EV 1593 Hints – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1593 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1593 (Hints)

Apparently by Skylark

Hints and tips by Phibs

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

When I provided hints for her last EV, Skylark was kind enough to explain the origin of her pseudonym, chosen because as a youngster she was entranced by Errol Garner’s rendition of the Johnny Mercer / Hoagy Carmichael song of that name. Since we will be searching for names in the completed grid, Mercer’s closing couplet may well be relevant: “So if you see them anywhere / Won’t you lead me there?”

Preamble: Ten clues contain an extra word, which should be removed before solving. In order, these give a statement by one person that applies to their relative’s treatment of another, APPARENTLY. All other clues contain an extra letter, to be removed before solving. In order, these spell out what must be highlighted in the final grid (28 cells). Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended; 30 is in Collins

So every clue is affected by one gimmick or the other (but not both) and we will end up with a ten-word quote and a 33-letter instruction. There’s just one way to proceed – crack on with the solve…


14a    Pout about lecturer’s impact (4)
It’s pretty clear that one of two vowels needs to be removed, but which one is less obvious. It turns out to be the second of the pair, and the resulting word is a noun, describing a big example of its kind.

15a    Immature fool left aboard palms mixed substance once thought to determine hereditary character (9)
One way for setters to introduce an extra letter into a clue is to add it to a word which is part of the anagram fodder; the result of removing the letter has to be a real word, but (as here) it can be a relatively obscure one. ‘Immature’ is used in the sense of ‘incomplete’.

19a    Second slumbers for groups (6)
The extra letter isn’t hard to identify, but the relevant slang meaning of the word that is left may well necessitate recourse to Chambers; the required synonym is also a slang term.

20a    Instruct weak about first of pranks (4)
Another way of introducing the extra letter is to tack it on to the beginning or end of a word in the clue from which (respectively) the first or last letter is to be selected, eg ‘start of week’ for E (ie ‘start of eek’, extra letter W); adding the letter to the opposite end would be no good, eg ‘start of week’ for W (corrected version ‘start of wee’, extra letter K), since its removal has no effect on the cryptic reading and the solver would have no way of knowing that the K was to be removed.

27a    Worry master abandoning tramp blacking vessels (6)
The indicator that results from the loss of the extra letter applies to all of the remaining wordplay.

30a    Quantity in LA hurried back trapping leaderless beast (9)
The imposter here can be identified by a process of elimination, while the answer is a US spelling of a word that is, I suspect, none too popular with the ‘imperialists’ across the pond.

35a    Short rail’s orange (3)
Most of the intruders in ‘extra letter’ clues conceal themselves in the wordplay, but the one here is lurking in the definition.

38a    Crook seized by old drunk returning growls (5)
As I’ve said before, a useful tactic when solving clues of this type is to identify words which by the removal of one letter can be changed into another word with a single-letter abbreviation (eg ‘shard’ for ‘hard’, abbreviated form H), as these represent another good way for the setter to accommodate the gimmick.

Usually when you see ‘old drunk’ in a puzzle, you would be looking for an old-fashioned word meaning ‘drunk’, but here we require a word in common use which equates to an archaic sense of ‘drunk’. We find this ploy repeated in 26d, where the ‘old’ again tells us that we are seeking a term which matches an obsolete meaning of the word which follows (in that instance after removal of an interloper).


3d    Scottish ugly university’s covered with failing white paint (8)
Quite a tricky one, a familiar abbreviation being contained by a word synonymous with the modified imposter together with a term for the equivalent of rouge as worn by those who preferred more of a ‘blanc’ look. Don’t forget that in barred puzzles hyphenated answers are enumerated as single words, so SOFT-HEARTED would be shown as ‘(11)’.

6d    Losing energy, Twain’s collecting more Italian trees (6)
When the imposter is modified in the obvious way, it must be interpreted as an adjective, leading to a four-letter word which is itself then subject to modification. The latter part of the wordplay involves a word taken directly from a language which is the source of many directions used in musical notation.

10d    Special medical social worker holding brass picked up fish and Californian fruit (13)
My tip from 38a about looking for imposters which could end up as abbreviations applies to this clue. ‘Picked up’ might suggest a homophone, but here it indicates the reversal of the name of a fish, related to the mackerel, found in the Indian seas.

24d    Split into two sections whenever they offer sandwiches (5)
The ‘bonus’ word in the wordplay makes this one a lot harder than it would otherwise be – we tend to expect the stowaways to stand out because they are unusual words, but the one here (like that in 8d) is far from uncommon.

32d    It’s freezing: American brother runs for clothes finally (4)
The substitution of one single letter for another (the comment for 20a is relevant here) in a four-letter word produces an answer which has a feature shared by very few words of that length in Chambers.

Definitions in clues are underlined

The ten-word statement will lead you readily to its author, and those travelling on the Chalicea line will quickly find the name in the grid. The message generated from the extra letters will give you some idea of the other names that you are looking for, but you would be well advised when seeking them to change your angle of attack, otherwise you will find the brother (or nephew, of the same name, who would potentially satisfy the criteria) of one of them. Coming from a different direction will yield the pair that you seek, with the three names accounting for a total of 29 letters – since one cell is shared between two of them, 28 cells are to be highlighted.

The two gimmicks meant that the grid fill was not trivial. Identifying and locating the first person was straightforward, but I still wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking for in terms of the remaining names, and the red herring briefly had me puzzled. Once I had located the others, though, I was in no doubt that I had the correct solution.

Phibs Toughness Rating : 🥾🥾/🥾🥾🥾 (The fill is harder than the endgame, although a short grid stare may be necessary)

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3 comments on “EV 1593 Hints
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  1. I found Skylark’s clues for this one very tricky, not helped by the surplus letter device. At least two, early in the solve [1a and 14a] were ambiguous which didn’t help one’s confidence. But all were fair enough, though I am still unsure of Browning in 27d.
    The first name to be highlighted jumped out of the grid and I was fortunate to spot something else that looked like a possibility, without being familiar with the name. Google soon put me on track to finish, with it all hanging together nicely – a parable of fake news for our time?
    Thanks to Skylark for the challenge and Phibs for useful hints.

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