Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations No. 921 – Gang of Four by Hypnos

Posted by mc_rapper67 on July 10th, 2010


An ‘EV’ puzzle in more ways than one, as it turned out! Bit of a complicated preamble – the solver is searching for a ‘gang of four’ who aren’t actually in the grid, but must be deduced by associations with 8 unclued entries and/or 8 extra words in some clues. To corroborate this, a relevant ‘work’ is given by corrected letters in 17 clues, and its ‘source’ can be found by jumbling two otherwise normal entries.

I often find that the best approach to a complicated preamble is to ‘blitz’ through the clues without thinking about the theme at all – to get as many normal answers as possible into the grid – and wheedle out any patterns/conflicts which might lead to the thematic/unclued answers in the grid, or obvious extra words/misprints etc. in thematic clues.

In this case, I soon ended up with several candidates for the unclued entries – MALCOLM, ANNIE, OLIVIA, FENNEL – and extra words – SCEPTIC, BROADCASTER, COMPOSER – but no obvious links, except maybe Annie + Broadcaster = Nightingale? It didn’t really start to fall into place until the corrected letters yielded EMINENT VICTORIANS (i.e. another EV!) and a little research started to link the associations to the four subjects of that work, including Florence Nightingale, confirming my initial guess at one of those associations!.

The source of the work was (Giles) LYTTON STRACHEY (anag of 29A ROTTENLY and 42A YACHTS). 

The ‘gang’ of four EMINENT VICTORIANS (with associations) were:

FLORENCE (Fennel, Plant) NIGHTINGALE (Annie, Broadcaster)
THOMAS (Doubting, Sceptic) ARNOLD (Malcolm, Composer)
CARDINAL (Point, North) MANNING (Olivia, Writer)
GENERAL (Reserve, Profits) GORDON (Setter, Dog)

A challenging, and educational (for me), EV – not too onerous on the clueing, I felt, leaving the solver to concentrate on an interesting theme. 

Solving time: approx. 1 hour’s initial blitzing and probably another hour twigging the theme and associations…might have been quicker if I hadn’t initially used ‘NT’ for ‘books’ – instead of ‘BB’ – in 6D, to enter ‘PLENTY’ instead of ‘PLEBBY’…



Clue No Length Misprint/
Extra word
Entry (Corrected) clue /
1A (6)   REMUDA Soft earth found in region lacking a fresh supply of horses /
MUD (soft earth) in (A)REA (region, lacking A)
5A (7)   IMPASSE Deadlock produced by fogy’s admission? /
Humorous double defn: Deadlock = IMPASSE, and a fogy might admit ‘I’M PASSÉ’
11A (4) E EMIR Backing for offence caught out authority in past East /
(C)RIME backing without C (caught ‘out’)
n/a (7)   MALCOLM Unclued /
to be deduced
n/a (6)   SETTER Unclued /
to be deduced
13A (6) M WEEPIE Fill Film with emotion, tiny chatterer /
WEE (tiny) + PIE (magpie/chatterer – type of bird)
14A (4)   STAG Pole eliminating Nationalist informer once /
STANG (pole, or stake) less N (Nationalist) – STAG is obsolete slang for an informer
16A (4) I RACE Lack Lick class /
Double defn: RACE can mean a rush (lick) or class/group
n/a (8)   DOUBTING Unclued /
to be deduced
n/a (5)   POINT Unclued /
to be deduced
21A (4)   STYE It might be featured in nasty eye? /
Hidden word in naSTY Eye
22A (4)   EAUS Red-haired chap’s ignoring special drainage channels /
E(S)AU (redhaired chap Esau without S – special) plus possessive/apostrophe’d S
23A (5)   GENRE Information about style of painting /
GEN (information) + RE (about)
25A (4) N ITCH Without director, abandon sensation in skit skin /
(D)ITCH (abandon, without D – director)
28A (4)   AFRO A Dutchwoman’s clipped hairstyle /
A + FRO(W) (Dutch woman – FROW – ‘clipped’)
n/a (5)   ANNIE Unclued /
to be deduced
29A (8) (Thematic) ROTTENLY Rogue Tory lent in a corrupt fashion /
anag of (i.e. rogue) TORY LENT
30A (4) DOG ACTA I hunted (dog) short of time? Minutes /
ACTA(EON) (hunter in Classical mythology) short of EON (time)
34A (4) BROADCASTER ICON I study (broadcaster), revered figure /
I + CON (study)
37A (6) E INSANE It’s senseless to include start of season in crazy stats state? /
INANE (sensless) including S (start of season)
38A (6)   OMNIUM Award given by number containing independent stock value /
OM (Order of Merit, award) + NUM (number) containing I (Independent)
39A (7)   SCALENI Athlete initially in silence largely developed muscles /
anag of (i.e. developed) A (athlete, initially) + most of SILENC(E)
40A (4) N ACRE A lot of labourers laid land measure /
A + most of CRE(W) (labourers)
41A (7) T MANILLA Ring used in North African ride rite left in Asian capital /
L in MANILA (Asian capital) – MANILLA is a horseshoe-shaped ring used in African rites
42A (6) (Thematic) YACHTS Close to sanctuary, a bird’s clear of a set of vessels /
Y (last of sanctuary) + A + CH(A)TS (birds without A)
Clue No Length Misprint/
Extra word
Entry (Corrected) clue /
1D (7)   RESERVE Unclued /
to be deduced
2D (4)   MITE Small child’s ability mentioned /
Homonym of MITE (small child) and MIGHT (ability)
3D (7) V DIETING Conference, one no good, hating having regulated cheer? /
DIET (conference) + I (one) + NG (no good)
4D (4) I AURA It might be seen before fat fit recluses’ places (overlooking front) /
(L)AURA (recluses’ cells) without the front letter – an AURA can be the sensations preceding an epileptic attack
5D (6)   IMAGOS Villain besetting married momma’s last stages perhaps /
IAGO (Shakespearean villain) around M (married) plus S (momma’s last)
6D (6) C PLEBBY Work about English books in poor taste caste /
PLY (work) around E (English) and BB (books)
7D (4) WRITER ACES Experts are linked to dry (writer) brought up /< br/>A (are) + SEC (dry, brought up)
8D (9)   SOPHISTIC This cop is corrupt and fallacious /
anag of (i.e. corrupt) THIS COP IS
9D (4) T SLIP Cash Cast cutting /
double defn: to let SLIP can be to cast (throw), and a SLIP can be a cutting, or descendant (plants/genetics?)
10D (6) NORTH EMERGE Issue produced by (North) European club including German /
E (European) + MERE (club) including G (German)
12D (4) O MESA Tar Tor with flat top in US having visor I left out /
MESA(IL) (a vizor, or visor) without I or L (left)
15D (5) R SUTRA Type of mule rule dismantled a truss almost /
anag of (i.e. dismantled) A + most of TRUS(S)
17D (9) PROFITS COURTESAN Artist around elevated group in county (profits) one local mistress /
RA (Royal Academician, or artist) around SET (group, elevated) in CO (county) and UN (one, local dialect)
18D (4) PLANT NICE Hazardous (plant) in past French city /
double defn: NICE has archaic meaning of ‘hazardous’, and is also a French city
19D (4)   PACO Bill in Post Office a foreign carrier? /
AC (account, or bill) on PO (Post Office) gives PACO (alpace, beast of burden, related to the llama)
20D (5)   TERNE Alloy to change colour reportedly /
homonym of TERNE (alloy) and TURN (change colour)
24D (7) SCEPTIC ENCOMIA Elder (sceptic) in Paris turned up to receive common forms of praise /
AINÉ (French for elder or senior) turned and receiving COM (abbreviation for common)
26D (7)   HEAUMES Old headwear he dons leaving ship /
HE + A(SS)UMES (dons, without SS – steam ship) – HEAUME being an archaic helmet/headwear
27D (6)   TRUISM Hackneyed statement is penned by President knocking off article /
IS ‘penned by’ TRUM(AN) – US President ‘knocking of’f’ AN (article)
31D (4) I TOUR Trap Trip produced by bustle (not half) /
First half of TOUR(NURE) – bustle
32D (4) A INCA Rice Race consumed by plain cattlemen /
Hidden word in plaIN CAttlemen
33D (4) COMPOSER DALI Return of epic (composer) but not international artist /
IL(I)AD – epic, returned without I (international)
35D (4) N COSY Smug Snug sailor staying in Cyprus /
OS (Ordinary Seaman, sailor) in CY (abbreviation for Cyprus)
36D (4) S RICH Religious class before church full of brats brass /
RI (Religious Instruction) + CH (church)

2 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations No. 921 – Gang of Four by Hypnos”

  1. nmsindy says:

    Very enjoyable puzzle, this, appearing by coincidence on the same weekend as the setter’s SECRET EXCITEMENT appeared in the Inquisitor series in the Indy. Both were excellent, this one for me turning out to be a bit easier than the other. I too toyed with PLENTY before the far more accurate PLEBBY occurred. The breakthrough for me was getting I in 31D, having already got the ANS. With the letters I had this gave EMINENT VICTORIANS and I sorted everything fairly quickly after that including ANNIE NIGHTINGALE (which it just had to be by elimination). I’ll have to admit she was new to me but Wikipedia confirmed her.

    Thanks for the blog mc_rapper67.

    Solving time, about 3 hrs.

  2. mc_rapper67 says:

    Thanks for the quick response, nmsindy – the ink was barely dry on that posting! Reassuring to see I wasn’t the only one having PLENTY of trouble with 6D…

    I somehow missed Hypnos’ SECRET EXCITEMENT – maybe the Indie magazine was missing from my paper delivery that week – if only the Indie could embrace the 21st century and use t’internet a bit more.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

eight − = 6