EV 1582 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1582 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1582

Undefined Parameters by Cagey

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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It seems that this is only Cagey’s third Enigmatic Variations crossword though his is a more familiar name in the Magpie. We wondered how cagey he was going to be with his clues and prompts.

Preamble:  Some cells accommodate more than one letter, clashing with crossing entries to form thematic material (only the first and last letters of these should be entered). Other UNDEFINED PARAMETERS provide an instruction. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

We struggled initially with the word ‘parameter’ in the preamble (Chambers gave us ‘A line or quantity which serves to determine a point, line, figure or quantity in a class of such things’ – that wasn’t much help!) but, on examining the clues, we decided that this must be referring to the ones that lacked definitions and, thus, had simply wordplay. Brock’s recent Listener  gave us names of Wombles that were put together using letters of across and down clues and Cagey’s preamble suggested to us that we would be adopting the same device here.


1a           Those stopping dirt spreading from slander by Wags (8)
We used a short word for ‘slander’ and a verb for ‘wags’ to produce these useful objects.

14a          Unhappy taking off north, in other words it’s grim up there (5)
We realised that we were looking for a northern (Scottish?) word for ‘grim’ and we constructed it by ‘taking off north’ from a word for ‘low’ or ‘unhappy’. A couple more letters (in other words) were neded to give us that dialect word. Of course, we noticed that a five-letter solution was going into four cells.

16a          Noble match (9)
We wonderd whether this was one of the ‘undefind parameters’ since it suggested a familiar word that appears regularly as an instruction in crosswords.

20a         Half-baked pud mum served as starter (7)
A tricky one. The letter count prompted us about this clue. The solution was composed of a short word for ‘mum’ (not ‘ma’) and one for a type of pud (I like gooseberry ones!) We queried what went into the grid but were surprised when Chambers confirmed it.

29a         Cagey breaking marriage vow: end of that numpty (5)
Well the Numpties had to include this clue in our hints didn’t we? However, it didn’t require great solving skill. We let Cagey (his pronoun) break into the vow announced in church and added one letter.

39a       Refreshments in ladies’ room on board ship (5)
We simply put that familiar crossword word for a ‘ladies’ room’ into those equally familiar crossword letters for ‘on board ship’ – and we noticed the clue length and number of allocated cells.


5d           Person’s nadir – forgetting almost half of memory training (5)
We know the ‘nadir’ is the lowest point but the word was used in an unusual way here. That ‘memory training was a game we played as children but ‘almost half’ of it had to be docked to give an unfamiliar term for that ‘nadir’.

6d           Gordon Ramsay’s chilly first bite of strawberry fool (6)
This wasn’t one of his ‘Kitchen Nightmares’ indeed, he was used here as a Scottish indicator (and the ‘fool’ wasn’t a numpty this time!)

12d         Lost gipsy guardian during journey to the west?(5)
If you allow yourself Wiki help, a visit to Wiki will provide what you need to find this ‘lost’ gipsy. (Take that ‘Journey to the West’!)

17d         All, bar head, once humiliated class (5)
You need a couple of words for ‘all’ but the ‘head’ must not be included.

23d         Act to follow auteur’s severe punishment without due process (8)
By now, you have probably highlighted those clues whose length did not match the space allocated. We had no trouble with a short word for the ‘act’ and the letters appearing in our grid told us which evil punishment was being identified here.

28d        Friday, cut the wood (5)
The underlining of the definition will help. Of course, Mrs Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary will confirm the ‘wood’.

Well, a number of words appeared in our grid and Cagey was certainly living up to his name and not giving a great deal away to us with his relatively tough clues, but, as usual, Wiki, our co-solver came to our assistance and those ‘undefined parameters’ told us what to do.

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1 comment on “EV 1582 (Hints)

  1. Finally got there! I got held up in the NE corner, but was overthinking …..You do actually need all the letters in the clashing cells to work out the theme. And each cell gives you an answer which you can then Google. I thought the endgame was going to be dull and highbrow but it’s not!

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