Hints & Tips December 2022

December 2022 puzzle page

Clues by Pickles and Grid by Gin

The background for this puzzle is an Alan Tunnicliffe photograph of a fox in grass with buttercups.

This puzzle by Pickles uses a conventional 7x5x5 grid by Gin and the theme is particularly appropriate for the publication in which it is printed.

Letters in the three shaded squares give a hint to the theme. In the important long answer for Day 8, the letter in the asterisked cell 30 does double duty as both the final letter of the first word and the initial letter of the second word.

Solvers are required to supply the relevant solution locations for an Easter egg within the grid. Anyone struggling to identify the Easter egg is advised to take this instruction literally.

The solution locations should be given in the same format as the direction indicators in clues in our puzzles. For example, if the required Easter egg was “Cord’s Edge”, then a suitable answer would be 2ac, 4aw or simply 2ac 4aw. Be careful to use our conventional abbreviations: ac for across, ba for back, up for up, d for down, to for to and aw for away. The Easter egg is not “Cord’s Edge “, but it is a snake (it has a change of direction).

This charmingly constructed puzzle nicely rounds off our puzzling year. 

Festive greetings to one and all, and good luck with the egg hunting!

Day 2

Maybe drones register electromotive force (5)

You are looking for a name for a group of bees. For register, think of voting, then add the symbol for electromotive force. [JP]

Day 4

Retreating, bachelor avoids spiteful woman (5)

Nicely worded clue to misdirect you to look for a term for a spiteful woman! Forget that and think of an abbreviation for bachelor being removed from (avoids) a word for spiteful reversed (retreating) to give a woman’s name. [JP]

Day 6

Complicated feud seemed explosive – diplomatic overtures calmed the situation down (7)

Anagram of the second word (signal:complicated) followed by the first letters of the following three words (signal: overtures ie openings). The rest is the definition. [GS]

Day 12

What the board did when provided with excessive catering? (7)

This is a cryptic definition. Think of how boards (in the sense of tables) might be described if laden with much food. The Frank Paul picture shows a national leader (look at the flag or badge if you don’t recognise him). His limbs are twisted into a mess, suggesting that his surname is an anagram of the required answer. [NI]

Day 14

Parisian trick cyclist jumping canal (5)

Not an actual cyclist, but a 20th century French example of the slang version. Jumping tells you he’s an anagram of canal. [JP]

Day 16

Coach-horse oddly lacking pigment (5)

Not a difficult clue as long as you bear in mind that the word ‘lacking’ refers back to ‘oddly’ and not forward to ‘pigment’. [GS]

Day 19

Bit of Yorkshire pud knocked back, aye (6)

The homonym is indeed a bit of Yorkshire but our lad is part of the theme. His striking difference in appearance to, say, Winnie is an eyepatch over his right (our left) eye. [GS]

Day 23

Wordplay’s not fully discernible? Definition’s 19ac, which might help!

You need to have Day 8 to understand the definition 9 (which is 19ac, so the third part). Not fully suggests that this clue is of the hidden variety. The answer is contained in discernible and is also central to our project. [NI]

Day 24

King of crosswords? (5)

(aka William II of England) [GS]

Day 32

Bolt upright at the start, Pickles regularly lays back down at the end (5)

Bolt upright is a nice expression, but the definition here is simply the first word. The rest of the clue gives a recipe: one letter each from upright at the start and Pickles (as the setter can refer to himself), two from regularly lays and one from down at the end. Back indicates that the middle three letters are reversed. You won’t find this word in the dictionary as it is a proper name, not widely known across the world before 2008. [NI]

I am 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 Inglis (etc)

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