3D Crossword Solution – February 2023

Feb 2023 grid page

Clues by Puck and Grid by XAM

Theme: George Harrison (whose 80th birthday would have been on 25 February 2023)

The winner of the February puzzle is Steve Trollope of South Australia.

Review of the February 2023 3D crossword

Your hitherto faultless reviewer sadly confesses a failure. Not that I didn’t solve the puzzle, but I had to ask for help with the Easter Eggs. The failure was of a type very familiar to my wife, who is often shocked at my inability to see, say, cream in the fridge when it is disguised by a container of an unexpected colour. So I had already considered and rejected Something — which my research had already shown me to be a George Harrison song — because I couldn’t see, after several sweeps, THING — despite having included it in Day 39. Pathetic, and probably pathological.

The other Easter Egg I didn’t manage to find in my research. Puck wants solvers, indeed!

However, my own shortcomings must not detract from the excellence of the grid and Puck’s clues. Clueing something as long as a song title without straining the edges of the calendar box is a great art: but then Puck has always been a virtuoso of wit and phrasing. I loved SURE OF, which works so well because the word redevelopment is such a well-selected anagram indicator — firstly because it does indeed feature the letter E four times, and then also because ‘in redevelopment’ seems to take us away from cryptic solving and into urbanism or some other field. MY SWEET LORD includes a classic misdirection technique, where what appear to be verb and object ‘to judge pudding’ are in fact to be read as part of different phrases. 

ERNIE featured a misdirection of a different kind: we were cajoled into imagining that Mr Clapton was referred to, while it had to be the genius of comic timing and intonation Eric Morecambe. HERE COMES THE SUN was another which brought a mixture of laughter and almost resentment at having been tricked. FLY economically brought together two different meanings into a spurious football reference. USA TODAY was beautifully succinct.

There were probably several references in clues which went over my head, but quite properly, without being an expert on the theme I was able to complete the grid. This also is a compliment to Puck, who expertly treads the divide between obscurity and giving everything away.

I should have been an expert on WOMAD, I suppose, since it used to take place in the big hall at Crinnis, very near where I used to live — but I never attended. That beach I associate with the bits of ocean-borne phosphorescence which used to wash up there, rather than these other glittering performers. 

Now two more confessions of failure: I did not solve Frank Paul’s visual clue, nor did I confidently identify the seascape location. It could be ‘Here Comes the Sun’ perhaps, but I wondered if George H was associated with some specific seaboard location… 

I really like XAM’s grid. Firstly, the Torus manages to provide variety with its round setting while maintaining a good average entry length. Unlike a sphere, which virtually obliges the use of some very short words (see December!), in a torus — basically an infinite cylinder — there is much more continuity of lights. And XAM filled them most expertly. The two bars were far fewer than one might have imagined necessary in view of the enormous number of thematic expressions, and the ‘extra’ cells, for me, did not impinge. Of course it was big – slightly inconvenient to have to keep consulting the back page of the calendar – so perhaps a six-dialled torus might be recommended for future designers. However, it provided a lot of entertainment, not a little head-scratching, and scope for much Puckishness.

HARRISON filled those eight dial centres most satisfactorily, though the clue to that central character was one of the hardest – George has on, round RRI, not any Biblical reference! Is it a coincidence that Puck leads us up the garden path with what seems to be NO SIR ‘on the contrary’? I suspect not.


Grid solution

February 2023 grid solution

Visual clue

Here we have cryptic crossword pioneer Torquemada and a crossed out fig leaf-clad figure. The revolving circle indicates a cycling or reversal, giving:


Visual clue for TORQUE
Drawing by Frank Paul

Clues and explanations

Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk.

DaySolutionDirection, Clue, CountExplanation
1EMINENT1di Distinguished rapper cut very small sample from 36 (7)Emine[m] + [While My Guitar Ge]nt[ly Weeps]
36 = While My Guitar Gently Weeps, which Eminem sampled but then had to cut the sample from his recording after George’s wife refused permission
2BOUNCE2di Animation featuring black cat (6)B + ounce
3ERNIE3di Eric’s playing partner that produces winning numbers (5)Eric Morecambe/Ernie Wise
Ernie the computer
4IF I NEEDED SOMEONE*4C One excellent journalist meeting another (Part 1) (2,1,6,7)1 + fine + Ed + Ed + some + one
5FONTS5di It’s just no fun for some characters, having to reverse? Courier’s one of them (5)Hidden answer (rev.)
6NOWHERE6di Out of the running for Burning Man event in Spain (7)Two meanings
“Nowhere” event in Spain
7WHIG7di Politician once having head of hair in unreal mop top? (4)H[air] in wig
8URCHIN8di Echinoderm with edible types available in your Chinese (6)Hidden answer
9ROSE SHOW9E Blooming exhibition has no new Dark Horse work? Ad’s wrong (4,4)Anag of (Horse work + Ad’s) minus anag of Dark
(Dark Horse record label)
10WAH-WAH*10di Laugh boisterously about Lord’s return too (3-3)haw-haw/Haw-Haw (rev.)
11WITHIN YOU WITHOUT YOU*10E-4,45C-3,25di(2oc),10E-7,25di(2oc) Before clue has been cut, humour then lacking amongst solvers? (6,3,7,3)Wit + hin[t] + (without in (you you))
12HERE COMES THE SUN*11di(1oc),28C-11 Announcement of setter’s imminent next appearance? (4,5,3,3)Cryptic meaning
13MEADOW13di Playing WOMAD, takes Ecstasy in place of grass (6)E in anag of WOMAD
14MY SWEET LORD*13C-11 Words used to judge pudding’s included (2,5,4)Sweet in (My Lord)
15ELATE15di Transcendental base behind schedule? Cheer up! (5)e + late
16TOAST17di Brown Sugar’s opener in “just perfect” setting (5)S[ugar] in (to a t)
17IDEALS18di High standards aimed at by reformed Bangladeshi that’s not misused bhang (6)(Anag of Bangladeshi) minus (anag of bhang)
18ACES20W-4 Serves apple crumble every Saturday, for starters (4)Initial letters: a(pple) c(rumble) e(very) S(aturday)
19FOR YOU BLUE*21di,34AC-4 ELO? Buy four remixes! (3,3,4)Anag of (ELO + Buy four)
20FLY21E-3 Winger that’s on the ball (3)Two meanings
21USA TODAY22W Setters with nothing in a Times newspaper (3,5)Us + 0 in (a + T + day)
22PARKA24di Soft lining of Hare Krishna’s coat, one with a hood (5)p + [H]ar[e] K[rishn]a
23PERE24E-4 Parisian pop group from Upper Edmonton (4)Hidden answer
24TORQUE26di Force used when twisting someone’s arm that could make one spill the beans, reportedly (6)Homophone of “talk”
25SURE OF27di Confident about there being four E’s in redevelopment (4,2)Anag of (four E’s)
26CABIN28AC-3,34W-3 Opening bat caught by third man? That might need logging (5)B[at] in Cain
27MAUND29W-5 Indian unit in Burma, undefeated (5)Hidden answer
28GEORGE HARRISON*30di,11W King with kids covered by 2 Kings 1? On the contrary (6,8)George + ((RR +I) in (has on))
29TYROL31di Traveling Wilburys’ leader then unknown, with Roy Orbison initially getting lost in mountainous area (5)T[raveling Wilbur]y[s]’ + R[oy] O[rbison] + L
30SWAB32W-4 Second wife has one or two different types of blood in specimen (4)S + w + AB, or S + w + A + B
31QUARTO33di Book containing some quotes about the skill involved in sitar tuning? (6)[sit]ar t[uning] in quo[tes]
32BINDINGS34W Book covers detail of wild dog wearing glasses (8)Ding[o] in bins
33AGREE35di Consent to keep tabs on a king (5)a + GR + ee
34AMIGO36di Friend of those heading up ashram mystical Indian guru’s organised (5)Initial letters: a[shram] m[ystical] I[ndian] g[uru’s] o[rganised]
35SPIRIT37di Ghost of Ravi Shankar? It pops in, then heads off (6)Anag of initial letters: R[avi] S[hankar] I[t] p[ops] i[n] t[hen]
36WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS*38di,13C-2,39di,19C-5,12E-2,14C-3,16W-3 Elsewhere a pygmy twin is racked with guilt (5,2,6,6,5)Anag of (Elsewhere a pygmy twin + guilt)
37MUSCLE40di Might 50% of my clues need editing? (6)Anag of (m[y] + clues)
38PETAL41C-5 Bit of a bloomer, putting short story on page three finally (5)P + [thre]e + tal[e]
39ALL THINGS MUST PASS*42C-14,41di-4 Last night’s plum duff? Ace, with seconds to follow (3,6,4,4)Anag of (Last night’s plum) + A + ss
40LONG LONG LONG*43W,43W-4 Three wishes? (4,4,4)Long x 3
41TUSKS44di Polish politician’s teeth? Source of the River Ganges, ultimately (5)(Donald) Tusk’s; T[he] + Usk + [Gange]s
Definition = teeth
42GOSHT46di My takeaway starter’s Indian meat (5)Gosh + t[akeaway]
43NEON47W-4 In one’s element (4)Hidden answer, via [o]Ne[’s]
44COHORT48di Taxonomic group containing Pacific salmon? Right (6)Coho + rt
45SCOLD49di Small, bitter fault-finding woman? (5)S + cold
46MOTOWN51di There’s nothing in Transcendental Meditation about working to include Western style of music (6)(o in TM)rev. + (W in on)
47OLD BROWN SHOE*52di(4oc),50di,37E-3,23di-2(4oc) Over the hill, former PM’s place in Plymouth? (3,5,4)Old + (Gordon) Brown’s + Hoe
Easter EggI NEED YOURemember that primarily Puck wants solvers to enjoy and complete the puzzle … (1,4,3)Puck wants solvers
Easter EggSOMETHING… even if a few object to liberties possibly taken within the clueing. (9)a few object

Solvers’ comments

Excellent puzzle, thematically rewardingly rich. Many thanks. [TH]

Splendid puzzle by Puck packed with George Harrison references and built on a marvellous grid by XAM. Thanks! [NI]

Excellent [RE]

Loved it and loved George Harrison [LA]

Wonderful tribute, very cleverly done [AJ]

I’m glad I didn’t have to solve this! Even remembering most of the thematic entries it was quite a task, not helped by not having answers in alphabetical order. Easter eggs particularly difficult – is the rubric supposed to help? It’ll be interesting to read other solvers’ comments. I particularly liked the clues to 16 and 37, but struggled to parse 6, 28, 31 and 43, and don’t like 1. [MJ]

The spiky torus was a little strange and it was irksome to need to consult a list of obscure songs, but there were some good clues: 16, 18, 2, 30, 41 and 42 especially. [DR]

I loved every moment of this puzzle. How did Puck and Xam manage to fit in so many references to George Harrison and The Beatles? Still not sure that I have it all right as there were lots of tricksy clues, with Puck definitely at his mischievous best. Thanks for this delightful February offering! (By the way, I’d love to know where Graham Fox’s photo was taken. Now that I can see the full picture it is a wonderful photograph. Any special Beatles significance?) [JA]

Loved the theme. George is often overshadowed by John and Paul – well done for including so many of his excellent songs. Thanks, Puck and XAM. [RS]

Started randomly on day 19 and got FOR YOU BLUE. Then attacked day 36 (word lengths suggested possible song title) and that cracked the theme. Enjoyed seeing some GH references in non-thematic clues. Couldn’t fully parse NOWHERE, Day 6, so looking forward to the March newsletter. As ever with 3D, a couple of new words –hurrah. Thanks Puck and Xam for an enjoyable puzzle and some nice clueing. [CW]

A tricky grid needing care getting answers in the right place. I liked the clueing! [JP]

🤔A bit tricky, but couldn’t put it down once I’d started! Very enjoyable again, thank you. 🙏😃 [MN]

Having celebrated the first of The Beatles 5 visits in 1963 to Stoke in January and getting My Sweet Lord on first pass, George Harrison seemed a potential for this and so it proved! Loved it. 😎😎👍 [DM]

Lovely puzzle, took me a little while to work out the geometry and a bit longer to find the theme. I particularly liked Frank’s homage to Torquemada. Thank you. [JT]

Loved the mix of working out the parts, memories and googling. A satisfying long solve. Thank you. [HH]

A bit harder as the clues were not in alphabetical order, but that made it more interesting to solve. Got the theme fairly early which helped. Didn’t know that George had been so prolific and it was interesting to find out more about him. The torus grid was challenging to complete especially the East / West directions. As usual, didn’t get the picture clue until after solving the cryptic but that led to looking up Torquemada which was a very enjoyable diversion! Took ages to understand the clueing for the Easter Eggs but it brought a smile when the penny finally dropped. Enjoyable! Thanks to Puck and Xam. [JC]

A nice challenge as usual, a couple of new-to-me words and an education on George Harrison, what’s not to love? And the Torquemada thing has opened up a whole new avenue of fun and intrigue. Thanks to all. [SC]

Possibly the most difficult monthly 3D puzzle to date. To get so many thematic answers in the grid must have taken a lot of work but the result is a lot of fun for solvers. [JM]

Amusing clues, satisfying to solve, loved it. [DB]

Had no idea where this was leading for some time: but I think it was HERE COMES THE SUN that set me off. A great Bravo to Xam for another trip down memory lane. [PA]

I am won round in the end, but it was a game of four halves! Initial directionless floundering with no obvious ways to start. Eureka moment with the rather easy day 19 which (given the dates involved) meant I was soon googling birthdays of nine suspects (since it could as easily have been Status Quo). Then, I’m afraid, a rather grumpy grind spent more often in searching for unknown titles to see whether I could work out where and why they fitted with more groans than smiles at the penny-dropping moments at that stage. Finally, however, in copying the whole thing up and cross-checking, I came to appreciate the brilliance of many of the clues, especially the short and pithy – days 7, 16, 20, 22, 23, 25, 37, 42 particularly enjoyed and also (despite being in the category of tortuous) days 17 and 46. [EF]

Amazing grid and excellent clues. [PD]

This was a tough solve, took a while to get the theme, which was quite obvious from hints in various clues. Very interesting grid, and lots of enjoyable clues, so a big thank you to Puck and Xam [GW]

Some clues seemed Run of the Mill and others Simply Shady, but The Answer’s at the End, and now there’s Nowhere to Go and No Time or Space left in the grid. We often found that Unconsciousness Rules and That’s what it takes, for an Unknown Delight! [J&JH]

Really cleverly interwoven with so many answers relevant to the theme. Very enjoyable, and a subject close to my heart. [SB]

Excellent puzzle celebrating a great man. [MD]

Enjoyed spotting the songs once I’d worked out the theme. [EW]

I found this rather on the difficult side. A lot of googling was required for the songs. I love the grid. [MP]

I enjoyed reminiscing over happy periods of my formative life, which was enriched by the likes of George Harrison and The Beatles. Thank you for the opportunity! [SF]

Waves and waves of nostalgia … and several earworms which I didn’t mind at all. What a joy this puzzle was, even if it was tough. Something in the way you set them, Puck and XAM. [SW]

A masterful creation, fully exploiting the complex design and the particular feature that the diagonals in the cross-sections could accommodate 6-letter as well as 5-letter words. Many of the clues had to wait for more crossing letters to help solve them, but there was a lot to admire in their originality and (in some cases) their whimsicality. Despite knowing next to nothing about the theme except the name of the celebrated musician, I enjoyed working out all the song titles from the thematic clues, but I had to have a smidgeon of help to know what to look for in the grid in order to collect the Easter Eggs. [AB]

Feeling quite pleased with myself that I managed to solve this puzzle and even more so that I could enter the solutions in the torus grid. I enjoyed the nostalgic look back to the Beatles era. [JB]

My era, my type of music so very enjoyable. Seem to have got to grips with the dial grid at last & enjoy the added interest it brings. [DB&MJ]

Cor. Interesting to enter. [RG]

Why isn’t “I Me Mine” an easter egg too? [AB]

I had not realised George wrote so many of the songs! This was another tough puzzle at the beginning of the year with some tricky clues. Couldn’t solve the Frank Paul drawing even after having the answer…. [SB]

Fab [JR]

A wonderful grid and set of clues! So many references woven in to the clues and answers. I have quite a few answers that I still don’t quite understand but I went with Puck’s advice and enjoyed solving the puzzle without worrying overly about parsing each one. I got the hang of the torus grid quite easily and only got my Easts and Wests mixed up once or twice! Many thanks to all involved. [BS]

Super puzzle. Loved the theme. [FH]

Well, I’m glad I did not manage to enter the RPM Trophy, because I definitely do not yet have the skills to beat a such a well-designed grid as this. I always especially enjoy grids with strong themes, and my partner also appreciated quite a few clever clues. Almost thought we weren’t going to make it, but had some flashes of inspiration at the end of the month! [AH]

A quite brilliant puzzle, one of the best in the many years I have been wrestling with these wonderfully inventive distractions from everyday life! A beautiful tribute to the sweetest, deepest and most soulful of the Fab Four in my view, and great to be reminded of some of his finest songs. The grid alone is a tour de force, but it is astonishing how many thematic song titles were squeezed into it, without at all seeming forced, and then also how many allusions to so much else he did are woven into the very clever clues (the Traveling Wilburys, Ravi Shankar, Indian religion, etc.). Hats off to Puck and Xam! (And I really hope I got the Easter Eggs right, which took quite a bit of head scratching…) [MS]

Not just a great trip down memory lane, but a real masterpiece of working references into clues. A few words new to me (Ernie (the computer), e.g.), some cluing I am waiting to be explained, and I appear to be wrong on one answer at least, but genuinely a pleasure to work, nonetheless. Headed to YT now to re-listen to a few of these. Many thanks to Puck et al! [JS]

One thought on “3D Crossword Solution – February 2023

  1. This was evidently a highly popular puzzle. I am aware now that I didn’t do it justice in reviewing. There’s a lot of praise for all aspects. And I am ashamed not to have solved Frank Paul’s clue, We all owe Torquemada (Edward Powys Mathers) such a lot, in that he was the prototype innovator and composer of ‘specials’: really ought to recognize him. You can read a lot about him – also Afrit and Ximenes – on the Crossword Centre website. Well worth a visit.
    Another thing well worth doing, AH and others, is entering the Ray Parry-Morris Trophy competition by submitting a grid – or the World Championship, if you qualify. After all, XAM, Calluna, etc and the others all had to start somewhere! My own first entry was very naively constructed and not very practical, but the comments and advice I received from those judging were incredibly positive and encouraging.
    AB also improves on my comments on the Torus grid, which I do think is a wonderful invention.
    Thank you to all who commented, and please keep leaving your comments so that the Calendar Team can respond, learn and improve!

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