3D Crossword Solution – January 2024

January 2024 grid page

Clues by Raich and Grid by Calluna

Theme: The MET Office (170th Anniversary) & The Shipping Forecast (100th Anniversary)

The winner of the January puzzle is Max Jackson of Oxford.


Review of the January 2024 3D crossword

January is traditionally designed to be a relatively straightforward exercise for experienced solvers and a gentle induction for newcomers into the mysteries of 3D crosswords. As such, therefore, Raich has served up a well-judged and timely offering for the first puzzle of the year.   

The standard 7x5x6 grid gives designers plenty of scope to include both a range of thematic items and a variety of other answers. This format was exploited to very good effect by Calluna: all the entries were five, six or seven letters long, there were only two obscure words (IMARI and ERRHINE) and not a serpent in sight (great news for us ophidiophobes). This is no mean feat.

The shipping forecast theme emerged quite early on from those entries clued with no definition (especially ROCKALL and UTSIRE). Favourite thematic clues were for FORTH (“Just missing out on medals reportedly”) and FORTIES (“Favouring neckwear”). I also appreciated the misdirection and brevity of FISHER (“She cuts tree”).

I did put a question mark in my notes against TIREE — this is an exception in not being a sea area like all the other theme words, but it is strictly speaking still thematic, since Tiree is a coastal weather station. One minor error in the wording of the preamble did cause a moment’s hesitation: the tragedy of the Royal Charter off Anglesey occurred in October 1859, ie 64¼ (not 74¼) years before the first shipping broadcast on 1 January 1924.

The remainder of the clueing was sound, accessible and predominantly succinct. Raich used a good mix of cryptic devices – I especially liked DOYEN, LAYING, OBSCENE. The ordering of clues alphabetically enabled your reviewer on this occasion to solve the great majority before entering the answers in the grid, which always gives a welcome fillip to completing the crossword. In summary, a straightforward puzzle, perhaps, but no less enjoyable for that, so thanks to Raich (and Calluna for the grid).

Finally, a shout out to Frank Paul, whose drawings are always a pleasing bonus addition to the calendar. In 2023, I managed to decipher every one of his visual rebuses but I have stumbled at the first hurdle this year, so I am looking forward to seeing the explanation of his illustration to IMARI. In December, I purchased Frank’s book, The Twelve Quizzes of Christmas and can heartily recommend it to all who enjoy challenging quizzes. Despite the title, this is no mere seasonal offering — there are many months’ worth of brilliant puzzles in the book. To quote John Henderson (Enigmatist), another of our setters: “I’ve no idea what is going on in the world that is Frank Paul’s brain. But I enjoy holidaying there.”


It is early in the year to be starting with the apologies, but this one is necessary. From October 1959 to January 2024 is sixty-four and a quarter years, as some solvers less numerically-challenged than the Crossword Editor have pointed out. This mistake cannot be put down to poor visibility (though ‘fog patches in a brain falling slowly into decrepitude’ might be a good description). Perhaps the Editor was keen to get the Calendar to the printers, so that it was a case of undue precipitation within sight of the finish. No: he cannot by feeble jokes escape wrath which is deserved. He apologises. It is hoped that further such examples of mal in head will not arise. — Ed

Grid solution

January 2024 solution grid

Visual clue

The recipe for this solution comprises three steps: 1) take a serving of the Italian dessert tiramisu; 2) scoop up a sizeable chunk, leaving a tiny bit on the left and a little bit more on the right; 3) turn the selected chunk around. And there you have:

(t)IRAMI(su) reversed = IMARI

Visual clue for IMARI
Drawing by Frank Paul

Clues and explanations

Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk.

DaySolutionDirection, Clue, CountExplanation
1AFRAID7d Apprehensive note recalled surprise attack (6)FA REV+RAID
2CITRUS6d Is curt, out of order, describing fruit (6)IS CURT*
3DOYEN14aw Party longing for expert with experience (5)DO+YEN
4EERIE19aw Intermittently meteor-like — weird (5)ALTERNATE LETTERS   m(E)t(E)o(R)l(I)k(E)
5ERRHINE19ac Drug for nasal use described by Herr, beginning to end, in English (7)HERR with H moved to end + IN+E
6FISHER*9d She cuts tree (6)SHE in FIR  Thematic, no definition – wordplay only
7FITZROY*15ac By sound of it, suits Jenkins, politician and author, for one (7)“FITS”+ROY Thematic, no definition – wordplay only
8FORTH*9to Just missing out on medals reportedly (5)“FOURTH” Thematic, no definition – wordplay only 
9FORTIES*9ac Favouring neckwear (7)FOR+TIES Thematic, no definition – wordplay only
10GADGET4d After good commercial, acquire useful device (6)G+AD+GET
11GALES*4aw Drinks after golf in strong winds (5)G+ALES
12HOUSING1ac At outset had occupied vacant upstairs in grand dwellings (7)Hit On+USING
13HUMBER*1d Section of thumb, Ernest’s (6)HIDDEN   tHUMB ERnest’s      Thematic, no definition, wordplay only
14IMARI11to Japanese porcelain friend from Paris brought back to Rhode Island (5)AMI REV+RI
15INTUSE11d Bruise popular trade union, southeastern (6)IN+TU+SE Bruise (vb) in surface reading
16IRENIC3d Fostering peace following anger — nice, no end (6)IRE+NIC(e)
17LAYING8d Not telling truth about a hen’s activity (6)LYING around A
18MISREAD13ac Incorrectly interpret sidearm’s new arrangement (7)SIDEARM*
19MUFFS13aw Bungles showing cases meant to keep hands warm (5)TWO MEANINGS
20OATHS17to Has to change swearwords (5)HAS TO*
21OBSCENE24ba Repulsive Old Boy given to embarrassing show of emotion (7)OB+SCENE
22OUNCE24to Uranium at one time brought in, small amount (5)ONCE around U
23REFERS5d Unfortunately errs about iron attributes (6)ERRS* around FE
24REUNION21ac Where former aExplanationssociates gather in Indian Ocean island (7)TWO MEANINGS
25RIOTER10d One in disturbance in port, terror (not half!) (6)RIO+TER(ror)
26ROCKALL*5ac Stun everyone (7)ROCK+ALL Thematic – no definition, wordplay only
27ROUTE20aw Course in religious education not allowed to be included (5)RE around OUT
28SCI-FI23to Literary genre featuring in disc I find (3-2)HIDDEN   diSC I FInd
29SENSOR12d Spanish man securing second device receiving signals and responding (6)SENOR around S
30SHORTEN16ac Say nothing, tenor’s altered — gambling odds become less (7)SH+TENOR*
31TIREE*18to Become wearied, fatigue finally (5)TIRE+fatiguE Thematic, no definition:   wordplay only
32ULCER2aw Charlie replaces holy man in Irish province – source of irritation (5)C for ST in ULSTER
33UTSIRE*2d Is true, amazingly (6)IS TRUE*  Thematic, no definition:   wordplay only
Easter eggFINISTERRE Blue highlights: an earlier
name for one of the thematic items(10)
Earlier name for Fitzroy
Easter eggANGLESEYGreen highlights: anagram of the
location of the tragic event (8)

Solvers’ comments

A nice gentle start to the year, I expect every other puzzle to be much more difficult👌😀 [MN]

We were fairly sure we had the theme from its description and, as we’re fans, were delighted when we solved days 6 and 7. A really enjoyable puzzle with no snakes and straightforward clueing. Four new words for me, always a tick. Favourite clues were days 7 and 12. Thank you Raich and Calluna. [CW]

A gentle start to the puzzling year. A really interesting subject – was nice to find out more about the history, although elements of it were so tragic. Some words new to me – Errhine; Intuse. Took a long time to work out Sensor. Friendly grid and clear clueing helped. Thanks to Raich and Calluna [JC]

Great stuff, a couple of new-to-me words, all fairly clued and reasonably easily solved. Really enjoyed reading all about Fitzroy and the background to his endeavours, very interesting. Many thanks to Raich and Calluna. [SC]

A calm and enjoyable introduction to the calendar. [NI]

I have heard of The Shipping Forecast (which alongside its invaluable help to those at sea, I believe some people use as an app to try to cure insomnia), but had to do a fair amount of research to get the solutions associated with it and clued only by wordplay. I thought the whole puzzle was a mix of reasonably easy clues and some very tricky and obscure ones, but it made for an interesting challenge to start the year. Thanks to Raich and Calluna. [Was there an error in the maths relating to the “tragic event” – should it have read “64¼ years earlier”?] [JA]

Interesting theme. I wasn’t aware of the background but well remember listening to the forecasts after The Archers. Well clued – a nice gentle start to the year. [JP]

What a delightful theme! The shipping forecast is absolutely iconic. Some words new to me in this, eg imari (and no, the picture clue didn’t help). Thanks to Raich and Calluna for a great start to 2024. [RS]

A boost to the confidence after the struggle in December. Loved the theme and great to be able to do it from the head rather than google. Particularly enjoyed those clues where the wordplay leads you to a word you don’t know, like Irenic and Errhine. Happy New Year and thanks to the 2024 team. [HH]

Enjoyed very much, thank you! [H&MFJ]

Great start to the year! Very fun puzzle. Loved the theme. Thanks to Raich and Calluna. Happy new year to everyone in 3d crossword land. [DB]

A nice way to blow off the New Year cobwebs. It so happens that there is a map of the shipping forecast areas on the kitchen wall but so thoroughly has it been assimilated that not once did I wander over for a consultation. [PA]

Managed to avoid drifting off to sleep to the soothing rhythms of the shipping forecast: thanks, Raich and Calluna. [TH]

It’s good to start the year with a model 3D puzzle, with a good set of clues and a theme that I knew something about but certainly not all of it. Learning about the origins of the Met Office’s service for shipping added to the enjoyment of the puzzle. [AB]

Lovely way to start the year. Not too tricky but some lovely clues. Thank you. [JT]

I enjoyed this tremendously. It was a nice romp to start the year with a couple of tricky clues. [RC]

I love the subject; one of my favourite programs. I thought it a shame to lose Finisterre. If I’m being really fussy there is no Utsire, only N and S versions. [MJ]

My first 3D crossword. Loved it. [RL]

An excellent start to another year of 3D puzzles. [JM]

A gentle introduction to the year. [RP]

A lovely and enjoyable puzzle, relatively straightforward for me as I got the theme early on. still needed to check I had spelt Utsire correctly. [GW]

Rockall gave us the theme. [RC]

Most enjoyable, but I think the sums are wrong: wreck of Royal Charter Oct 1859, launch of Shipping Forecast Jan 1924, so that is a gap of 64¼ years. [EF]

Grand start to the year! The dates were hard to match for me, is 174.5 years ago not wrong? My sources say the tragedy was 1859. [MC]

So clever to get so many theme areas into the grid. [PD]

An interesting theme, but according to all the sources, the shipwreck of the Royal Charter was in October 1859, not 1849. [SF]

Excellent start to 2024. [RE]

Great puzzle reminding me of nights listening to TMS on longwave. [MD]

I love themes like this, ones I know zilch about but they’re made accessible by the puzzle so I learn something from the solving and then feel inspired to continue learning even after. Fascinating! [AH]

A nice gentle start to the year – thanks Raich/Calluna. On a whim I started at the end and worked back, so once I had UTSIRE and TIREE in the ‘first’ three clues it was pretty clear where we were headed! An educational theme as well, with some e-research about the events alluded to. [MC]

Loved it, thanks to Raich and Calluna. Nice to be introduced to imari, errhine and intuse. As a Yank I have run across mentions of the Shipping Forecast but had never actually heard one, or known of its cultural significance. Thank you wikipedia! [JS]

Nice theme [SB]

A gentle start to the year, despite all the gales in the forecast! I guess many of us were brought up listening to the shipping forecast and chanting the names along with it… I hadn’t realised that when Finisterre was renamed Fitzroy it was in honour of the founder. (Not sure about the arithmetic – only 64 years, I think? ) [SB]

That was nice and straightforward. The theme worked nicely, the grid was pleasingly neat and I learnt two new words: errhine and imari, for which the picture clue was good. [DR]

Thanks for a gentle, relatively easy one to kick off a new year. Beautiful and very apt photo as ever — I will miss Graham’s stunning background pictures. I am still scratching my head over how Frank’s pictorial clue works though, even though I know the answer! [MS]

An interesting bit of history and a fairly easy start to the year. [MM]

A nice gentle introduction to the new 3D year. Very enjoyable and satisfying. [JB]

I knew nothing about the theme but the clues were fair which revealed them slowly. Loved the drawing clue! [MA]

As a former Meteorological Office employee it was nice to have something so familiar to solve. Nice start to the 3D soving year. [JM]

Lovely to be back for another year. [JG]

A fine effort😎 [DM]

A great start to the year – worthy theme and I was pleased to see Fitroy’s name included among the many forecast areas. Many thanks to all involved. [BS]

I really enjoyed this puzzle, clues were not difficult and theme was interesting. [NC]

Great Fun!!! [AM]

An excellent start to the year. Took us a lot of clues before we had letters to prompt the theme but once we had one all the rest quickly followed. Thank you, very satisfying. [J&JH]

Great! Loved the theme and easter eggs. [JH]

My master sat and completed it Australia time. Started 2am. Bed about 6am. [RG]

I really enjoyed this one. The first crossword I got really stuck into was a Guardian one which as far as I can remember was sort of double grid but one above the other, and with sea areas arranged around the outside approximately in the positions that they would be on a map of the British isles. I like the late night shipping forecast too with Sailing By. Great to fall asleep to if I haven’t managed to already. [TC]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *