3D Crossword Solution – February 2021

Feb 2021 puzzle page

Clues and Grid by Curmudgeon

Theme: UK Decimal Day, 15 February 1971

The winner of the February puzzle was Peter Aylmer of Bishop’s Stortford.

Review of the February 2021 3D crossword

The rubric said: this puzzle marks the 50th anniversary of a time (highlighted) when the relationship between two of the solutions was altered, while three others were made redundant. Solutions are to be entered jigsaw-wise where they will fit. The solution for Day 9 is to be entered in the down direction and there is one snake at Day 28 as illustrated. Solvers must submit with their entry two extra items: the number of the altered solution in the bottom tier needed to make up the redundant one in the top tier (a) before the change (5), and (b) after it (6-4). Clues are presented alphabetically.

Well this does look interesting. I think it is the first time we have been asked to construct a jigsaw for a solution in the main calendar as opposed to one of our extra puzzles. Curmudgeon usually sets a fairly straightforward puzzle from a cluing perspective and Puck has clearly raised the bar by adding this twist.

With a jigsaw we need to solve the great majority of the clues before attempting assembly into the grid. I made reasonably good progress on clue solving and particularly enjoyed solving the picture clue; PENANCE less the Na for sodium. I always enjoy solving the picture clue and practice is improving my success rate. By the time I switched my attention to the jigsaw I’d solved all bar three clues, including those for TINHORN and PANSIES.

With a number of currency related answers, particularly examples of the old £sd, emerging the theme was clearly related to coinage. Once I got DECIMAL the penny dropped; this is all to do with Decimal Day. A quick bit of research and that was confirmed. Strangely enough, as a young man, I worked for Royal Mail at the time in the stamp design and policy unit and Decimal Day had a major impact with a full range of new stamps to be issued in parallel with the new coinage. Memories indeed.

With 3D jigsaws the tricky bit is how to start. In this instance there is an obvious entry point. The highlighted yellow cells and what looks like DECIMAL across the top tier rear and DAYTIME across the bottom tier rear. We’re told that Day 9 DOSED is entered downwards and that fits nicely between the two D’s of DECIMAL and DAY. We’re off and running. Normally I search for potential candidates to fit into square 1 of the grid, so this is the next step. Clearly only answers beginning with either ‘A’ or ‘P’ are eligible. (‘I’ might have been a possibility but with no seven letter word beginning with ‘I’ it was ruled out). An exploration of the options leads to ‘P’ being the most likely with ‘A’ leading in the front left corner of tier two. Given the snake shape of SHILLING there is a good chance that it runs from the ’S’ of DOSED in tier two of the grid and LUNGE helps confirm this as it fits in with the ‘L’ from DECIMAL and the ‘NG’ from SHILLING. The rest follows reasonably rapidly. 

Now to the Easter eggs. We’re obviously after something pre-decimal with an altered value post decimal. I have to confess to spending more time than I should have on resolving this. I must have gone through every option of pence and shillings into pounds and florins before eventually hitting on pence into a crown. 

At least one of you raised the concern that it would be possible to get the correct solutions and enter them online without actually completing the jigsaw. Puck did carefully consider this point and the Easter eggs were specifically designed and worded to overcome this possibility. You had to have completed the jigsaw in order to confidently identify what in the bottom tier might be altered and what in the top tier might be made redundant.

I heartily thank Curmudgeon for a delightful theme and Puck for raising the bar and adding the testing couple of Easter eggs.

A note on the history of 3D crossword jigsaws

Designing 3D crossword grids can be great fun. Depending on the degree of ambition, e.g. number of themed words, grid complexity, word obscurity etc., the design can be tantalising, frustrating and ultimately satisfying when everything fits together. Well, those emotions are just the ones we seek to induce in the solver for maximum contentment. I thought it would be great fun to involve solvers in the grid design process by setting a 3D jigsaw. I think these are a little more challenging than those in 2D and I decided on the gentle, partial introduction before going the whole hog a little later.

Araucaria, John Graham, invented the crossword jigsaw in 2D, so naturally I asked his permission to extend his idea into 3D, which he readily gave.

May 2008 Sirius and June 2008 Sirius were our first two partial jigsaws as was July 2008 Sirius. Directions ac,aw,d were given but not position, i.e. the number of the cell. These three puzzles were set by way of introduction to the full-blown jigsaws in August, September, and October 2008 Sirius.

May 2009 Sirius/Pasquale was a partial jigsaw and July 2009 Sirius/Taupi, a full jigsaw.

The frequency of the jigsaws in the regular monthly puzzles decreases as one might see with any innovation but also modified by that most valuable mechanism in any young project – solver feedback.

We have sometimes set a jigsaw puzzle at the beginning of the month to then release full directions a few weeks later, sometimes offering a prize for each version. Generally speaking, the clues in jigsaw puzzles need to be easier on average, unless, as in the legendary Araucaria alphabetical jigsaws, the solver has a significant extra help.

Solvers looking for a seriously challenging jigsaw might like to take a look at ‘The Seven Dials Mystery’ (2013 October Extra) puzzle set by Sirius in the second RNIB 3D Crosswords Cup held at Penderels Oak, Holburn, London. The grid is a spinning ‘combination lock’ and there are three pieces which do not fit and which solve the mystery.

– Sirius

Grid solution

February 2021 grid solution

Visual clue

A sinner does PENANCE. “Sodium-free!” indicates sodium (chemical symbol Na) is to be removed. Thus:


Visual clue for PENCE
Drawing by Frank Paul

Clues and explanations

Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk.

DaySolutionDirection, Clue, CountExplanation
1ACTED17aw Undressed nymphomaniac tediously performed (5)Hidden
2ARRESTS11ac Checks a queen takes a break (7)A + R + RESTS
3ASH-HEAP17ac Tree initially haplessly enkindled, alas, producing pile of cinders (3-4)ASH + H E A P
4ASSES11aw Mostly evaluate donkeys (5)ASSES(s)
5CHIVY9d Pursuit long ago of Chinese climbing plant (5)CH + IVY
6*CROWN9to Rook, perhaps, with new 5 28 coin (5)CROW + N
7*DAYTIME22ac DIY team working between dawn and dusk (7){DIY TEAM}*
8*DECIMAL8ac Doctor claimed there’s a point in this system (7)CLAIMED*
9DOSED8d Oddly drowsy chief journalist’s given some medication (which goes down OK?) (5)D(r)O(w)S(y) + ED
10ELFIN7d Small and delicate line devised circling figure’s top (5)LINE* around F(igure)
11*FLORINS13ba Florida, Oregon and Indiana originally stamped currency (7)FL OR IN S(tamped)
12HANDY18aw Hospital and dispensary finally conveniently close (5)H AND (dispensar)Y
13ICIER15to Frostier, more potentially hazardous but not dangerous at first (5)DICIER – D(angerous)
14ILEUM3aw With no trace of sugar, muesli comes to lowest part of small intestine (5)MUESLI – S(ugar)<
15IN ONE23to Combined with this, a hole is kind golfers like (2,3)Double definition
16ISLAM23up Mali’s troubled religion (5)MALIS*
17*ISSUE3d Give out paper hanky with temperature tumbling (5)(t)ISSUE
18LUNGE10d Rapid thrust forward in training ground for horses (5)Double definition
19NIFFS16to Foul pongs to smell, with sulphur on the go from start to finish (5)SNIFF S to end
20NORTH2d Former PM is regularly indoors with leaders of the House (5)(i)N(d)O(o)R(s) + t(he) H(ouse)
21ONION6d Pungent aromatic plant, type of rocket (5)Double definition
22OZONE21up Fresh, bracing air round region (5)O ZONE
23PANSIES1ac Bloomers see new 24 thrown in sea with 28s (7)P + (IN SEA)* + S
24*PENCE19aw Enclose church bread (5)PEN CE
25PLAYA1d Participate in sport on a flat, desert basin (5)PLAY + A
26POSES19up Puts forward small bunches of flowers, taking out first of irises (5)POSIES less I(rises)
27*POUND1aw Beat capital (5)Double definition
28*SHILLING14ac,16d-2 What made a dozen old coppers squeal about F1 champ (8)SING around HILL
29SPELL4aw Set down in order letters of magic formula (5)Double definition
30SPOOL12aw Bobbin of twisted coils (5)LOOPS<
31TINHORN20ac Prickly thing involving fashionable small-time gambler (7)THORN round IN
32UPSET5d Topple leading group (5)UP SET
33URODELE5ac Ancient city poem: The French Amphibian (7)UR + ODE + LE
Easter EggSIXTYThe number of the altered solution in the bottom tier needed to make up the redundant one in the top tier before the change (5)1 crown = 60d
Easter EggTWENTY-FIVEThe number of the altered solution in the bottom tier needed to make up the redundant one in the top tier after the change (6-4)1 crown = 25p

Solvers’ comments

Fun to do [RC]

Always like Curmudgeon. Many thanks for this not too easy puzzle. Pansies gave most trouble. [PC]

One of us is old enough to remember this occasion and so we had a suspicion about the theme early on. A generous clue for the unfamiliar URODELE helped and we thought the clue for ILEUM was very clever. The highlighted phrase made the jigsaw straightforward. Thanks! [N&SI]

Great fun — but what about the groat and the noble? When I was an undergraduate fines were still multiples of 6s8d. (And thank you for the second chance, which almost feels like cheating, but it was just a typo rather than a wrong answer) [TH]

As expected, a very enjoyable puzzle. (But I have tried to submit it six times now and still am told something’s wrong… ARGH, it’s the Easter egg. I have *never* been able to multiply twelve by five and get sixty – I always put forty. I did the same in a Maths A Level once, and spent 25 minutes of a 45 minute exam staring at this exact sum.) [HS]

Very enjoyable, as always! The Easter eggs took me a while – a combination of “old money” being before my time and the simple maths not quite twigging! [JN]

Excellent [ML]

Very good, maybe we were lucky but the jigsaw went together much more easily than previous ones. [J&JH]

Placing of DECIMAL, DAYTIME and DOSED, then SHILLING and LUNGE, made the jigsaw easier than some have been. I remember the event well. Our local grocer retired rather than deal with it. [MJ]

Ah yes! I remember it well. [AM]

Made me recall my pre-decimal day training as a Saturday girl at Owen Owens in Coventry. [RE]

Fabulous if a little scary. The first two months have been rather hard on us Yanks! Can’t explain the parenthetical addition to 9, and unsure of the parsing of 21. Also, the crosser was necessary to ensure urodele rather than urodela, I think? Thanks to Curmudgeon et al! [JS]

Cartes-blanches are always fun and the 3-D version is quite a challenge. Many thanks for a most enjoyable puzzle. Hard to believe decimalisation happended 50 years ago! [JM]

Fun puzzle, well clued! I often find jigsaw type puzzles more difficult, but being shown where to put Decimal day was a great help [JP]

For the second month running I sussed out the picture clue (usually they baffle me). Either they’re getting easier or I’m becoming more attuned to the artist’s wavelength. It did help that I had some idea of the theme very early on. Enjoyable puzzle, thanks! [RS]

A fascinating puzzle. The jigsaw turned out to be easier than I expected [HB]

A lot of puzzling out for this one but very satisfying to complete. [SW]

Brought back memories! [HH]

Well, that took me back! [BB]

Not as hard as it looked at first sight. I am old enough to remember being given change from 5p when I should have given 10p in the first place… I soooo wanted day 23 to be ‘panties’ (bloomers) that it took me ages to see what I assume is the right answer (I also considered ‘pennies’). Altogether very nice, construction, theme and clues [EF]

The jigsaw is challenging! [CW]

An extra challenge when you have to work out where to put the words. However it is always a big help when the answers are listed alphabetically. The extra items required caused me a bit of head scratching but I suddenly understood what was wanted. [MP]

Some tricky clues & it took more time than it should have to figure out what was required for the endgame! Doh!! [MN]

Took a surprisingly long time to fit the jigsaw together! Very impressive wordfill, with only the one snake. Clues generally very fair and sufficiently challenging. 9/10 ! [HE]

In Australia we changed to decimal currency on 14 February 1966 – as I type this that anniversary is tomorrow – so almost fifty-five years ago! It was interesting to research some of the details of the UK’s Decimal Day a little later than that in 1971. This puzzle was fun but the “altered solutions” added a new level of challenge. Thanks to Curmudgeon for the brain work-out. I also really like the drawing of PENITENCE but I couldn’t quite work out the wordplay even though I saw PENCE was the envelope – I know about sodium nitrate but I couldn’t understand why NITE were the letters to remove. so thanks for the clarification in advance. [JA]

Really liked this. Actually a bit sad that there is now way to enter the solutions according to the grid. (so it looks like you can win the prize without even having done this). Jan was my first even 3-D and so this one was my first ever Alpha-Jigsaw. It seems daunting at first, but in fact the grid construction with only 7s and 5s make it straightforward. It was a big hint that ‘DECIMAL DAY’ was marked out — I don’t think this was needed as well as DOSED being in a down entry. I wondered all along how the SHILLING would snake in — very impressed at the overlap with LUNGE!. The easter eggs helped rather than held up the solution, I didn’t have all the grid done but the enumeration helped point the way. The wording was a bit confused ‘altered solution’ — PENCE works just as well in sixty pence in a crown (old money) and twenty-five pence in ‘five shillings’ (new money). On a pedantic note, the florin wasn’t really made redundant on Decimal Day – it carried on alongside the 10P piece for some years — I’m indebted to Wikipedia for that since I was not really economically active at the time. [ES]

Knowing that Day 9 had to go downwards narrowed the selection of other positions. It might have taken a lot longer to fill the grid without this hint. The two Easter Eggs brought back memories of maths lessons, converting £5 4s and 6d ha’penny to farthings and back again! [PD]

I liked it a lot. At first I thought that a jigsaw in 3d would be much more difficult than in a 15×15 flat. However, the fact that intersecting letters are always 1/3/5/7 makes it easier to eliminate most possibilities, so it only took an hour or so to fit the answers in. Time much enjoyed. It was interesting (for me, who experienced it) to be taken back to those days when we were being trained on television every evening in the conversion of our money. I also remember junior school, and having to do ‘long multiplication and division of money’, which was always a tough one. It always seemed to be multiplying by 28, I don’t know why. And there were some lovely old tricks involving the old money [available on request]. But I suppose our quaintness did reduce efficiency of dealing with other countries. Wouldn’t want to go back to those days, eh? [AC]

Great fun [JM]

It can’t be 50 years since Decimal Day! This puzzle was a super reminder of the day when sums got easier but also when lovely words like florin and half-crown became obsolete and we had to start counting money in ´p’. ´Tinhorn’ and ´urodele’ were new words to me but otherwise I found the clues and parsing relatively straightforward and even filling in the jigsaw was not as daunting as I expected. Thanks for the diversion during this continuing and very tedious lockdown. [JB]

Some nice witty clues. Thanks, [ET]

I love the jigsaw design and the first one I’ve managed to complete after several years of trying! [CP]

I still can’t parse 21 (onion) [RS]

Very enjoyable, the hardest part was getting my head around a 3D jigsaw, getting started was the trickiest bit but once I took the plunge it wasn’t as bad as I thought. [SS]

Very enjoyable [MD]

It certainly adds to the challenge when you have to fit the lights jigsaw-wise. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I am a poor golfer, so I had IN PAR as the answer because that was always a thrill for me and I never achieved a hole in one. On par 3s I was delighted to be on the green! I know the song “Fugue for Tinhorns” from Guys and Dolls but I didn’t know what a tinhorn was until now. Thanks again for a superb range of crosswords which are the perfect balance for me of difficulty and being solvable with targeted thought processes. [ST]

😎 I went through stages, with more coming to light with time. Decimalisation was clear from the start, with half the clues on first pass including Decimal and Daytime, Pence but Pound was my last! Tinhorn and Handy seemed important but were placed incorrectly but did give me a layer. Serendipity gave me Decimal Day in the yellow squares, then the rest tumbled into place – though I had to replace the incorrect Upend with Upset. Sixty and twenty-five came before starting the grid. [DM]

I’m not keen on jigsaw crosswords as a rule, but in this one the task of fitting the pieces together was helped by being able to fix DECIMAL DAY. After that, I worked everything out without having to resort to trial-and-error at any point. The cryptically indirect hint given for the final two thematic items was a puzzle in itself, but when I worked out which words in the grid were the relevant ones the arithmetic was simple enough. In all, a quality puzzle that I enjoyed very much. [AB]


We are too young for this! [HJ&MF]

enjoyed this one thanks. some easy answers but some words new to me. Knew the theme straight away as my son was born the same week! [NC]

Amazing to think this particular D-Day was fifty years ago! Quite a nostalgic puzzle and mostly manageable. I was misled for a while by the “Bobbin of twisted coils” which led me to that old familiar thread “Silco” – I guess that was a deliberate red-herring on Curmudgeon’s part, to catch out older dressmakers!!?? [SB]

more soluble than I first thought! [JC]

This was a clever puzzle relating to decimalisation in 1971, and even though I grew up with £sd, I found it hard to remember the equivalent values in decimals!! [SF]

Lovely crossword. Kept my master amused for ages. Didn’t get the gutter cleaned though. I did it myself. [RG]

Great puzzle – I always enjoy jigsawing the answers into the grid. [GB]

Lots of interesting wordplay in this one, much appreciated. I was nervous when we realised the theme – worried we’d be a little too young to be able to get some of the themed answers! But it was nicely done and we had a very satisfying time of puzzling out the solutions and the jigsaw! [AH]

I do love a good alphabetical jigsaw! [AR]

Very enjoyable puzzle with lots of intricacies to help and hinder. I really like having the Easter Eggs – in this case they helped me with actually solving some of the clues. I took ages to get going with the jigsaw challenge of entering the answers in the grid, but once I took the plunge it all fell into place very nicely. Thanks to everyone involved. [BS]

Pushed right up to the deadline on this, thanks (a) to other deadlines (b) my first try at the amphibian was urodela and I never read the hints & tips (c) convinced that the bobbin was an anagram of coils and not something else – but scoil (!) didn’t work alphabetically. Talk about giving myself a hard time. But here I am, and there are still more than three hours to go! [PA]

5 thoughts on “3D Crossword Solution – February 2021

  1. Loved this, but like one of the other commenters i can’t parse ‘Onion’ Can someone help please… double definition does not do it for me@

  2. The clue uses Chambers mistaken definition of ‘onion’ as a WW I flaming AA rocket – in fact ‘flaming onions’ were incendiary ammunition, a burst of which looked like a string of onions.

  3. Enjoyed this, but could not for the life of me fit it in the grid. After probably 10 or so false starts I gave up and decided this one was not meant to be for me! I see now my mistake was a misinterpretation of the snake illustration – I was trying to insert it across and then towards, rather than down. Doh! We live and learn, I suppose!

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