Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations 1002 Simple Subtraction by Charybdis

Posted by twencelas on February 4th, 2012


So 10 unclued entries this week, and all in a “depleted” form. And either one or two letters have been added to some clues (whenever thematically possible) . All very cryptic – ah but this is a cryptic crossword with a twist or 2. Sounds intriguing.

Well this proved to be a very peculiar puzzle for me, in that the penny dropped very quickly. Not sure why, but I suspect it was the title and maybe the fact I’ve been rereading some Conan Doyle recently. Holmes educating Watson that the answer is obvious if you consider the clues – what type of words can appear in “self -referentially depleted form” – it’s elementary not simple dear Watson. What then is a subtraction – deductions continuing the Holmesian theme (which I feel 25 across also alludes too (The element HOLMIUM). So all the unclued entries are elements with their symbols requiring removal before entry in the grid e.g. Lithium (Li) becomes THIUM at 6 across etc.


6 LI thium

16 SE lenium

34 NO belium

41 DY sprosium

42 CD amium as in Cadmium


2 MN aganese as in Manganese

4 EU ropium

28 TA ntalum


37 ER bium

Once these symbols have been removed they can be rearranged to yield ELEMENTARY DEDUCTIONS.

Bizarrely, in my opinion, there are 2 other clues to this phrase (perhaps there could be an alternative solution otherwise?)

  • there are also 11 symbolic elements removed from the clues giving N (Nitrogen), AR(argon) Y(Yttrium)  U (Uranium) C (Carbon) TI (Titanium) O (Oxygen) N (Nitrogen) S (Sulphur)  – the other letters unable to yield elements.
  • 25 ac is Holmium (an element)

A very enjoyable puzzle, with an extremely well executed theme, which was mercifully devoid of any of the EV gremlins. Many thanks Charybdis, I did enjoy this. Holmes himself is visible in the completed grid if you make a slight detour in 25ac)



Rev. Reverse

* Anagram

DD Double definition


1 Retreat back after oars snagging and scraping the ground (8)

Rev(lair) after (oars)* = RASORIAL

10 For instance put bit of bitumen in ground for river as a blocked layer (8, hyphenated)

Eg (for instance) + ground (replacing r (river) with b (bit of bitumen) = EGG-BOUND

12 Spaces round line and circle for lively dances (6)

Gaps (spaces) round l (line) + o (circle) = GALOPS

14 Who’s out of love with intrusive renegade’s rages (6)

Whos – o (love) around rat (renegade) = WRATHS

15 They ought to pass Enigmatic Variations between upcoming people (8)

Ev (enigmatic variations) in risers (upcoming people) = REVISERS

19 Dead-headed pansy comes back (ends finally) (5)

(Rev Violet – v (dead-headed)) = TELOI

20 Advanced new maths? — no good wheeze will come of this (6)

A (advanced) + (maths)* = ASTHMA

22 Withdraws over last month sitting in bishops’ offices (7)

Sees (Bishops’ offices) around Rev (Dec(ember)) = SECEDES

27 Kindle fragrance (7)

DD Incense

29 Stops everything for work or plays for time? (6)

Stops – op (work) + all (everything) = STALLS

N removed from clue        

32 Meant cut wood to have square opening (5)

Meat cut wood to have square opening

Teak (wood) after s (square) = STEAK

36 Revisit college kiwi lecturer’s retired from (8, 2 words)

C (College) + all black (kiwi) – l (lecturer) = CALL BACK

39 Oil producer that is into vending to the West (6)

Rev (Sale (vending around ie) = ELAEIS

40 The old diminish in strength — a very soft demeanour (6)

A + pp (very soft) + air (demeanour) = APPAIR

AR  removed from clue    

43 They may hold opposing boards — wrestling stratagem required right away (8, 2 words)

They may hold opposing bods — wrestling stratagem required right away (8, 2 words)

(Stratagem – r)* = TAG TEAMS



1 Fillet — a piece is served up (6)

Rev (a + luger (piece as in gun)) = REGULA

Y removed from clue            

3 Boy anointed with smear of oil that was worth at least a penny (5)

Bo anointed with smear of oil that was worth at least a penny (5)

Bo in (oil)* = OBOLI (Plural of Obolus – half penny so must be worth more than a penny)

5 Bet not initially getting into mischief (4)

Ate (mischief) around n (not initially) = ANTE

6 Current nonsense about doughnuts (4)

Rev(I (current) + rot (nonsense)) = TORI

7 Company that make chips at home allowed to turn up (5)

In (at home) + Rev(let (allowed)) = INTEL (Check your compute if you wonder what sort of chips)

8 I hold part of rigging, snarled rope with odd pieces to haul (6)

((rope) + HaUl (odd pieces))* = UPHROE

9 Fail to keep one quiet — just like a schoolgirl (7)

Miss (fail to keep) + I (one) + sh (quiet) = MISSISH

11 Witness cracking chap turning up, fresh lad from Middle East (6)

See (witness) in Rev(man) = NASEEM

13 Client sick of pondwater (6)

(client)* = LENTIC

U removed from clue        

17 Stuart of Edinburgh’s bird, a loved girl (5)

Start of Edinburgh’s bird, a loved girl

E + smee (bird) = ESMEE

18 Wreaths of flowers ready in Bucharest (4)


C removed from clue       

21 Engaged in pharmaceutical solutions in addiction (4)

Engaged in pharmaceutical solutions in addition

Hidden pharmaceuticAL Solutions = ALSO

23 A mixture of oil and water goes in here (6)

(oil and)* = DOLINA (a swallow hole i.e. underground funnel)

TI removed from clue                

24 Son beset by weakness ran without notion guts will be needed (7)

Son beset by weakness ran without noon guts will be needed

Vice (weakness) aroud s (so)  + ran – n (noon) = VISCERA

25 This man’s athletic — was ahead of rest and got better (6)

He (this man)  + a (athletic) + led (was ahead) = HEALED

O removed from clue       

30 Having dug around river, I’ll brew some coups perhaps (6)

Having dug around river, I’ll brew some cups perhaps (6)

Teat (Dug as in nipple) around Po (river) = TEAPOT

31 Acts the sycophant — how HRH is addressed is taken on board (6)

Marm (how HRH is addressed) in SS (On board) = SMARMS

N removed from clue 

33 An E in their register? — baritone or tenor, say, coming up with none (5. with hyphens)

An E in their register? — baritone or tenor, say, coming up with one (5. with hyphens)

Rev (male (baritone or tenor)) + I (one) = E-LA-MI

35 Circuit’s energy failure (5)

Laps (circuit’s) + e (energy) = LAPSE

S removed from clue         

38 Leafy wrapping slid over top of ankle (4)

Leafy wrapping lid over top of ankle (4)

Cap (lid) + a (top of ankle) = CAPA

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