EV 1643 (Hints) – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1643 (Hints)

Enigmatic Variations 1643 (Hints)

Career by Ifor

Hints and tips by Phibs

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

I asked Gemini, “Bearing in mind that crossword setters give their puzzles titles which are intended to gently mislead, what might be the subject of a puzzle entitled ‘Career’?”.

His reply (edited for the sake of brevity) was:

“Here are some possibilities for the subject of a crossword puzzle titled “Career” that might be misleading:

Horse Racing: “Career” is a term used in horse racing to refer to a horse’s entire racing history. The clues might focus on famous racehorses, jockeys, or tracks.

Words with Double Meanings: The clues might use words that have a meaning related to professions alongside another, unrelated meaning. For example, “One who serves” could be clued as “WAITER” or “TENNIS.”

Metaphorical Careers: The clues might use metaphors or similes to describe careers. For example, “A path through the woods” could be “FORESTER.”

By titling the puzzle “Career,” the setter is trying to make you think about professions, but the answers could be something completely different!”

Preamble: Solvers must highlight three groups, each of six contiguous cells, showing all but the final stage of a CAREER, completing it by filling the otherwise empty bottom row, so creating new words from crossing entries. One answer must be entered as a jumbled non-word to reveal a location, and a second needs some letters replacing by a representation. Numbers count cells used by answers. In each of four clues the wordplay fails to give a consecutive pair of letters in its answer; each pair must be removed from one of four other clues before solving. The four pairs may be ordered to identify the adviser who suggested the CAREER. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.

Definitely one where we need to make our entries in pencil, because we are going to encounter clashes with the answer that needs to be jumbled – thankfully, there is only one such, so as soon as we’ve identified a couple of clashes we can rub the offending answer out until we work out how it needs to be arranged, and then enter other answers with confidence. We’re also going to find an answer that is (presumably) the wrong length for the light; this will also need to be ‘parked’ until we identify the entry method.  The same four pairs of letters which are not delivered by wordplays in four clues are to be omitted from the text of four other clues; we can assume that their removal will leave real words.


10a    Perhaps knowing contemporary pop tunes before such as Zeppelin (7)
It may help with this one to mentally insert the word ‘with’ between ‘pop’ and ‘tunes’, thus separating the two parts of the wordplay and revealing that the second element must be placed before the first. The answer is defined by example, hence the ‘such as’.

19a    Blood disorder almost certainly right to bother about (5)
The setter asks us to interpret ‘right to’ as ‘the rightmost part of’ in the middle element of this 3+1+1 charade.

21a    Wicketkeeper snaring India’s opener shorter and wider (8)
The required term for a wicketkeeper relates to a mode of dismissal in which they are almost certain to be involved.

23a    Reproducible program ready with important date put back (8)
Here the wordplay consists of elements in a 4+1+3 pattern (the second being an abbreviation and the last reversed), while the ‘reproducible’ should be interpreted as something like ‘installable at no cost’.

25a    Boisterous local sides in replay? (5)
The cryptic reading, which the question mark tells us is slightly playful, would be more obvious if ‘in’ were replaced by ‘of’. The required sense of a familiar word is shown by Chambers as ‘dialect’, hence the definition is qualified by ‘local’.

28a    Poor Tom’s condition in a jest about Lear’s head (5)
The definition here suggests a noun, but in fact the answer is an adjective which appears in King Lear. The ‘jest’ is also a fish.

35a    Contract proposal left in between papers (3)
If ‘right to’ in 19a tells us to select the character on the right-hand end of the word following, you can probably guess what ‘left in’ indicates.

36a    Make a lot of fuss of abandoned canaries hiding alone (9, two words)
The place to focus in this clue is those ‘abandoned canaries’, which contribute eight letters to the answer, and then to work out where the single extra letter required to produce the (5,4) answer could possibly come from.


1d    Pulse of child regularly taken (4)
The ‘of’ simply links definition to wordplay, while the ‘regularly taken’ asks us to select alternate letters from a word – but there just doesn’t seem to be enough there to deliver four letters.

5d    Fanfare sounds with gunners abandoning Russian transport (8)
One might imagine that it is the transport from which the gunners are departing, but it is actually the sounds of trumpet fanfares.

6d    Most of all this self-evident remark could be selflessness (6)
When the answer (ie ‘this self-evident remark’) follows a pair of letters cryptically indicated by ‘Most of all’, it becomes a word meaning ‘selflessness’.

8d    Curtain fabric tore back to front (7)
Move the last letter in a familiar word meaning ‘tore’ or ‘rushed’ to the beginning and the result will be a rather less familiar word for an Indian cotton fabric.

11d    Hospice in Emirates turning away outsiders in trouble (6)
The word ‘Emirates’ is ‘turning away’ the outside letters not of ‘trouble’, but of itself, prior to getting ‘in trouble’.

20d    Modified content of circular base (6)
The word ‘content’ here is used in the sense of ‘contents’, since everything that is ‘inside’ a word in the clue must be rearranged.

Definitions in clues are underlined

It should soon become clear which answer needs to be jumbled, and the small number of unchecked letters will leave no doubt as to the geographical location which forms the entry; this also provides a big hint to the theme. Likewise the rearrangement of the four letter pairs shouldn’t prove too challenging, and may stir memories for readers of New Scientist back in the day. By this point you will have a good idea of what you are looking for in the groups of six contiguous cells, and once they have been found – and highlighted – the ‘representation’ required in the oversize answer be clear. Even those as artistically challenged as myself should have no problem producing a symbol which will satisfy the marker.

As we have come to expect from Ifor, the theme has been handled imaginatively, and the resulting tableau is extremely fine.

Phibs Toughness Rating : 🥾🥾🥾/🥾🥾🥾🥾 (The ascent is quite tricky in places, but the view from the top is impressive)

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8 comments on “EV 1643 (Hints)
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  1. Struggling here. Would have come to a complete standstill without the hints. Though I had solved most of those. The bottom is very messy at the moment. No doubt the pennies might start falling tomorrow!

    1. With puzzles like this, where there aren’t many easy clues and the more straightforward ones feature a gimmick, I find that choosing from among the candidates for the hints can be tricky. I’m generally guided by my own solving experience (while trying not to give too much away theme-wise), but I’m always happy to provide hints for other clues on request.

      1. Thank you! Sometimes it’s the easy clues that I overcomplicate! Got there in the end. Very pleasing endgame. Glad I persevered.

  2. It’s great when the final penny drops. Some pretty tough clues, especially in the lower half with only 3 out of the 8 2-letter modifications identified. Then it all came together to fill the grid but what 3 “stages” were we looking for? After an hour or more of over-thinking……
    Thanks to Ifor and Phibs.

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