EV 1610 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1610 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1610 (Hints)

Adversaries by Shark

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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For anyone who struggled with the rather astonishing and spectacular Shark compilation in September’s Magpie,  the name will produce anticipations of ‘shark-infested waters’ – no gentle paddling here. But no, surprisingly Shark has produced a bit of fun that slots in somewhere near the other end of compiling difficulty and complexity though there are a number of challenging clues, so this set of hints is substantial.

Preamble:  The two unclued ADVERSARIES must be changed to the phrase uttered when one caught sight of the other (creating real-word crossing entries). Single-letter clashes occur in five cells; the letters to be kept spell out who actually spoke these words. Solvers must highlight six cells in a straight line offering (overlapping) four-word confirmation of the sighting. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended. 

We find the two nine-letter unclued lights and realize that these ADVERSARIES must have nine-letter-long names (not Tom and Jerry, then, or David and Goliath). A mere five cells are going to contain clashes and we have the intriguing instruction that we will highlight just six letters in a straight line but that these will offer ‘(overlapping) four-word confirmation of the sighting’. Four words in six letters!


5          Forgery with 6th letter missing, kept back binding of Bible (6)
The answer was a new word to the Numpties. We removed the ‘6th letter’ (not necessarily the Y here!) from a short word for ‘forgery’ and added a short word for ‘kept’ (back) .

9        Practically obscure 101 targets (4)
‘Practically’, here, means ‘not entirely’. Think of a short word for ‘obscure’ and add two letters for 101.

11         Value Zulu playing, holding type of light horn (8)
The first two words of the clue probably suggest the name of the ‘horn’ to you. We needed to ‘back solve’ from that word,  bearing in mind what ‘playing’ can mean and how Zulu might be represented. We were left with two letters to justify, for the ‘type of light’.

13         Vessel of arch-enemy lacking core function (4)
The ‘arch-enemy’ is a longer word from which we removed the ‘core’ which was one of those words for a ‘function’ that are so useful for crossword compilers.

24         Internal parts of shapes halved (5)
One of those clues (like 18d) that suggest that Shark is a medic when he is not compiling. Here you need to simply use the first five letters of a ten-letter word for shapes (geometrical ones usually).

27        Something that holds up earth in bank of Tay? (4)
No need, really, for a hint here but the clue raised a smile and we couldn’t resist including it. Crosswords have taught us all the Scottish word for a bank (Burns has them on bonnie Doon) and it is the usual crossword supporter holding up the ‘earth’.

29         Yankee’s supply of money includes silver penny once for toy (7, two words)
For the Yankee’s supply of money you need to consider the way he might carry his wad of greenbacks. Into that ‘wad’ you must add the three letters that the ‘silver penny’ give. This produces a pair of words that Chambers confirms to be a toy.

35        Whale following windy sand dune (4)
The short word for the whale and what to add to it will probably be more familiar than this name for a ‘windy sand dune’.


2           Drama finding unknown gold liqueur (5)
As in the clue commented on above, the answer is probably less familiar than the three wordplay elements (the short word for drama, one of the ‘unknowns’ and letters for the gold.

5          Central characters in Air France love flying this (5)
A delightful clue. You need to remember what ‘flying’ can mean. Take those ‘central characters’ and take note of the French indicator.

6         In India, miss end of Diwali – strike before this country’s in revolt (6)
The convention of underlining the definitions will help solvers here. ‘In revolt’ tells us what to do with the three wordplay elements – the end of Divali, the word for ‘strike’ and letters for ‘this country’.

11         Examine in detail around borders of logwood grassland (5)
The ‘borders of that ‘logwood’ have to go into that short word for ‘examine in detail’. This will give an exotic word for ‘grassland’.

16         Cultivation of ripest ferns (6)
The underlining again ‘says it all’.

18         Compound fracture set in Birmingham A&E (5)
‘Birmingham’, like ‘Perth’ and even ‘Paris’ is one of those place names that can be ambiguous and can be indicating an overseas usage of the term (A&E here). We are told what to do with ‘set’ to produce the compound.

23         In this, Oxbridge _____s generally have above-average h_____ and w_____ (5)
Another clue we had to include because of the smile it produced. We saw the truth of the clue at my son’s wedding when the Cambridge equivalent were all together at a table.

Finding the ADVERSARIES (and smiling at the choice of theme) gave us the hint we needed to produce the ‘phrase uttered’, and admire the fact that Shark has, of course, kept real words in the crossing entries). We imagine most solvers will need the internet to give them the five-letter name of ‘who actually spoke those words’. We needed that to help us resolve those clashes – the most difficult aspect of an entertaining crossword for us.

Remember that highlighting of six letters in a straight line, 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.

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4 comments on “EV 1610 (Hints)

  1. A fun choice of adversaries brought some relief from the task of filling the grid and the phrase uttered was a gimme [altho getting the spelling correct took some Googling]. The 5-letter name took a bit more Googling and initially didn’t tally with all the 4 [only] clashes identified, so the rest of the endgame was to find the right clashes and correct a couple of answers!
    Thanks to the aptly named Shark and The Numpties [especially for the 2nd of the 5].

  2. I think I have all the clues solved but need to confirm a couple. The two adversaries becsme clear after I had the first two letters of one of them. Great fun! Hats off to Shark for getting the phrase fitting making new words. Still haven’t found the highlighting though I have a couple of similar ideas, but have an early flight tomorrow so may be a bit later than usual submitting. Oh, and my favourite clue was 23d even though the answer jumped out at me.

  3. I cannot believe I solved this but I…….I will not continue that sentence.

    I am absolutely in awe of any of the EV setters. So clever and such fun.

    Thanks to the Numpties for their generous hints and to Shark

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