EV 1601 Hints – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1601 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1601 (Hints)

Lame by Vismut

Hints and tips by Phibs

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

I’m afraid that I’m no nearer being able to explain this setter’s pseudonym than I was last time around, but I’ve entertained myself by trying to come up with a wordplay for it. Best so far: “I must start on various puzzles”. Yes, I know, ‘could do better’…

Preamble: In each of 11 clues the position of a thematic word, to be removed before solving, indexes the letter to be selected from the answer; reading in the grid, these letters show a character (whose previous condition made them look LAME) if letters of LAME are reused further on. A pair of non-matching thematic items should be swapped and then another name for the character must be highlighted (one small grid entry and then 13 cells in a straight line). Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

As far as the initial grid fill is concerned, all we need to know is that 11 clues contain a redundant word which must be removed before the clue can be solved. Since these words are described as ‘thematic’, it may well be that once we’ve identified two or three a pattern will emerge which will help us to spot the others. As we find the extra words, we should mark the relevant letters in the solution. I chose to ring them in pencil, so for eg ‘Fix staff bonus (5)’, the extra word would be ‘bonus’ (the third word in the clue), the answer would be STICK, and its third letter (I) would be circled in the grid.


13a    Boat trainer that could be Barbados pride (6)
The convention of underlining the definitions leaves the stowaway in this double-definition clue somewhat exposed. There are three entries in Chambers for the answer here, and the one that will be familiar to everyone is the one that the setter has chosen not to use. If we were suspicious by nature, we might be tempted to ask ourselves why.

14a    More than one evergreen soap star briefly gets cast (7)
Setters often use ‘briefly’ to indicate an abbreviated or contracted form of a word, but here it indicates that the preceding word should be deprived only of its last letter.

20a    Poet’s metallic flower, one left to bury English (7)
The part of the wordplay after the comma indicates that two letters should replace (‘bury’) a single instance of another in the name of a somewhat elongated (at 220 miles or thereabouts) ‘flower’.

24a  Daffodil tie perhaps, stripes don’t stop here! (11, two words)
The stowaway here interrupts an indication by example which gives the first bit of a 6+5 wordplay.

42a    Some cut out thoughtful words (3)
The first word in the wordplay must be manipulated initially by the word which follows and then by the one after that.


5d    Inferior ship’s top plimsoll line removed including European letters (5)
It is the ‘line’ which must be removed from a synonym for ‘inferior’ before a single letter is added to the end and then another single letter is inserted.

9d    Nurse supports Georgia’s busts again (9)
Single words – both verbs – in the wordplay deliver elements of 4 and 5 letters; the ‘Georgia’ is there not to indicate that the answer is an Americanism, rather that ‘busts’ should be interpreted in a sense shown by Chambers as ‘N American’, although I would say that it’s now been assimilated into UK English.

11d    Casually kisses 7 unfinished gargoyles on vacation (5)
The word ‘casually’ tells us that the answer is a slang term, although custom dictates that there is no need to flag such words. ‘7’ refers to an answer elsewhere in the puzzle.

17d    He ignored mad Michael’s demands (6)
In subtractive anagrams (ie anagram of X – Y) it is usual to include two ‘disturbance’ indicators when the letters in the element to be subtracted (Y) are not consecutive in the main fodder (X), but we don’t have one here – assume ‘intermittently’ or the like between ‘He’ and ‘ignored’, and a comma after ‘ignored’.

18d    Cash dispenser staff blocking wages deduction rule (9)
The wordplay involves three elements, with the first ‘blocking’ the second in the sense of ‘interrupting’

19d    Slipper shouted, incontinent elderly leaking river (6)
Again the underlining lays the stowaway bare; ‘incontinent’ can mean ‘lacking restraint’, which could suggest free movement.

28d    Awfully toxic coming out of new school exit, those that have passed are there (5)
Here we have a (10-5) subtractive anagram with two anagram indicators, as normally seen in such clues.

30d    Sir Chris Hoy’s sneaker strips wheels (5)
I wasn’t sure how to handle the underlining of one of the two definitions in this clue, where the solver needs to infer an ‘and’ between ‘strips’ and ‘wheels’ since they are both Scottish (hence the appearance of Sir Chris Hoy).

31d    Careful look from Glaswegian tourist abandoning hill base (5)
The ‘tourist’ leads to a seven-letter word which must be reduced by three letters before a single letter is tacked on.

Definitions in clues are underlined

Having filled the grid, we should have 11 letters marked. The character’s name will be 15 letters in total; reading top to bottom, left to right, we will find the first part, but the latter part is missing the letters LAME (not consecutively, and not in that order). If we can’t immediately identify the full name, a five-letter word which describes the thematic words collectively may help when it comes to a search. Alternatively, we can ask ourselves ‘where could there be thirteen characters in a straight line?’ – if we’re not looking at a complete row or column, there are only two options, one of which is the Chalicea Line. The right line will yield up the theme, and the two ‘non-matching’ items to be swapped will be clear. The only cells to be highlighted in the final grid are those containing this other name – when selecting them, note that ‘small’ and ‘having very few letters’ are not necessarily the same thing.

There were enough pointers to make it a near certainty that even those who were unfamiliar with the 15-letter name will have found their way to the theme and then completed the brief.

Phibs Toughness Rating : 🥾🥾/🥾🥾🥾 (Reasonably tricky in places, but offering more than one way to establish the theme. Though you may feel that this rating doesn’t look quite right)

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3 comments on “EV 1601 Hints
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  1. Another very clever and enjoyable puzzle from Vismut. The clues were fairly generous, altho’ I haven’t parsed 36/37a yet. The surplus words’ theme emerged fairly early, altho’ I had “table” from 25d in the emerging set until a better alternative appeared. I wasn’t familiar with the character’s “real” name but the first part was sufficient to complete the endgame via Google.
    Thanks to Vismut and Phibs.

  2. Tx to Vismut for an accessible and enjoyable puzzle which fulfils the famous brief of losing gracefully to the solver. A fine addition to the EV series as it enters the 1600s.

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