EV 1588 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1588 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1588 (Hints)

Clash by Ranunculus

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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This will be Ranunculus’ eleventh EV crossword. If you sometimes consult these hints, you will also know him as Phibs who writes the hints every second week. You may also encounter his crosswords under the name of Triton in the IQ, Paddock for the Listener or Phylax in the Magpie. His previous EV crosswords have included all the fun of the fair, Cluedo, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Three Men in a Boat (their Irish stew!), and Roulette – such a wide range of themes that we really don’t know what to expect.

Preamble: Twelve across and twelve down answers CLASH at their intersections; each clash must be resolved by choosing the letter which leaves two real words and relegating the other letter to the bottom of the column. Solvers must replace the letters in four cells in the completed grid, making only real words, to reveal two names (23 letters to be highlighted) which complement those in the shaded row. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

“Clashes. Oh dear!”  we sigh, but we appreciate the way the unused letter in each of those clashes will sink to the bottom of the grid to provide names – two or three, we wonder.


6a           Correct one fellow after another forgetting name (6)
In order to produce the ‘correct’ answer, you have to think of a couple of words for ‘fellows’ and forget the ‘name’ (for the first of them). It might help you here if you remember that in the thematic cryptics a hyphenated word is treated as a single word with no mention of the hyphen in the word count.

13a         Rene’s not the first gal I made into anagram fodder (8)
‘Rene’s’ is not being used as a French indicator here. Indeed, rather amusingly, the clue tells you what to do with her to get the fodder.

19a         Old-time brawlers less frequently encountered square boxing ring (7)
There are three clue elements used for this answer with its fine surface sense (we have to admire the way Ranunculus gives us so many clues that clearly fulfil the Magpie requirement ‘The minimum standard for the surface reading of a clue is that it could exist “In real life” as non-crossword text.): ‘less frequently encountered’, the ‘ring’, and ‘square’ need to be put together.

22a       Month before season, start to back veteran players (7)
When you have the ‘month’ and have opted for the season, you need to adjust the season (start to back) to give those players. ‘Veteran’, of course, indicates that they are no longer playing.

24a       Assigned iTunes login, I swapped with neighbour (7)
We felt that a hint would be needed here. Think of what you need to know in order to log in to iTunes (I have them all written down and still have trouble!) Two adjacent letters in that 5,2 expression have to be swapped to produce the ‘assigned’ answer.

31a        Series that has Charlie going spare at Balmoral (4)
This has nothing to do with our new king or the title of his son’s book or his reaction to it. Simply think of a five-letter ‘series’. Charlie can ‘go’ to produce the Scottish ‘spare’.


1d            Wag tail endlessly when following this setter (French) (6)
No! This setter is not some French dog but the usual setter’s ploy to produce ‘I’ or ‘me’ but not quite in the usual way. After that we needed to chop the end of the ‘tail’ to produce the ‘wag’.

14d          Diminutive singer forgoing night in receives gold aplenty (6)
A generous clue that almost spells out the name of this small songster who, abandoning the ‘night in’ gets the gold.

16d          Hard rind surrounds minute core of Camembert that is most unpleasant (9)
Four word play elements here: the five-letter hard rind that has to go on the outside of the ‘minute’ ‘core of Camemebert’ and two more letters.

17d         Type of music incorporating electronic, Latin, house, ultimately folk (6)
We used a three-letter type of music that incorporated electronic, then added two more letters to give us the ‘folk’.

21d        Close to bullying according to fag (6)
This ‘fag’ is a slang term made up of one letter and two words that mean ‘according to’.

28d        Petulant people scrapping with venomous snakes (4)
You need to consider an alternative use of the word ‘scrapping’ here. Even those five-letter petulant people would be foolish to tangle with these snakes.

What a fine set of clues with so many small stories hinted at (deceptively) in the surface readings.

We were floundering as we were pretty-well ignorant of the theme (missed the obvious hint) and, apart from the two names on the bottom row, saw nothing to help us. Wikipedia was, as usual, our rescuer and told us what we needed to know, which four letters to replace, and what to highlight.

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 1588 (Hints)

  1. I’d just like to endorse the comment about the cluing. In my book surface reading trumps difficulty level; I get at least as much pleasure from a clue that reads smoothly but misleadingly than I do from cracking something intrinsically difficult. I won’t say more at this stage, other than to note (in the words of an editor no longer with us) that this is a very “polished” puzzle.

  2. Back again. It occurs to me that “polished” might be read as an attempt to hint at the theme. It isn’t – I’m simply quoting the late James Leonard to describe the puzzle.

  3. Nice one Buttercup! I too was impressed with the quality of the clueing, which made solving this such a pleasure. 13/24a and 21/25d are particularly good but all are top-notch [though Im still struggling to parse 26d in full [stretched?]. Being familiar with the theme was a big help and the completed bottom line was an immediate give-away – as were the helpful locations of the names to be highlighted.
    Great fun. Many thanks Ranunculus [so, it is you Phibs] and thanks to The Numpties.

  4. Lots of fun in this elegant puzzle where everything is there in the clues, although I still can’t find one or two of the clashes – despite getting the names….
    Thanks to Ranunculus and the Numpties, whose hints were just obscure enough to need more work.

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