3D Crossword Solution – February Extra 2021

Araucaria tribute puzzle

Clues by Enigmatist and Grid by Sirius

Theme: Araucaria (John Galbraith Graham), born 16 February 1921

The winner of the February Extra puzzle was Aimee Hall of Exeter. Runners up were Peter Cargill of Kirkcaldy and Hamish Symington of Cambridge.

Review of the February Extra 2021 3D crossword

The instructions were: This puzzle’s innovative grid comprises a ‘Number One’ column and two spheres, aptly denoting a 100 year anniversary. One of the cells in the right hand sphere is split in two, and requires two letters to be entered. The required entry in the column is unclued; numbers in its alternate cells refer to corresponding sphere cell numbers in the completed grid, where in each case the letter can be found – the remaining letters should then be easily found.

This was the second occasion on which we’ve encountered a spherical grid. The first celebrated the July 2019 Cricket World Cup semi-final between England and Australia and was also designed by Sirius. Previous experience provided very helpful familiarity with the concept of the EW and NS clues continuing round the sphere.

It was no secret that we were celebrating the centenary of the birth of Araucaria. Given that the ‘1’ column was 9 letters long it seemed worth taking a view that it might well be  ARAUCARIA and getting an immediate initial letter to four answers. A punt that paid off later in the solve.

I had some real difficulties with clue 1, both in solving it and entering it into the grid. From the letters in place and the definition I got  ‘1 ACROSS’  but where did the 1 go in the grid and just how did the parsing work? Eventually I clocked that Sirius had been devilishly clever and that the ‘1’ of the hundred served as the ‘1’ of the answer and that Enigmatist had been equally clever with the ‘VICTOR’ of (VICTOR)IA CROSS leaving.  

Amongst the toughest was the ‘in’ clue 11. “25’s ace compilers” for BIGGLES. OK, W E Johns for 25 gave BIGGLES as his ace but why compilers? Talk about truly esoteric but fair enough within the context of the puzzle. And, as I write below, Enigmatist’s tribute in the calendar to Araucaria did reveal the answer as the 4 Johns – all setters with a link to Araucaria.

The long anagrams, so reminiscent of Araucaria, were a master touch from both Sirius in the design and Enigmatist in the clue setting. Of course they were difficult to resolve, particularly given the complexity of the grid, but a fitting inclusion in the puzzle.

Without doubt this puzzle was a true tour de force. I cannot sum it up better than one of our solvers who in his feedback said:

There is a modern tendency to exaggerate and get recent achievements, troubles etc. out of proportion. I am not modern at all, but I would say something: this may be the greatest achievement in puzzling of recent times. Firstly, the grid: I was foxed to begin with, not knowing where to put all of 43 (my first one solved). Then it dawned that on a sphere the ‘lines’ are infinite, unless a bar supervenes (I hate bars normally, but here they are clearly needed). Getting all those thematics in was a fantastic achievement, and it worked really well. Thank you Sirius. Secondly, the clues: Enigmatist is revealed (in case we didn’t know) as a magician, who can make any word (‘JGGRAHAM’ is very tough) yield a clue that tells a true story. Other incredible clues are 1,3,18,43,45. This pays tribute to a genius and is on a level that owes him nothing. I felt privileged to be engaged in solving it. [AC]

Puck, when he was editing the crossword, was very conscious that a number of the references in the solutions fell, to say the least, into the esoteric category. One way of helping was to include some of the potentially least familiar in the tributes to Araucaria included in the calendar. Both Sirius and Enigmatist between them were able to do this. The tributes included references to:

Clue 1:   Required solution being 1 ACROSS, the magazine Araucaria founded with Enigmatist

Clue 5:   Referencing Baltimores & Bostons and ‘hiding’ in Italy after coming down

Clue 9:   Referencing Araucaria’s Financial Times pseudonym Cinephile

Clue 11: Required solution is BIGGLES. The 4 Johns – John GG (Araucaria), John Henderson (Enigmatist), John Young (Shed) and John Halpern (Paul) – occasionally set in the Guardian under the pseudonym Biggles (after W. E. Johns, the author of the Biggles stories).

Clue 14: Referencing that Araucaria was a Reverend

Clue 15: Required solution is KING’S COLLEGE CHAPEL CHOIR.

Clue 34: Required solution is MARGARET, Araucaria’s second wife

Clue 43: Required solution is ALPHABETICAL JIGSAW PUZZLES, an Araucaria speciality

Clue 45: There is a reference here to Araucaria using Scrabble tiles for his long anagrams

Other references in the crossword were:

Clue 12: Referencing Oundle and Long Preston, where Araucaria lived

Clue 20: Referencing St Chad’s and St Peter’s, where Araucaria was chaplain

Clue 24: Referencing Jane and Judith, Araucaria’s stepdaughters

Clue 31: Referencing Araucaria being excluded from the priesthood, and then eventually having the ban revoked

Clue 39: Referencing other places where Araucaria lived, including his final location in Somersham

Grid solution

Clues and explanations

Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk.

DaySolutionDirection, Clue, CountExplanation
1*1 ACROSSColumn,29di,27S-5 Elite British award-winner leaves magazine for crossword fans (1,6)(victor)1A CROSS
2*INAUGURATORS1S Tweeps gutted our Guardian Cryptic Crossword’s ultimately missing people with new ideas (12)anag T(weep)S OUR GUAR([Crosswor]d)IAN
3RIOJA4di Red Queen’s delighted shout, wanting both justice and Alice’s head (5)R + IO + J(ustice) A(lice)
4ARENE5E New A-Z missed off Christian compound (5)(n/a-z)ARENE
5*DROME7di Where Baltimores and Bostons were down, confess to ‘hiding’ somewhere in Italy (5)D(own)/ROME
6*ICON8di Many venerate him – Enigmatist does! (4)I/CON
7A GO-GO10di In Guardian Archive, like examples of Araucaria’s past work (1,2-2)AGO/GO; galore
8*GIGGLES11di Fits of which we got from ‘Farmer proving he was famished’ clue? (7)GI[GG]LES i.e. ‘eating a horse’
9EPIGEAN13di Vine-like, Cinephile’s last snorter remains, letters occasionally erased (7)(Cinephil)E + PIG + (r)E(m)A(i)N(s)
10*BELIEVE15N-7 Caps off behind enemy lines (Italy), meeting woman in garden, as Christian should (7)B(ehind) E(nemy) L(ines) + I + EVE
11*BIGGLES15di-4,16di(1 o’clock) 25’s ace compiler(s) (7)BIGGLES 2 meanings; ref. 25=WE Johns
12*GONE16di(10 o’clock) Departed from Oundle to Long Preston, finally moving (4)anag (Oundl)E [t]O [Lon]G [Presto]N
13GLINTS18E-2,17di In eg Bunthorne’s Bride, dressing is flashy? (6)G[LINT]S; ref subtitle of Patience (G&S)
14GUNG-HO18N-2,12di Too keen, suspended: turn to the other crossword Reverend (4-2)Spoonerism: ‘hung/go’; ref. Reverends Graham/Spooner
15*KING’S COLLEGE CHAPEL CHOIR19di,9N-2,3di,2S-4,23di(4 o’clock),24W-5,35di What could possibly make prig heckle angelic school singers? (5,7,6,5)(prig heckle angelic school) anag
16KINCH19di-3,26di(4 o’clock) Jazz saxophonist close to Brubeck at Sunday service? (5)(Brubec)K + IN CH[urch]; ref. Soweto Kinch
17*THE OLD VICARAGE GRANTCHESTER20W,6W,55di,57N-7 ‘Literary’ home allowance – after a fashion – procured by theatre diva, is it rumoured? (3,3,8,12)THE OLD VIC + A RAGE + GRANT + CHESTER; ref. diva/Deva homophone
18*THE HEAVENS ARE TELLING20W,53di,14S Choral piece, a seventh he’s composed, with a new vocal version (3,7,3,7)(A SEVENTH HE) anag + A RE-TELLING
19HUNCH21di ARC or ARC_: the latter’s missing letter not a crosser (5)(arc)H/UNCH; two alternative definitions
20PSST22W Attention-seeker heading west exits from St Chad’s and starts in St Peter’s (4)(S)T (Chad’)S + S(t) P(eter’s) all rev.
21PIN-UP22di Heartthrob expecting new setters perhaps to shift power (3-2)P/IN (p)UP; canine setters
22AERIE25S-5 A high point here with ideas for anagramming Shed sadly rejected (5)anag HERE + IDEAS, minus anag SHED
23RANGOLI30S→N Designs on floor – not the first dance – with which Romeo’s won Juliet’s heart (7)R + (t)ANGO + (ju)LI(et)
24*JESTED31N-6 What Jane and Judith share with enigmatic TES editor was amusing (6)J + anag EST + ED
25*W E JOHNS32W-2,33di,37E-2 Twice little boys’ rooms vacated by one English Captain of Literature (1,1,5)WE(e) + JOHNS
26WAJDA32S-5 His was A Generation, notice, to talk about (5)WAJ + DA all rev; ref. film
27ACTED34W-3,36S-3 Did Bill’s awfully apt clue as a containment Paul sadly rejected (5)A[CTE]D; anag APT CLUE minus anag PAUL
28TIZZES36W-6 Topless rockers burst into more than one marriage for songs and dances? (6)TI [ZZ (Top)] ES
29*TAMARIN39E-2,38S-2,46N-2,38E-4 Monkey puzzled, finally escaping tree (7)TAMARIN([puzzle]d)
30THOLI39di Round buildings, this is in spirit holiest (5)THOLI hidden
31*JOCOSE40W,41di His ban voided and lifted, John thus welcomed back by church with good humour (6)JO(h[s ba]n) + C(SO,rev.)E
32*ENIGMA44di Puzzle monkeyed with 35, one escaping (6)anag IMAGINE, minus 1
33COUGH UP45di-4,42di-3 For parting masterstroke, that is lousy pay! (5,2)CO[UGH]UP
34*MARGARET46di,43N-2 Great man almost completely besotted with her? He’s not admitted to it! (8)(he)R in anag GREAT MA(n);
35IMAGINE47di-4,48di(1 o’clock) Including Merlin and co among foremost of entertainers, John’s #1 (7)I[MAGI]N + E(ntertainers); ref John Lennon song
36*GURU48di(10 o’clock) Mentor’s spoken of sentimentality to regret? (4)Homophone of ‘goo + rue’
37*J G GRAHAM49E ‘Araucaria’ on top of grid, good cheer spread around (1,1,6)J[G(rid) + G + RAH]AM
38PPE50W Masks etc used in Theatre course at Oxford? (3)Two meanings
39*PSALM50di Devotional one starts in Peterborough, Settle and Lavenham – then Somersham, ultimately (5)P(eterborough) S(ettle) A(nd) L(avenham) + (Somersha)M
40DEPTH51W Property of this puzzle dear Eric put together honouring every one’s Number One (5)D(ear) E(ric) P(ut) T(ogether) H(onouring)
41READE54di Novelist cut short person speaking at church service (5)READE(r); ref Charles Reade
42PANAMA56S-6 Country priest, reflective chap, getting stuck into Araucaria’s “Perimetricals” (6)P + A[man, rev.]A
43*ALPHABETICAL JIGSAW PUZZLES58N,40S What could make us all upbeat? Whiz JG A-Z specials! (12,6,7)anag (all upbeat Whiz JG A-Z specials): &lit
NB: Split cell in grid for ZZ
44ANAGOGE58S→N A giant among men – an essentially revolutionary Biblical interpretation (7)[A GOG] in (m)EN A(n), rev.
45*ANAGRAM58S→N-4,48di(3 o’clock) Bible class: their ‘S’ is one of his Scrabble tiles (7)BIBLE CLASS THEIR S anagrams to HIS SCRABBLE TILES; &lit

Solvers’ comments

Bloody hell. (Said in awe and exasperation in equal measure!) [HS]

Quite a challenge, but a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man. [TH]

A wonderful tribute to the master! A lovely grid with lots of relevant entries (and what a delight to see “The Old Vicarage Grantchester” pop up). The clues beautifully weave in so many references to Araucaria’s life and work. Thank you for this masterpiece! [N&SI]

Intriguing. We weren’t sure about a couple of clues but wrestled it into some sort of submission. [CW]

Brilliantly done! [MD]

Lovely. The form doesn’t ask for the 1 column, which of course says “Araucaria” [RG]

Congratulations to Sirius and Enigmatist for keeping me going round in circles for a long time! It was an amazing tribute to Araucaria. My favourite clues among the weird and wonderful were to Pin-up and Depth. Good to see Eric is still as creative as ever. Was ‘Araucaria’ not required as answer to column? [PC]

What a time-consumer. Loved it eventually. [AM]

Araucaria being one of my all time favourite setters, I couldn’t miss doing this one, even though the spherical layout did have me confused at times! (I found that thinking of west and east as clockwise and anticlockwise helped.) As John Graham was born 30 years and one day before I was, I looked on the puzzle as an early birthday present, and it was a delight. [RS]

That all depends on whether these are the right answers [J&JH]

That was a challenge but I really enjoyed it. The various clues linked to Araucaria added to the pleasure. I had most trouble with the a go-go. [MP]

Amazing grid construction and some wonderful clues to complement it. [PD]

So, so difficult but GREAT fun. Looking forward to seeing the correct answers 🙂 [RE]

Wow. The first 3D I have ever tried…I dipped my toe in the water, then became immersed…a whole afternoon just disappeared…I think you may have permanently damaged my space-time continuum! A wonderful piece of construction, and a labour of love and admiration in those clues. Thanks – I will be doing more! [MC]

Enjoyed this tribute to Araucaria but had trouble with A go-go? Still don’t see why? And temporary block with hanch hunch from haunch! The rest were a great workout. 😎 only one error in following longitude around but soon corrected. [DM]

An absolutely amazing puzzle! Such a fitting tribute in every way. I learned a lot about Araucaria, through the very appropriate means of trying to solve a crossword. Thank you to all involved (including the excellent hints and tips!) [BS]

That was a toughie. Well clued and challenging – a fitting tribute! [JP]

A lovely (and tricky!) tribute to the great man [DH]

I am really sorry to strike a sour note at a celebration but as a newcomer I find this slightly unwelcoming. If, as one of the tributes said, Araucaria invited the solver to ‘come in and have some fun together’, this is so full of very obscure references and in jokes as to make this solver feel left out. I was able (I think!) to solve clue 7 thanks to the hints and tips but I have still no idea how the clue produces the answer, and a lot of other guesswork and leaps of faith were needed. Well done to the compilers for getting it all together! [EF]

Great. It kept my master quite busy late into the night. Oh dear we had to creep around whilst he slept in the next morning. [RG]

Challenging and entertaining. Needed the hint for a go-go so had almost given up on entering. Thank you for the fun and for the reminder of the Araucarian early days of crossword solving. [H&H]

An amazing puzzle in every way – grid, clues and thematic content. I am sure Araucaria would have been greatly honoured by this fitting tribute from Enigmatist. [JB]

There is a modern tendency to exaggerate and get recent achievements, troubles etc. out of proportion. I am not modern at all, but I would say something: this may be the greatest achievement in puzzling of recent times. Firstly, the grid: I was foxed to begin with, not knowing where to put all of 43 (my first one solved). Then it dawned that on a sphere the ‘lines’ are infinite, unless a bar supervenes (hate bars normally, but here they are clearly needed). Getting all those thematics in was a fantastic achievement, and it worked really well. Thank you Sirius. Secondly, the clues: Enigmatist is revealed (in case we didn’t know) as a magician, who can make any word (‘JGGRAHAM’ is very tough) yield a clue that tells a true story. Other incredible clues are 1,3,18,43,45. This pays tribute to a genius and is on a level that owes him nothing. I felt privileged to be engaged in solving it. [AC]

A great tribute. Really enjoyable even though found it very difficult & it took a while to get the hang of filling in the spheres. We surprised ourselves that we managed to get an answer for every day, eventually. Can’t see anywhere to record the unclued answer Araucaria. [MJ&DB]

What a tour de force of a puzzle! Brilliant. A fitting tribute to the master compiler. [AR]

A really lovely puzzle and theme. Favourite clue was 45. I am a fan of the globe design. So many strange snakes though! [JN]

Where do you start to compile a crossword such as this? The crossword was brilliant and the clues were well towards Araucaria’s standard. It took me all my concentration and time to finally reach a full solution. Very well done – Enigmatist and Sirius !! [ST]

I didn’t help myself by following my usual practice of printing 2-up on A4; the clues and diagram came out rather small. Not being a Guardian reader I haven’t seen that much of Araucaria, but this looks a fitting tribute. I understand that long anagrams were a particular feature of this crosswords. I remember long anagrams from my mother’s “She” magazine back in the 60s/70s; does anyone know if he set them? I’m awaiting enlightenment on 21, 25, 27, 36 and 41, and with some delay before entry, there are a few more clues whose construction I can’t now remember. [MJ]

A tricky puzzle! There’s a very impressive number of themed clues, words, references, styles, answers and more! [AH]

An amazing grid! Some wonderful clues, but also quite a few I couldn’t fully understand. I feel I’ve cheated quite a lot as this is my ninth submission! [GB]

What a brilliant attempt to pay tribute to the Master! There are some wonderful challenges here which he would have been proud of. The “angelic school singers” clue is pure genius. Sadly, some others don’t work quite so well and are totally obscure. It is not helpful when unknow words cross, such as those at 3 and 4. The Red Queen’s shout is a total mystery to me and the only letters I have are – – o – a. I don’t understand the clue at 4 at all , even though I have the letters a – ele. I cannot find any word to fit and do not have a Collins dictionary to explore. I am sending this even though I know I have wrong answers, as it is worth the effort. I await the solution with more anticipation than usual!! [SB]

Sirius at his very best! A wonderful tribute. [SF]

8 was groan inducing, well done. 13, 22 were the last to fall. [RS]

A real pleasure. Look forward to reading the write-up and discovering the rest of the references I doubtless missed! [JG]

3 thoughts on “3D Crossword Solution – February Extra 2021

  1. First up a big thanks to all concerned — setter, grid designer and blogger! What an achievement. It looked outright impossible not to mention impenetrable at first, then gradually yielded great pleasure.
    I didn’t realise this was even a ‘thing’ until long past the closing date. Probably just as well — I devoted a pleasurable evening to it over the long Easter weekend and still came up short. CLues for me fell into categories:

    – Exceptional – like the reworking of the Old Vicarage…. (which I knew about through crossword lore, rather than having solved contemporaneously), the Kings …Choir anagram, the fiendish construction of J G Graham and the sheer fun of GIGGLES

    – Good – most of the rest – I liked BELIEVE, GONE, and the anagram for ALPHABETCIAL…. PUZZLES especially

    – Puzzling – a small number of clues I either did not get at all (RIOJA, ARELE, KINCH, A GO-GO), or got wrong (I wrote PEST for PSST even though I had the crossers) and IDOL for ICON (which doesn’t seem materially more incorrect), and I wrote in several but didn’t ‘get’ them at all (PIN-UP, COUGH UP. Even the blog hasn’t really helped me on several of those.

    Overall, the ‘spherical’ construct looks very challenging but is actually great fun for solving, so i shall be less daunted and better prepped if one appears again.

    Thanks again to all concerned.

    1. @Epee, thanks for your comments. To shed light on some of the clues you found puzzling:

      ARENE – Nazarene was the term for an early Christian (from Nazareth). Take away N(ew) and A-Z and you’re left with the name of an aromatic chemical compound.

      A GO-GO as an adjective means galore (from French, apparently) and is a reference to the abundance of Araucaria works in the Guardian archive. It’s a charade of AGO (past) and GO (work).

      ICON – to be “done” is to be conned, so “Enigmatist [the setter] does” becomes “I CON” in the first person.

      PIN-UP – “expecting new setters perhaps” = IN PUP. Shift the first P(ower) and you get a hearthrob.

      COUGH UP – UGH (“that is lousy!”) parts COUP (masterstroke). Pay is the definition.

      I’m not entirely sure about the IO in RIOJA.

  2. Just to clarify that the RIO in RIOJA is R (for queen) + IO (an interjection of invocation or expressing joy or triumph or grief.

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