EV 1575 Hints – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1575 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1575 (Hints)

Follow the Instructions by Kcit

Hints and tips by Phibs

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

Georges Remi, the creator of Tintin, came up with his pseudonym by taking his first and last initials, reversing them, and turning the French pronunciation of the individual letters into the name Hergé. Today’s setter did something along the same lines – his first and last initials are PH, a reversal of which gives HP, an abbreviation for ‘hire-purchase’. This loosely equates to ‘credit’ or ‘tick’, and a complementary reversal  of the latter gives ‘kcit’. Simples!

Preamble: The final grid would show 180-degree symmetry in the bars that could be unambiguously entered. However, several answers could only be read in full if bars limiting other answers were omitted. Hence, neither bars nor numbers are to be entered on solutions, but solvers must FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS revealed. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

We face a puzzle with no bars (‘carte blanche’) and no enumerations – the preamble goes some way to explaining the absence of bars, and it’s a fair guess that the enumerations have also been omitted for a reason. Perhaps this is because providing answer lengths would give too much away, or perhaps because the lengths of some entries differ from the lengths of the answers. Or perhaps both.

The 180° symmetry mentioned is what you normally find in crosswords – a six-letter entry at the top left of the grid (followed by a bar) means that there will be a corresponding six-letter entry at the bottom right (preceded by a bar). If the first across answer were SOLVED and the first down answer SUCCESS (which almost certainly connects with SOLVED), you can with a high degree of confidence enter both solutions, along with the bars at the end of each (illustrated in picture one). The 180° symmetry means that you can also enter two symmetrically placed bars, as in the second picture.

I would recommend entering bars as you go along (as I did), even though you may have to rub one or two out to accommodate the entry gimmick and you’ll need to erase them all before submitting your entry.

All we really know at this stage is that the clues are normal and are presented in the standard order. So we have to blind solve some of them (ideally the first few down and across clues, if that is possible) and then try to fit the answers together. It doesn’t sound as though the entry gimmick can be too complex, or the puzzle surely wouldn’t have got past the editor – we can only hope that as we proceed with the solve all will become clear.


1st    Novelist’s written about church garments for religious orders
The denominational abbreviation often indicated in crosswords by ‘church’ is wrapped in the surname of an author who could be either father or son – I suspect that the setter is referring to the one who wrote about a Green Man rather than a Yellow Dog.

2nd    Sources of water recalled in such drains
The words ‘in such’ are included solely to link the wordplay to the definition, and the ‘drains’ relates to the removal not of water but of (say) strength from person.

3rd    Entertainment in Chennai: Cheers (a US show imported)
‘Cheers’ here is something of a cruciverbal staple, while strictly speaking the name of the TV show includes three interspersed asterisks. Don’t forget that when the indefinite article appears in a wordplay it normally has a role to play.

4th    Quiet area possessed a statement of faith
This is a 2+1+3+1 charade resulting in a word which had me seeking confirmation of its existence from Chambers.

7th    Quantity of money backed Kiwi training to produce variety of grape
The first four words of the wordplay lead to the first part of the answer, and the next two (it may help to imagine them being divided by ‘who is’) to the other part.

11th    Prisoner of monster is held back by male individual
My knowledge of Greek mythology didn’t extend to the answer here, a daughter of Celeus and one of the sacrificial victims of the Minotaur. All six non-underlined words have a role in the wordplay.

14th    Auditors accepting punishment, arriving too soon?
The punishment is the sort that was traditionally meted out to school pupils and is regularly suffered by Bart during the opening sequences of The Simpsons.

16th    Succeeded when interrupting most of campaign empowering women, sadly
The ‘campaign empowering women’ leads to a term first used in this context in 2006 and normally preceded by a # sign; Chambers gives it only in its original sense, describing a product which imitates another in an attempt to cash in on the success of the original. The answer is shown by Chambers as an adjective, but that is a literal translation from its source language – ‘in a sad manner’ is surely how musicians would interpret it.


1st    Girl, without repetition, skewering a male philosopher’s theory of indivisibility
The ‘without repetition’ indicates that a double letter in the indicated word must be reduced to a single instance, while the ‘male’ could belong to several species but is normally associated with one particular domesticated sort.

2nd    Source of guidance one used to catch wildcat? On the contrary
When you see ‘On the contrary’ or ‘Quite the reverse’ in a wordplay, it almost invariably means that the cryptic sense of the preceding element should be inverted, so “X contains Y? Quite the reverse” would mean that Y will contain X. The Mongolian moggy wasn’t familiar to me, but the answer is a common word and describes something that could be physical or electronic.

3rd    Ruin traffic offence?
The wordplay here is not a charade of two elements, rather a pair of words which might slightly fancifully describe the offence, particularly if it came to court.

5th    Sloping away, waving shield and blade
This is probably the key to unlocking the puzzle – when there is only one across or down answer of a particular length in an 11×11 or 13×13 puzzle (it can’t happen in a 12×12 grid), the symmetry constraints mean that it must be centrally positioned, both horizontally and vertically. Not a complex clue, but unless you know the 4-7 answer or have an anagram solver that can plumb the depths of Chambers it may still prove troublesome.

8th    Players dismissing one in scorn? Not any more
‘Players’ here leads to a noun describing a group of several such sportspeople.

11th    Agreed upon blocking fake news with singular element of pride
The ‘fake news’ here could equally well be ‘false information’; ‘blocking’ is used in the sense of ‘plugging’ or ‘stopping up’.

14th    A lot of intelligence about a party in East London
Setters like to keep solvers guessing when indicating that a word belongs to a specific country or region – ‘Disturbance in Perth’ could prove to be either an Australian or Scots word for a commotion, and while a party in East London might involve a trip to Hackney, it’s much more likely that South Africa will be your destination.

16th    Hollows with elevated area forming mountain pastures
It is a single-letter abbreviation which needs to be ‘elevated’ within a word in order to produce the answer.

Definitions in clues are underlined

Once you’ve got a few answers (and that fifth down one would be a big help) you should be able to start pencilling some entries – and bars – into the grid.  At some point in this process the penny should drop in relation to the mildly unconventional way in which certain solutions must be entered. Once you see what is going on, reading the instruction from the unconventional part of those entries (note that it consists of just three words – there is an alternative rendering of the fifteen letters which could potentially cause some confusion) and applying it to the completed grid should not require too much head-scratching.

A number of the clues were quite tricky, given that there were no enumerations, and a fair amount of blind solving was required. As with most carte blanche puzzles, things got a lot easier once a foothold had been obtained in the grid, and rounding things off proved to be straightforward.

Phibs Toughness Rating : 🥾🥾🥾 (A good deal of blind solving is involved, and the clues are not trivial. One for the more experienced solver)

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5 comments on “EV 1575 Hints
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  1. This was pretty intimidating to begin with – on first pass I solved only 4 clues, although two were adjacent acrosses and a pattern was noted. The hints were then a great help, especially the key 11-letter clue which enabled a tentative start at filling the grid, after which it all speeded up and proved to be less taxing than at first feared. The end-game was a bit of an anticlimax. For a while my reading of the instructions [in a thematic way] suggested a richer theme and I spent a while fruitlessly looking for dogger, fastnet, humber, et al!
    Thanks to kcit and Phibs.

  2. Once I got the long down clue thanks to Phibs’ generous hint things started to fall into place. Well the top half did. Then I got stuck on several clues, still awaiting solutions, and some answers I have got do not quite make that 180° symmetry.
    I see that Kcit’s puzzles are the ones I struggle with most.

      1. Very much; thanks
        All clues now solved, now for the Follow The Instructions revealed. Unfortunately I am one of the worst for word searches.

  3. On the tricky side but actually quite fun once I got going. The “Sloping away” clue is indeed a great way in. 1a and 1d were shoo-ins for me and also got me off to a good start but I needed the dictionary and Wikipedia to hand for some of the others. “European boss cancelling start of music festival” was beautifully neat. Thanks Kcit – and not a hint of a tick-off from me.

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