Hints & Tips December 2021

Dec 2021 puzzle page

Clues by Enigmatist and Grid by etc

The background for this puzzle is a Graham Fox photograph of the sky over a landscape reflected in a circular mirror.

This puzzle marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of the main theme and the puzzle also has as a subtheme an activity that is referenced throughout the work in question.

Solvers are asked to submit with their entry two unclued thematic items. Each is a character linked with the subtheme. The first (3,4) appears in the highlighted red cells. The second (5,6) can be found by starting at the cell containing the 7 and moving in an appropriate fashion around the top layer. These two characters are each associated with an opposing colour, though one of these colours was replaced by black in the World Championships that took place in the first half of this month in Dubai.

This was our grid and we stand in awe at the way in which Enigmatist has managed to weave so much thematic material into the surfaces of the clues. Many thematic characters make an appearance, there is a reference to a thematic song, and we can be sure that Day 22 would greatly have enjoyed this puzzle. The many reversals in the clues are an appropriate reflection of the title of the main theme. If solvers initially galumph and find themselves in a frumious mood then we trust they will end up burbling and chortling at this frabjous puzzle!

Day 3

I’d try this curry for spicy unbirthday! (5)

Remove “I’d try” from “unbirthday” and you have the five letters for your anagram! [GS]

Day 4

Twice over sing about pieces of 8 (7)

Twice latin or musical direction for repeat around (over) a word for sing (rat on) and you have these from a Day 8 set. [JP]

Day 7

Admit going after fish and chips (9)

Sparks is to electrician as chips could be to…. [GS]

Day 8

Outing of French cat owner provides diversion on board (5)

Take away a word for “of” in french from the cat owner of the theme and you’ve got it mate! [JP]

Day 10

Battle-axe is weapon putting together Humpty-Dumpty? Not entirely on reflection (7)

Quite an intricate construction for this clue recalling an ovoid accident. Humpty-Dumpty? Look for a short word for him, but shorten and reverse it (not entirely on reflection). This should only give us a couple of letters and we need something putting this together (going inside it). The contents should be ”is weapon”, or rather, is followed by a short word for weapon. Put it all together again to get a word for an old battle-axe. [N&SI]

Day 12

Characters vacating unlikeliest tea-party following grand Victorian ball (5)

The definition is a kind of (sporty) ball. “Victorian” is only an indicator of the historical time period. So what’s left? Characters here means letters and vacating is to remove. So gut the third and fourth words (ignoring the hyphen), slap on the appropriate one-letter abbreviation and you’re all teed up for the solution. [GS]

Day 15

‘Leo?’: this clue could give THE LION (4)

The “this” here is an indication that like Day 3 this is a compound anagram. “Could give” suggests we have an anagram of THE LION, but that has too many letters. Subtract the letters of Leo and get an anagram of our answer, for which the definition is clue. [N&SI]

Day 19

The elderly like blackberry jam on top? You can’t do this to it today (4)

What can’t you do to jam today (but yesterday and tomorrow are OK)? This clue reflects a famous quotation from the thematic text. The three-letter answer to this riddle should follow a single letter (jam on top). Elderly indicates that the answer is an archaic term and the definition is “like blackberry”. [N&SI]

Day 24

Was humming tunes, essentially, whenever supplied with cake? (6)

Our definition is “was humming”, but humming is being used in a slang sense and our answer is also slang. Take a letter from “tunes essentially”, follow it with a short word for whenever and finish with a slightly longer word for supplied with cake. [N&SI]

Day 31

What the Gnat was wont to do in his government returns (4)

In his government means that you need to put an abbreviation for government inside his. Returns indicates another reversal, and the definition refers to the behaviour of the Gnat in the thematic text. [N&SI]

Day 36

To remove man from board is elevating Henry Cross (6)

Not about a person! Think of a word for “remove a man from a board game as a penalty” and add “is”. Then, elevate Henry (this entry goes up) to give you a nonce word for “cross”. [JP]

Day 42

Monitors ‘a’ rank – rook pinned back left on square (7)

A lovely surface reflecting the subthematic activity. Pinned here indicates that our rook should lie between a and a short word for rank. Back indicates another reversal before we end with letters for left and square. The definition is the plural of a very obscure term for a type of monitor lizard. [N&SI]


We are grateful to the other members of the Hints & Tips team: Garry Stripling (Gin) and Jim Pennington (Philostrate), and Alison Ramage & Andre Sonnet (Aramis)

Happy solving!

Nick & Sarah Inglis (etc)

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