3D Crossword Solution – April 2023

April 2023 grid page

Clues by Boatman and Grid by Calluna

Theme: Tutankhamun

The winner of the April puzzle is Steve Corbett of Shoreham.

Review of the April 2023 3D crossword

It came as a surprise to find myself again digging for the remains of King Tutankhamun, after Shark’s wonderful puzzle commemorating the discovery last year. However, I’m not sure it is possible to have too much Egyptology, and the combination of a Calluna grid with clues by Boatman promised a new and challenging experience.

Boatman is one of our most consistently original (and difficult) setters. His First Fifty book is my companion whenever I have a compulsory wait somewhere, and when his second book comes out, it will be just as recommendable. Here the letters missing from wordplay guaranteed some head-scratching, particularly when, as on days 13, 15 and 33 the solution’s head itself was scratched. There was Boatman trickery in the clue for INSTEPS: ‘If start for race was here [i.e. if R were in STEPS] could get bacteria’. Hands up all those who were thinking of athlete’s foot, and wondering what its medical name was (tinea pedis, in case that’s useful, and it’s fungal, not bacterial)! 

‘Letters omitted from wordplay’ are a godsend to the setter, who can avoid the well-worn cryptic tracks and use devices which don’t quite produce the solution. In some cases, the word was mutilated beyond recognition: CON for TYCOON and ARK for KARNAK made solving tricky, while TBN for THEBAN gave the opportunity to mislead by suggesting that tubing might be the definition. MPOR for AMPHORA allowed Boatman to conjure up some image of a royal orgy on a dahabiyeh, but we were actually looking for an oil-jar.

I very much liked the disguise of RETIC(LE) as ‘heretic’; however, my favourite clue here by a long way was the beautiful Spatulas were dipped into retort for A(N)SWER. You know a setter is on form when you spend ages looking for the solution to a ‘hidden’ clue. ‘Dipped into’ was lovely, with its sense of ‘sampling a bit of’ but making the suggestion that those spatulas were being used to prod some chemical stuff into life. (Can you actually dip a spatula into a retort? Not sure, but you could have a go.)

With so many solutions thus disguised, the easy starters were at a premium. BABIES may have been the jumping-off point for many, but the straightforward DUSTBIN proves that an easy clue can be just as excellent. The ‘cycled’ bust put in din produced an object familiar to all of us — some may even have had their first experience of the pleasures of cryptic (though in this case deliberately loose and ambiguous) clues through the solution’s personification in that great old entertainment 3-2-1!

Calluna is — as all solvers will be finding out this month — a true champion among designers. The grid functioned beautifully, with the majority of long entries thematic and THEBAN and KARNAK making nice corner supports. There is one bar. I did wonder why 1ac was not SMARAGD, since the Egyptians had emeralds as well as SCARABs? I suspect the very Egyptological word scarab was earmarked early on! 

I really liked Frank Paul’s surprisingly flexible cheeseboard, whose middle section was to be reversed. That clue would have been harder without the rather electronic-looking inclusion of ◄◄, relying on our interpretation of the top left hand corner. But I suspect many this month will have gladly taken whatever help was available.

I do like to learn from a puzzle, and here I found about the 21-year-old Lady Evelyn Herbert, who was apparently in the tomb very early on… and lived until 1980. So much for belief in the practical effects of those conventional ‘curses’ which must have made life in the ancient world so entertaining — but generally failed to prevent theft.

Our second visit to tomb KV62 was in a style very different from the first, but equally delightful. What a fascinating period that was, with the short-lived revolutionary ideas of AKHENATEN and the (sadly) equally short-lived offspring of THE YOUNGER LADY. Now I must be away, to offer due service to my sacred cats.


Grid solution

April 2023 3D grid solution

Visual clue

Cut along the dotted lines to isolate the middle of a cheeseboard, then rewind (reverse) it, to get:

(che)ESE BO(ard)< = OBESE

Visual clue for OBESE
Drawing by Frank Paul

Clues and explanations

Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk.

DaySolutionDirection, Clue, CountExplanation
1ADMIRE2d Prize for Slough (6)[AD] MIRE = double definition
2AMPHORA*23ac Drunken romp on vessel, of which Day 14 would have had many (7)[AHA] ROMP*
3ANSWER3d Spatulas were dipped into retort (6)[N] spatulAS WERe
4ARSON2aw Crime portrayed by Mr Welles: cutting off head (5)[A] oRSON
5BABIES7d Young abbé is in new order (6)(ABBE IS)*
6CUBES19to Young powers (5)[E] CUBS = double definition
7DESIST5d Refrain of French abbess, perhaps denying royalty (6)DE + SISTER – ER
8DONUT4aw Put on tons with this? (5)[U] DON + T &Lit
9DUSTBIN5ac Row about cycling: broken rubbish put here (7)DIN containing BUST with B cycled to the end
10HERBERT*20ac Aristocrat, backer of Day 14’s search and lady’s man (7)HER + BERT
11HOSTA20aw Perennial spirits uncovered (5)[A] gHOSTs
12INSTEPS10ac-2,11d If start of race was here, could get bacteria on parts of foot (7)Reverse clue: R(ace) in STEPS could produce STREPS
13KARNAK*9d Vessel in Day 22’s temple (6)[KNA] ARK = double definition
14KING TUT*9ac Masked Day 32, a big hit in the stomach (4,3)[KT] IN GUT
15KUDOS9to Party in America wins renown (5)[K] DO inside US
16MEANT15aw Designed base model (5)MEAN + T
17NINETY8d Number of Asian coins in despatch to the North (6)[T] YEN IN reversed
18NODOSITY8to-3,4d With difficulty, stood in knotty swelling (8)[Y] (STOOD IN)*
19NUBIANS*17ba Day 32s’ neighbours, it’s said, associated with outlaws across island (7)Homophone = KNEW + BANS containing I
20OBESE25to Being too fat sadly embodies dim characters getting wasted (5)(EMBODIES – DIM)*
21PULER24to One starts to produce ululations, lightly echoing round (5)Produce Ululations Lightly Echoing Round &Lit
22RAMESES*14ac Prominent Day 32, coming after Day 14 in a shambles (7)[RE] A MESS
23RETICLE18ac Non-conformist? Not this man, though there may be crossed wires in this (7)[LE] HERETIC – HE
24RISER18to One ascends, reflecting a gentleman’s address (5)[ER] SIR reversed
25SALIENT22ac Special offers? Boatman is involved (7)[NT] SALE containing I
26SCARAB*1ac Seen in Day 13, beetle succeeded crustacean (6)[A] S + CRAB
27SINGE16aw Perhaps lust for char? (5)[GE] SIN = double definition
28SORGHO1d Grass – it’s initially seen in London’s bohemian quarter (6)[R] G(rass) inside SOHO
29STABLE6d Be last to change: be constant (6)(BE LAST)*
30TABLA12to Boatman gets note from instrument (5)[T] AB + LA
31TETRA*21aw The man who found Day 14’s second half in four parts (5)[TA] carTER
32THEBAN*13d Tubing not even serving native of ancient capital (6)[HEA] TuBiNg
33TYCOON12d Swindle head of business (6)[TYO] CON = double definition
OptionalAKHENATENDay 14’s forebear (9)
OptionalTHE YOUNGER LADYDay 14’s forebear (3,7,4)

Solvers’ comments

Took a while to get going as was convinced that we had commemorated Tut last year. Enjoyed the missing letters but a couple I failed to parse..tetra and Herbert.. assuming they are correct. Thanks again for a fun solve. [HH]

Excellent really enjoyed this puzzle, it took a while to get the theme and even then I had completed the grid before solving the Easter eggs. Imagine doing things in the proscribed order for once! [GW]

For once I sussed the picture clue (middle of cheeseboard, backwards). An excellent puzzle with good use of the theme, and the twist of omitting the letters in the coloured squares from the wordplay added to the interest in solving it. Thanks, Boatman and Calluna! [RS]

Brilliant! Reminded me of a fantastic holiday & a (sadly) lost umbrella. [RE]

Clever idea to avoid the highlighted cells. Lovely grid and clues! [NI]

Excellent puzzle with some tricky answers – especially the 3-word Easter Egg! [RG]

At the outset it was easy to see that some clues might be extra tricky because the wordplay was incomplete. In fact, all but 10 were incomplete, but fortunately the clues were well pitched to the design, and only four clues had as many as three letters omitted from the wordplay. Getting Day 14 KING TUT about halfway through made the shorter anagram easy to work out, but I had to look up the other one. This was a well-designed, well-clued puzzle with an interesting theme, which I enjoyed. [AB]

Good puzzle — thank you, Boatman. I got held up for a while by Day 13, as I was convinced that the vessel had to be an urn. [TH]

I thought we’d done with Tut last year. I guess this is the opening of an exhibition. Not that I’m complaining. 2. “on” seems superfluous except for the surface reading. 12. something to do with “strep” I guess, but I can’t quite parse it. 30. “from” doesn’t seem right. I understood, and even started with, the picture clue! [MJ]

Fantastic! [AJ]


Pretty difficult, made more so by the omission of letters from wordplay. Very enjoyable! [JM]

Another interesting theme and some enjoyable clueing, particularly days for DESIST, HERBERT and STABLE. A couple of new words for me, so 3D is clearly good for me! Thanks Boatman and Calluna. [CW]

Good range of clues. Interesting artifice to ignore letters of the easter eggs in the wordplay. [JP]

Really enjoyed this, even though it was a revisit to the territory of last November. Thought the ‘ignored letters’ device worked really well, turning the improbable into the obvious. And how charming that there is a historical figure known only as ‘The Younger Lady’! (Though on reflection, it just goes to show how women in history have lost even their names.) [PA]

Very tricky but enjoyable puzzle, not at all sure about some of my answers…. [MD]

Looked impenetrable from the first run through, but after lots of head-scratching, a bit of research and some dictionary look-ups it gradually yielded. Ta v much Boatman, top job Sir. [SC]

Nice and chewy, needed some thought and a bit of research which was enjoyable. [JC]

Very interesting, the letters missing from wordplay added a welcome and puzzling extra dimension. Pleasingly the circle was completed, since it was by identifying the mauve letters in 22ac (Day 25) as N & T by elimination that I got the breakthrough to solve that troublesome clue (still a bit dubious about the definition!). Some very nice misdirection in many other clues. Remarkably I first solved the picture clue for Day 20 and then took ages to work out how the word clue worked. [EF]

Excellent fun, thanks. [RP]

I was surprised that Tut was the subject of a second puzzle so soon after the first, but impressed by its clever construction. Very enjoyable to solve, thank you. [SF]

The theme seemed common. [RC]

Good puzzle with fair and enjoyable clues, thank you. Slightly spoiled by a sense of deja vu from one of last year’s puzzles but I guess the calendars are planned so far in advance that this may be unavoidable. [JT]

An interesting puzzle. A very novel approach ignoring some of the letters in the word play made for a fun challenge. [MP]

Great – thanks Boatman, Calluna. I especially enjoyed the clues with the ignored-letter wordplay, like the pleasantly efficient 27 and 33. [JR]

Harder than others recently, many words new to us, worrying how much we had forgotten from the similar theme last year… Interesting clueing with the missing letters. [J&JH]

Nice puzzle, thanks. [AR]

As a former teacher of Ancient History, I loved this one. My students and I were always enchanted by the stories of the ancient Egyptians and we undertook major investigations into the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb as well as the radical Pharaoh Akhenaten. Thanks for the memories evoked by this clever puzzle, Boatman and Calluna! [JA]

I liked the twist in the clueing. [PD]

We just have another Tut one, but this was nice. [AB]

Fun.😎👍 [DM]

Clever design, interesting theme, getting the forebears early helped with the other answers. [SB]

Very enjoyable again & not too difficult 👌 [MN]

Enjoyable – stuck parsing a few eg #12 (strep?) [BJ]

I enjoyed the missing letters in the wordplay, which made many clues pleasantly challenging. [DR]

Good theme and interesting twist by excluding the anagram letters for the Easter eggs. Quite a difficult solve for me with a few uncertain answers. Thanks to all involved. [BS]

Puzzled by your anniversary to start with as I thought we had done this last year. [MM]

My knowledge of egyptian history continues to grow. [JM]

Aside from the fun of a satisfying crossword, I also enjoyed my Tomb Raider knowledge coming in handy, especially about a certain temple! [AH]

I was glad of the Hints and Tips for a fuller explanation of Boatman’s innovation of omitting the shaded squares from the parsing. This was quite a challenge. [JB]

Found this quite challenging, especially with Boatman’s very concise, almost elliptical clues, and the letters left out of the wordplay, I got there in the end with a bit of checking of names and historical facts! Boatman is one of my favourite compilers, and some of the clues were like chiselled little jewels. [MS]

I loved it. I knew more than my master, having read about this recently. [RG]

Good. 🙂 [HM]

A lovely mix of relevant answers and some more obscure words- as always, it is always interesting to extend my vocabulary! The added feature of the coloured square letters being removed from the wordplay added to the fun of it – I laughed several times when realising what was going on. Having visited Egypt some years ago, which was an amazing experience. I have been fascinated by the pharaohs ever since… [SB]

One thought on “3D Crossword Solution – April 2023

  1. If we hadn’t been so fixated on beetles then we wouldn’t have missed a sparkling seven letter word, connected to the theme, hiding in plain sight. And … no bar!!

    After a bit of ‘googling’ post the prod from Komornik, I’ve discovered that Emeralds were indeed mined in Ancient Egypt.

    Archaeological evidence suggests that the Egyptian mines may have been worked intermittently as early as 500 BC, although the main period of mining appears to have begun under the Romans about 30 BC. Early Roman writers often referred to the area as “Mons Smaragdus” (Emerald Mountain). Egypt was the major source of emeralds until they were discovered in greater abundance and better quality in the 1520s in the New World in present-day Colombia.

    I’m sure Boatman would have have unearthed a gem of a clue for SMARAGD … but we may never know?

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