EV 1583 Hints – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1583 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1583 (Hints)

Remedies by The Ace of Hearts

Hints and tips by Phibs

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

What an intriguing pseudonym. Apart from being a playing card, The Ace of Hearts is the title of a 1921 film in which the member of a vigilante group who is to carry out an assassination is selected by a card being dealt to each person in turn until one receives the ace of hearts. Is this relevant? I’m hoping that our setter might be able to tell us.

Preamble: One letter should be omitted from each answer wherever it occurs before entry. Definitions refer to the full answer, wordplay to the mutilated entry. Omitted letters in clue order spell out four possible REMEDIES for an ailment which must be highlighted in the completed grid. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended; 24 is in Collins.

The ‘Letters Latent’ puzzle was invented by Ximenes in 1962, and the first example was published for Christmas of that year. As Ximenes wrote at the time:

You may be amused to know that its origin was an idiotic mistake. When seeking an idea for No. 700 about this time last year, I muddle-headedly thought “700 – LCC: could I do anything about the L.C.C.?” Eventually “Letters Latent” emerged. When it was all but complete, it at long last dawned on me that 700 was DCC! After a few well-chosen words, and an interval for calming down, I decided that I wasn’t going to waste it after spending a fair time on it.

The lengths of the unmutilated answers are normally given, but the A has decided to make things a little trickier by giving the entry lengths, which simply reflect the number of cells available for the entry in the grid. The principle is simple – if the clue were ‘Fight against gutless employers (5)’, the defined word would be CONTEST, while the grid entry, given by the wordplay CON + E(mployer)S, would be CONES. The letter T would form part of the message.

There are several multiword answers, and they potentially represent a good place to start – 7d was my first one in, getting the unmutilated answer from the definition and then working out the wordplay to establish the letter to be omitted. Like me, you may on occasion find yourself knowing what the grid entry is but not immediately being able to identify the defined word; once you’ve got enough bits of the message to allow you to complete it, you will know what letter is missing from any outstanding grid entries, which will make any tying up of loose ends much easier. The vast majority of entries are non-words, with any real words appearing only by chance.


1a    Writing materials from English grandmother awfully kind (8)
A wordplay that consists of three elements, and a tripartite hyphenated solution.

9a    Heartless financial swindler with energy makes veteran scream (5)
The financial swindler here is most commonly associated with the sort of loans for which APR means Appallingly Punitive Repayments.

12a    Worth drawing double of living person with section for female, good! (9)
The first part of the wordplay involves a ‘swap one letter for another’ construction, the target being a word which is familiar, but only in a completely different sense – I had to work back to it from the definition and the second part of the wordplay, which leads in this instance not to a common abbreviation but a four-letter adjective.

16a    Square rich posh learner organised student funding (10)
The anagram fodder here includes two single-letter abbreviations, but for once ‘posh’ does not need to be contracted.

18a    Bring down old naked unkempt fire-fighter regularly (6)
There are two possible five-letters words which when ‘naked’ provide the first wordplay element here, but Chambers suggests that it is the one beginning with R which the setter intended us to use. Although ‘regularly’ most often tells solvers to take every second letter from a word or phrase, taking every third – or even fourth – letter will also fulfil the brief.

23a    Scotsman provided mineral aggregate brought back by us containing hard metal (10)
The wordplay elements are in a 3-2-3-2 formation, with one of them being in plain sight, while this particular Scotsman is a favourite of setters, albeit that the forename is shared by many non-Scots.

24a    One emblazons commercial with two thirds of carol singers and Queen Mary (6)
I must confess to having raised an eyebrow when I untangled the wordplay here. The sense of ‘a thing in third position’ given by Chambers for ‘third’ is relevant, ‘two thirds’ should be read as ‘the two thirds’, and ‘of’ should be mentally inserted before ‘Queen Mary’.

29a    Victor, heading off takes seconds to recover from lug’s internal structure (7, two words)
Analagously to ‘third’, Chambers gives ‘second’ as ‘a thing that is second’. The ‘Victor’ indicates not a single letter but a six-letter word.


2d    Quoin secret cut in half in this sense with people of fashion (8)
The entry consists of components in a 3-2-3 pattern, the ‘secret’ equating to ‘mysterious’ and the second element being an abbreviation for a two-word Latin expression.

5d    Mounted painting with image showing winged beast (7)
Kudos to anyone who gets this from the definition alone. The wordplay has elements of 3 and 4 letters being manipulated collectively.

6d    Aristotle perhaps getting drunk with fool son (6)
‘Aristotle’ here could also have been ‘Jackie’. The first wordplay element is a short word which Chambers gives (among many other meanings) as ‘on the way to being drunk’.

7d    Everyone must enter dodgy lift, nine conform (11, three words)
A very good place to get started, the entry being produced by the insertion of a familiar three-letter word into an anagram.

17d    In other words run Noel with date out of holiday season abroad (8, four words)
The definition and the ‘four words’ may get you to the answer here, rather than the wordplay, which is of the ‘subtract an anagram from another anagram’ type, the subtracted fodder including one single-letter abbreviation.

20d    French lexicographer’s move to acquire Chambers, at last (7)
The principal element of the wordplay here is a six-letter verb meaning ‘to move’ or ‘to stimulate’.

21d    Small fan to gain permit (6)
A charade of two three-letter verbs, and an answer that put me in mind of a Jimi Hendrix song…if that helps at all.

Definitions in clues are underlined

Having filled the grid and revealed the four remedies, there should be no doubt about the ailment which we need to locate. When in doubt, check the Chalicea line – or, in this instance, the Aecilahc line. Highlight the cells in question, and it’s job done.

One of those themed puzzles where all the difficulty lay in the grid fill. The proliferation of non-words may not have been to the taste of those who like to see a final grid containing only real words, but the whole thing came together tidily enough.

Phibs Toughness Rating : 🥾🥾/🥾🥾🥾 (The challenge here lies in solving the ‘letters latent’ clues)

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1 comment on “EV 1583 Hints
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  1. Hmm… a right struggle with unforgiving clues made much worse by the letters latent device – and a grid full of gibberish which didn’t help either. The theme emerged with several clues still to solve and the identity of the remedies helped finish it off.
    Thanks to Ace of Hearts and to Phibs for vital pointers.

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