatly into place and we smiled at the one ‘appropriately placed’ answer that we had to adjust. Don’t forget to highlight that!

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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9 comments on “EV 1572 (Hints)
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  1. Concise but generous clues with a couple of little gems [32a and 23d] but I’m still wondering if there’s more to 14d.
    Twigging the two major characters enabled the endgame to be tackled and there was only one place to look for the word to be changed.
    Good fun: thanks to Gaston and The Numpties.

  2. It’s been too many years since I came upon this masterpiece and so many memorable characters, concepts and phrases. So it was a real delight when the penny dropped; or pennies dropped as I recalled the names one by one.
    I too wondered at 14d, but that has to be the answer.
    Thanks Numpties and especially Gaston for fair and amusing clues

  3. Good puzzle. I wasted a bit of time looking up cricketers but I got there in the end…its been such a long long time since I read this work that I had forgotten all the Characters. As per usual I can’t quite get the last bit. I’m afraid the appropriately placed entry isn’t obvious to yours truly 😔

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