Enigmatic Variations 1625 (Hints)
Rogue by Karla
Hints and tips by Phibs
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I write these notes under the watchful eye of a chameleon (not a real one, I hasten to add) who stands on top of my printer and whose name is Karla. The setter who shares that moniker is a new one to me – I think it unlikely that their choice of pseudonym is connected in any way to Culture Club or my low-maintenance pet, but it might perhaps have something to do with John le Carré’s rarely seen but often mentioned Soviet Intelligence Officer, the main reason why George Smiley dismally failed to live up to his emoji. Another namesake is the ex-ballerina in Jacqueline Susann’s Once Is Not Enough, played in the film by Melina Mercouri and described as ‘reclusive, mysterious and beautiful’, adjectives which apply to most, if not all, crossword setters. Along, of course, with ‘modest’ and ‘delusional’…
Preamble: One across answer in each of eleven rows must be entered thematically. Clues for the other answers in those rows have a single letter misprint, corrections reveal a subject in a similar thematic way. Clues for one answer in each of eight columns also have a misprint with corrections which in column order give an instruction (and an order one might give to a ROGUE). After filling the grid, nine out of a block of ten cells unaffected by the above should be cleared and illustrated with features to be determined. The tenth cell should be treated as per the instruction. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended; numbers in brackets are the lengths of entries including thematic treatment.
In any given row, either everything is normal or one answer will be need to be entered thematically and the clue for any other entry will contain a misprint. Marking off across clues grouped by row seems a good plan: if we solve a misprinted clue, we can enter the answer, note the replacement letter, and know that the other answer in that row will need to be ‘treated’; if we find an answer whose length doesn’t match the number of cells available, then it’s one which requires thematic treatment and we need to write it down (until we can work out how it should be entered), knowing also that the other clue for that row (if there is one) will contain a misprint. If we find an answer to a normal clue which has the right number of letters for the available space, and we don’t know whether its partner is normal or not, we might decide to risk entering it in light pencil, remembering that it might still need to be treated.
We can enter any down answers which we get, but eight of the clues will have misprints, and again we need to note the replacement letters. Be aware that these must be read in column order (not clue order) in order to generate the instruction referred to in the preamble (a trap which a certain solver, who frequently failed to read the rubric at the top of exam papers properly, fell straight into), so a good place to write them would be at the bottom of the relevant column.
13a Plant stopped by endless flat warning sound (7)
The word ‘endless’ here is being used to indicate the removal of both the first and last letters from another word (thus requiring a slightly whimsical interpretation). The plant can take several forms, but most solvers will probably think of it as a lily.
14a Broad equine with coat retreated (4)
Perhaps a little surprisingly, the phrase ‘with coat retreated’ tells us to exchange the first and last letters of the word specified by ‘equine’.
15a Bacon beside hold starts to moulder in extreme warmth (8)
A tip for dealing with misprint clues is to look for words (particularly unexpected ones) where a change to one letter can produce a word having a single-character abbreviation, eg ‘carton’ for ‘carbon’. Early in this 1+2+2+3 charade there is just such a word.
18a Turk who held mule and bat-eating parrot back (6)
When writing ‘misprint’ or ‘misprint in definition’ clues, there is often the potential with nouns to incorporate the misprint into a ‘definition by function’, eg ‘I can pull pants’ for BARMAN [‘i’ misprinted as ‘a’]. The definition here is along those lines; ‘bat-eating parrot’ equates to ‘parrot eating bat’.
23a Mining license acquired by Senegalese (5)
The word ‘license’ would appear to contain a misprint, but this isn’t a misprint clue. The word ‘acquired’ should be interpreted as something along the lines of ‘held’.
26a Slip spun trap across radius (4)
In the wordplay, ‘spun’ and ‘across’ are indicators. The second Chambers entry for the answer is the one which will lead you to the corrected definition.
33a Sorrow and laughter about crash in Aero Club (9)
The ‘crash’ needs to be turned into a three-word phrase and thence into an abbreviation used by the emergency services. I can’t recall seeing the abbreviation for ‘Aero Club’ used in a puzzle before.
34a Trim books taken from rear (4)
A verb meaning ‘to rear’ (in the nurturing sense) must lose one of those two-letter abbreviations often indicated cryptically by ‘books’, based on established convention rather than any obvious justification.
43a Craft hollow trinkets with Jock’s gold (7)
Here ‘A with B’ translates as ‘B plus A’, while “Jock’s gold” leads to a Scots form of ‘gold’, not the precious metal but an obsolete term for a marigold. The word ‘craft’ is a handy one for setters, since in the ‘vessel’ sense it can lead to either a singular or a plural noun.
1d Old wheat wife beats, full of earth insects (13)
A seven-letter obsolete slang term meaning ‘to steal or purloin’ is the first, and most important, element of the wordplay; one might think that it has something to do with vegetables, but it doesn’t.
5d View sorcerer disappearing a quarter at top of court (8)
The ‘sorcerer’ is a nobleman who learnt sorcery from books during a twelve year period of exile on a small island, while ‘disappearing a quarter’ should be interpreted as ‘with a quarter disappearing’.
8d Ancient feast before May, perhaps depending on contingencies (8)
The ‘ancient feast’ derives its name from the alcoholic beverage which was consumed in large quantities during the course of such a festival. ‘May, perhaps’ is an indication by example of a (1,4) phrase that in times past might have been implied by ‘Heath, perhaps’.
9d Silly person basting duck with Cahors Malbec (4)
The word ‘Cahors’ can be ignored, as the key element of the wordplay is the name not of a wine but of a grape known (apparently) by around 130 different names, another of which is Malbec. I initially assumed that ‘basting’ must be a misprint, given that none of the meanings of the verb given by Chambers obviously suggest containment, but I was wrong.
10d Area monitored by police actors right above upended bin (9, two words)
The ‘actors’ deliver the four-letter abbreviation for a famous institution where they might learn their craft. Chambers suggests that the answer relates not to an area but a device, though if you’re caught by one you would probably be well advised not to debate the distinction.
12d Classic opening crack from sister after briefly supporting America (13, four words)
Beatles fans will know how lucky they are when they start to unravel this clue.
24d Spartan entertainers the man thanks with dates (8)
A 2+2+4 charade, and a definition where ‘Spartan’ acts as a qualifier in much the same way as ‘Glaswegian’ might.
25d Evidence of digging poorly below Flanders mainly? What? (8)
The first question mark qualifies not the ‘mainly’ but the ‘Flanders’, because we have an indication by example of a name which must then be shorn of its last letter; the second question mark tells us that we are looking for an interjection meaning ‘What [did you say]?’.
27d Kelvin leaves Means of Shopping in Bank of Scotland (4)
I originally parsed the clue ‘as is’, with a type of car particularly suitable for shopping losing a single-letter abbreviation. When the misprint is corrected, however, it gives a much better indication of that five-letter word. The italics and capital letters in ‘Means of Shopping‘ are something of a mystery.
31d Animated film Off in Ohio with angles in odd locations (6, two words)
If you were mixing with the wrong crowd in Ohio, you might hear the verbs ‘off’ and the first part of the answer here being used interchangeably.
36d Submerge WWII landing zone devoid of bog (4)
Before you can correct the misprint, you’ll probably find yourself having to work out the three-letter word that needs to be removed from the famous landing zone in order to produce the answer.
Definitions in clues are underlined
Once you’ve got a few ‘wrong length’ answers and some crossing down entries, a pattern should emerge – this will enable you not only to enter the answers that have been ‘on ice’, but will also mean that, based on the answer lengths in brackets, you can rule out several other clues as potential sources of treated answers. Once the grid has been filled, you should be able to identify the subject whose name is presented ‘in a similar thematic way’ as the treated answers by the corrections in the across clues. Solvers of tender years, or those outside the UK, may need assistance (a photograph will prove helpful) in order to complete the next step. You have to find a block of ten cells unaffected by the misprints/treatments – although not explicitly stated, in practice this means that no rows or columns affected by misprints/treatments pass through the block. Having found the block of text and erased the contents (leaving only real words in the grid), either by applying your knowledge of the subject or by considering the most prominent features on view in a photo, it will be possible to add the necessary artwork. If you choose to interpret the instruction literally, please ensure that you are supervised by a responsible adult.
Taking the clueing and entry gimmicks into account, I did feel that the clues were, on occasion, perhaps gratuitously tricky – I hope this won’t mean that some solvers are unable (or unwilling) to reach the endgame, and are therefore denied the very clever denouement which the setter has clearly spent a good deal of time and mental effort ‘setting up’.
Phibs Toughness Rating : 🥾🥾🥾🥾 (Hard, not suitable for themed puzzle novices)
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