Hints & Tips October 2023

October 2023 grid page

Clues and Grid by Shark

Enter the prize draw by 31 October.

The background for this puzzle is a Graham Fox photograph showing a firework display viewed from the ramparts of a castle.

This puzzle uses an innovative grid by Shark based on an incomplete 5x5x7 grid with some additional features and with a separate 3×5 grid attached. Grey cells signify that no up or down clue can cross these regions of the grid. Clues are given in alphabetical order of their solutions.

The direction indication for Day 11 in the printed (and virtual) calendar is incorrect. It should be 35up-2,28aw (not 28ba). The directions in the downloadable document and in the online entry form are correct.

This puzzle marks a 100th anniversary. Fifteen answers are clued only by 1-word definitions given in the spaces for Days 36, 37 and 38 (five definitions in each). In eleven instances the answer has four letters, and a letter must be inserted to give a thematic entry. In the other four cases the answer has five letters, and a letter could be removed to create a thematic word, but the original answer should be entered. In every case the entry required (both in the grid and in the entry form) should have five letters. In each case the letter that was inserted or removed should be entered into the separate 3×5 grid (in the cell marked with the number of the corresponding 5-letter entry). The numbers 4 and 5 appear twice and so in these cases the across entry is asterisked. The unclued Day 7 is also a thematic entry.

Once the grids are filled, solvers must apply the unclued operation given at Day 28 to the calendar (or sheet of paper) to reveal an iconic picture. If the 3×5 grid has been correctly filled, then reading across each row from the top (after Day 28 has been applied) should reveal two words (9,6) relating to the first appearance, 95 years ago, of another thematic individual. It is not necessary to fill in the 3×5 grid or find these words to complete the puzzle, but they may help to confirm some answers.

The thematic entries are all proper names relating to the theme, but some also happen to be common nouns (or an adjective). One of the fifteen 1-word definitions given in the spaces for Days 36, 37 and 38 is also a thematic proper name.

Two of the thematic entries may be particularly unfamiliar to older solvers. I have added hints for these thematic entries after the usual hints.

Shark has crafted an intricate, tricky and amusing celebration of an entertainment giant. Solvers struggling to attain enlightenment may like to wish upon a star and see their dreams come true.

Day 2

Satellite splitting trailers being so long (5)

No, not a nightmare holiday in a camp site. The solution is another word for goodbye. If you’re stuck for the name of a two letter satellite look no further than the largest planet in the solar system. [GS]

Day 3

Clear almost 30% of ebbing river once more (5)

You want a 5-letter word meaning once more. 2 is almost 30% of 7 so clear almost 30% means that you start with a 7-letter word for river and remove its last two letters. You then must reverse this since the river is ebbing. What’s the river? Picture Marilyn Monroe in front of a large waterfall. [NI]

Day 4

Elder pupil wanting translator (5)

Think of another word for a pupil and take away an abbreviation for translator at the start to give you a word (from French) meaning elder. [JP]

Day 10

Game’s fixed – no spirit! (5)

Find a 10 letter word for ’fixed’ and take away a heavenly spirit from the middle to give you the game. [JP]

Day 12

Trepidation might possibly follow Pluto (6)

An obvious synonym for might preceded by a three letter Pluto? Enter the underworld of classic mythology. [GS]

Day 13

Amount of drapery in rubbish heap beginning to honk (5)

You’re not looking for some smelly old curtains! You need an anagram (rubbish) of heap and the first letter of honk to give you an ancient hebrew dry measure. [JP]

Day 14

It cuts race by a second (5)

A short word for race in the sense of hurry followed by a shorter word for second should give you a proprietary name for something that cuts. [NI]

Day 22

Only child alongside festival group (5)

An abbreviation for only child followed by a word for a specific festival, made famous in the 1960’s by a major offensive. The result is a group of a specific number of musicians. [NI]

Day 23

Stomachs old Mayan dough (5)

… as in bovine’s third (will require a little more work for the plural). [GS]

Day 32

Male hawk flying through Gibraltar celebration (6)

You’re looking for an unfamiliar word for male hawk deriving from Old French. Fortunately, the answer is hiding in plain sight within the last two words. [NI]


Bangle (4)

Start with a 4-letter word for bangle relevant to a specific religion and insert a letter to give a thematic answer featuring in the sequel to the original production featuring the thematic answers corresponding to 19to and 13to. [NI]


Shrew (4)

Start with a 4-letter tree shrew and insert a letter to give a thematic answer featuring in a production referencing royalty and an amphibian. [NI]

I am grateful to the other members of the Hints & Tips team: Garry Stripling (Gin) and Jim Pennington (Philostrate).

Happy solving!

Nick Inglis (etc)

One thought on “Hints & Tips October 2023

  1. Ahhhhh. I wondered what on *earth* the separate grid with the inserted/removed letters was. Thanks for the additional nudge.
    Very elegant, but a bit of a head scratcher here!

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