3D Crossword Solution – December 2020

December 2020 puzzle page

Clues by Enigmatist and Grid by etc

Theme: Celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN, born in December 1770.

The winner of the December puzzle was Jack Nichols of South Korea.

Review of the December 2020 3D crossword

The rubric said ‘Celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of the 40, who is unclued but appears in the grid as 13ba, 10d, 42ac-2. 

Etc won the grid design award for this puzzle and Enigmatist is perhaps the top setter in the country so this should be a treat. Lynn and I very often tackle the monthly 3D crossword together and we settled down to it on New Year’s eve.
As one or two of you said in your comments this solved fairly readily for an Enigmatist puzzle and we made good progress. About seven or eight clues in we took a proper look at the picture clue and bingo, the answer, Ludwig van Beethoven, became obvious. Very nice to get both the theme and the picture clue resolved early in the solve. Not at all sure who Beth was but the rest was clear.

Just how often do solutions and clues appear elsewhere coincidentally at the same time. The Times crossword, the very next day, on 1st January had 18D With hair swept back, Times compilers’ charm (7) which compares with Enigmatist’s clue for ENAMOUR: Hair-raising? That’s 3D compilers’ charm! (7).

A very enjoyable finale to the normal 3D calendar year. 

Grid solution

3D December 2020 3D crossword solution

Visual clue

A van advertising hairpieces for judges is followed by singer-songwriter Beth Ditto sporting a compass point on her top, and finally an oven, giving:


Drawing by Frank Paul

Clues and explanations

Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk.

DaySolutionDirection, Clue, CountExplanation
1ABLER16aw In rolling barrel barman’s showing more skill (5)ABLER hidden rev
2ACORN20to A nut-tree’s first to bear my fruit!  (5)COR in A/N
3AFAR41to Regularly cut in half, sabre removed to a distance (4)(h)A(l)F(s)A(b)R(e)
4*ALLEGRO5ac Top orchestra section not getting up fast (7)(H)ALLE, GRO(up)
5ANCHOR41aw,45up-5 An unpleasant task’s short fix (6)AN CHOR(e)
6*ANDANTE5d Moving quite slowly with pre-payment (7)AND/ANTE
7ASSET15aw Like clues published unedited, this is advantageous (5)AS SET
8*BONN27ba Where 40 emerged, not entirely healthy-looking (4)BONN(y)
9*CANTATA14ac What 40 wrote about Joseph’s passing so long after May (7)CAN/TA-TA
10*CHORAL34up  40’s 9th in 5, 4 (6)CHORAL hidden
11DETENTE12d In which tensions ease and Macron’s half-heartedly made up (7)DET(t)EN/TE all rev
12EDGED3aw Sharp sub’s left standing between two press chiefs  (5)ED[G]ED i.e. (stand-in)G
13*EGMONT31ac-6 Say word to describe new piece of 40 … (6)EG/MO[N]T
14*EMPEROR35ac  …more dubious about a piece of 40  (7)EM[PER]OR anag
15ENAMOUR3d Hair-raising? That’s 3D compilers’ charm! (7)ENAM/OUR rev
16*EROICA35up-6 40’s 3rd love, to lie in heath (6)ER[O]ICA
17*FIDELIO38up Piece of 40? Solver will get tipsy when looking down (7)FI/DELIO rev i.e. down in grid
18FOVEATE38ba Valttieri’s beginning to worry – lapping arch-enemy’s pitted (7)FO[V,EAT]E
19GAS STOVE8d, 37ba-2 Bottom tense – Brexiteer’s suppressed something cooking (3,5)G[ASS,T]OVE
20HADN’T33to-3, 29ba-3 Did never own new hand-cart (wheels stolen) (5)HADN’T anag minus CAR
21*HAMMERKLAVIER1ac, 4d Evil remark reinterpreted by overacting 36 piece of 40 (13)HAM/MERKLAVIER anag
22ISLAM11to Writer criticises religion (5)I SLAM
23IVOR40to Chap into Eurovision, preposterously! (4)IVOR hidden rev
24KNOLL4aw Smart Aleck’s lost wife on a hill (5)KNO(w/a)LL
25LARVA6ba,5aw,10d-2 Great Caribbean bat swallows very immature form (5)LAR[V]A ref Brian Lara
26LASSOED17ba Secured head of Lexicography for one dictionary (7)L,AS,SOED
27*LEONORA7d 50 years, or a 17 originally (7)L,EON,OR A
28MINI2d-4 Skirt the first 60 – or 30? – seconds? (4)MIN(ute #)1
29MONTH32ac In 22, on Thursday, is it Ramadan?  (5)MONTH hidden
30MOOLA32to A shaft used by a rower moving away loot (5)MOOL A all rev, ref. direction in grid
31NORMS39aw,43up-4 Standards set by Next at the outset – or Marks & Spencer? (5)N, OR M&S
32OFTEN25aw Decimal, time after time? (5)OF TEN
33*ORATORIO24ac,26aw-2 Endlessly winding road – and where it led in film work by 40? (8)ORA/TO RIO anag minus D i.e. Road to Rio
34OUNCE24aw Big cat, one of 16 in pound (5)OUNCE 2 mnngs
35*PASTORAL19ac, 21up 40’s 6th, gone from the mouth (8)PAST/ORAL
36*PIANO36aw Item useful for instrumental group Ian Ogilvy supplies (5)PIANO hidden
37PLAIN36up-5 Series of perennial problems turning over flat (5)PLAIN hidden rev
38RATHA9to,1d-2 In India, team draws it, right? Now I see extra time  (5)R/A[T]HA!
39SARI23up Traditional dress reflection of girasol embellishes (4)SARI hidden rev
40*THEME42to Iran, Turkey and others repeated idea (5)THE M(iddle) E(ast)
41VANADIC10d-3,18to An acid very reactive with metal (7)V/ANADIC anag
42VIENNA37aw,44ac,45to-2 Arrangement of 9 in museum where 40 resided (6)V[IENN]A anag
*LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN13ba,10d,42ac-6 UNCLUED (6,3,9)

Solvers’ comments

Many thanks to Enigmatist and etc for a very clever puzzle. I know very little about Beethoven but did recognise a couple of the symphonies. Probably a cliche by now but I found this one tough but fair. By the way, the background photograph for the December offering was beautiful. Many thanks to Graham Fox, whose visuals really compliment the grid pages. And I’d also like to express my gratitude to the 3D Cryptic Calendar Team, including all the setters, for such an entertaining year of puzzles and newsletters. Wishing a happy Christmas and best wishes for a very positive 2021 to the Team and to all contributors. [JA]

Another challenging puzzle – definitely one where leaving it alone for a while then coming back to it helped! [GB]

Nice [BB]

Loved it, love Beethoven. But – too many words running into each other resulting too many non-words makes the grid difficult to work with. [NB]

I quaked a bit when I saw that it was by Enigmatist, but it was not as hard as I expected! Perhaps that was partly because I felt at home with the theme and could identify the compositions involved. If done by Moonlight, it might have been more Pathetique… [SB]

Roll over Beethoven [HB]

An early identification of the theme was a huge help in completing this puzzle. It had a lot of clues I really enjoyed such as days 7, 22, 24 and 25 and only one formerly unknown word (foveate). [JB]

The theme was right up my street, and I latched on to it quickly given just the year 1770. The clues were a joy to get stuck into and eventually solve. A good way to round off the year. [AB]

Enigmatist rarely is so straightforward but some clues proved quite tricking [PC]

This is the first time I have been able to decipher the Frank Paul clue! [NC]

The theme was very clear from the drawing (about the first time i reckon). [RC]

Loved the cartoon with the van full of wigs for m’Lud! [PD]

A great end to a VERY strange year. Best wishes for next year x [RE]

Difficult enough to be a real challenge, but not so difficult that I gave up on it! So a perfect combination and an interesting theme, thank you so much. [SF]

Very enjoyable but not particularly testing, with a very obvious theme and picture clue. Having said that I did not fully understand all the clues so might be editing this comment if it comes back as incorrect!! [EF]

Good fun to round out a great year of crosswords (if not much else!). Many thanks to all the 3D crossword team and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2021. [JG]

A masterpiece of thematic consturction. All together now: “Freude! Freude!” [TH]

Having the theme from the start made this a breeze. [J&JH]

We produced this grid and are delighted that Enigmatist has composed a symphony of clues in perfect harmony with the answers and theme. We also loved the great Caribbean bat! [N&SI]

It took a while for the theme to emerge, despite the good number of thematic clues. I await enlightenment for the construction of a number of clues. [MJ]

So enjoyable. Thank you to everyone and happy Christmas. [JJ]

Lovely puzzle to end the year, especially after the November ‘alien’ one which was indeed very alien to us.! Looking forward to next year’s calendar and hoping to do better. [MJ&DB]

Very satisfying [ML]

Having been given the anniversary, the theme was going to be obvious, but it took a little while to interpret the drawing – I guess the girl is Beth someone +E. I also couldn’t parse the clue on the 11th, though definition was clear enough, or see how to get the G in the 12th. However, Enigmatist did very well to fit so much thematic material into etc’s grid. [PM]

What a great way to end an excellent year’s puzzling. [AM]

Where too much Beethoven is never enough….I listened to Day 16 (EROICA) while I completed this puzzle. Three nights ago, our local symphony orchestra performed the 7th symphony – our first attended concert since February! Now I’m off to listen to Day 14 (PC No. 5). Thanks, Enigmatist, for a wonderful puzzle to finish the year! [AM]

Know little of the theme apart from standard crossword solutions learnt! So needed to confirm a few like 21. Best 20,24,30. Merry Christmas to all the team – you do a great job. [DM]

Great to see the master remembered in three dimensions! [JM]

Very enjoyable [JM]

Enjoyable puzzle & theme, not too difficult. I should have waited before printing, as now I will not get my December fix!! [MN]

Some lovely clues – enjoyed day 19 in particular. In day 27 wasn’t the original name Leonore? Wonderful end to the year and looking forward to 2021! [JN]

Entertaining puzzle. Plenty of theme references helped. [JP]

Great puzzle! Such a shame that so many Beethoven celebration concerts had to be cancelled this year, this was a nice tribute! [AR]

It’s good to end the year with a theme that I can understand! [DS]

Really enjoyable puzzle with a very good spread of theme words in the clues and answers. A great end to a wonderful year of 3D crosswords. Thanks to you all. [BS]

Gentler than I was expecting for Enigmatist! Unsure of 11to – ‘criticises’ feels the wrong part of speech. I like the ‘Great Caribbean bat’. [HS]

Having listened to Composer of the Week all year helped the theme along no end. A great pleasure. Thanks. [ET]

Enjoyable theme [CW]

Rather too many snakes for my liking. Apart from that, crammed pleasingly full of thematic material, and a fitting tribute to a Master. Thanks to all, and Happy New Year! [HE]

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