Phibs – Big Dave's Crossword Blog

EV 1629 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1629 (Hints)

Ceaselessly by Curmudgeon

Hints and tips by Phibs

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The author Anne Rice, most famous for Interview with the Vampire, used the pseudonym Anne Rampling when writing a couple of slightly risqué novels. I believe that my fellow blogger, whose output frequently appears under the name Chalicea, uses the nom de clef Curmudgeon for her somewhat edgier puzzles. Though let’s be clear that we’re not talking here about the cruciverbal underworld inhabited by Private Eye‘s Cyclops, and certainly not the nether regions of decency explored by the appropriately-styled setters of the Craptic Crossword in Viz. Strong stuff this is not, although I’m sure the wordplay in 10a and the definition in 9d would never have sullied the thoughts of the demure Chalicea.

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EV 1628 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1628 (Hints)

Could Be by Jaques

Hints and tips by Phibs

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I asked Bard, “If you COULD BE a crossword setter or a crossword solver, which would you prefer, and why?” His response made me think that as a setter he might struggle with the 400-ish word limit on an EV composition, since it could hardly be described as terse even after a few sentences have been edited out.

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EV 1627 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1627 (Hints)

The Missing Link by Gaston

Hints and tips by Phibs

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I cannot see the phrase ‘missing link’ without thinking of an episode in Jennings’ Diary, one of the series of wonderful school stories by Anthony Buckeridge. For Jennings, it represents the prized cuff link lost by Mr Wilkins which prompts him to note ‘Mr Wilkins – missing link’ in his diary. For the somewhat irascible Mr Wilkins, who chances to read this entry, it unfortunately conjures up ‘a picture of a sub-human anthropoid monster, swinging among the tree-tops in some dark prehistoric era.’ I wonder whether this puzzle will involve any flapping cuffs or simian species from the Great Chain of Being.

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EV 1625 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1625 (Hints)

Rogue by Karla

Hints and tips by Phibs

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I write these notes under the watchful eye of a chameleon (not a real one, I hasten to add) who stands on top of my printer and whose name is Karla. The setter who shares that moniker is a new one to me – I think it unlikely that their choice of pseudonym is connected in any way to Culture Club or my low-maintenance pet, but it might perhaps have something to do with John le Carré’s rarely seen but often mentioned Soviet Intelligence Officer, the main reason why George Smiley dismally failed to live up to his emoji. Another namesake is the ex-ballerina in Jacqueline Susann’s Once Is Not Enough, played in the film by Melina Mercouri and described as ‘reclusive, mysterious and beautiful’, adjectives which apply to most, if not all, crossword setters. Along, of course, with ‘modest’ and ‘delusional’…

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EV 1623 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1623 (Hints)

Bus Stop by Chalicea

Hints and tips by Phibs

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Introducing Bus Stop by Chalicea: A Cryptic Cruise Through Commuter Chaos

Ah, the humble bus stop. A haven for weary travellers, a canvas for graffiti masterpieces (of dubious artistic merit), and, today, the unlikely setting for a cryptic conundrum courtesy of the redoubtable Chalicea. Buckle up, crossword comrades, because “Bus Stop” promises a journey like no other – a winding route through double deckers and daydreams, timetables and ticket stubs, all sprinkled with Chalicea’s signature brand of witty wordplay and devious cluing.

Forget your preconceptions of pastoral landscapes and leisurely strolls through the countryside. This is urban orienteering, where missed connections mingle with cryptic crosswords, and every discarded gum wrapper might harbour a hidden anagram. So, whether you’re a seasoned commuter with a well-thumbed bus pass or a wide-eyed newbie navigating the concrete jungle for the first time, prepare to have your preconceptions challenged and your vocabulary stretched to its limits.

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EV 1621 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1621 (Hints)

Playing the Game by Kcit

Hints and tips by Phibs

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We have a novelty here – the first EV puzzle I have ever seen where the title doesn’t feature as a single phrase in the preamble. Anyway, I asked Bard “What might be the theme of a crossword called ‘Playing the Game’ which involves two-digit numbers?” His response was swift, extensive and…no help at all.  I sensed that Bard’s sort of game was the electronic kind (tennis is probably a little beyond him at the moment), since he came up with stuff like:

♦ Power-ups: Temporary enhancements or advantages gained in a game, often represented by two-digit numbers indicating the duration or effectiveness of the power-up.

♦ Lifelines: Additional chances or opportunities provided to players to avoid losing or improve their chances of winning, often represented by two-digit numbers indicating the number of available lifelines.

I just hope this puzzle is more fun than Bard’s version.

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EV 1617 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1617 (Hints)

Mistaken Identity by Ifor

Hints and tips by Phibs

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I didn’t feel there was much to offer Bard in relation to this week’s theme, so I asked him why a setter would choose the pseudonym Ifor.

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EV 1615 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1615 (Hints)

First Born by Luxor

Hints and tips by Phibs

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I gather that Luxor is a new addition to the ranks of EV setters, so on behalf of all setters and solvers I welcome her to the fold. I asked Bard about the mysterious creature which we have been asked to find, and after a brief pause for thought he came up with the following:

“The creature that could be described as both like and unlike any other that had previously existed is the Ediacara biota. These organisms lived between 635 and 541 million years ago, during the Ediacaran Period. They were the first complex life forms on Earth, and they had a wide range of bizarre and unique shapes. Some Ediacara biota were flat and disc-shaped, like Dickinsonia. Others were frond-like, like Fractofusus. And still others were tube-shaped, like Charnia. Many of them were also much larger than any other animals that had lived before, with some specimens growing to be several metres long.”

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EV 1613 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1613 (Hints)

Residence by Vismut

Hints and tips by Phibs

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This week I gave Bard a bit more to go on, asking “What might be the theme of a crossword entitled ‘Residence’ where shading three blocks of letters shows what a particular person was famous for and completes an approximate illustration of the theme?” The response was:

The theme of a crossword entitled “Residence” where shading three blocks of letters shows what a particular person was famous for and completes an approximate illustration of the theme could be:

Famous homes of artists: Shade three blocks to reveal the person’s name and complete an approximate illustration of their home. For example, shade the blocks “MO” in “MONET’S HOUSE” to reveal the name of the artist Claude Monet and complete an approximate illustration of his home in Giverny, France.

This was followed by similar suggestions for writers (the example being Hemingway), musicians (Beethoven), scientists (Einstein), and historical figures (Lincoln). Based on these examples, Bard doesn’t seem to know any famous Britons, but I wonder how well he (I asked, and Bard told me “I do not have a gender preference. You can refer to me as he, she, they, or any other pronoun that feels comfortable to you.“) has done this time around.

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