EV 1587 Hints – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1587 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1587 (Hints)

Cross Debate by Kcit

Hints and tips by Phibs

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

Kcit needs no introduction.

Preamble: Each of four apparent three-letter entries has a clue to a six-letter word which protrudes into the central region. Clues to six six-letter entries each contain a redundant word to be removed before solving. These six six-letter words must also form Across entries in the central region, using the protruding elements as a guide. Using the redundant words as definitions for new words, solvers must change one letter in each of the six so as to reveal in a thematic manner the name of someone responsible for the CROSS DEBATE indicated by the two unclued entries. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

So when it comes to the initial grid fill, we need to bear two things in mind. Firstly, that four clues which are enumerated as ‘(3)’ are really ‘(6)’; each of their answers will have three letters (either the first three or the last three) poking into the central block. Secondly, that the six answers to the clues which contain a redundant word are to be entered twice – once at the numbered location, but also as one of the across entries in that central area, with the intruding letters showing us which one should be entered where. There are only eight clues shown as leading to answers of six letters, so all but two of these will contain a redundant word.

The two unclued entries each contain only two unchecked letters, so the chances are we’ll be able to guess them from the crossers. We should now be able to fill the grid, at which point we can consider the bit about using the redundant words as definitions for new words. Note that the answer to 17d is not in Chambers but is given by the online Collins dictionary.


13a    Roman inn: possible habit for Pope, therefore (7)
A charade of a three-letter priestly vestment and a four-letter word meaning ‘therefore’.

18a    Fat French artist’s framing rule (3)
The answer may not be familiar, but thinking of ballet dancers may help you to the artist. The single-letter abbreviation here is one that Chambers persists in listing (apparently in a legal context), although I’ve never come across it in any other standard reference, OED included.

22a    Playwright’s to bring forth show without leading character (3)
The playwright in question is Will S, and although the word predates him he gets the credit from Chambers. The ‘show’ to be shorn of its leading character has the sense of ‘signify’.

27a    Lot of lines, perhaps, this writer’s put on quantity of paper (5)
This was the ‘reward’ at my secondary school for a low-level misdemeanour, and it’s fair to say that I was a regular recipient – thankfully the reasons have largely been lost in the mists of time, though I suspect that gambling on school premises may on occasion have been involved. In the wordplay, “this writer’s” is a contraction of ‘this writer is’, ‘put on’ links the two wordplay elements, and the ‘quantity of paper’ is actually a size of paper.

31a    Disfigured sofa giving support to group of people (6)
The underlining here leaves the imposter out on a limb, while the two wordplay elements (of equal length) need to be placed in the reverse order to that in which they appear in the clue.


1d    Recalled one-third of chatter dismissing a significant moment (4)
Identifying one-third of a seven-letter word is a tough ask, but in fact we’re looking for an expression for ‘chatter’ in which the same word is repeated three times; it is this word which must then be subjected to two manipulations. Don’t forget that in barred puzzles hyphenated answers are enumerated as single words, so TO-DO would be shown as ‘(4)’.

3d    Wheeled carriage – horse shifting second one (4)
The setter makes it clear which instance of a particular letter must be moved (downwards) within the name given to a particular breed of horse.

5d    Bird’s eggs up on top of stake (3)
The ‘on top of’ here simply connects the parts of the wordplay, while ‘stake’ (in the sense of ‘[to] wager’) is a potentially unfamiliar meaning of the second element, which could also have been indicated by “badger’s burrow”. The spelling of the answer is a variant not often seen these days.

15d    Irritability over sound towards the border (8)
The word ‘over’ can be ignored, while ‘sound’ is an adjective having the sense in which it could be applied to, say, a decision.

19d    Hot runner runs with me, tucking into sandwich (6)
There’s an imposter lurking here, and the informal term for a sandwich can also be used to describe a large quantity of money (such as Harry Enfield’s wealthy 1980s plasterer boasted about).

24d    Working at University? Read on (4, two words)
A nicely-disguised cesura between definition and wordplay, the latter comprising two abbreviations.

28d    Drink small quantity of salt water, but not all (3)
The ‘small quantity of salt water’ is of the sort shed bitterly by the Carpenter.

Definitions in clues are underlined

With the grid filled (including the six ‘repeats’ in the centre), we need to treat each redundant word in turn as a non-cryptic definition and see which of the six central entries could have one letter changed to make a word which answers that definition – the first and last definitions (in clue sequence) are probably the easiest. As you make the changes, a pattern will start to emerge, as will the name of the person responsible (if you are familiar with the subject matter – which I wasn’t – or you have googled the two unclued entries, then you will already know the name that you seek and where to seek it). No highlighting is required, so that’s job done.

A nicely constructed puzzle, true to its theme, with clues of what seemed to me an appropriate level of difficulty given the nature of the grid. The endgame was unambiguous.

Phibs Toughness Rating : 🥾🥾 (Don’t be put off by the preamble, which makes the puzzle sound much harder than it is)

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6 comments on “EV 1587 Hints
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  1. Indeed! A good deal easier than at first suggested by the preamble. Generous clues enabled a rapid grid-fill and the 2 unclued words quickly led to the responsible person – altho his cross debate is quite beyond me!
    Thanks to Kcit for a fun puzzle and to Phibs for the blog.

  2. I can’t claim a ‘rapid grid-fill’, but an enjoyable way to spend a rainy afternoon. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out 27a. It’s either a word I haven’t come across before, or I’ve made an error somewhere.

    1. It’s a schoolboy abbreviation (in Chambers) of a ten-letter form of punishment, being letters 1-4 and 7 thereof. The paper size could also have been indicated by ‘cooking utensil’.

      1. Ah, thank you. Definitely not a word I have heard before, but then I never was a schoolboy! Thank you for all the hints which definitely helped, and thanks to the setter for a nice challenge (for me).

  3. This was fun. I found the middle grid was ‘solved’ by knowing the name to look for after Wikipaedia-ing the unclued entries..
    The word that foxed Jane is also in French, though with an added circumflex, and means something equally tiresome.
    Thanks to Kcit and Phibs

  4. I agree with all of halcyon comments. Subject a bit too obscure for an exciting penny drop but thanks to Kcit and to Phibs

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