EV 1641 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1641 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1641 (Hints)

Annual Event by Chalicea

Hints and tips by Phibs

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My fellow blogger surely needs no introduction, but I thought I’d ask Gemini “Who or what is Chalicea?”.

His answer was:

A chalice: This is the most common meaning. A chalice is a sacred cup used in Christian religious ceremonies, particularly to hold Eucharistic wine.

A pseudonym: “Chalicea” could also be the pseudonym of a person who creates crossword puzzles. This seems especially likely if you encountered the name in the context of hints and tips for solving crosswords. This crossword setter is described as prolific and known for creating easier puzzles with clear clues.

As Henry Higgins (the professor, not the matador) might have said, “By George, he’s got it.”

Preamble: 17, 19, 32 (unclued) give a five-word quotation from a poem recounting an ANNUAL EVENT taking place between 11 and 12. Solvers must shade the title of the poem and the poet’s name (22 cells in three straight lines). 37 down is in ODE; 1 is a short form.

Chalicea’s puzzles often feature clue gimmicks, but here it’s just ‘solve, enter, repeat’. We will have to work out the unclued entries, but the ‘unching’ in the puzzle as a whole appears very generous, and only six of the twenty-seven letters in these entries are unchecked, so there’s every chance that we will be able to make a few educated guesses as the grid fill proceeds.


14a    Secure working yard in noble’s estate (6)
Each of the first three words in the clue contributes an element to this 3+2+1 charade.

31a    Give one’s sanction to finish off mare maybe with leader absent (7)
The first part of the charade here equates to ‘finish off’, while the second is missing its ‘leader’.

37a    Redirect receiving of stolen goods in Glasgow (5)
The answer to this double definition clue is a familiar word, but ‘redirect’ may not get you straight to it. An alternative definition would be ‘restore (a gauge, dial etc) to zero’.

43a    Constantly worry about organ in world of crime (8)
The word ‘about’ can indicate containment, rearrangement, or, as here, reversal. The first wordplay element must be reversed and the second element grafted onto the end.


7d    Southern conclusion of prayer not different long ago in the far north (5)
I get occasional (mild) gripes on my website from solvers not resident in England about expressions like ‘in the far north’ or ‘across the border’ being used to indicate the Scottishness of a word. The answer here is both Scottish and obsolete (‘long ago’).

10d    Bloomer of occupational therapy going into acute contraction of pupil (8)
Some  colourful ‘bloomers’ demand that you don’t forget them but have nothing to do with the cancan.

20d    Living thing rising in short York river some say (6)
If you mentally move the ‘rising’ to the end of this clue it may assist with the parsing, which involves two elements, of four and two letters respectively (the second being a dialect word, hence the ‘some say’), being reversed

24d    Thump nag (4)
Neither of the two definitions here is obvious, but in the first sense it’s also a term for a small dent, originally in a surfboard but increasingly used to describe an area of similar minor damage to vehicle bodywork.

29d    Unspecified number under decapitated insect – that was disgusting (6)
The three-letter insect that must lose its head is not a specific species but a more general term that acquired particular significance as the year 2000 approached.

37d    Oriental prince has a glowing impression of work of art (4)
The prince is Ethiopian, has three letters, and is a regular visitor to crosswords. The precise meaning of the answer required here seems to be specific to ODE, but the word can be found in other dictionaries, including the online version of Collins, with a sense of ‘flavour’, ‘essence’, ‘character’ or ‘sentiment’.

Definitions in clues are underlined

The easiest way into the endgame is through the unclued quotation – you may not be familiar with it, or at least with its source, but Google (or Gemini, of course) will be able to fill any knowledge gaps. Having identified the poem and the poet, locating the relevant 22 cells (don’t forget to shade them) shouldn’t prove unduly challenging.

As we would expect from Chalicea, a faultlessly constructed puzzle packed to the gunwales with thematic material. The clues were perhaps a little trickier than sometimes, but any extra difficulty was counterbalanced by the absence of gimmicks. Sensitive solvers will be gratified that we had none of the naughtiness which Chalicea’s invisible friend Curmudgeon snuck into her previous EV.

Phibs Toughness Rating : 🥾/🥾🥾 (Suitable for all, parental guidance not required)

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11 comments on “EV 1641 (Hints)
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  1. I do love the way you bloggers use the words ‘unches’ and ‘unching’ when neither word is in the EV bible, Chambers 2016!

    1. There is a language used when discussing crosswords which differs from that employed in the clues themselves, and I sometimes dip into this for two reasons: (i) to save space in posts and comments, and (ii) to impress readers, on the basis that even someone who knows every word in Chambers may be blind-sided by unches, rekruls and anagrinds.

  2. Always happy to see a Chalicea as the clues are always fair…1a was a bit of a head scratch for me. Didn’t know where the quote was from; I preferred the interpretation in Discworld!

  3. Whoopee! It’s Chalicea: my absolute favourite setter. The name tells me that I shall be able to finish. OK, it won’t be a walk in the park, but neither will it be a self-indulgent stinker. As it was, it kept me occupied until 6pm (which is more than the snooker did. I was hoping for a match, but it looks like being anything but). I look forward to the lady’s next offering.

  4. Been out most of the day on a family meet-up. If it had been a wet normal Sunday I might have recorded my earliest completion time.
    A poet and work I am totally unfamiliar with still thanks to Chalicea and Phibs.

  5. Many thanks to Phibs, my fellow blogger and to all who have commented so kindly or entertainingly. Indeed, when we begin compiling, we too have to learn those unchy words and all about permitted vocabulary, essential word-count averages, DDs, anagrinds, the BRB, allowable abbreviations and lots more … rekruls Phibs?

  6. Big thanks to Chalicea for this lovely puzzle.
    My favourite setter by a country mile.

    Thanks also to Phibs

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