EV 1573 Hints – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1573 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1573 (Hints)

Capital by Vismut

Hints and tips by Phibs

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

This is my second Vismut EV, following October’s ‘Save’, which was awash with avian anagrams. Last time I speculated on the setter’s pseudonym being linked in some way to the element bismuth, which is called ‘vismut’ in certain languages. I now find that it is also the name of a device used by the KGB in the Lubyanka Building and Intourist Hotel in Moscow to receive the output from hidden microphones and tapped telephone lines. This was during the Cold War, but perhaps I’m getting warmer…?

Preamble: The wordplay in each across clue generates an extra letter, not to be entered, which when read in clue order gives the name and decoration of someone who went missing on a hunt. Each down clue contains a word which could be described by two others from the book title in the unclued central entry. Seven of these words are redundant and must be used to populate the grid’s perimeter. All entries to the grid should be made in CAPITAL form and the central character turned so that the object of the thematic hunt can be seen. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended

The first sentence describes the standard ‘wordplay delivers extra letter’ gimmick, which will be familiar to most solvers. The second sentence tells us that there is one ‘word of interest’ in every down clue, but in only seven instances must this word be removed prior to solving; in the other eleven down clues, the word is simply part of a normal clue (and in fact does not have to be identified in order to solve the puzzle). The third sentence is the one with the greatest potential to confuse: what it means is that identifying the seven redundant words will enable you to populate the grid’s perimeter, but they aren’t themselves entered into the perimeter cells. The last part of the preamble will make sense once you’ve got a full grid.


12a      German man cycling to discover monkey (6)
The ‘cycling’ means that one or two letters (we will never know which) from the end of the (non-specific) German man must be moved to the beginning; the second wordplay element is a slang term.

13a      Hubbub of Nice front I ignored (5)
This is perhaps the easiest clue in the puzzle, but it was one of the last which I solved – for ‘front’ read ‘with the first’.

14a      Hold very small – intermediate needle (7)
A charade of an archaic meaning of the verb ‘hold’ (the closest modern sense is probably ‘to assert authoritatively’) and an informal word for ‘tiny’, the bonus letter being provided by the latter.

19a      Oceans surrounding heartless secret fisher folk (7)
While the oceans shouldn’t give too many problems, the ‘heartless secret’ is a little trickier, indicating a word meaning ‘secret’ or ‘more intimate’ from which the middle letter has been removed.

23a      Not allowed according to girl I found in SW19 losing Spanish title (13)
You don’t get a lot of 13-letter answers in barred puzzles, so this one has true rarity value. ‘SW19’ refers to a district of London which falls under that postcode and is famed for reasons sporting and ecological; it must lose both a Spanish title and the extra letter.

32a      Echoing say new low whine from grumpy bairn (6)
The wordplay here has elements of 2, 1 and 4 letters (each indicated by a single word) ‘echoing’ – I’ve not seen the intransitive form of this verb used as a reversal indicator before, but the intention is clear.

33a      Runs over tense worry (4)
The relevant Chambers definition of ‘run’ talks about doing a particular sort of handiwork ‘lightly and quickly’, while ‘over’ here is used in the sense of ‘from side to side of’.


5d      Want awfully obscene mail dodgy limo dropped off (7)
Unless the letters to be removed appear consecutively and in the correct order in the original fodder, convention dictates that subtractive anagrams require two anagram indicators. Fairness to solvers, rather than the demands of cryptic accuracy, would appear to be the justification for this – if ‘drunken waitress dropping stew’ were the wordplay for AIRS, there is no logical reason why the ‘drunken waitress’ shouldn’t lead to AIRSSTEW, from which the consecutive letters STEW would then be dropped. Anyway, in this clue ‘awfully’ and ‘dodgy’ perform the necessary roles.

6d      Forewent knights without car or jewellery (8)
When seeking out imposters, a good approach is to look for words that rarely if ever appear in normal clues, and there is one such here. The wordplay involves two four-letter words, and ‘without’ is used in its archaic sense of ‘outside of’; the word ‘or’ is there solely to separate the wordplay from the definition.

7d      Figure stonking winery produced terrible gin, work’s lost (6)
My comment about 5d applies equally here, with ‘produced’ and ‘terrible’ stepping into the awfully/dodgy shoes. Sometimes setters play about with the punctuation of the wordplay for the benefit of the surface reading, and in this instance the cryptic reading really demands a comma after ‘produced’ (the word ‘with’ would be even better).

11d      Gibbon’s performance maybe, stood out from version of poets Addoom (6)
This clue involves a very similar construction to those seen in 5d and 7d, with ‘out’ and ‘version of’ joining the anagrind cast. The definition is perhaps somewhat fanciful – in today’s Azed the same word is defined by ‘primates as a group’.

20d      I am absolute louse covering up say Washington’s old sign (7)
The presence of an imposter makes this one trickier, as does the four-letter abbreviation indirectly indicated by ‘say Washington’, which could also have been ‘say Trump’. The answer is shown by Chambers as ‘obsolete’, hence the ‘old’.

22d      Scariest stag’s trail petered out abruptly over ancient city (7)
The convention of underlining the definition in these hints leaves the imposter rather out on a limb here. ‘Over’ is used in the same way as in 33a, and while the ancient world had many cities, the cruciverbal version of that world has just the one – a Sumerian city-state with a very short name, inextricably linked in my mind with the word ‘ziggurat’, just one of the sundry things I learnt at school which equipped me for life, along with ‘hapax legomenon’ and the ‘Euler line’ – something to do with triangles, though I’m not sure exactly what.

The words in the shaded cells should start to emerge, and there are only two to which the preamble could reasonably be referring; consideration of these in combination with the removed words (and the puzzle’s title) will reveal the mechanism required to convert the ‘redundant 7’ into the seven perimeter entries. It may be necessary to google the name of the hunter in order to identify the title of the book, but once you have it the change demanded in the grid will be clear, as will the reason for entries being made in ‘capital form’.

The instructions regarding the perimeter entries were a tad opaque, but when they had been unravelled it was plain what was required. There was no room for doubt when it came to the shaded entry and the change to the completed grid. The process relating to the redundant words was neat, though I couldn’t see any obvious reason for it being extended to the eleven normal down clues.

Phibs Toughness Rating : 🥾🥾 (Suitable for all except barred-puzzle beginners)

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6 comments on “EV 1573 Hints
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  1. Vismut was a horse…my first…a beautiful Russian Trotter.

    Just so you can stop speculating on any connections I may have to the KGB you understand.


    1. Much appreciated, Vismut – I don’t think I was going to get there without assistance!

      I need hardly add that it was not my intention in any shape or form to suggest connections to the KGB. A Russian Trotter, you say…? :wink:

      Nice puzzle – thank you :good:

  2. An entertaining puzzle, requiring the drop of two pennies. One for the name and the book, and one for the perimeter.
    Now did the perimeter words need to fit with the clued answers or was it compiled ghe other way around?
    Whichever, thanks to Phibs and Vismut. Another enjoyable Sunday.

  3. I had the same trouble with 13a – it may be “easy” when you have the answer but only then. It was my last in despite making the salad regularly.
    A neat puzzle with a good mix of clues. The identity of the missing person is needed to find the book and make the turn – and then the nature of the 7 redundant words is clear. But [as the man says] there are 11 more to be found in the other down clues – providing another end-game.
    Thanks to Vismut and to Phibs.

    1. Glad to hear it wasn’t just me with 13a :???:

      I thought the ‘extra 11’ were a nice adjunct, but with my setter’s hat on it seemed like a lot of extra work for the compiler! :eek:

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