Hints & Tips December 2023

December 2023 grid page

Clues and Grid by Komorník

Enter the prize draw by 31 December.

The background for this puzzle is a Graham Fox photograph that I find difficult to describe: it may be a time-lapsed picture of a firework display, or it could be a waterfall; at any rate it gives the impression of clouds of steam billowing round the grid.

This puzzle uses a modified spherical grid by Komorník in which cells representing a handle and spout have been added and further cells represent a stream of liquid pouring into a container. Clues are given in alphabetical order of their solutions. Four of the answers are common abbreviations.

The direction for Day 1 merely says 22out, but this indicates that the answer should start at 22, go into the handle, back diametrically across the centre of the third level, out at the spout and follow the stream of liquid down into the container. The indicator for Day 19 says 32N, but this should instead read 32up as this answer goes up through the central axis of the sphere from the bottom to the top (the cell number for 32 was missing from the earliest version of the printer-friendly grid).

The puzzle commemorates the anniversary of a famous event associated with a slogan which should be submitted with your entry. A wordplay-only clue to this slogan is:

Not across: at ten North staged only once (2,8,7,14).

This imaginative grid formed part of Komorník’s winning entry for the 2021 World Championship. He has added some entertaining clues to construct a fitting finale to this year’s calendar.

It is possible that some of you may experience a touch of déjà vu when you work out the theme. There was a previous puzzle this year on the same theme, but the two puzzles approached the theme in completely different ways, so it was decided to find room for both.

Day 1

A constitutional incident starts with seashore ‘celebration meal’ and Handel composition (4,3,7)

‘Starts’ tells you to take the preceding first letters. Follow this with what you might find on the seashore and another way of saying ‘celebration meal’ to find your Handel composition. [JP]

Day 6

Obtain this shot to portray big action (3)

Two of the more unusual clue types are combined here. Shot is an anagram indicator, but the anagram is of obtain this, meaning obtain plus the answer to the clue, give 9 letters, which are portrayed in the final two words of the clue. This composite anagram type of clue is used several times to great effect in this puzzle. But hold on, where’s the definition? Well, the whole clue represents the wordplay, and it also represents the definition, making this an &Lit as well as a composite anagram. One more thing to note is that this is one of the four answers that are abbreviations. [NI]

Day 8

Headdresses may have been used for this approach, without shawls tucked under heads (7)

For definition stop after ‘used for this’, then find another word for approach. Forget the picture of shawls tucked under heads, ‘heads’ refers to the preceding first letters. The word you’ve found for ‘approach’ needs to be ‘without’ these first letters to give you the answer. [JP]

Day 9

Nice drink from tea-urn (3)

Seasoned solvers will have met this conceit before but for newcomers the word Nice here (notice it is the first word in the clue, hence the capital letter is totally legit), is not the English adjective but the French city! Alors, trouvez le liquide caché dans tea-urn. Façile. [GS]

Day 13

Mulberry, perhaps, or rhubarb mixture British eschewed (7)

A fruit perhaps? Would it be that easy? No, but an anagram indicated by mixture? Certainly. Trouble is it’s nine letters, so remove the abbreviation for British and this should lead you to associations with Omaha and Gold. [GS]

Day 25

‘End of tax’ records Republican with hindsight: ‘that’s very clear’ (7)

The key word in this clue is ‘hindsight’, meaning construct the solution with the info as given and then turn it completely over to give the name of a material that does not block one’s view. [GS]

Day 29

Dish ‘work of Sons of Liberty’ — not ‘by felons’ (5)

Nice to see the reference to the clandestine ‘Sons of Liberty’ who played a part in the theme, but don’t dish their work as Dish is a noun here. Not ‘by felons’ tells you to remove these letters from ‘Sons of Liberty’ to give an anagram of the dish in question. [JP]

Day 30

Perhaps Brodie’s therefore regularly using strainer (3)

Regularly often suggests we look for alternate letters, but the final word is too long for that, so try looking at every third letter. Brodie is a Scottish name, so we want a Scottish word for therefore. [NI]

Day 31

Pepper, say — Twinings without success in shipping westward (3)

Shipping westward tells us to expect a reversal, but Twinings is too long. Without indicates we should remove a word for success plus in before reversing. This is another abbreviation, and the definition is Pepper, say. [NI]

I am grateful to the other members of the Hints & Tips team: Garry Stripling (Gin) and Jim Pennington (Philostrate).

Season’s greetings to all our readers!

Happy solving!

Nick Inglis (etc)

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