Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations No. 905 – Management by Samuel

Posted by Gaufrid on March 20th, 2010


I found this to be one of the hardest EVs for quite some time. Even though I got the theme fairly early on from 31ac, quickly confirmed by 12ac, it took a while to complete the puzzle (about twice as long as usual) even with the help of knowing which letters needed to be removed from sixteen clues before solving.

The ‘lost’ letters in clues spelt out WILBERT VERE AWDRY (better known as the Reverend W. Awdry) the creator of the Thomas the Tank Engine series of books. The names of six of the engines appearing in the books, pleasingly described as ‘prime movers’ in the preamble, appeared in the grid (12ac, 20ac, 31ac, 5dn, 29dn & 34dn). Sadly there was no room for Toby the Tram Engine, nor the coaches Annie and Clarabel (and perhaps some other characters I have forgotten).

The person in charge of ‘management’, which was to be highlighted, was the FAT CONTROLLER who appeared in the NW-SE diagonal. The further form of ‘management’ that could be inferred from his name was that he needed to go on a diet and lose weight. This was represented by five answers losing lb (pound) before entry and five losing st (stone).

There were a lot of unfamiliar words in this puzzle, either as answers or as part of the wordplay. By my reckoning, two-thirds of the clues had one or more words or meanings that are not exactly commonplace. I also had problems parsing a couple of clues which accounted for some of the additional time spent on this puzzle.

I enjoyed the challenge but it did remind me of an Azed (with some additional twists) and it wouldn’t have been out of place as a Listener crossword.

*(XXX) – anagram
[x] – letter(s) unused
{x} – letter removed from clue before solving
{xx} – letters removed from answer before grid entry

1 FA{lb}ALA  *(FLAB) A[ctive] L[ifestyle] A[gain]
5 JOURNALS  J (judge) OUR N (new) [p]ALS (friends without a bit of prejudice)
10 LAND LAW  LANDL[ord] A W (week) – AW replaces ord (beginning)
12 GORDON  NO DROG[er] reversed
13 MUSACEAE  ACE (expert) A (acting) in MUSE (think)
17 FREE{st}  S (son) in FREET (Scottish {w}omen)
19 REAROSE  REAR (uncommonly early) [p]OSE (topless model)
20 THOMAS  [e]THO[s] (distinctive character disrobed) MAS (French farm)
21 KAREN  A R (recipe) in KEN (know)
23 NATO  hidden in ‘maN{i}A TOtally’
25 A{lb}UM  ALBUM[en] (two-thirds of men leave white)
27 EROTEME  TORE (rushed) reversed EME (uncle)
28 NEW  N[oos]E (empty noose) W (with) – def. strang{l}e
30 {st}ELAR  S[pider] TELA (web) R (runs)
31 HENRY  N (navy) in HERY (Ed’s praise)
33 DELOPE  DEL (he drew {b}it) OPE[n] (nearly free)
35 BOOTING  BOO (show disapproval) TIN (paltry) G (government)
38 WRAP  W (women) RAP (grab)
39 GLEAN  G[reen] LEAN (slim{e})
43 ROSACE  R (rule) O (old) SAC (conveyance) E[xcluding]
44 NEEDLER  NEE (born) [i]DLER (wastrel not I)
45 DIELYTRA  DIE{t} L (left) *(TRA[c]Y)
46 TOO{lb}AR  LOOT (stolen goods) reversed BAR (secure)

1 FLU{st}ER  FLUtTER (toss a coin once) with ‘t’ (it) changed to S (dollar)
2 A{lb}AN  A (amateur) L (league) BAN (prohibit)
3 ANTIAR  ANT (worker) *(RI{v}A[l])
4 ALISON  ALI (boxer) S (is) ON (forward)
5 JAMES  JAM (block) ES[cape] (escape having lost head)
6 UGS  U (upper class) GS (grammar school)
7 ROACH  dd – first def. cut{e}
8 ADERMIN  D (deserted) in *(MARINE{r})
9 SNEESH  SN (tin) EE (early English) S (is) H (hot)
11 DECREES  D (died) *(E SCREES) – def. fir{e}man
14 UNEATABLE  UN (United Nations) EA (each) TABLE (food supply)
16 {st}UTTER  ST (hush) UTTER (speak)
18 {st}EAMER  S (second) TEAM (XI) E[at] R[eal]
22 AUGER  AU (gold) GE{a}R
23 NOLES  NO[b]LES (peers losing 300)
24 BEETLED  BEE (worker) T[oo] LE{w}D
26 MOLASSE  ASS (fool) in MOLE (huge breakwater)
29 EDWARD  ED (education) [a]WARD (grant not accepted)
31 HOGGET  HOG (pig) GET (irritate)
34 PERCY  PERkY (in good spirits) with k (knight) changed to C (Cuba)
36 OCREA  *(A CO[v]ER)
37 GNARR  RAN reversed in {d}[o]G [owne]R
41 TET  TÊT[e] (hea{r}d curtailed)
42 ME{lb}A  hidden in ‘enaMEL BAth’ – def. opera singer’s kind of toast{y}

3 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations No. 905 – Management by Samuel”

  1. Mike Laws says:

    Wot, no comments?

    I was given the first six books (plus the seventh, Toby the Tram Engine) as a child, when the little books still came in dust jackets, and collected them again for my son, when he learned to read. I’ve still got 25 of those, but seem to be missing No. 26,
    Tramway Engines.

    Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle, which is the main thing – the nostalgia was a bonus!

  2. Jake says:

    Thanks for blog,

    Mike, I couldn’t comment on this as I am ‘too embarrassed’ to say I couldn’t even get a start.
    I can see why, now that Gaufrid explained how tough it was.

    I did however, manage to complete EV904 !!! – Which is now hanging on my bedroom wall (as I’m proud).

    It looks rather OK now all this puzzle has been explained!

  3. Samuel says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid – I’m glad that you enjoyed the puzzle. It would have been good to get Clarabel & Annie, etc, into the grid, but the fill was hard enough with the restrictions of the leading diagonal, as well as the ten thematically entered lights.

    Mike – I’m impressed that you have 25 of the 26 books! I tried to find out our copies of these when I was setting the puzzle, but only came up with about 15 or 16, the rest presumably having been lost over the last ten years or so. We won’t use these again, so if I do find Tramway Engines (which is one of the lost ones), I’ll put it in the post for you.

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