Clues by Tramp and Grid by Rikki
Theme: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The winner of the June puzzle is Steve Trollope of South Australia.
Review of the June 2023 3D crossword
I must start with the top left of the calendar page, and the remarkable additional clue which Graham Fox—or Rikki, or Jolt?—included in the background picture! Well—to quote the song—whoever it was, I’m a fan. [It was Graham Fox – Ed.] My amazing personal story with this puzzle was that when looking at the twenty-year anniversary and the collection of coloured bowls, I got the idea—perhaps through a strange subliminal suggestion—that we might be dealing with the Goblet of Fire. Not so, of course, it was the next (fifth) one in the series, in which the school really begins to descend into something like the last days of the Roman Republic and we realise that Ms Rowling is definitely no longer going to pull her punches. Once you know the theme, the ‘Potter’ allusion is obvious; however, as very often with these ingenious background pictures, nothing was given away to start with… But the idea that one might send a calligraphed and illustrated request for one phoenix C.O.D. ‘as ordered’ is, I think, from the top drawer of absurdist humour. Hats off, Mr Fox and all.
And before considering the purely cruciverbial elements, may I be perhaps the n millionth to express my own appreciation of J K Rowling’s achievement: her plotting, characterisation and nomenclature are first-class and she deserves at least some of the fortune she must by now have received from the series and its cinematographic adaptations.
The clues themselves were not as difficult as I had expected. Tramp is one of the Guardian’s most tricky setters, loving complicated word-play—as well as the occasional risqué reference, as we see here—but he has been kind with us.
Here we meet desires, ‘fake knockers’, turnings-on and buttocks, and I have omitted the ultimate example out of good old British reticence.
It is hard to agree with the self-mocking clue of Day 28—but what a nice composition that is! ‘Is boring’ must of course be read in a different way in order to see that the E at the end of ‘puzzle’ is making a hole in STEP—for ‘tramp’ to give a word meaning ‘dear’. Brilliant. Another lovely one is that for NOX at Day 16, with ‘turned on by’ generating NO and X. My favourite among the ‘normal’ clues while I was solving was, however, that for SURREAL: I love a clue which tells a story; we see the same sort of thing with TREBLE and VEHICLE, where the surface reading gives us something whose intrinsic interest just holds us up for a moment, rewarding us with a little hint of the pleasure of reading even while we are wrestling with clues. For the setter to amuse us is surely a vital part of crossword composition.
It was on solving a couple of the undefined entries that I realised what the puzzle was about: Day 20 was the clincher, but I had got it from Day 10, at which point I saw the ‘order of the phoenix’ alluded to above.
That did not prevent Day 26 from giving a nice smile (something from which the late and excellent Mr Rickman had to abstain on screen).
The Easter Egg carries a serious point perhaps: Potter himself is ridiculed for keeping ‘EXPELLIARMUS’ as his go-to defensive spell, but perhaps in the longest of runs there is no solution to the ambition of nakedly aggressive tyrants but disarmament? Unfortunately, that is unlikely to come about any time soon: quite the reverse.
Which leaves me to comment on Frank Paul’s lovely clue, which, as so often, I have only just worked out! Your reviewer and picture-clues enjoy something of the relationship between Arthur Weasley and Muggle technology—love, admiration, but too often incomprehension. I believe this example of an analogy can be expressed as GOOSE : GEESE :: NOOSE : NIECE.
Thank you, Tramp and Rikki: it was a nicely thematic grid, and a decorative show for the kitchen! I enjoyed it very much, solved it in one sitting, which surprised me, and made me think that I will go back to the books at some future point. Now I have put enough Dark Marks on the screen, and I feel the effects of the Veritaserum wearing off, so I must go back to my normal self—which, on this surprising June day, means reading in the sunny garden and wondering what on earth July’s might be about.
A mouth and speech balloon indicate the solution is a homophone. Inside the speech balloon is an if-then condition involving one goose and several geese, suggesting we are looking for a singular to plural change where the target singular word is the solution found at 3aw, NOOSE. Following the goose-geese pattern and remembering we’re looking for a homophone, we get:
Sounds like NEESE = NIECE
Clues and explanations
Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk.
|Day||Solution||Direction, Clue, Count||Explanation|
|1||ALLOT||22to Share out a large fortune (5)||A + L + LOT|
|2||ANTS||22ba Soldiers, perhaps with desires, missing women (4)||[w]ANTS|
|3||ATE||24up Worried: can’t stand husband being away (3)||[h]ATE|
|4||CANTO||16to College books describing a love poem’s section (5)||(C + NT around A) + O|
|5||ELEMENT||17ac This wire gets hot in iron, perhaps (7)||Double definition|
|6||ENDMOST||4ac Close motorway, old way is furthest (7)||END + M + O +ST|
|7||ENTER||17aw Key to get in (5)||Double definition|
|8||ERSATZ||4d Fake knockers at Z-list shows (6)||Hidden|
|9||EXCITE||9d Old quote to motivate (6)||EX + CITE|
|10||HARRY*||15to* Repeatedly runs into grass (5)||RR in HAY|
|11||LATEX||10to Rubber delayed climax, ultimately (5)||LATE + [clima]X|
|12||LATRANT||18ba At river, one Lakeland Terrier initially going outside, barking once (7)||AT + R + AN in L[akeland] T[errier]|
|13||LEEWAY||10d Play song that’s catching number one up (6)||LAY around <WEE|
|14||NIECE||12aw Delightful, gripping end to anecdote one’s related (5)||NICE around [anecdot]E|
|15||NOOSE||3aw Ring through snout for end of rope? (5)||O in NOSE|
|16||NOX*||12up Turned on by goddess of the night (3)||<ON + X (by)|
|17||ORDER*||2aw* Gold colour making a return (5)||OR + <RED: no definition|
|18||ORNATE||5d Fancy men with buttocks (bottom checked out) (6)||OR + NATE[s]|
|19||OXYGEN||2d Gas from cattle eating yellow grass, primarily (6)||OXEN around Y[ellow] G[rass]|
|20||PHOENIX*||1ac* iPhone X mobile (7)||IPHONEX*|
|21||POTTER*||1d* Too much to cut through (6)||OTT in PER (by):|
|22||REBORN||23up Given new lease of life: hold up dress in navy (6)||<ROBE in RN|
|23||REHASH||8d Work once more around mess (6)||RE + HASH|
|24||SACRED||25up Holy bread cut up and put with wine (6)||<CAS[h] + RED|
|25||SEVERE||7d Difficult divorce at end of marriage (6)||SEVER + [marriag]E|
|26||SEVERUS*||7d-5,19ac-3* Part American (7)||SEVER + US: no definition|
|27||SNAPE*||20to* Wings of swan take off (5)||S[wa]N + APE: no definition|
|28||STEEP||7to Dear Tramp — puzzle, in conclusion, is boring (5)||[puzzl]E in STEP|
|29||STRANGE||13ac Funny gag left out (7)||STRANG[l]E|
|30||SURREAL||7ac Hard to believe regulars start to go out to get drunk (7)||RE[g]ULARS*|
|31||TITLE||21to Handle of toilet not over potty (5)||T[o]ILET*|
|32||TOYTOWN||11ac Young child hugging teddy at the back before particular old show for children (7)||TOT around [tedd]Y + OWN (particular)|
|33||TREBLE||6d High-pitched voice to shake without mike (6)||TRE[m]BLE|
|34||VEHICLE||14ac Failing to grasp what? Learner driver getting stuck in car? (7)||VICE (failing) around EH and L|
|35||VISIT||14to Look in: is one in the box the wrong way? (5)||<(IS + I in TV)|
|Easter egg||EXPELLIARMUS||Anagram of highlighted cells (12)|
I just cast APERECIUM and the answers all popped out. [TH]
Yet another excellent puzzle x [RE]
A brilliant, entertaining set of clues! [AJ]
This was a very enjoyable puzzle themed on a subject that I knew nothing about! The magic word was impossible to guess, but fortunately somebody who had read the relevant book could remember just enough of the word (the first five letters) to enable me to look it up. Once again, the excellent clues and overall design made this a very satisfying puzzle to complete. [AB]
We got the theme fairly quickly which was pretty helpful. “LATRANT” was a new word, keeping up the educative value of 3D. Our favourite clue was ELEMENT – great surface. Frank Paul’s picture clue was a nice groaner. Thanks Tramp, Rikki and Frank. [CW]
Probably harder to set than to solve. [HB]
I liked this Harry Potter-based theme even though I only ever read two and a half of the volumes in the series (I needed to find out why my nieces, nephew and students loved it so much) (and I haven’t ever seen the films). But I knew enough about the characters and titles to get me out of trouble as I worked my way through this one. So many super clues! In the end, I had to rely on the assistance of a friend to give me some big hints about how to find the name of the spell from the jumble of letters to be anagrammed. Despite my problem in getting over that final hurdle to discover the Easter Egg, I found this one a lot of fun – many thanks to Tramp and Rikki. [JA]
Not a Potter fan, but this was enjoyable again👌 [MN]
Is it really that long ago? That must explain why I’ve forgotten much of it. A nice reminder, not too tricky. 3. Three letters with only the middle checked seems extreme, but it’s solvable. 12. LATRANT is in Chambers, except possibly the uncorrected 13th edition. 16. NOX isn’t, as such. [MJ]
Finally, the Harry Potter puzzle. Knowing little, the (other) protagonist and the spell both needed some Wikipaedia help – the latter surely unguessable without the GK. But is it only 20 years since the title hit the shelves? It seems like it has always been with us. [PA]
Another cracking puzzle! [FH]
Some lovely surfaces here, enjoyed days 26/27 and Frank’s drawing [BJ]
Latrant was a nho, ersatz was a LOL! Great fun, thanks to Tramp and Rikki. [SC]
Not too difficult this month, with no really obscure words but some lovely clues, particularly iPhone X. I gave up reading Harry Potter after the first 4 books but fortunately that didn’t matter. Thank you. [JT]
I know a lot more about Harry Potter now!! [SF]
A pleasant diversion, though it seems odd to mark the anniversary of such a lightweight yet hefty tome. Leeway had a splendid clue. [DR]
Quite fun. Only understood the drawing once we’d got the answer and could then see it was quite clever. [JC]
A delight as always to relish the clever clueing. [PD]
One of the gentler ones so far this year, thankfully since my brain is fried this month from the heatwave. But a very nice, tight puzzle, with some very clever clues. I got the publication reference almost immediately so it all fell into place quickly. [MS]
Delighted that my first thought on a 20 year old publication was Harry Potter. After that it was great fun. Thanks for the reminder of my children trying the spell! [HH]
“Hindered with a word spelled”, very good. Nox was hard. [RS]
This caused great excitement in the homes of my grandchildren, who tied in shouting out the answer on the basis of about half the highlighted shells. In each case the parents felt they had to check that there really was an R in the answer, which may prove that they had benefitted from a classical education at some stage. You are aware of my dislike for over-tortuous clues (days 12, 28, 28, 34 particularly) but presumably some people like and even admire them. Can it really be 20 years??! Many thanks for another elegant and enjoyable encounter. [EF]
Very enjoyable and a nice theme [GW]
Some fiendishly cryptic clues in this one, especially Days 12 and 13, but a joy when you get it. [SB]
I really must read Harry Potter one day… [JM]
At last something I have read. [JM]
Lovely puzzle, thanks. [MD]
We don’t agree with the Day 28 clue 🙂 [AR]
A really fun solve – I caught on to the theme pretty quickly and was able to enjoy working through the clues without too many problems. Thanks to all involved. [BS]
Wizard puzzle! [NI]
Enjoyable puzzle. Rubric easily comprehensible and most clues easy to parse. The hardest thing, as a non Harry Potter expert, was the anagram from the yellow squares – a clever addition. [JB]
Fun puzzle! Enjoyed it. [DB]
My master sat up late doing this one. Had to send him off to bed. Enjoyable. [RG]
Potter-mania isn’t really my thing, but there has been enough cultural osmosis for this to fall into place fairly quickly, once Order, Phoenix, Potter and Severus became clear. Interesting to have finally learned how to spell ‘Expelliarmus’…never knew it had that R…I always assumed it was some sort of pig-Latin… Anyway, all good fun, and thanks to Rikki and Tramp… [MC]
I enjoyed this. I had to have help with Harry Potter as I only read the first one about 50 years ago! [NC]
This was rather more relaxing after last month’s challenge! A puzzle for Potter fans indeed…. The Frank Paul drawing was a nice play on days 14 and 15 – a real laugh out loud!! [SB]