Phibs – Big Dave's Crossword Blog

EV 1583 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1583 (Hints)

Remedies by The Ace of Hearts

Hints and tips by Phibs

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What an intriguing pseudonym. Apart from being a playing card, The Ace of Hearts is the title of a 1921 film in which the member of a vigilante group who is to carry out an assassination is selected by a card being dealt to each person in turn until one receives the ace of hearts. Is this relevant? I’m hoping that our setter might be able to tell us.

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EV 1581 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1581 (Hints)

Aircon by Ifor

Hints and tips by Phibs

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Ifor is a name of Welsh origin, meaning ‘archer’, and also the label given to the Implementation Force, a NATO-led multinational peace enforcement unit deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina during 1995 and 1996 under the codename Operation Joint Endeavour. However, I suspect that the alias assumed by today’s setter owes more to the Deefor Dog, Ellfor Leather and Peefor Pleasure school of nomenclature. Let’s hope we’re not dealing with Ifor Impenetrable…

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EV 1579 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1579 (Hints)

Line of Duty by Eclogue

Hints and tips by Phibs

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I wonder if when two setters are contemplating a collaboration their decision is influenced by the name of the hybrid which will result. eXternal and Serpent combine very neatly to produce eXtent, and the marriage of Hellebore and Phi to produce Hellphire was surely irresistible. Eclipse plus Logogriph is less obvious, Ecriph or Loglipse having understandably been ignored in favour of Eclogue. But what about Ifor and Wickball getting together as Iball, or Harribobs and Piccadilly forming Harpic? Jacques and Sea-kale as Jacqusea, perhaps? Curmudgeon and Wan might need to think carefully about names before entering into an alliance, though…

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EV 1577 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1577 (Hints)

Reality Check by Opsimath

Hints and tips by Phibs

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In the setter’s blog for Listener puzzle 4600, Opsimath wrote “This was one of the very first puzzles I attempted to set. I know, because I only stumbled on my pseudonym while looking for suitable words to use for the grid. Putting *psi* into TEA produces loads of words like campsite and lop-sided, but oΨmath caught my eye and seemed appropriate, since I was already well into my 60’s when I even started to think about setting. Plus, I was always a Math teacher. To save you rushing to Chambers, an opsimath is someone who learns late in life. I’ll admit to having been offered the very best schooling from an early age, but I only started to learn quite recently.”

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EV 1575 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1575 (Hints)

Follow the Instructions by Kcit

Hints and tips by Phibs

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Georges Remi, the creator of Tintin, came up with his pseudonym by taking his first and last initials, reversing them, and turning the French pronunciation of the individual letters into the name Hergé. Today’s setter did something along the same lines – his first and last initials are PH, a reversal of which gives HP, an abbreviation for ‘hire-purchase’. This loosely equates to ‘credit’ or ‘tick’, and a complementary reversal  of the latter gives ‘kcit’. Simples!

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EV 1573 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1573 (Hints)

Capital by Vismut

Hints and tips by Phibs

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This is my second Vismut EV, following October’s ‘Save’, which was awash with avian anagrams. Last time I speculated on the setter’s pseudonym being linked in some way to the element bismuth, which is called ‘vismut’ in certain languages. I now find that it is also the name of a device used by the KGB in the Lubyanka Building and Intourist Hotel in Moscow to receive the output from hidden microphones and tapped telephone lines. This was during the Cold War, but perhaps I’m getting warmer…?

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EV 1571 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1571 (Hints)

Dotty Links by Wickball

Hints and tips by Phibs

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The sport of Sepat Takraw can be played with a wicker ball, and Wickball is also the name of an ancient camp in Wiltshire. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I conclude that our setter is a devotee of kick volleyball who lives near Salisbury.

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EV 1569 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1569 (Hints)

Coexistence by Skylark

Hints and tips by Phibs

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I’d like to tell you where the pseudonym Skylark comes from, but I can’t. Is she perhaps a diminutive songster, or someone who enjoys the occasional drop of a blithe spirit? Or could the fact that Chambers gives the verb ‘skylark’ as meaning ‘to trick’ be relevant? I’m hoping that our setter might come to my assistance…

…which she has very kindly done – see the first comment below. A much better reason for choosing the name than any of my suggestions!

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EV 1567 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1567 (Hints)

Condition by Eclogue

Hints and tips by Phibs

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The name Eclogue might suggest some connection with Virgil, but I believe that it actually refers to a hybrid creature whereof the front part is operated by Eclipse (thus partial rather than total) and the rear section by Logogriph, this latter being “a kind of enigma, in which a certain word, and other words that can be formed out of all or any of its letters, are to be guessed from synonyms of them introduced into a set of verses.”

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EV 1565 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1565 (Hints)

Solstice by Chalicea

Hints and tips by Phibs

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I learn from an interview with The Guardian that “Chalicea began as a simple merging of CHARLES (husband) and ALICE (mum). Doc, the editor of 1 Across magazine, accidentally added the A and it stuck.” My fellow blogger also on occasion goes under the names Curmudgeon and Gnomie (suggesting a tight fist and a pointy head?), and has a reputation for producing entertaining and scrupulously fair puzzles which tend to inhabit the lower end of the difficulty spectrum.

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