EV 1622 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1622 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1622 (Hints)

The Hater who had a Hater by proXimal

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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Solvers will undoubtedly remember proXimal’s EV 1600 when, as our editor, he celebrated the 1600th Enigmatic Variations puzzle with a stunning crossword. They will remember that he also sets as eXternal in the IQ and Listener series (and combines with another setter as eXtent). You might know him as Artexlen in the FT and Boz in The Herald. Big Dave’s regulars will know him from Thursday/Friday Toughies and back-pagers, where he’s also normally put on Fridays (used to be Thursdays). With such a range of setting experience, you can be sure you are in safe hands. Now we find him on another significant date. It’s the night before Christmas so could he resist all those reindeer names, the stockings and the glass of sherry left for Santa? We’ll see.

Preamble:  In accordance with the state of the unclued HATER before and after a cryptic HATER, three down clues need a pair of consecutive letters omitted and 12 across clues need a letter to be added before solving; these letters give a source. Solvers must change the HATER to the source of scorn, making a word of a personal message to solvers. Finally a cryptic HATER should be applied to four down entries to reveal the message (four across entries to be highlighted). All entries are real words or phrases at every stage. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

The word HATER and a ‘cryptic’ HATER doesn’t strike the Numpties as very seasonal. Our initial thought is that maybe we are with Dickens’ Scrooge. The preamble tells us that we will be making a change in the grid from ‘the HATER’ to the source of scorn’ (presumably his or her scorn). We are going to receive a personal message. We make a shrewd guess about what we’ll be looking for in those ‘four across entries to be highlighted’. We must solve and find those 12 added and six omitted letters which will give us ‘the source’.


7a           Like great belt on Australian going round Idaho (6)
We needed to use an abbreviation for the Australian (who had to go round) and check the letters Idaho would give us to find this unusual word.

14a         Stiff hair scraggy mule had in neck fur (8)
What a delightful surface reading! We were lucky that this answer appeared almost fully in our grid so that we were left to back-solve using that ‘scraggy’ mule and his fur and working out how we got the other letter of the eight – clearly we had to use one of those added letters.

24a         Sample of enchiladas transported to the stars (7, two words)
This was a generous clue but I had to include it in the hints because it took me back to the first day of first form when the Latin master, Taffy Rees, made us write out twenty well-known Latin phrases – showing, I imagine, how useful Latin would be in our future lives (it was, in those days, an obligatory O’ level for anyone wishing to do a language degree – I was landed with seven years of it). In fact, how very useful that Latin is in crossword solving!

34a         Retreat from wet on arctic plain with temperature dropping (6)
The Big Dave convention of underlining the definition parts of clues should be a help here. We need an unusual term for ‘retreat’ and have to use that ‘arctic plain’ when the ‘temperature’ drops.

38a         Islander’s viol beside bowls of Javan fruit (5)
The Islander’s viol is one we only ever encounter in crosswords. We needed three more letters to produce the fruit and certainly didn’t need bowls of it even if it’s a tasty one!

41a         Missing romp for concert (5)
In several cases, we were puzzled about how to add that extra letter before solving. Most of the letters of the concert appeared in our grid and we had to smile when we saw what the ‘romp’ had to do with it.

45a         Organic compound in parsley lacking in standard cat (6)
This organic compound is an essential amino acid. I believe it has more to do with pigs than  that ‘standard’ cat. My comment on clue 41 applies here. We know what ‘standard’ is in golf and that had to be lacking ‘in parsley’ – it was the ‘cat’ that guided us about how to use the letters we had.


3d             Current regent terribly passive (5)
We needed to do some manipulation to get the familiar word for ‘passive’. We used the abbreviation for current then did some ‘head-scratching’ to work out how the ‘regent’ produced the rest of the answer.

14d          Advanced science adopted by sporting body’s board (6)
There are three wordplay elements here. The very familiar two-letter sporting body had to ‘adopt’ advanced science.

26d            General runs holding section for stretchers (7)
As usual, the Big Dave convention of underlining the definition parts of clues will be a help; these are not the ‘stretchers’ one might be running with in a medical emergency. We had to ‘back-solve’ from the word that mostly appeared in the grid and check with Chambers that the word ‘holding’ the section could indeed be ‘general runs’.

27d          Purifying sticky mass sometimes covering yard at home (7)
We learn something with almost every crossword we solve! I had no idea that this was a term for ‘purifying’. The very evocative four-letter word for the sticky mass has to cover the ‘yard’ ‘at home’.

31d         Vegetable the Spanish left out of sausage (5)
Clearly we needed a ‘sausage’ and ‘the’ Spanish had to leave it to produce the vegetable.

38d         Angelina uncovered strange magical being  (4)
We know what ‘uncovered’ (or ‘undressed’, ‘peeled’ or ‘shelled’) usually means in a crossword so were slightly flummoxed here where we needed a four-letter solution when we had done what ‘strange’ suggested to us.

Of course, we needed to understand what was going on with the HATER in order to find those three pairs of consecutive letters in the down clues which we combined with the 12  that had been added to across clues (a difficult device for a setter that one!) There was then no doubt about the HATER, the source of scorn, and what we needed to find by adjusting the ‘cryptic’ HATER in four down entries.

Don’t forget to highlight those four across entries and 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. We have been delighted with the growing popularity of the EV after its two near deaths. We’d love to know whether these hints are useful and would appreciate a response to the personal message that Proximal sent to solvers.

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9 comments on “EV 1622 (Hints)
Leave your own comment 

    1. Welcome to the blog

      I don’t do the EV but I expect if you say what you thought about the rest of the crossword and ask nicely for some extra hints, someone else may be able to help

    2. If you’re still in need GG:
      I suspect 17a wasn’t hinted because the underlining would have revealed too much
      The enumeration for 15a should be (4 and a bit).

  1. A cracker of a puzzle 👍. As noted by The Numpties, proXimal didn’t make things easy for himself with the constraints relating to the extra letters in the across clues!

    May I take this opportunity to wish all solvers a very happy Christmas 🎅. Our New Year treat will be a splendid puzzle by Chalicea.

  2. The clues were generous but the grid did seem a bit big after last week. The unclued entry was a gimme once the added/deleted letters were clear then a bit of googling revealed the title in clear and what needed to be done to the 4 down entries. Much admiration for the fact that changing the hater as instructed preserved real words. Great fun.

    Thanks to the Numpties [for the parsing of 26d] and the same to you to proXimal.

  3. A splendid way to spend 3 hours on Boxing Day evening. Solved the clues without The Numpties help (a rare occurrence). And the final twist dawned on me as I was loading the dishwasher! An uplifting EV to end 2023.

  4. Another (almost) full grid but I haven’t got all the extra letters in the across, I guessed the hater early doors but the endgame eludes me, time to move on
    I learned a lot about musical instruments and stiff hairs
    Thanks to proXimal and The Numpties
    See you again next week

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