Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations No. 907 – The End of Term by Gioconda

Posted by twencelas on April 3rd, 2010


The End of term – A shortish preamble indicating corrections to be applied to definitions and modifications to the other answers before grid entry. Would this puzzle raise an enigmatic smile – Gioconda? And what exactly is the End of term?


A good example of a puzzle that requires the preamble to be read, and understood, first, because no clue is normal in the accepted fashion. So do you start by:

    • trying to work out the correct definitions based on the wordplay and enter the answer unmodified OR
    • solve the normal clues, but enter a modifed answer

It has to be the former as the modification is undefined at the outset and must be gleaned from the corrected letters from the former.

Some tricky clues in there this week, it can be quite a challenge when the subsidiary indication is more obscure than the definition – especially when you have to deduce the correct definition.  I did a lot of working back in this puzzle, from what I thought must be the answer to the wordplay.

But there were enough straight forward-ish clues to make reasonably rapid initial progress. Personally 10ac, 14ac, 18ac, 21ac, 24ac, 27ac, 30ac, 36ac, 37ac all yielded there answers with little strain. Then the first 6 down clues, 8dn, 9dn, 11dn, 17dn, 19dn, 20dn, 22dn, 28dn and the completed grid was starting to take shape.
However, there was not really enough to see an obvious pattern emerging from the corrected letters.  So what about the (4) clues, some obvious ones again and all of these had 7 letters – now with the crossing letters, it became a reasonable assumption that 3 letters needed to be removed, and these appeared to be consecutive e.g. stRAYed, anDANte, iceCOLd and caLENds. Three lettered male names – so that is what is the end of term meant – M for male. The end implying their removal.

So off to Chambers for some assistance to explain some of those possibilities that may be words (undiscovered so far by myself) and a pattern was beginning to emerge – eventually leading to the following from the corrected misprints.

ALI, SAM, GUY, ABA(?), PED(?), HAL, TOM and ALF.

So what of ABA and PED well if these were ABE and NED using the original letters for 37ac and 1dn that could explain it – to be honest I could n’t think of a better one other than a couple of minor errors, that had slipped past the editor. Unlike EV906, it did n’t prevent grid completion – as 6 out of 8 seemed adequate confirmation of the theme. I may well have missed an interpretation, though.

To complete there were still some pretty obscure seven letter words to derive – including 3 lettered male names, to be removed, always leaving a real, less obscure word (again there was a lot of working backwards from the grid entry to the clue). 

Personally, I’d say it had some nice moments, luring you in with some apparent simplicity, but certainly racking up the Chambers page flicking with some of the clues. My inability to fully resolve the 24 letters into 8 three letter names reduced my personal satisfaction rating – could n’t even convince myself that ABA and PED were my long lost cousins, from I forget where. So like the Mona Lisa, a pleasing enigmatic smile, but nothing more.

The surrealness of “Frozen fish held chief engineer and army officer” was probably my favourite clue, as I must admit to seeing more in Salvador Dali than Michelangelo. The unaltered 7dn was good too.


* = Anagram;  Rev = reversed; Bold = Definition; [Correction to definition]; Red – Chambers required; (X) in Corrected letter column – my interpretation of the correction


Clue Corrected/ Letter Name Removed Clue/ Explanation
1     Openings in South America accommodate most of salad plant (4)
    MAT SA around TOMATO (most of) = STOMATA entry is STOA
4 A   Don grasping roubles is one who might have sold mops [maps] to Russia perhaps (8)
      TEACHER grasps R (roubles) = TREACHER (traitor)
10 L   Exercise with bent pins — it’s necessary to break down mead [meal](6)
      PE + (PINS)* = PEPSIN
12      Monotonous speaker tails the French robber (4)
    RON LA + DRONE = LADRONE entry is LADE
13 I   Confusion once about taste in wild follies [fillies], perhaps (8)
      MUSS (confusion(obs)) about TANG = MUSTANGS
14 S   Tangled in reed — last [lass] at sea (6)
      (Inreed)* = NEREID (Sea nymph)
15     Fish for slippery eel after time with old saint (4)
    LEO T+ (eel)*+O+ST = TELEOST entry is TEST
16     State aims for date (4)
    LEN CAL(california) + ENDS = CALENDS entry = CADS
18 A   Fury after hospital department produces stellion [stallion](6)
      ENT (eart,nose & throat) + IRE (fury) = ENTIRE (stallion)
21 M   After list of duties politician is capable of roving [moving] round (8)
      ROTA (list of duties) + TORY = ROTATORY
24 G   Shellfish Venus[genus] has clams and shelled moule mixed together (8)
      (Clams+ oul)* = MOLLUSCA
26 U   Like Gill [Gull] boy captures French king (6)
      LAD (boy) captures ROI (french word for king) = LAROID
27     Frozen fish held chief engineer and army officer (4)
    COL ID holds CE and COL (colonel) = ICECOLD Entry is ICED
30     Project includes recycled aids for Jew (4)
    DAI JUT (project) includes (aids)* = JUDAIST Entry = JUST
32 Y   Vehicle used when snows [snowy] pressed round returning swindler (6)
      SAT (press) around CON (Rev.) = SNOCAT
34 A    Stir soda violently for they’re used working with meths [maths] (8)
      (stirsoda)* = ASTROIDS
35     Study follows bean curve (4)
    MAC LIMA (bean) + CON (study) = LIMACON Entry = LION
36 B   One who coos [boos]at displacement concerning queen (6)
      JEE (displacement) + RE (concerning) + R (queen) = JEERER
37 A (E)   Weekly [weakly) outdoor function held in English carriage (8)
      FETE (out door function) held in E + FLY (carriage) = EFFETELY
38     Possibly enough said for Will on Lily plants (4)
    ELI SESE (Shakespearean word for enough said) + LIS (lily) = SESELIS entry = SESS


Clue Corrected/ Letter Name Removed Clue/ Explanation
1 P(N)   In outskirts of Stanwell pander hopelessly for decorative niece [piece](8)
      SL around (paner)* = SPANDREL
2     Valve to deter breakdown (4)
    ROD (todeter)* = TETRODE entry is TETE
3 E   [Person] Parson using machine to redistribute Poor Rate (8)
      (poorate)* = OPERATOR
4 D   Tim is the one who counts off the gays [days](6)
      TIM + IS + T (the) = TIMIST
5 H   [Harsh] Marsh wind from Russia brings flower into cathedral city (8)
      ELY (cathaedral city) around ASTER (flower) = EASTERLY
6     Fairly slow movement from an Italian poet (4)
    DAN AN + DANTE = ANDANTE emtry is ANTE
7 A   Old lies [lias] perhaps endure in Christian Science (6)
      LAST (endure) in CS (christian science) = CLASTS (fragments of older rock)
8 L   Cockneys cutting borders get tools to trim sawn [lawn] outside (6)
      HEDGERS minus H as a cockney would say = EDGERS
9     Stainer composed for one who lived here in the past (4)
    IAN (stainer)* = RESIANT  Entry is REST
11     Saint dressed a long time ago and wandered (4)
    RAY ST + RAYED (old word for dressed) = STRAYED Entry is STED
17 T   Disguised god met Io enjoying an amusing parry [party](8)
      (godmetio)* = GOODTIME
19 O   Use nicer twist to make nut [not] firm (8)
      (usenicer)* = INSECURE
20 M   Former players are ones demanding honey [money](8)
      EX + ACTORS (players) = EXACTORS
22 A   Mountainous mess [mass] for mothers to sort shortly (6)
      MAS + SIF(sift minus end) = MASSIF
23 L   Rile[Rill]  man with vase, Eastern (6)
      BO (man) + URN + E (East) = BOURNE
25 F   Soot [Soft] material spreads south in Ely (6)
      (sinely)*  = LINSEY
28     Turn a blind eye to swindle that’s over (4)
29     This blows leg gear about … (4)
    REG (leggear)* = GREGALE (NE mediteranean wind) Entry is GALE
31     … and this helps to absorb bit of nougat in dessert (4)
    BEN N (bit of nougat) in SORBET = SORBENT Entry is SORT
33     An afterthought about team recesses (4)
    SID A PS about SIDE = APSIDES (small recesses) Entry is APES

4 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations No. 907 – The End of Term by Gioconda”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Hi twencelas
    I came to the same conclusion as you regarding ABA/ABE and PED/NED. It was a rather disappointing end to what was otherwise an enjoyable puzzle.

  2. Jake says:

    Thanks for the blog twencelas.

    I managed pretty much all the single letter definition misprints, for me scrolling down the clues they all jumped out rather quick. So it was just a case of ticking the clue off and leaving the changed letter in place.

    1ac for example was easy ‘m(o)ps’ for A and so on.

    Gathering the misprints part I liked, whilst still not figuring what the letters were to spell. At first I thought ‘THE END OF TERM’ may be school related, may-be even Alice Cooper’s ‘schools out’ song?
    It could have been a ‘government’ theme or even an end of jail term.

    After reading a thread on the answerbank site it had nothing to do with any of these, just names of people – how boring! So I left out finishing the 4 letter clues, and started the Inquisitor instead.

    Any who, since this is my second EV what does THE END OF TERM mean?. Am I missing something here, or were they just names of people that needed to be found and that’s it.

    Do the names spell anything? Can anyone help.

    I enjoyed the puzzle up to the 4 letter clues, so nice 1/2 a puzzle Gioconda.

  3. twencelas says:


    I do agree with your comment, I was really enjoying it till the questionable 4th and 5th names – nothing fancy in the theme but a good level of clues to get you going and then some trickier ones to finish it off.


    My best guess as to what the end of term was was literally TER-M, where ter- is the prefix for three and M is the abbreviation for Male. So that the only connection is the names have three letters. There’s so much diversity in their origins ALI, ELI, SID and REG that any other connection is certainly beyond me.

  4. Jake says:


    thank you for the time to solve the entire grid. I would of *******************************
    as you may guess.

    You are brave people, with a lot of patience ……

    Thank you.


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