Enigmatic Variations 1551 (Hints)
Opinion by Chalicea
Hints and tips by Phibs
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I’m delighted to have been given the chance to blog some more EVs, starting with this offering from my fellow hintster and tipster. A prolific setter, Chalicea has a reputation for producing highly accessible puzzles; her definitions, whether of answers or wordplay elements, are usually very precise, often closely matching those found in Chambers.
Preamble: An extra letter is produced by the wordplay of every clue in addition to those required for the answer. In clue order, these give an OPINION about the five unclued entries (three to be read in conjunction with one another) offered by the person whose name must be highlighted in the grid. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.
A nice short preamble that leaves us in no doubt about our task. It seems to me that ‘wordplay delivers an extra letter’ clues are among the trickiest of the standard varieties, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself on occasion working back from the answer to identify the contribution required from the oversized wordplay element and thence the extra letter.
18a A hole I melted down in Hero’s engine (9)
There’s a craftily-concealed break between the two wordplay elements which combine to produce the name of a device said to have been invented by Hero of Alexandria (though he is uncredited by Chambers).
23a Outstanding old wild herb (4)
‘Wild herb’ is one meaning given by Chambers for a word more often associated with any plant that is growing where it isn’t wanted.
24a Disrespect damaged edges on box of perishable goods (9)
The word ‘on’ here joins the two wordplay elements and can be ignored, while the ‘perishable’ could also be ‘breakable’.
27a Something very small in piece of artillery almost backfiring (4)
A six-letter word undergoes three manipulations, the last of them being the removal of the extra letter, in order to yield the answer.
34a Taken in by story, handed over money advanced for digging mammals (8)
Two elements (one a verb in the past tense) are put together and ‘taken in’ by another, the result being a family of diminutive excavators.
36a Malaysian forest tribes cause unlimited pain (5)
The original meaning of the first wordplay element here is indeed ’cause’, but nowadays its use is confined to a phrase with meanings along the lines of ‘out of consideration for’ or ‘out of desire for’.
3d Matchstick drawing of graduate down ultimately after drink (6)
The ‘drink’ is an informal term related to volume. Remember here that in barred puzzles the enumerations (letter counts) ignore hyphens, eg HIP-HOP would be shown as (6).
5d Fee levied involving European lad with crown of fruit (4)
The wordplay is not complicated, but the net effect of the extra letter gimmick is to make it a replacement rather than an insertion. The definition should raise a smile.
13d Lecturer on English forms finally adopting old language loses according to Bard (6)
Four elements are involved here, including two single-letter abbreviations and a single-letter selection, with the ‘old language’ being a term applied by those just across the Border to the dialect spoken by those a little further north.
17d Units of last of vulgar boors (4)
I worked back from the answer to get the ‘boors’, thus identifying a word filed in my mind along with ‘blackguards’ and ‘bounders’.
25d Late media company reported undistinguished board (7)
‘Late’ indicates that the media conglomerate, which had a famously brief relationship with the Sex Pistols, was dismantled several years ago. The other wordplay element is a homophone leading to a real word which remains intact in the answer.
28d Pueblo Indian with gutless intent to do a runner (5, two words)
The second part of the wordplay can provide the second word of the answer, but you might need to check out one or two possibilities in order to identify the Pueblo Indian.
31d A boy spinning as if in idealised publicity world (6)
The extra letter adds to the trickiness of this three-part wordplay, the last element drawing on a less common meaning (OED shows it as ‘obsolete’) of a very common three-letter word. The ‘in’ is there to link the wordplay to the definition.
32d Indian farmer‘s lost for ever over penetrating touch (6)
The archaic (hence ‘lost’) word meaning ‘for ever’ is a tiddler (often clued by ‘yes’ or ‘indeed’) which has two operations applied to it, while the synonym for ‘touch’ is now used almost exclusively to denote a characteristic feature.
With the extra letters identified and the solutions entered, you will have the start of the quotation, while at least two of the unclued words (plus the three-letter one) will be obvious. From there (unless you know the quotation) ODQ or Google will do the trick, enabling completion of an assertion which itself harked back to the Opinion of a 16th century philosopher. Having located the author in the grid (if you have any trouble, just seek out the eleventh letter of their name), don’t forget to highlight the relevant cells.
A straightforward puzzle to start the new month – Chalicea will not, I suspect, have severely discomfited many solvers, although I’m not sure what the First Minister will have thought if she got as far as 33d.
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