3D Crossword Solution – December 2021

Dec 2021 puzzle page

Clues by Enigmatist and Grid by etc

Theme: Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll, published on 27 December 1871.

The winner of the December puzzle is Rachel Sheldon of Bracknell.

Review of the December 2021 3D crossword

We were told that this puzzle marks a 150th anniversary and features a main theme and a related sub-theme. We were further asked to submit two unclued thematic solutions (related via the sub theme), which appear in the completed grid. One of these (3,4) is highlighted in the grid; the other one (5,6) can be obtained by starting at the cell containing the number 7, then moving in an appropriate fashion around the top tier.

The puzzle was set by etc (Nick and Sarah Inglis) and clued by none other that our patron, the formidable Enigmatist. Nick edits the monthly 3D hints and tips for us and he and Sarah always produce clever and interesting puzzles. I’m looking forward to tackling it. 

In their comments to the 3D website Nick and Sarah said: 

This was our grid and we stand in awe of the way that Enigmatist has managed to weave so many references from the book in to the clues. The Sheep, Tiger-lily, Kitty, the Gnat and the monstrous crow all get a mention, along with a nod to “Haddocks’ Eyes”. Virtuoso stuff and we can be sure that Lewis Carroll would have loved it!

On a first run through we made some steady progress without getting much of a feel for the theme. As usual we pondered the picture clue and picked out ROCKY with Elmer presumably making his own pronunciation although I’m not sure without further research what that might be. A study of the word clue: No 18, Nonsense from stockbroker, crazy for Spooner with the picture still in mind and subliminally JABBERWOCKY came to mind. This, of course, given Spooner’s (homophonous) involvement reverse engineered into JOBBER WACKY and we had it. JUBJUB BIRD quickly followed.

Another look at Clue 1: What’s essential for communion? Chaplain’s forgotten our heroine! Ah! ‘Our heroine’ has to be ALICE (resolving the wordplay takes a little more effort) and, as the saying goes, we’re cooking with gas. With this insight a couple of the longer solutions, LEWIS CARROLL and LOOKING-GLASS, emerge and the main theme is now confirmed. 

I spent some time pondering what the sub-theme might be and never did properly cotton on until I later saw the ‘clues and explanations’ and discovered that it was CHESS. 

I particularly liked clue 3: I’d try this curry for spicy unbirthday! for BHUNA, although to be honest it took me ages to properly parse this by adding I’D TRY to BHUNA and anagramming the result to create UNBIRTHDAY. In effect a reverse anagram.

The first of the Easter eggs revealed itself as RED KING so what about the second. It took a couple of attempts to appreciate that we needed to make a series of ‘appropriate’ knight’s moves from the ‘W’ in box 7 to identify WHITE KNIGHT. With hindsight I should have spotted CHESS as the sub-theme at this point. 

Your comments were overwhelmingly positive and complimentary to both Enigmatist and etc. JB summed it all up with her comment: 

An enjoyable puzzle full of fun and fantasy to end the year. Thank you to all the 3D team for many hours of challenging solving throughout the year and many satisfying ‘penny drop’ moments. Here’s to more crossword fun in 2022.

Grid solution

December 2021 solution grid

Visual clue

A charade of two words — a jabbering mouth and cartoon rabbit hunter Elmer Fudd saying the name of the boxer Rocky which, with his characteristic speech impediment, gives us:


Visual clue for JABBERWOCKY
Drawing by Frank Paul

Clues and explanations

Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk.

DaySolutionDirection, Clue, CountExplanation
1ALICE*30to What’s essential for communion? Chaplain’s forgotten our heroine! (5)Main character of TTLG; (ch)ALICE
2BASIC41to The reversal of logic is a book’s intrinsic root (5)BASIC hidden rev, ref TTLG
3BHUNA43to I’d try this curry for spicy unbirthday! (5)BHUNA comp. anag + IDTRY = UNBIRTHDAY ref Humpty-Dumpty
  4BISHOPS*41up Twice over, sing about Pieces of 8 (7)Pieces in chess; BI[SHOP]S
  5BLESS YOU36up,2aw-2 Book not having the Sheep caught cheers!   (5,3)B/LESS/YOU i.e. ‘ewe’, ref TTLG character
  6CABBAGE*35ac Taxi fare not very much – perhaps rucksack instead provides singular topic for 40 & 7’s discussion (7)“Of cabbages and kings” mentioned in The Walrus and the Carpenter; CAB[BAG (for FAR)]E
7CARPENTER*35up-3,25ac Admit going after fish and chips (9)Character in TTLG; CARP/ENTER
  8CHESS*21to Outing of French cat owner provides diversion on board (5)Subtheme: game underlying TTLG; (du)CHESS ref Cheshire Cat in AAIW
  9COSSIE23up-2,18ac A little female is so curious about summer habit (6)COSSIE hidden rev ref Alice: ‘curiouser and curiouser’ in AAIW
  10GISARME5d Battle-axe is weapon putting together Humpty-Dumpty? Not entirely, on reflection (7)Type of battle-axe; (g)G[IS ARM]E rev
11GRIT13d-4 Nothing even from Tiger-lily – or, ultimately, Kitty’s renewed toughness (4)GRIT anag T(i)G(e)R(l)I(l,y), ref Talking Flower & Alice’s Black kitten
  12GUTTY5aw Characters vacating unlikeliest tea-party following grand Victorian ball (5)American “gutsy”, or old-fashioned slang for a gutta-percha golf ball; G/U—T, T—-Y ref Mad Tea-Party in AAIW
13HENNA15up,9ba-4 This colouring red knights injected into Haddocks’ Eyes again for starters (5)H,E[NN],A first letters, ref TTLG poem, Pieces in chess
14HEWING11to,4ac Reflecting, with severed head – action of vorpal blade? (6)(c)HEWING ref Jabberwocky
15HINT11aw,14d ‘Leo?’: this clue could give THE LION (4)HINT comp anag + LEO =THE LION (The Unicorn’s partner)
16HOLISTIC24up-2,19ac Coil reassembled with this approach of All the King’s Men? (8)HOLISTIC anag ref the reassembly of Humpty-Dumpty
17INERTIA4d Disinclination to shift horse’s tail, trapped aboard one fantastical train (7)I/N[E]RTIA anag, ref the train & passenger
  18JABBERWOCKY*42ac,44up Nonsense from stockbroker, crazy for Spooner (11)Nonsense poem in TTLG; i.e. ‘jobber wacky’
19JEAT42up-4 The elderly like blackberry jam on top? You can’t do this to it today (4)Obsolete form of JET; J/EAT ref ‘Never jam today’
20JELAB42to Jack not in charge of 1, swirling black cloak (5)Cloak with hood & wide sleeves; J/E(ci)LA/B rev 
21JUBJUB BIRD*42ba,42ba,43up British charm captivates 4 – one way being from 18 (6,4)Creature in Jabberwocky; JU[B]JU/BB,I,RD
  22LEWIS CARROLL*1aw,35up Our man air crews ordered into lounge (5,7)Author of TTLG; L[EWIS CARR]OLL anag
23LOOKING-GLASS*1ac,33d,38ba,37up-2 In this kids’ school nurses regularly dispensed as hall’s gigantic (7-5)Main theme: TTLG; all rev (i.e. in the looking-glass): S[(a)S(h)A(l)L(s)G(i)G(a)N(t)I(c)]KOOL
24NIFFED27ac Was humming tunes, essentially, whenever supplied with cake? (6)N/IF FED ref “Eat me” in AAIW
25OYSTERS*16ac Unusual sorts, types at intervals withdrawn (7)Characters in The Walrus and the Carpenter; OYSTERS anag SORTS * (t)Y(p)E(s) & lit.
26REFIT31to Concerned with part of the agony of 22’s facelift (5)RE/FIT ref Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, an Agony in Eight Fits 
27REVERE34d,44to Nice dream in which the Queen’s held in Wonderland respect? (6)REV[ER]E rev French city; Pieces in chess
28ROLLMOP22up-2,16aw,19up-2 Not the first amusing moment with Snowdrop’s last fishy snack (7)(d)ROLL/MO/P ref Alice’s white kitten
29ROUTS25aw Expresses sulkiness when pawn promoted to Queen: is thrashing the result? (5)R(for P)OUTS ref Alice reaching 8th rank; pieces in chess
30SHOGI*17aw 8, quiet game of skill for two taken over by one (5)Japanese form of chess; SH/OG/I rev
31SIGH12ac-3,13to What the Gnat was wont to do in his government returns (4)SI[G]H all rev, ref character in TTLG
32SIGNIFY12ac If, in the end, frog footman is fishy, the last of that is mean (7)SIGNIF/Y anag IF,G,N,IS, ref characters in TTLG
33TASTE20to Experience a group of multiloquent asters (5)TASTE hidden ref Talking Flowers
34TWEEDLEDEE*10d,29up-3 Twin did feel naked … (10)Character in TTLG; TWEEDLED (f)EE(l)
35TWEEDLEDUM*10d,40ba … twin did jump nude (10)Character in TTLG; TWEEDLED (j)UM(p)
36UFFISH*39up-6 To remove man from board is elevating Henry Cross (6)Invented word in Jabberwocky; HUFF/IS, with raised H; ref draughts
37UNICORN*26ac-3,28up Fantastic being supplied with credit to secure ring used in wedding (7)Character in TTLG; UNI{C[O]R}N
38UNROLL6aw-2,8d-3,18ba Open novel for fun? All victims of Queen of Hearts? (6)UNROLL anag (f)OR (f)UN (a)LL i.e. ‘Off with their heads!’ in AAIW
39WADER32to Flamingo? It’s no monstrous crow turning on Queen (5)WAD/ER rev, ref Wonderland croquet character, Tweedledum & Tweedledee; pieces in chess
40WALRUS*7d-6 Tossed salad of 6 adorns lower half of your moustache (6)Character in TTLG; WAL[RU(oy)]S all rev
41WANNEST7ac White in extremis badly wants to capture knight before end of game (7)WAN[N,E]ST anag; pieces in chess
42WORRALS32ba Monitors ‘a’ rank – rook pinned back left on square (7)Monitor lizards; A R[R]OW, rev. + L/S; pieces in chess
Easter eggRED KINGRed highlighted cells (3,4)
Easter eggWHITE KNIGHTThematic item obtained by starting at the cell containing the number 7, then moving in an appropriate fashion around the top tier (5,6)Solution traced out as a knight moves in chess, i.e. in an L shape, two squares vertically and one square horizontally, or two squares horizontally and one square vertically.

Solvers’ comments

A rich seam, expertly mined by Enigmatist and etc. Thanks for a cracking end to the year. [TH]

Great end to the year. [RE]

This was our grid and we stand in awe of the way that Enigmatist has managed to weave so many references from the book in to the clues. The Sheep, Tiger-lily, Kitty, the Gnat and the monstrous crow all get a mention, along with a nod to “Haddocks’ Eyes”. Virtuoso stuff and we can be sure that Lewis Carroll would have loved it! [N&SI]

Oh my fur and whiskers, what a brilliant grid from etc, with such a high proportion of thematics; and with Enigmatist as setter, making the remaining clues appropriate was very well done. Some tricky ones and inevitably some unusual words. Enjoyed it very much. How neat is Leo, by the way? [AC]

A lovely theme and a great end to the year! [JN]

What a cracker to end the year with! [SW]

Rather glad we solved the picture clue first! Enjoyed the Easter Eggs and several new words, always a bonus. [CW]

A great reflection of a favourite book, but some very tricky moves. I confess to not understanding at least one of my answers! A wonderful Christmas present. [DH]

A fitting end to an excellent year; the intricacy of the setter – knight’s move in the top layer! – matched by the setting of Enigmatist et al. More in 2022 please. [PA]

Very clever clues from the ever tortuous Enigmatist some of which I failed to parse. Many thanks for a most puzzling 3D to end the year. Happy Christmas. [PC]

A meaty puzzle with lots of thematic material and an exquisite touch to delineate the White Knight in the top layer. I also admired Frank Paul’s ingenious drawing, one of the few I have fully understood throughout the year! Thanks to Enigmatist and etc. [AB]

This was a brain-buster but I did learn a lot of new words, and it’s always fun to get reacquainted with Mr. Dodgson. Thanks! [JS]

Interesting theme but I couldn’t parse a lot of the answers which detracts from the enjoyment [JC]

For once I got the pictorial clue first, which gave a good idea of the theme. Excellent placement to get the knight’s tour in the top layer. [MJ]

A few more entries to the never-heard-of list. [SC]

Frabjous [J&JH]

I love Lewis Carroll’s work, so the theme was right up my street. Enjoyed using the knight’s move to reveal one of the Easter eggs. I did suss the picture clue, but am baffled by the Spoonerism. Many thanks! [RS]

It’s a good job I wasn’t an expert on the book [RC]

A suitable end to a wonderful year of puzzles [AM]

Hard, and incredibly clever. Took a bit of unpicking. The ‘White knight’ in the top tier is simply astonishing. [HS]

Very clever to get so many theme words in the grid. Some really tough clues. Frank’s pictures are a bit like Dingbats. I needed to remember Elmer Fudd has a lisp. [PD]

Such a good theme, I do enjoy the slow realisation of hidden references everywhere! [AH]

Great fun puzzle to end the year, thanks for a brilliant year’s puzzles [MD]

A tough but enjoyable end to the year. Fortunately when the hints & tips came it included one that had not been on my ‘possibly wrong’ list but turned out was where my thought process was completely awry! Many thanks to all concerned for the year of brain workouts. Am hoping I will be more attuned in 2022 but somehow feel will have the usual struggles. Still, if they were all easy what would be the point?! [MJ&DB]

A thoroughly enjoyable and lighthearted puzzle to relieve the prevailing gloom, thank you! [SF]

Really enjoyed this one, with so much thematic material. Particularly liked finding WHITE KNIGHT, by using a knight’s moves in a game of CHESS 👌😄 [MN]

That was the hardest this year by a long way. Not helped by the fact that my knowledge of Alice and her adventures and looking glass were long forgotten so a lot of googling was required. That said I enjoyed it and as is so often the case was amazed at how many clues and answers were relevant to the topic. [MP]

Loved it but not sure of all the answers! [HH]

U.S. Marines told to accept her and retreating lieutenant, as thematic parent did, and so did I (7) [JC]

An enjoyable puzzle full of fun and fantasy to end the year. Thank you to all the 3D team for many hours of challenging solving throughout the year and many satisfying ‘penny drop’ moments. Here’s to one crossword fun in 2022. [JB]

Loved the theme and the sub-theme. Very challenging though. I don’t have good knowledge of ‘TTL-G’ so a fair bit of internet searching and head scratching. Found the wordplay frequently impenetrable, so a lot of clues are entered on theme and crossers only and I have no idea on the parsing (or tbh if it is even correct). For instance I biffed in JELAB for the cloak, but it looks like one of those words with a ton of variable spellings, so maybe you are looking for JILAB or JALAB or something else. Few at the end proved very difficult, WORRALS in particular I had to cheat on wordsearch – clever definition here but the wordplay? Really not getting it. Fav clue was SHOGI, also WADER (though not sure if it ornithologically accurate), JABBERWOCKY, JUBJUB BIRD, WALRUS, ROLLMPOS, BHUNA. Also loved the ‘Knight’s Tour’ for the second easter egg — non-players will struggle with that though I think. Overall — many pleasures to offset my wordplay anguish. I even understood the picture clue and the looking glass picture is great. The grid by etc is beautiful, maybea bit hard to use at times because of the dark squares matching the dark background, but I made no mistakes on entry, so functional too! Many thanks all concerned. This is the 11th (of 12) 2021 puzzles I’ve entered. Probably won’t win, suspect I got a few wrong answers in here, but loved it all the same. Have a great festive break 3D Crossword team and happy setting/publishing/solving in 2022. [ES]

Enigmatist at his frumious best, providing a mix of simple answers and truly manxome clues. A vorpal blade was need for some of them….. I enjoyed revisiting Alice in general and the Jabberwocky in particular. Thank you! [SB]

Whew! I had left this unfinished for quite some time so was very pleased to receive the Hints and Tips this month which took me back to my incomplete grid. The Hints and Tips helped with a couple of stubborn solutions (Day 19 JEAT, Day 36 UFFISH and Day 42 WORRALS), as well as confirming a couple of answers I wasn’t quite sure were right. This was a very tough puzzle but an absolute tour de force by Enigmatist, with so many references to “Alice Through the Looking Glass” woven throughout. Many thanks to Enigmatist – such a clever setter! Also thanks to the whole team for a great year of 3D Puzzles in this past difficult year 2021. Best festive wishes from Australia to the setters and the entire support team. I already have my 2022 Calendar downloaded and what a temptation it is to begin, but one of my Mum’s superstitions was that it is bad luck to put up the New Year’s calendar until 1 January, so I will hold firm and resist until New Year’s Day. [JA]

Rather too many snakes for my liking. Theme came fairly quickly. Pleasantly satisfying number of thematic answers and thematic themes in clues. [HE]

Majestic end to the year. See you in 2022! [EF]

Very clever. A great way to round out a lovely year of crosswords – thanks to all involved! [JG]

What a ‘frabjous’ puzzle! [MC]

This was quite tough, we needed the clues to confirm some answers. Nice theme, and a good finish to the season—looking forward to next year’s journey… [RS]

Brilliant puzzle – quite a tour de force to end the year. So clever to include so many references to the theme work, far more than I realised at first. I was baffled by the second Easter egg for a while and even resorted to holding the completed puzzle up to the mirror before guessing the solution and working through the intended moves. Ingenious. My thanks to all involved and as ever the wonderful hints and tips. [BS]

Visual clue gave me jabberwocky immediately so an LC theme immediately confirmed with 1. A steady solve throughout thanks to all and a merry Christmas and all the very best for 2022. This entry format is so simple and so much better! 😎😎 [DM]

Always love Alice stuff. [AB]

A tricky one! [EW]

Wow! The theme was immediately obvious but the solving really tested me. Up to Enigmatist’s usual standard with some unisual words. Thank you. [ET]

He loved it. As usual. It is quite demanding. I have fun, where do you get all the words that I don’t recognise? Great puzzle. [RG]

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