EV 1646 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1646 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1646 (Hints)

Borderline by Vagans

Hints and tips by The Numpties

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Dave Hennings’ Crossword Database tells us that this will be Vagans’ fifth EV crossword.  Solvers will also have met him as part of the Ovid team. We know that we can expect clues that range through the media, music, religion, languages – in effct an immense cultural compass – and a grid that probably includes graphic features.

Preamble: Two down entries are on the BORDERLINE and clued without definition. Three other contiguous border entries are appropriate to their location. Wordplay in all other clues indicates the answer with an extra letter that is not entered in the grid; these spell out an instruction affecting 32 cells. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended. 37a is in the ODE.

The preamble prompts that we are looking for something connected with some form of border and a location, possibly a border between two locations. We will be looking for three ‘contiguous’ answers that will also somehow be connected with a border (a grid edge?) and a location. We do our usual clue count and see that 37 clues will contain an extra letter spelling out an instruction. We guess that that message will be instructing us to shade the 32 cells that are mentioned, but only solving will confirm that.


18a          Frenchman’s creative impetus fermented Latvian ale (9, two words)
There’s an amusing surface reading here (and, of course, the alcohol that crossword compilers invariably include in their clues). The word ‘fermented’ told us what to do with that Latvian ale and we knew that we were going to produce two French words.

21a         Firstly Yorkshire’s local youth tackling Leeds river with old-fashioned skill (6)
The word ‘firstly’ guides us here and we need to include the name of that river to give an ‘old-fashioned’ word – one we no longer hear. Of course, almost all the clues produce those extra letters.

32a         Irish renounce nothing in register (5)
A word of Irish origin this time. We needed a short term for the register and had to put a word for ‘nothing’ into it (remembering the extra letter!)

33a         Pleasure cut short after lout leads call to stop sea chant (9)
The short word for the lout had to lead us into this clue, followed by a term for pleasure (sadly ‘cut short’) and a brief expression used to say ‘stop!’

35a         Volumes pulped huge trees (6)
Not a sad comment about the destruction of rain-forests but a simple indication of what we must do to the volumes to ‘restore’ those ‘huge trees’.

37a         Reserve Travertine heated chamber (6)
Remembering that we were looking for an extra letter, we used a short form of ‘reserve’ and needed to look up ‘Travertine’ in order to complete our answer – the one that is in the ODE.


3d           Wine region likewise of highest quality (6)
More of that alcohol Vagans! We put together two clue elements; ‘likewise’, and ‘of highest quality’ and found that wine region – one that produces wines we love.

7d           John taken in by Blue Labour (5)
This is not a surprising political comment. We simply had to put a familiar word for that ‘John’ into a word for the ‘blue’ to produce the ‘labour’.

8d           Enlarge US city following college breeding on scientific principles (9)
A word for ‘enlarge’ produces that extra letter. A short term for the college (the kind doing scientific things) and familiar letters for the US city complete the answer.

16d           Divine inspiration seen in John Wyclif renouncing Scottish beloved and new college condition (4)
We are told that we have to ‘renounce’ words for the ‘Scottish beloved’ and the ‘condition’ as well as letters for ‘new’ and ‘college’ leaving us with divine inspiration.

28d          He legally sheltered in nicest building (6)
We are clearly told where to look for that legal term for ‘he’.

30d         Vineyard belonging to Vagans retired within land of fellow-countrymen (5)
‘Belonging to Vagans’ (just a short pronoun) is ‘retired’ within the vineyard (really Vagans – a whole vineyard!) giving a thematic word and name. You might need to consult Wikipedia to see why it is the ‘land of fellow countrymen’.

The generous ‘wordplay only’ clues prompted us and we had no difficulty in spotting the ‘three contiguous border entries’. Finding three more relevant entries in the grid completed a satisfying picture.

Don’t forget to do what that message instructed us to do and 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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1 comment on “EV 1646 (Hints)
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  1. Quite an arduous task solving many of these clues. The obscurity count was the highest for several months but given the theme, not entirely surprising. I have an aversion to the likes of 6a and 10d but there was plenty to admire including the subtlety of 23d and the humour in 7d. 41a also raised a smile when I eventually twigged the cardinal. With the grid finally filled and the instruction spelled out the endgame was rather obvious.
    Thanks to Vagans and The Numpties.

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