EV 1594 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1594 (Hints)

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’.

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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10 comments on “EV 1594 (Hints)
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  1. Struggling to find this on the Telegraph “Puzzles” website. Is EV only offered in the physical paper? Many thanks.

    1. Sadly, yes, although if you google ‘EV 1594’ you might find a link to a scanned copy posted by a solver who clearly receives the printed version…

  2. An excellent and enjoyable puzzle from an experienced setter. I’ve not been able to access the EVs recently and have been rather busy too, so it was good to come back to the series after a bit of a break, and chance on a puzzle that played to my strengths. The moving words were expertly managed, mostly managed very reasonable surface readings in both versions. I wondered if the black square in the centre had significance: perhaps symbolising a VICINITY, but I suspect I am overthinking that. Congratualtions to Stick Insect and we there are more like this at home ready to come out and play with us.

  3. The substitution gimmick suggested clues be solved sequentially and I was fortunate to establish toe-holds at the start of both acrosses and downs. Clues were, for the most part, straightforward, which compensated for the added difficulty created by the substitutions.
    I was puzzled at first by the source and instructions spelled out, then the penny dropped and I was able to go directly to the source to complete the end-game, which was a tad anticlimactic.
    Thanks to Stick Insect and to the Numpties – but I’m surprised you needed Wiki for the source – isn’t it in your library?

  4. I find it particularly annoying that I cannot access this crossword. I subscribe to Telegraph Puzzles etc., also I live in a very rural area and it is not always possible to buy a copy of the newspaper.

  5. I glanced at this on Sunday and it looked a bit complicated. Next opportunity wasn’t until 11pm Mondsy when it all became clear. Finished it off today working through the clues from top left to bottom right. Once you identify the replacements the clues are very fair and logical
    Thanks to Stick Insect and the Numpties

  6. I have now acquired this puzzle and enjoyed solving it. Thank you ‘Stick Insect’ and ‘The Numpties’.

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