EV 1576 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1576 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1576


Hints and tips by The Numpties

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There is no need to introduce Kruger who has been setting EV crosswords for over 26 years. We always find his crosswords challenging and this one was no exception but we had to admire the skill of the setter.

Preamble:  The answer to each clue must have a letter removed, wherever it occurs, before entry. Word lengths refer to definitions and wordplays to the mutilated forms to be entered in the grid. Letters removed from the left/right/upper/lower clue answers in each row/column must be entered in the corresponding perimeter cells. Solvers must fill the corners to reveal seven members of a set NOT RELATED TO CHRIS. The final member must be highlighted in the completed grid. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended; 40 is in Collins.

We see that there are two across clues in every row and two down clues in every column. Clearly these are going to give us the letters we must remove and put into the perimeter of the grid, providing seven members of a set (when we have filled the corner cells) with an eighth member to complete the set – which will appear in the grid and need to be highlighted. We see that word lengths will tell us whether each of those ‘removed’ letters will appear only once in a solution or more than once (as in 23 across, for example, where there are seven spaces for a nine-letter word). We tried to get a hint from that long title, but it didn’t anagram to anything and there are quite a lot of Chris’s in the world, so we had to leave that for later.


1a           Englishman from East London uncovered lies in castle (7)
That ‘East London’ is always tricky. It might be referring to a Cockney usage or an African one. We didn’t know this word but we ‘uncovered’ the lies and used a chess word for the ‘castle’.

12a           Slim daughter enjoys some exercise (5)
The device used to reveal another word that is probably not familiar (at least – the letters to enter when one has been removed) is the same as that used in clue 1d. We needed Chambers and Mrs Bradford’s list of exercises to give us the word.

15a          American girl with us somehow is good (8)
We put together ‘American’, ‘girl’ and ‘us’ somehow and were surprised that the very familiar word that gave (with the extracted letter) can mean ‘good’.

23a        Blue train possibly leaving without earl (9)
The underlining of the definition will help here. We commented above that the word count tells us that a letter is being removed twice. You need to think of a very fast train and remove a very short ‘without’ from it. Earl will complete the letters to enter.

37a         … from Australia in due course (4, two words)
A tricky one. We had to work out how the group of letters that appeared in our grid could be those two words – but the underlining should help again.

40a        Followers in church for Roman deities (7)
The ones that are in Collins are so often the tricky ones to solve but the fact that these followers (a short word) are ‘in church’ should spell it out for you and, of course, you will have spotted that this is another where the same letter is extracted twice.


1d           Dubrovnik covered in mounting Christmas garbage (6)
My first encounter with this old name for Dubrovnik came from an explanation in notes to Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice of the name ‘Argosy’ for a large, rich merchant ship. (“Three of your argosies are come to port.”) The clue tells us what to enter.

3d          Town in Ohio erected school (5)
Here we soon realized that the town wasn’t necessarily in Ohio. We needed the abbreviation for Ohio and a short word for a school (also not necessarily for children) that had to be erected or put up.

7d         Kirkpatrick resides in Peru to live a secluded life (4)
The definition here is an unusual use of the word that for a Scot or in a favourite saying is a ‘bag’. (You might find a pig there!) When you have extracted a letter you will put ‘Kirkpatrick’ into Peru’s letters.

10d         Hearing about this country, Yank oddly joins part of cell (8)
The wordplay here was tough. Take a short word for ‘hearing’ and an even shorter abbreviation for ‘this country’ then the Yank ‘oddly’ to produce a biological word that is probably not familiar.

21d         Eviction from lands (open country) near cuckoo (9)
There is usually at least one clue that produces a smile (even if the definition word here produced a lot of grief historically). There were two wordplay elements, the ‘open country’ (a short word) and ‘near cuckoo’ where we were told what to do about ‘near’. Remember that the letter to be removed might occur twice in the original definition.

30d        Innocent old Queen visiting Benin? On the contrary (7)
We understood by ‘on the contrary’ that it had to be Benin visiting the old Queen. We used the pair of letters that give us Benin and a four-letter old Queen – the usual one.

The letters circling our completed grid told the Numpties nothing but we were able to guess at corner letters to give a probable set. As usual when we are head-scratching, we consulted our friend Wiki, feeding in those words. We opened some of Wiki’s early suggestions and found what we were looking for. That allowed us to confirm the eighth member of the set – which we remind you to highlight. That also gave us a name that we could relate to CHRIS even if it was ‘not related’ to him.

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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3 comments on “EV 1576 (Hints)
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  1. That certainly was a toughie! Even though there were sufficient generous clues to get a good start and become accustomed to the deficient wordplay it was a challenge to fill the grid, especially in the SE corner. Eventually I had enough of the perimeter filled to have a google for the theme and reveal the ingenuity of the title. With the perimeter complete the remaining clues were a little easier and a full grid was achieved, [but still unable to parse a letter in 42a]. Knowledge of the full set enabled the missing member to be readily located.

    Thanks to Kruger and the Numpties.

  2. That was quite hard even when the penny had dropped about the set of not-Chris’s, especially in the bottom right sector. But a good challenge and an amusing theme nearly deployed. Thanks!

  3. I thought this was the toughest EV for a while. Like halcyon and David above I found the SE corner the trickiest, not helped by thinking that one of the seven had revealed themselves in the first six letters of the right hand perimeter. I spent far too long exploring a nonexistent theme before the penny dropped!

    Thanks to Kruger for the entertaining challenge and to the Numpties for their blog.

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