3D Crossword Solution – December 2023

December 2023 grid page

Clues and Grid by Komorník

Theme: The Boston Tea Party (December 16, 1773)

The winner of the December puzzle is Ray Gallantree of Chelmsford.

Review of the December 2023 3D crossword

The first notable thing about this puzzle is the unique diagram. It’s clearly a teapot caught in the act of pouring. And the first clue uses its shape to bend an answer through the handle, around and out onto the smaller grid. As is usual for globe diagrams, there are some other long entries around the circumference.

But the tedious part of the puzzle is all the three-letter entries. There are far too many. And some of them are not very good words. Although the methods for 2 and 30 are pretty clear (and the same) AGM and SAE are not great fill.

As is common with these sorts of grids, there are many unchecked spoke letters, but there are other cells with a tremendous number of checks. The letters that make up the axis had so many I couldn’t read my notes. That should be a help for most “di” words.

There’s no trick to the clues or entry this month, so getting into this one isn’t hard. There are many clues that are anagrams or diminished anagrams (where you remove some letters and then rearrange the rest). And there are several hidden words. I usually find these the most certain types of clues to suss, so in my first pass I got a sure fill of most of the puzzle.

The vocabulary is pretty clean, though I have never in my life heard GEED used that (allegedly American) way. And I was unfamiliar with ACIS AND GALATEA, but the cluing was solid so it didn’t give me much pause.

I was unfamiliar with the song mentioned in 10 (and apparently fortunate to be so), but the clue was clear enough (and the answer would fill itself if you did all the others).

There were several clues and answers I liked. It’s a long way around the barn for the wordplay, but I like the definition of “in Madrid they use soy” for I AM. And I’m always happy when a really long answer lands, so 33’s SUPER-HEAVYWEIGHT and 35’s TWO HUNDRED AND NINETY-EIGHT gave me a smile.

The thematic nature of the diagram and surfaces of the clues were nice. And there are a decent number of thematic entries too. We already did a lot of types of tea a few months ago, but this relates more to the event itself.

The illustrated clue tells us 25 sounds like “purse pecks”, which is to the point — although here in the States it’s usually pronounced “plexiglass”.

Overall, it wasn’t a difficult puzzle, but I found all the three- and four-letter entries to be a grind. The theme was well represented by the diagram, cluing, and entries. The clue mix was maybe a little anagram heavy (but I like that).


Grid solution

December 2023 solution grid

Visual clue

The headphones indicate that we’re looking for something that sounds like what’s in the circle. A surreal looking coin purse that has sprouted a woodpecker beak taps away at a wall, giving us a compound homophone, the solution to which is clear:


Visual clue for PERSPEX
Drawing by Frank Paul

Clues and explanations

Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk.

DaySolutionDirection, Clue, CountExplanation
1ACIS AND GALATEA*22out A constitutional incident starts with seashore ‘celebration meal’ and Handel composition (4,3,7)A + Initial letters CI + SAND GALA TEA, ref. opera from 1718
2AGM2di Anagram used periodically: that may refine the constitution! (3)AnaGraM ref. annual meetings of societies, clubs etc
3ANNIE22N Une tisane abîmée: tu es hors concours, petite orpheline (5)([UNE TISANE] – [TU ES])* ref. ‘Little orphan Annie’ hors concours used for ‘out of the running’; yer actual French – that nation was a keen supporter of the American Revolution
4BACH11di Extracts of yerba: choose one that’s great in composition (4)hidden: yerBA CHoose
5BOO39to It shows contempt when rooibos spoils, or is being thrown out (3)(ROOIBOS – OR IS)* Note to hospitable solvers: please do not serve Komorník Rooibos 
6CGI6di Obtain this shot to portray big action (3)(OBTAIN + CGI)* = (BIG ACTION)* I think we’ve had enough comp. and subtr. anags now – Ed
7CHESTS*17di What happens on board over tax, principally (which we throw out with pride?) (6)T in CHESS – protesting Americans were throwing out tea-chests
8COSTUME6S Headdresses may have been used for this approach, without shawls tucked under heads (7)Initial letters STU in COME
9EAU29di Nice drink from tea-urn (3)French for a certain drink
10EGG4di Lyrically, I want one for my tea (for one gallon)? (3)E.G. + G ref. song by (?) Fred McGee and Thomas Irving
11GEED1N Midnight; last of merchandise gone, raid went well for Americans  (4)niGht + final letters – idiom from US in Chambers
12GEMS26S These are admirable ruses to outwit adversaries, annihilating six out of ten (4)GEMS are admirable things/people, strataGEMS
13HARBOUR*33ac Mulberry, perhaps, or rhubarb mixture British eschewed (7)ref June-July 1944 Arromanches construction (OR RHUbArB)* – autobiographical note: Komorník’s father worked on MH, and K lives in a house called M
14HASTE25di Being in a hurry, fails to finish meal? (5)HAS TEa
15I AM28di Essentially dairy Assamese for which (¡nombre de Dios!) in Madrid they use soy? (1,2)middle letters + name of Jehovah/Yahweh + translation of soy Query: is this def. + double wordplay or wordplay + double def.?
16IMMURE28S ‘Premium’ brew (without most common element of PG Tips) put in jug (6)pREMIUM* ‘jug’ in dated UK Eng slang = prison
17LOUSIER15di That is after setting community right: first look in reverse of 22 (7)I.E. after US (setters) + R; LO first – opposite of NOT SO BAD
18MASSACHUSETTS*32up-5,14di-3(10o’cl),8W-2,9N-6 Shocked at mess, such a heartless stunt? Ma stands for it! (13)(AT MESS SUCH A StunT)* abbreviation should really be MA but it is hoped the Commonwealth will forgive one commemorating part of its history
19MASSAGE32up Rub down, say, leaves…  (7)E.G. ASSAM (rev) it was heartbreaking to see this joke used in a Guardian puzzle long after this puzzle was clued
20MEANLY5N …Komorník, facing antiAmerican lobby, gutted with ill-will (6)ME + outside letters
21NAUSEAS16di ‘They make me sick’ (North, when taking in Americans’ local usage of watercourse) (7)US + EA in N + AS
22NOT SO BAD37ac Abused American’s in no small degree less unwell (3,2,3)‘S.O.B.’ in NO TAD
23ORB38to Maybe this grid, looking back, essentially recalls Brown Betty (3)Central letters of whole phrase recalls Brown Betty reversed
24PERM18S I’m not sure which afternoon covers possible arrangement (4)ER in PM – = permutation
25PERSPEX18di ‘End of tax’ records Republican with hindsight: ‘that’s very clear’ (7)X + EPS + REP reversed
26RAT31di Such leaves ships carried in crates (3)‘hidden’ though not really!
27REATE10di Leaves in water, making, er — tea? (5)(ER TEA)* – the water crowfoot, said to be commonest wild water plant in UK
28RED ROSE35aw,36ac ‘Extra strong’ heads order from Yorkshire? Westward shift required!! (3,4)ES + (ORDER rev) – i.e. not from Yorkshire, but from Lancashire (to West) – note that ‘Westward shift’ does double duty here, hence the double exclam, suggesting ‘this is a bit odd’
29ROSTI23di Dish ‘work of Sons of Liberty’ — not ‘by felons’ (5)([SONS OF LIBERTY] – [BY FELONS])*
30SAE30di Perhaps Brodie’s therefore regularly using strainer (3)StrAinEr) ref Brodie’s, Scottish seller of tea 
31SGT3di Pepper, say — Twinings without success in shipping westward (3)ref. Beatles album – T [win in]GS reversed
32SUCH3S Mentioned earlier, Souchong — over-old, no good, thrown out (4)SoUCHong
33SUPER-HEAVYWEIGHT24E Going overboard with e.g. a push, every one boxes — of largest dimensions (5-11)(WITH EG A PUSH EVERY)*
34TEXT27N Formerly embraced by abstainer, message could be ‘the cups that cheer…’ (4)EX in TT – note precise wording of original quotation: from Cowper’s The Task and the fact that in the poem there is a comma after cups. That would be a TEXT perhaps often embroidered or displayed
35TWO HUNDRED AND NINETY-EIGHT*12E-3,8W,14di-3(3o’cl),7E-6,19E-5 What’s down under the tide, anything around this many 7 (3,7,3,6-5)(DOWN UNDER THE TIDE ANYTHING)* Other authorities claim there were many more chests involved
36USA*34aw A later creation (one from many) — this meal served up by Samuel A (1,1,1)ref. e pluribus unum – (SAMUEL A)* = (USA MEAL)*
37VASES21di …in which echinacea, jasmine, camomile may figure (5)CD but barely C at all – they are types of tea, but here are used as flowers
38WAS UP20di Had arisen, 36 — turning into western power… (3,2)USA rev. in W P
39YEARN13di …long before extremes of revolution indeed (5)YEA + RevolutioN
Easter eggNO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATIONNot across: at ten North staged only once’ (2,8,7,14)NOT A X [= cross] AT 10 N + [of a play] staged only once = without RE-PRESENTATION

Solvers’ comments

Very helpful grid gave us a steer towards the theme, which featured in a good number of clues and solution. A great groaner from Frank Paul 😀 Another new word – that night be every puzzle this year! And an enjoyable puzzle – thanks Komornick and Frank Paul. [CW]

Stupendous! [AJ]

Interesting to have two Boston Tea Party themes this year (cf. Tramp’s puzzle in July). Still lots of fun, though I found it very tough. I am submitting my solution despite a couple of lingering question marks. I enjoyed the “tea-pot” grid design. Many thanks to Komornik. [JA]

A fairly tough puzzle with a great variety of clues and a brilliant grid design. It was well worth the time spent on it – a good way to end this year’s excellent offerings. [AB]

I found the grid and the puzzle quite challenging. Not being familiar with Komornik, I found it a bit tricky to attune to their style. Lots of use of brackets, sub-clauses, deducting letters, etc. I’ve never come across clues entirely in another language before and can only hope that I deduced the answer correctly! The theme was interesting and informative, the grid imaginative, and it gave me a good stretch of the old grey cells! Thanks to all [JC]

An interesting grid and a worthy challenge to round off the year. Thanks! [NI]

The last few were 11, 12, 20 but 17 was the last to fall. [RS]

Definitely my cup of tea. [TH]

Just my cup of tea. [RP]

I really enjoyed this. The “22out” was a head-scratcher, a real tea-tray clang when it finally fell. [SC]

Lovely puzzle, thanks. I strained to solve some of the clues, though none of them milked the theme too much. [JT]

Hard work but very satisfying. I’d forgotten the day 10 song but now it’s an ear worm! [PD]

Haven’t we had this theme before this year? Anyway, a most entertaining puzzle, and I liked the picture clue. Thanks, Komornik! [RS]

Lots of tea themed clues and answers, together with some random stuff. 21 and 37 most tricky. [SB]

An interesting puzzleswith a wide range of clues from rather easy to complete head scratchers. I found the Easter egg very difficult but once solved it all fitted in. very enjoyable thanks to Komornik. [GW]

Charming [DR]

Great puzzle with a very clever grid [MD]

A memorable celebration of the event – with such a splendid grid to fit the subject. The wonderful reference to the Handel composition conjures up a tempting picture of that Gala Tea party…. [SB]

I’m afraid this is too clunky and tortuous for my taste, but thanks for all the effort. [EF]

Boston Tea party quickly found but beaded help with Handel and the slogan! 😎👍 [DM]

Great. I liked it. Good. These are always stimulating. [RG]

Happy Christmas. It is even possible that some of this may be correct. [MM]

A number of clues I don’t completely understand. Interesting grid(s). [MJ]

Great puzzle to finish the year – challenging but doable and fun. Thanks to everyone involved for a wonderful year of 3D crosswords [BS]

Great way to end the year. And the TEA quite literally drops into the HARBOUR … [PA]

Enigmatist’s July offering on the same theme was brilliant in its own way, but this raised the cleverness bar a couple of notches even higher! And it has to be right up there with Sirius’s August Torus as one of the most excellent grids of the year (even down to the contemporaneous composers, with Handel running through the handle : ), and the genius ‘Galatea’ for Tea Party, with Tea falling to the bottom of the Harbour. A great way to end another splendid year of puzzling. Thank you Komornik, and for the November bonus. [MS]

Need a cup of tea after that one……or rather something stronger! Happy New Year to all involved in the 3D puzzle project! [JB]

I enjoyed this puzzle but it certainly took more than one teatime to crack it – genius! [SF]

Unnecessarily difficult the grid was difficult to understand with vertical lines splitting squares helps and hints helped but there were still three clues which were difficult to understand 15 16 27 15 and 16 had no crossing letters which made solving difficult. [RC]

Great puzzle [JM]

What a fantastic grid construction – suited the theme to a T(ea)! [MC]

2 thoughts on “3D Crossword Solution – December 2023

  1. Thank you for all the comments, a Happy New Year to all, and welcome to our splendid new reviewer. I think on balance I got off fairly lightly. Although the positives do outweigh the negatives, and some solvers worryingly share bits of Komorník’s mentality, please be sure that your Editor is listening – and he will not allow (or perpetrate!) such a rag-bag of abbreviations and three-letter words in future, and he takes the point about convoluted clues.
    On the subject of two similarly-themed puzzles in one (or successive) years: solvers should be aware that this grid was conceived on Boxing Day of 2021; while etc’s great July achievement with all those miraculously-disposed-of Ts could clearly not be left out. It’s perhaps not surprising that the BTP (and the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb) attracted multiple attention. Perhaps a message for aspiring designers is to consider avoiding the biggest landmark anniversaries and look for something more ‘niche’?

  2. I thought the two Boston Tea Party grids approached the subject from such different angles and were both so very good that they merited being in the same calendar, but it is a good point that lesser know anniversaries will have a better chance of getting into print.

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