EV 1613 Hints – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1613 Hints

Enigmatic Variations 1613 (Hints)

Residence by Vismut

Hints and tips by Phibs

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This week I gave Bard a bit more to go on, asking “What might be the theme of a crossword entitled ‘Residence’ where shading three blocks of letters shows what a particular person was famous for and completes an approximate illustration of the theme?” The response was:

The theme of a crossword entitled “Residence” where shading three blocks of letters shows what a particular person was famous for and completes an approximate illustration of the theme could be:

Famous homes of artists: Shade three blocks to reveal the person’s name and complete an approximate illustration of their home. For example, shade the blocks “MO” in “MONET’S HOUSE” to reveal the name of the artist Claude Monet and complete an approximate illustration of his home in Giverny, France.

This was followed by similar suggestions for writers (the example being Hemingway), musicians (Beethoven), scientists (Einstein), and historical figures (Lincoln). Based on these examples, Bard doesn’t seem to know any famous Britons, but I wonder how well he (I asked, and Bard told me “I do not have a gender preference. You can refer to me as he, she, they, or any other pronoun that feels comfortable to you.“) has done this time around.

Preamble: Some clues’ answers have letters which share a cell on grid entry; these hint at how to follow two instructions (one using a Roman numeral) given by an extra letter generated by the wordplay in each of the remaining clues and read in clue order. The unclued light was in RESIDENCE; shading three blocks (13 letters) showing what they were famous for completes an approximate illustration of the theme. Numbers in brackets count cells available and Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended

What the first sentence means is that some clues are normal, but their answers will contain more letters than the number in brackets at the end of the clue, while the wordplay in each of the other clues delivers a bonus letter which does not form part of the answer. We need to keep track of these bonus letters, while any oversized answers should be noted against the clue and parked until we see some sort of pattern emerging or we have enough checked letters to establish which letters must share a cell. Personally, where only some of the clues feature a bonus letter, I write that letter next to the clue number, and I put a dash against clues which don’t use the gimmick, which makes it easier to see the real gaps in the emerging message.


1a    100,000 nuts (6)
The six digits that comprise the wordplay need to be divided up as a group of three followed by three singles, the first of which leads to a word which must lose a letter.

12a    Televise short race in southern Norway (6)
Where the element  of the wordplay which delivers the bonus letter suffers other losses, things can get a bit tricky (and I sometimes find myself getting the answer right but writing the bonus letter down incorrectly). There are a number of such clues in this puzzle, and this is one of them – a six-letter word ends up contributing four letters to the answer.

19a    Jogged bottle of Parisienne sent back to the rear (6)
A name for a particular type of bottle has a pair of letters moved to the end and then reversed. ‘Parisienne’ should be read as ‘Parisian’.

26a    I roll into pub after soldiers to get round (9)
The abbreviation for ‘soldiers’ is often indicated in puzzles by ‘men’, since it describes members of the armed services not holding commissions, while the element of the wordplay corresponding to ‘roll’ could also have been suggested by ‘ringlet’. The words ‘to get’ are just there to link the wordplay to the definition.

30a    Fixed look from one celebrity accompanying important date (6)
The definition here requires the solver to imagine that it is prefixed by “You’ll get a….” or something along those lines. Chambers gives ‘an important date’ as one meaning of the second wordplay element, but it rarely carries that sense these days.

38a    Suited to employment in American brand moving back East (6)
You may well have to work back from the answer to fully unravel the wordplay here. A word that starts out as five letters has a single-letter abbreviation ‘moving back’ as far as it can go.


1d    Excluding the fifth, 19 special hundreds (6)
The numeric reference here is to an answer elsewhere in the puzzle.

3d    Nice children from Dresden reduced (4)
The children find themselves reduced not once but twice.

5d  Scottish disprove guard dressed in ruff (6)
There’s a relatively uncommon anagram indicator in this clue, as well as the name for the female of a particular bird species which frequents sandy shores, riverbanks, and, most commonly, crossword grids.

9d    Modern philosopher’s tone worried head off clergyman (8)
Like the children in 3d, the unfortunate clergyman suffers two cuts, but it is his upper parts which are affected.

18d    Briefly anxious, missing grand wife in Bonn (4)
A wordplay the like of which I can’t remember seeing before, where a single word suffers three separate deletions, each of just a single letter.

22d    A plan to get husband for Chinese nurse (4)
You might (as I did initially) think that this was a substitution clue, but ‘to get’ and ‘for’ can in fact be ignored.

25d    Aussie conmen forged errors to collect foremost lost art (7)
A word in plain sight at the end of the clue has been boiled down to a single letter by the time it gets entered in the grid.

30d    Thoroughly searched and found college further north (5)
A couple of words need to be inferred here, such that the wordplay reads something along the lines of ‘found [with] college [moved] further north’. I’m not sure that the key element of the wordplay really means ‘found’, even in an expression such as ‘found favour’; I think ‘obtained’ would be closer.

32d    Maybe Queens both spending time regularly below chocolate tree (5)
The first of the two wordplay elements comprises the first five words of the clue, with two identical ‘queens’ (or toms) being the starting point.

Definitions in clues are underlined

Identifying the cohabiting letters is likely to have proved relatively straightforward once a couple of the oversized answers had been teased out. The generous checking of the unclued entry should leave no doubt about the three remaining letters, and the two instructions are suitably explicit. The shading of the blocks is a slightly different matter – you should select those which a three-year-old ‘artist’ would choose without hesitation, rather than overthinking the bit about ‘an approximate illustration of the theme’ – it may be pure chance that there are several red herrings, but that is exactly what they are.

Some of the gimmick-affected clues were rather convoluted, which on occasion made identifying the extra letter harder than finding the answer. The endgame wasn’t too demanding as long as one didn’t look for complexities that weren’t there.

Phibs Toughness Rating : 🥾🥾🥾 (Solving the clues and identifying the extra letters is the main challenge)

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1 comment on “EV 1613 Hints

  1. I too have a habit of writing the incorrect bonus letter Phibs. I suspect it is a common occurrence.
    I got the person in residence early on with just four letters. This allowed me to locate the 13 squares. The penny drop for me was how some squares shared letters, and which. A fair share of obscurity, but some obvious solving here. Now to decide exactly how to do the shading.
    Thanks to Vismut and Phibs

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