EV 1630 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1630 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1630 (Hints)

Mixed Doubles by Ifor

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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Ifor needs no introduction for EV solvers. Dave Hennings’ crossword database tells us that he has been setting them since 2010 and this will be his 45th in the series. We know that he will give us a challenge with lots of subtle wordplay and that we can expect one of a range of scientific, cultural and theatrical themes.

Preamble: The answers to each pair of clues sharing a number must be MIXED so as to give DOUBLES (pairs of names) that form the entry. Remaining across clues each contain a misprint in their definition; correct letters in clue order identify a playwright, one of whose works forms the central column. This work, differently punctuated, is part of a line (in ODQ) by another playwright which describes the shaded region of the grid. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

We saw that we were going to find an eight-letter name of a playwright (so not the Bard!) from the corrected misprints and an eleven-letter title of one of his plays of which we would initially have only two letters, since four were unches and five would appear when we worked out the jumbled pairs of clues that would give us two names (‘Doubles’ – was that a hint to the type of pairs of names? We suspected it might be.) A challenge! We wondered which would come first – that playwright’s name, spelled out by the corrected letters, a hint about those pairs of names when we solved the down clues, or some idea of that ODQ line by another playwright. Would that one be the Bard, we wondered. His works fill a larger section of the ODQ than other playwrights like Shaw, say (who also has a mighty chunk!) It made sense to begin with the down clues where there were no misprints.


5a           Gems no longer left on shelves (5)
You need to remember that you are looking for a misprint in the definition. The convention of underlining the definition in the hints on Big Dave’s site will be very helpful here. ‘Left’ clearly has to ‘no longer’ be a part of those ‘shelves’.

9a         This cause of disease say could become visionary when in circulation(6)
This is the first of one of those pairs of clues that have to be jumbled with the second. We had no problem finding the solution to the following clue (for potatoes’) but this word was new to us. We realized that we had to manipulate ‘visionary’ and ‘say’ to find it. These two clues, jumbled, will give you one of the more familiar ‘doubles’.

12a         Processed calories not so bad in this? Hardly (6)
We are being prompted that ‘this’ is probably pretty rich in calories. The wordplay that produces the solution works in the same way as that of the solution hinted for above.

14a         Aid moving slowly as well as needed inside borders (7)
Again you need to remember that you are looking for a misprint in the definition. There is some of Ifor’s subtle wordplay here (we ‘back-solved’ to see it!) Take a short word for ‘as well as’ and join that to what is ‘inside the borders’ of a word for ‘needed’.

15a         Hopelessness; a third of income’s disappeared and what’s left is uncertain (6)
More tricky  wordplay (not a comment on the UK’s current economic situation!) You need to consider how that ‘third’ disappears and what needs to be done with ‘what is left’. Remember that when a setter includes ‘a’ in his clue and it isn’t deleted by his editor to save space, it is usually there for a purpose.

21a         What breaks up stanches fluid inaptly (7)
We’re back looking for a misprint after the third of those clue pairs. The underlining will help here. We had to smile at the way the surface sense of the clue was so brilliantly handled (that ‘fluid’ that was ‘inaptly’ stanched). You might well need Chambers to confirm the word you find (which is, of course, essential to give you one of the two letters of the play’s title that are neither unches nor part of jumbled pairs).

26a         Lived in Perth, able to be relocated (4)
Of course we are aware that ‘in Perth’ might be the Aussie or the Scottish Perth. When you have spotted the misprint, this wordplay will lead to the obvious answer.

27a         Axes keenly unsheathed to be brandished in compound (6)
Those words ‘unsheathed’ and ‘brandished’ told us what we had to do here to produce the ‘compound’ we were going to jumble with the answer of the following clue to get our final pair (one that wasn’t familiar to us, but eight letters from down solutions did help).

27a         Beginning of action caught company still in lines (5)
Chambers gives two abbreviations for ‘company’. You need the one for a ‘military company’ here. When you add that to the other two letters the clue prompts us to use, you will find an unusual word for ‘still’ and you will see why Ifor put his ‘company’ ‘in ‘lines’.


1d            Like VW Polo rear-ended by Golf without supervising failure reversing (4)
This clue really had us head-scratching, though the answer was spelled out when we managed to unjumble our first two pairs and we understood why it was ‘Like VW’. That ‘failure’ reversing was just a four-letter word. You need to ‘rear-end’ the Golf into the Polo to see what is going on then remove that reversing four-letter failure.

3d          Provide groups of missiles against border engaged in revolution (4)
‘Against border’ gives the four letters you need to manipulate to give the word that, surprisingly to us, is defined here.

6d         Avengers die, otherwise there’s no end to it (5)
Another word where we needed to confirm with Chambers. We used a short word for ‘die’ and followed it with a synonym of ‘otherwise’ (but lacking its end).

8d         Cloths pressed while covering either side of sari (7)
These unusual ‘cloths’ are actually ‘pressed’ but here the ‘pressed’ gives a short word that needs to be completed by what is left of the ‘sari’ followed by another short word for ‘while’. Read ‘covering’ as ‘over-writing’ or ‘replacing’.

13d         Seating‘s secure supporting head (7)
A casual word for ‘head’ is followed by a verb (also ‘casual’) for ‘secure’ to give this comfortable form of seating.

17d        Run into Banquo’s corpse, dead wrinkled according to Macbeth (6)
It was clear to us what we had to do with the ‘run’ and ‘dead’ and that we needed a Scottish word for a corpse and one for ‘wrinkled’ but we needed Mrs Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary to suggest this word to us. This is a tough one, as three letters are provided by the ‘pairs’, one is an unch and one is part of that unusual word from 21a. Good luck!

Well, it wasn’t a gentle game of tennis – the mixed doubles – but a playwright we were not familiar with emerged from those corrected misprints and Wiki immediately told us what his most famous work was. From that we had no trouble identifying that famous line and the penny dropped. Generous sets of letters had appeared in our grid from the down clues and we spotted two of the pairs of names, but needed to sort out our jumbled sets of answers to find the others, one of which was new to us. It was indeed a challenge but very rewarding when we finally got there.

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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2 comments on “EV 1630 (Hints)
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  1. A real mix of clues and some of them [like 1d and 8d] made it a bit of a wee stinker. The playwright emerged fairly early and his major work was easily Googled. I also spotted a couple of the pairs and semi-educated guesswork secured the rest, making the unfamiliar secondary reference nicely fitting when found by more Googling. Pretty tough but good fun.
    Thanks to Ifor and The Numpties.

  2. This was a bit of a stinker for me. The clues were fair but some quite contorted. I, too, guessed two of the pairs, but I have never come across the the other three before, and probably never will again. The play abd playwright were also beyond my knowledge. Google was never needed so much.
    Thanks to the Numpties and Ifor.

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