EV 1578 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1578 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1578 (Hints)

Two Words by Piccadilly

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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It is a pleasure to download a crossword by Piccadilly who has been setting them for 34 years and EVs since 1995 – this one is his 52nd Enigmatic Variations crossword. Of course he sets for the Listener and Magpie too. We expect that this crossword will not be too difficult and will have an entertaining theme.

Preamble:  The wordplay in some clues leads to the answer plus an extra letter, not to be entered in the grid. These letters in clue order spell TWO WORDS indicating pairs of words overlapping by two or more letters which form the unclued entries. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

‘Some clues’ originally worried us as we are not told how many, and the extra letter is not ‘in every clue’. That adds to the difficulty of solving. However, we are able to work out that eight solutions are unclued. 20d has no unchecked letters and is one of the unclued ones so we focus on the seven clues that provide its letters (the other is also unclued) in the hope that we will get a hint about those ‘two words’.


13a          Dismiss 50% of provisos for televisual faciities (4)
A generous clue, especially as the underlining, here, of the definition tells you which part is wordplay, but you may not be familiar with the short form that is the soution.

16a         Athletic mayors: they can swim (6)
The use of ‘athletic’ is original. Indeed ‘they can swim’, but the ones I have seen in seaquariums tend to be lurking not very athletically but threateningly, ready to take a nasty bite out of anything or anyone who ventures near them.

19a         One leaving Sardinia upset woman (6)
Again, the underlining probably says all a solver needs. (As well, perhaps, as a reminder that we are hunting for extra letters in the wordplay.)

21a         Graduate coming into money beginning to study Algerian castles (7)
The graduate is one of the usual two-letter ones and the popular word for money is what he ‘comes into’ before ‘beginning to study’. Those castles might be anywhere in North Africa.

30a        A percussion instrument returned for German silver (6)
Both the words used in the wordplay and in the solution were new to the Numpties. What  a clever find by Piccadilly for his clue. Of course, the percussion instrument (an Indian one) appears in Mrs Bradford’s list of instruments in her Crossword Solver’s Dictionary.

35a         Article on navy taking almost all year’s entry in chronicle (5)
The article has to be added to the navy and ‘almost all’ to produce this unusual usage.


3d           Mauritania is over southern borders (4)
To work out how the wordplay produced this solution, you might need to consult Chambers to find the IVR for Mauritania.

5d           Number ignored eccentric screen goddess (5)
The underlining will help yet again. ‘Eccentric’, of course, tells us what to do and we need to ignore the ‘number’.

6d          I go touring middle of Lapp forest regularly flooded (5)
The wordplay tells us what has to go round the middle of that Lapp (forest), to produce an unusual term.

8d         Piece of combed wool cat picked up (4)
I’m surprised that this four-letter word is still current and not ‘archaic’ or even ‘obsolete’ in Chambers. (When I was a child, my Yorkshire Dales village had a factory where women were employed to do combing and carding and remove these items but it has long disappeared.) However, the cat we have to pick up is a generic one – another of those lucky finds, like 30ac.

22d         Malayan tapir having anthrax biting boy (7)
This was a new word for us. The boy who was bitten was one who often appears in crosswords but we needed Chambers to help us with the anthrax.

23d         Use explosives to destroy insect that’s offensively noisy (7)
It’s a tiny little social insect that has to be destroyed when we ‘use explosives’.

Of course the penny-drop moment produced a smile, as it usually does in a Piccadilly crossword. We needed only a couple of the unclued solutions – as will be the case for most solvers. Just one of the sets of ‘two words’ needed a visit to our co-solver Wiki. The hint that we were given by those extra letters produced another smile; it was just a little bit sly and led us to expect a slightly different theme.

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 1578 (Hints)
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  1. Very generous clues, including plenty of anagrams, made this a welcome “EV quickie”. One or two clues might or might not have generated an extra letter [eg 3D] but the 2-word message was clear enough, as was the endgame.
    Thanks to Piccadilly and the Numpties.

  2. I think this must be the fastest I completed an EV, so that’s left me in a very happy mood. Clever theme! Thank you Piccadilly and Numpties.

  3. The generous clues and a reasonable knowledge of the thematic material meant this was all over in record time (for me) without the need for the hints or google.

    Thanks to Piccadilly for an enjoyable if not overtaxing puzzle and to the Numpties for their blog.

  4. It took a while for the penny to drop due to imagined extra letters, but once it did the unclued words became rather obvious. This also proved I knew less about tapirs than I thought I did.
    Thanks to Piccadilly an The Numpties

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