Clues and Grid by Puck
Theme: Diet of Worms (28 Jan – 25 May 1521)
The winner of the April puzzle was Sheila Brain of Exmouth.
Review of the Month 2021 3D crossword
With this puzzle Puck was the winner of the 2019 RPM Trophy (3D’s end of year competition for 3D crossword designers) so I’ve very much been looking forward to solving it.
We were told that the puzzle marks a notable anniversary of religious significance. Eight asterisked clues have no definition; their solutions are examples of those who might, in part at least, enjoy a 13. Two (some might argue four) of these are in the plural form. Letters in the highlighted cells can be arranged to give the name of one whose 13 was enforced, and probably endured rather than enjoyed. Solvers should submit this name (6,6) with their entry. One solution is an abbreviation.
This was a delightful puzzle to solve. It had all the ingredients of a quality 3D puzzle. Entertaining clues and a good theme which held its secrets until near the end of the solve. An unusual set of thematic words which emerged during the solve with not a lot in common, so that suspense was maintained. Plus a wholly justified smile at the denouement.
In part because it isn’t clued, the theme remains unknown until very near the end of the solve. The mixed menagerie of creatures that emerge as theme words during the solve don’t give much of a clue towards guessing/determining the theme earlier in the solve. My first four were TOADS, PERCH, BEARS and BLACKBIRD. What on earth was the connection? Incidentally, for the skeptics, I can confirm that BEARS are not above worms when more delectable fare like salmon is in short supply.
There were a welter of superb clues. Two I thought particularly inspired led to the theme:
Dad’s Army? Some versions of it wouldn’t look out of place in 13?
and clue 8
President Trump’s primarily a gullible fool, heading off for 13?
for BUSH TUCKER. (13 was DIET OF WORMS.)
Eventually, towards the very end of the solve, I got the theme from the anagram of Martin Luther, and Diet of Worms came as a complete surprise and raised a genuine smile. Great fun.
Your comments were overwhelmingly positive and I enjoyed reading them as, I’m sure, will Puck. Thank you. I’ve picked out for special mention a comment from JC which came in the form of a cryptic clue:
“This sort of clue a bull moose finds disgusting (6)”.
None of us can fathom it out so we’d welcome an insight from anyone, including JC, who can.
A bookmaker’s Odds table indicates that the odd letters from THOMAS the Tank Engine and DES Lynam are needed.
T(h)O(m)A(s)D(e)S = TOADS.
Clues and explanations
Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk.
|Day||Solution||Direction, Clue, Count||Explanation|
|1||ADAIR||21to Remarkably issued a challenge for a 10ac-3 (5)||Homophone of “a dare”; 10ac-3=Red|
|2||BARRE||17ac Support for dancers eschewing “backside” for “butt” (5)||Barre[l]|
|3||*BASS||22to Bottom’s head – where did that come from? (4)||B[ottom] + ass; A Midsummer Night’s Dream; No definition|
|4||BATIK||17aw Printing designs on eg cotton bras, thinks in a regular pattern (5)||B[r]a[s] t[h]i[n]k[s]|
|5||*BEARS||13d Key used in short pieces of music? (5)||E in bars; No definition|
|6||*BLACKBIRD||22ba,20up Time after dark (9)||Black + bird; No definition|
|7||BUSED||1aw Not having 32, instead took more elevated route around American base (5)||US in bed; 32=tubed|
|8||BUSH TUCKER||1ac,3d-5,18ba-2 President Trump’s primarily a gullible fool, heading off for 13? (4,6)||Bush + T[rump’s] + [s]ucker; 13=Diet of Worms|
|9||CABIN||14ba Such a fever during lockdown – need taxi home (5)||Cab + in; cabin fever|
|10||CACHE||12aw Storehouse starts to collapse as compost heap explodes (5)||c[ollapse] a[s] c[ompost] h[eap] e[xplodes]|
|11||CASH COW||28up Accountant’s primarily helping lower what’s paid out regularly? (4,3)||CA’s + h[elping] + cow|
|12||CODER||12ba Computer programmer needs a drink? Ring for one (5)||Cider, with O for I|
|13||DIET OF WORMS||7ac,9to-3,6ba Unclued (4,2,5)||Theme|
|14||EARLS||8to One fronting the Stones leaves the Lords, taking 1607 flight (5)||[p]earls; ref. Flight of the Earls in 1607|
|15||*EFT||18d Side lacking leadership (3)||[l]eft; No definition|
|16||HAPPY||29ac One making short appearance in Seven as Larry (5)||Two meanings|
|17||INNER||15to Wife leaves Victor for The Archers’ 10ac-3 (5)||[w]inner; 10ac-3=Red|
|18||ISTLE||15ac First XI’s opening pair’s comeback shows real fibre (5)||1st + el[even], rev.|
|19||KPH||20dn One way of showing speed is found in King’s Head pub (3)||K[ing] + PH|
|20||OFWAT||9to Supply regulatory body at first signs of opponents fighting (6ba and 19ac) (5)||O[pponents] f[ighting] w[orms] a[nd] t[oads]; 6ba=Worms, 19ac=Toads|
|21||OVERBUY||9d Spend too much time away from public place in NW England? That’s not right (7)||Over[t] + Bu[R]y|
|22||PASTA||30to Dad’s Army? Some versions of it wouldn’t look out of place in a 13! (5)||Pa’s TA; 13=Diet of Worms|
|23||*PERCH||23aw Leaders of Holy Roman Empire condemning Protestant Reformation (5)||Anag of (H[oly] R[oman] E[mpire] c[ondemning] P[rotestant]); No definition|
|24||PIASTRE||30up Priest involved with a small change in Africa (7)||Anag of (Priest + a)|
|25||PLASTICKY||23ac,26aw Hard to please, describing cobbler’s workplace as “cheap and tacky looking” (9)||Last in Picky|
|26||PUB GRUB||23up Backing Britain, up against Polish 15to-3’s bit of 8? (3,4)||(GB + up)rev.+ rub; 8=Bush Tucker, 15to-3=Inn|
|27||*ROBIN REDBREAST||5d-3,13ba,10ac-3,11d,24ac Wine drunk by Nick in Bristol (5,9)||Red in (Rob in breast); No definition|
|28||SAD||2d-3 Looking up the German for “blue” (3)||Das, rev.|
|29||*SONG THRUSH||4d,27ac-4 Number covered by Goth’s new rock band (4,6)||(N in anag of Goth’s) + Rush; No definition|
|30||STICH||25ac,26aw-3,28ba-2 Most I charge, having penned such a small bit of poetry? (5)||Hidden answer|
|31||*TOADS||19ac Foxes keep away (5)||A in tods; No definition|
|32||TUBED||16to First appearance over, went underground (5)||Debut,rev.|
|MARTIN LUTHER||Highlighted cells: The name of one whose 13 was enforced, and probably endured rather than enjoyed. (6,6)|
Lots of mischief here from Puck – I loved all the punny elements of the “diet of worms”, and laughed out loud at the spaghetti reference when I solved “PASTA” at Day 22. It was interesting to list all the (asterisked*) creatures who dine on worms to be found in this puzzle. Martin Luther must be turning in his grave! Many thanks to Puck for all this fun. As an Aussie, I have been lucky enough to enjoy aspects of BUSH TUCKER (Day 8) on some occasions, though I have drawn the line at witchetty grubs and worms! [JA]
Worm gears! I’ve just got the photographic rebus! And dear old Des crops up in Frank’s drawing too. I can still remember the merriment when we were introduced to the DIET OF WORMS by our history teacher, so it’s well imprinted on my brain. I’ve always spelt BUSED with two S’s, but it fits, so that’s fine. STICH was new to me and seems like a word worth hanging on to. [PA]
Lots of fun [BB]
Much easier to solve once I realised the eight weren’t all birds! [GB]
So enjoyable with a great penny-dropping moment. [NB]
This rang a lot of bells for me as a someone who has spent quite a lot of time studying the history of the Reformation, 500 years ago. I know we can’t help smiling at the idea of the “Diet of Worms”, but the Imperial Assembly (Diät) in 1521 was the key event that turned Luther into an international hero. And what a brilliant take by Puck on the consumption of invertebrates – I was mystified for a long time by all those unconnected birds and fish before the penny dropped…. Thanks for the laugh! [SB]
Fascinating. The undefined lights were quite problematic until I recognised the theme [HB]
An enjoyable and very clever puzzle with a historical theme, although my favourite clue was the extremely topical and up-to-the-minute Day 9. Thank you. [JB]
I loved this puzzle, with its interesting punning theme and the variety of creatures that ‘might, in part at least, enjoy’ a diet of worms. An excellent set of clues, and a worthy anniversary to recognise. [AB]
Puck is almost as enigmatic as Enigmatist! I had trouble with Plasticky, Toads and Bused. I liked Adair, Bass, Happy in a puzzle that had a very interesting theme. Many thanks, Puck. [PC]
Enjoyed this very much: above average difficulty and my last one to be solved (TOADS) kept me wondering until the last day of the month. In view of the coincidence in this and Puck’s Guardian ‘Genius’ puzzle, can we assume that Puck used to work in the oil industry? If so, glad he has since taken wiser counsel. Favourite clue was for OVERBUY: nice to be so cunningly misled. [AC]
This sort of clue a bull moose finds disgusting (6) [JC]
Interesting theme, fun puzzle [JC]
A good workout! [SC]
Very enjoyable! Took a while for the penny to drop, but the ‘Diet of Worms’ and ‘Martin Luther’ stirred some long-forgotten memories of school history lessons… [MC]
Surprised that bears and toads eat worms. The singing toads I rear wouldn’t look at them. They are insectivores. [SC]
Great puzzle! [MD]
Quite hard for April. Great sketch of Des Lynam. Got stuck for ages on 1ac, thinking I needed a Russian name. [PD]
As always, I loved it! [RE]
Very enjoyable and challenging puzzle. An interesting topic, thank you! [SF]
I’m not totally convinced by all these alleged worm eaters! [EF]
Great. Thank you. The slave. [RG]
Woke up in the middle of the night thinking ‘Diet of Worms!’ Why? Maybe the HRE triggered something..who knows how our minds work? Enjoyed this very much. Thank you. [SH]
We had fun trying to guess the theme based on the image right at the start – even mentioned both worm gears and how blackbirds like worms. Even so, we still didn’t remotely clock the theme itself or what the non-defined clues could be about until after our first pass. Loved the a-ha moment! Learned a lot about the anniversary meaning of 13 from this too, very interesting. Thanks for a fab puzzle! [AH]
I’m trying to be one of the early birds on this puzzle. Very entertaining. [AH]
A witty theme that took forever to break. [J&JH]
A lovely reminder of the delightfully named Diet of Worms. A treat for all vermivores! [N&SI]
A theme to delight schoolchildren everywhere, if they still learn of this. A slow start but OK once the theme emerged. The pictorial clue was actually helpful this month. 1. Will younger solvers have heard of Red Adair? [MJ]
I had to look 13 up – history at school was a complete turn-off – only the name stuck, with no idea of what it was about. (By the way, Wikipedia says it’s likely the edict wasn’t enforced, so it wouldn’t have had to be endured.) The reference on the 22nd was off-putting at first, but I then remembered the meaning of ‘vermicelli’. I’d never heard of the event mentioned on the 14th, and don’t get the Stones allusion there – also hadn’t heard of Rush as a rock band on 29th, but cluing was clear enough, especially as I needed an L for the yellow cell in the former. As usual, needed to work back from solution to picture – Thomas was obvious, but Des Lynam didn’t come to mind immediately. [PM]
Another excellent history lesson [MM]
Enjoyed this reasonably straightforward puzzle. I know a few more worm-eaters now! [DM]
A treat for early Spring! [JM]
Most enjoyable especially when we got day 13. [JM]
Thought some of the clues were a bit dodgy, but happy to get there eventually!🤔 [MN]
Lovely puzzle and theme, fair clues! [JN]
I am always happy to find new words and tod for fox was a totally new one for me. As usual good clueing made it possible to find the answers. [MP]
Some lovely surfaces! Cannot figure the face in Mr. Paul’s drawing but I hope to have everything else! [JS]
I liked this; especially the theme. It is cleverly done, and it is nice that the thematic solutions are a varied mix of birds, fish, reptiles and even a mammal (if I’ve got BEARS right). I actually got the D of W pretty quickly and that gave MARTIN LUTHER which gave some bonus letters on the yellow squares. There were some lovely clues and interesting new words – PLASTICKY, EARLS and HAPPY were all stand out clues. STICH, TODS (for foxes) and IXTLE were all new to me and good clues too (except IXTLE — see below). Just looking again, I really like CACHE too. INNER is pretty easy but actually very nice — I guess the setter is fully aware that the pub in the The Archers is … The Bull … not having filled in 10ac at the time I assumed that it would end up being ‘Pub’. A few ho-hum clues which seems to be expected in these 3-D grids. KPH is a bit of a gimme — maybe would have been better leaving it out. OFWAT was nice but a bit contrived, BUSH TUCKER was clever. (Red) ADAIR is a very dated reference. Not sure what happened with PUB GRUB. Alphabetic order of presentation really helps – that gave me BEARS rather than BOARS and helped on several others (assuming I got it right!) – I appreciate the BOAR wouldn’t eat worms, but then I cannot imagine bears do either ? A few clues I didn’t fully understand; BARRE – couldn’t be anything else but how? BATIK — what is the ‘eg cotton’ doing? I cannot parse IXTLE (and am not sure it shouldn’t be ISTLE ? ) The extra layers in the grid gives some nice variety in the solutions, but does make entry of some longer solutions a bit tricky — I got confused on some of the Up/Down entries. Lastly, the picture clue actually helped again! It took a while but eventually I figured out Des Lynams’s smiling visage and figured out the locomotive was THOMAS not TRAIN or ENGINE. Thanks to Puck who I guess made the grid as well as the clues – a mammoth effort well appreciated. And to all the others who contribute to the challenge and the fun! UPDATE: I got an automated e-mail saying I have at least 1 clue wrong. Checking over I changed IXTLE to ISTLE. Still don’t understand it, but maybe that variant is better. Cannot recall getting that e-mail before even though I got a solution wrong in the Jan crossword – – maybe this is an innovation? [ES]
At first I struggled to see what the asterisked clues I’d solved had in common, but once I hit upon ‘diet of worms’ all became clear. Many thanks for an entertaining puzzle. [RS]
A good one, with an interesting subject! [DS]
Great fun and some very tricky clues. Thanks to all involved [BS]
Not 100% sure of day 5 13d… [RS]
Good fun, a nice level of trickiness combined with solvability. [SS]
Had ‘Duel of words’ for ages, which obviously caused problems. Still don’t understand the parsing of a few – eg PUB GRUB. I find it hard to distinguish in clues when we’re talking about grid number and when we’re talking about days. [HS]
Once we had a bird or two as well as some fish, plus a few crossing letters in Day 13, we got the theme, which gave us a real LOL moment. A couple of new words too (ISTLE and STICH), always pleasing. An enjoyable puzzle – thank you Puck. [CW]