Enigmatic Variations 1594 (Hints)
Vicinities by Stick Insect
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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Stick insect is well into double figures for the EVs he has produced and solvers will be familiar with his Listener and Magpie puzzles too, and confident that there will be an entertaining endgame.
Preamble: In each clue, one word must take flight before solving, replacing the escapee from the next clue (or first across clue from the last down clue). In clue order, initial letters of these words provide a relevant source and what must be amended to show VICINITIES (read cryptically), leaving all real words in the grid. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended; 4 down is in Collins.
The preamble led us to draw a coloured strip down the side of the clues to record the initial letters of those words that were going to move down to the clue below. The comment about all real words in the final grid prompted us that the source we were going to be given by those letters would inform us about some changes. Nothing to do but solve! As we solved, we realized that those escapee words would frequently totally change the meaning of a clue. The convention of underlining the defintion in these hints didn’t always work as sometimes the moved word was part of that definition. In one of those cases I have underlined the phrase that contains the new definition,
23a Quiet time, tense following revolutionary ritual killer (7)
You need to remember that the wordplay will include a word from the clue above. In this case, when we have sent an escapee to the clue below, we have four small clue elements; one for ‘quiet’, one from the escapee from above, the usual ‘revolutionary’ who appears in crosswords, and ‘tense’. This gives a fairly rare word for the ritual killer.
36a Using the bow, exposed orca (4)
Knowing that you have to use a word from the clue above and send one down in order to get a four-letter solution will solve this clue easily.
40a Exploding finally, rejecting very good company punishments (5)
There are three clue elements here. The first letter is defined by the escapee from above, then two small elements ‘very good’ and ‘company’ must be ‘rejected’ to give another unusual word for ‘punishments’.
41a Nets device, dismissing expense initially with advanced sum of money (4)
You need the escapee from the clue above in order to identify the four-letter device that can ‘dismiss’ expense initially, ‘with advanced’ to give the ‘money’ term.
42a Second hospital area remained for heavy blow (5)
Three clue elements here; the escapee from above tells you how a short word fits into the letters produced by the other two to give that ‘heavy blow’.
1d Without laughter, a saint growing Gaelic supply (9)
This rare word appeared when we ‘supply’ used a word of the clue and ‘a saint’ became part of the answer.
6d Iain’s grandchildren arresting elf, killer in Greek myth (7)
A proper noun – the name of that mythical killer – is neeed here. Yet again, you need the escapee from above to be ‘arrested’ by the short term for Scottish grandchildren.
7d Decorates land nobles (8)
The type of decoration here is with types of gem.
21d Learning half of acorn meal perhaps worthless to Matthew? (4)
A short Biblical word for ‘worthless’ is needed. The name for ‘acorn meal’ will be useful, if you know it – the letters appearing in the grid prompted us.
25d The Spanish naval man tracks religious district (8)
We are used to ‘the Spanish’ in crossword clues and to an abbreviation for ‘tracks’. ‘Man’ here needs a slightly longer word and the ‘escapee’ tells you how to put these together to get the ‘religious district.
37d Iranian colony was axing Iain’s dry-stone waller (5)
As in clue 6d, ‘Iain’s’ tells us that we need a Scottish word. The escapee from the above clue tells is how to deal with ‘colony was axing’ to find this unusual term.
39d Timorous creature falls short in sack of Scotland (4)
We are all aware of Burns ‘wee sleekit cowrin’ timorous beastie’. It has to ‘fall short’ to produce this answer.
When our grid was full and we had found the source (for which we needed to consult Wiki) we were amused by the way those ‘escapees’ became signficant. Scanning our full grid, we easily found the VICINITIES that were spelled out for us. As usual, we admired a compiler who can create a grid where changes will leave ‘all real words’.
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