3D Crossword Solution – March 2021

March 2021 puzzle page

Clues by Arachne and Grid by Patch

Theme: Raining cats and dogs

The winner of the March puzzle was Robin Stephenson of London.

Review of the March 2021 3D crossword

We were told that this puzzle marks no specific anniversary. The rubric read: five thematic solutions are undefined, one pair and one group of three. Solvers should submit with their entry a common unclued phrase (7,4,3,4) that aptly describes the overarching theme.

Well no clues as to the theme and so I have no idea where we are going. I found it quite hard to get into the puzzle with only a couple solved in the first run through, disappointing. As always a bit more effort yields up a few more answers which seems to lead to a dog linked theme with HOUND, HUSKY and PUG emerging.

However the first of the clues without a definition yields DELUGES. Where is this leading? Having drawn a blank earlier I switch back to the picture clue and, using a combination of the picture and the written clues, winkle out DOWNPOURS; also undefined. So we have dogs, downpours and deluges, nicely alliterative but I fail to fathom the connection. Next comes CATS but not so strongly evident. I suspect that by now, in your own solves, most of you will, in a flash of inspiration, have made a p – ounce to the lynx. Sorry, made a leap to the link. (Note to self: stick to the day job).

I manfully soldier on and approaching the end of the puzzle two obscure creatures, PI-DOG and OCICAT, complete the undefined solutions. So we have heavy rainy weather, cats and dogs and, at last, the penny drops: RAINING CATS AND DOGS.

This was a compact gem of a puzzle. Well constructed and excellently clued with a great PDM  (penny drop moment). Patch and Arachne at their best. The theme was beautifully constructed and emerged slowly. In my case too slowly. Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.

From the comments I see we have a few disappointed cat lovers sad that their favourites were under-represented in the grid. We’ll try and get that right next time. My favourite comment came from SC: We being animal lovers, we loved this one. The cat’s whiskers and the dog’s…..(cough)…!

Grid solution

March 2021 grid with solution

Visual clue

A blender contains a snowdrop flower and a small sign displaying the letter U. Circular arrows indicate that the blender is on, indicating we need an anagram of SNOWDROP and U.


Visual clue for DOWNPOURS
Drawing by Frank Paul

Clues and explanations

Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk.

DaySolutionDirection, Clue, CountExplanation
1*BASSET18to,17up Beasts mauled 23ba (6)*BEASTS
2*BOXER5dn Stink over return of 4aw and 11aw (5)BO, <REX
3COOMB4ac Old dons go through valley (5)O in comb
4COSET1ac Stays to oust leader of rebellious subgroup (5)CO(r[ebellious])SET
5*DAM14up Father briefly married mother of 4aw or 11aw (3)DA(d), m
6*DELUGES21to,16ac-3 Used leg slips (7)*[USED LEG]
7DIGIT21up Grasp Rita‘s middle finger? (5)DIG, (r)IT(a)
8*DOWNPOURS11ac,8ac Soft hair and, for some, pronounced feet of 4aw or 11aw (9)DOWN, homophone of “paws”
9GODUS13ac 11aw reviewed American video game (5)<DOG, US
10HERBALS23to,17ba-3 Chart-topping trumpeter’s editing saucy medical books (7)HERB AL(pert)S
11*HOUND23ba 11aw who undoubtedly entertains! (5)(w)HO UND(oubtedly)
12*HUSKY23up 11aw from Hull, last of many (5)HUSK, (man)Y
13LUDIC19up Playful model Claudia ignoring answers (5)*CL(a)UDI(a)
14*OCICAT7up,1aw Mock rich mate after banks foreclosed (6)(m)OC(k) (r)IC(h) (m)AT(e)
15*PI-DOG8aw Try and swim backwards (2-3)<[GO, DIP]
16*PUG8d Finally stop you dancing for 11aw (3)(sto)P (yo)U (dancin)G
17*QUEENS15d,22to 4aw females playing cards (6)DD
18REEL20ba The sound of substantial wind (4)Homophone of “real”
19SAXES10aw Head of Sony dismisses music producers (5)S(ony), AXES
20SLUGS2d Bashes those who relish three undefined answers (5)DD
21*STORM2aw Regularly more obtuse after retirement (5)<[M(o)R(e) O(b)T(u)S(e)]
22*TABBY3aw Key times for 4aw (5)TAB, BY
23*TIMMY6ac Famous 11aw, one of five developing immunity after leaving college (5)*IMM(uni)TY, ref. “Famous Five”
24UNWED9aw Single women taking part in nude wrestling (5)W in *NUDE
25WEE12d Small, articulate setters (3)Homophone of “we”
26WOO12up Abrupt cry of 11aw in court (3)WOO(f)
Easter EggRAINING CATS AND DOGSA common unclued phrase that aptly describes the overarching theme (7,4,3,4)

Solvers’ comments

Please, no — what we all need now is a bit of sunshine! Nice to have a rather easier puzzle after the Araucaria mind-bender. [TH]

Good fun. Hadn’t heard of OCICAT or PI-DOG before. Particularly liked SAXES. [CW]

Probably harder to set than to solve – not too difficult once I had recognised the theme [HB]

Loved it, especially the blended snowdrop in the illustration. Thank you. [H&SH]

The theme came fairly quickly, realising that the answer sought to explain several others in the grid took a little more time. [RC]

Much easier than last month’s Extra but a most welcome antidote! Many thanks, Arachne. [PC]

As always, great fun. Just waiting to get ‘ocicat’ & ‘ludic’ into a game of Scrabble. [RE]

A delightful puzzle exploiting both parts (the cats/dogs and the downpours) of a simple theme. Good clues throughout. [AB]

Brilliant. Not sure I’ve got 2d right but hey ho. [RP]

A couple of unfamiliar beasts and a mysterious video game, but all clued so it was clear what they had to be. A cheery puzzle to welcome the arrival of Spring! [N&SI]

This was maybe a little ‘tame’ after the ‘Araucaria globe’ special, but very enjoyable, nonetheless…I am still getting to grips with the spatial awareness and the directional notation, but really enjoying 3D puzzles so far! [MC]

For some reason I really struggled with this one to start with. Once I had sorted out the cats and dogs it all made sense. Another really interesting puzzle that was a bit different to normal. [MP]

So now I know about pi-dogs, ocicats, and The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. [JC]

This was a lot easier than the February Extra. However, the picture clue had gone back to being impenetrable! Fun theme(s), and I liked the hint in ‘thematic content might have fallen on any day in any year’. [RS]

Enjoyable, fair clues and the thematic phrase jumped out at me half way through😀 [MN]

Great fun [BB]

We being animal lovers, we loved this one. The cat’s whiskers and the dog’s…..(cough)…. [SC]

A nice change, not to celebrate an anniversary. Loved the picture, takes me back to so many seaside holidays! [PA]

Fun, not too hard [JC]

It’s a wet and windy afternoon. A very appropriate time to send in this very enjoyable puzzle! [JB]

Lovely theme (who doesn’t like cats and dogs?), and got the Easter egg from the picture before I even started! Perhaps a bit of light relief even, after the jigsaw of February. [JN]

I’d never heard of GODUS or OCICAT but as usual the internet came to the rescue. Perhaps April (showers) would be the appropriate month. [MJ]

A clever triple theme and a reprieve after the Feb extra. [J&JH]

Loved it! Some fabulous surfaces (COOMB, TIMMY were standouts for me). Great theme, not too hard not too easy. The 2 short W answers (WEE and WOO) were superb and a fitting ‘end to the month’. More dogs (10) than cats (4), – I am counting subtle references to dogs like the abrupt cry (day 26) and the ‘articulate setters’ (day 25), bit of a shame the pets could could not be more balanced. The COSET held me up, because Chambers defines it as a set that can be added to another set so as to make it bigger — not really a subgroup? OCICAT was my LOI and challenging — is the ‘Collins’ sticker because it is in that dictionary but not Chambers (which it isn’t!) – seems a bit unnecessary— I eventually had the penny drop and easily found the said creature on Wikipedia. Herb Alpert (Day 10) is a pretty obscure reference — right at the upper end of my personal knowledge, but just about gettable (I spent some time thinking about Herbie Hancock, only about 1 gen later), and the American video game (Day 9) was kind of weak — I guess a constraint of these small, tight grids. There was a bit of what I guess we should call ‘Paul-ine smut’ on Day 24, shamefully this was my FOI. Anyway, thanks Arachne, thanks Patch, even thanks Frank Paul – as for the first time I was able to ‘get’ a picture clue in time for it to be of some help! [ES]

This was fun, although it took me a little time to get going, as the thematic 4aw & 11aw were only clued indirectly, I hadn’t heard of the game on the 9th, and as the clue on the 20th was rather vague, I’m not very confident. I did get the drawing of SNOWDROP blended with U, but only after solving the clue on the 8th. [PM]

Arachne great as always, and thanks for wee and woo, which gave me a foothold. Still scratching my head over Mr. Paul’s drawing; luckily it was redundant. Several words (and animals!) new to me, and a perfect theme for March! [JS]

I even understood the drawing [AM]

Good puzzle especially the weather theme as I used to work for Met Office and love cats [JM]

Very imaginative and enjoyable. Thanks for the chance to resubmit – I think I’ve got day 20 on second attempt – fingers crossed! I suppose it is fair enough that the Hints and Tips tend to avoid the more difficult clues! [EF]

Well clued, but rather easy when theme was obvious [ML]

Took me longer than it should have done to get 11aw especially as I already had the Easter Egg phrase! Once I had put 2 and 2 together it was all good. [EW]

A lovely puzzle to solve with some very clever clues – I particularly enjoyed 4ac and 6 ac. Many thanks. [BS]

Clear theme and clueing. 😎 [DM]

Really good fun thanks [MD]

Enjoyable accessible puzzle, with a couple of obscure solutions, but otherwise relating to familiar topics, thank you for a breathing space! [SF]

Loved it, but oh his writing. He is out at the moment, just hope I have read his writing properly. The slave. [RG]

Great puzzle, I had a lovely time. My first 3D crossword. Took a while to get going, but then it poured. [GS]

An interesting challenge once the penny dropped. (It droppeth as the (not so gentle) heavy rain from heaven?) I was intrigued to discover the OCICATs (which are really cute!) and the PI-DOGs (which certainly aren’t!). Most of the other breeds were identifiable without needing to look them up, but it might have been nice to have some more cats to balance the dogs. The chart-topping trumpeter was a tricky one, and the video game unknown but solvable. [SB]

I loved every minute of this sparkling puzzle from Arachne and Patch. So many of the clever plays on words raised a smile. There were some seemingly simple little words like DAM, PUG and WOO, which when mixed in with unfamiliar ones like LUDIC and OCICAT made this grid fun and challenging all at once. I liked the neatness of how it all fitted together: the cats, the dogs, and the rain in all its forms as deluges, storm(s) and downpours. Many thanks to the WEE setters. [JA]

We had such fun with this one, a cute little theme and lots of enjoyment finding the undefined solutions. [AH]

A little gem. The theme was quite relevant at the time, though when sending it in it’s more like summer. Still, there’s the cricket season about to start, and what with Chaucer, we won’t have a drought. Thank you Arachne and Patch – really great to see A’s name on a puzzle. [AC]

Rather too many snakes for my liking. Don’t understand why only BASSET and OCICAT were undefined …. I would have expected *all* the DOGs and CATs to have been undefined (ie BOXER, HOUND, HUSKY, PI-DOG, PUG, TABBY, TIMMY). Or might that have highlighted the paucity of CATs in favour of DOGs ? Clues all very sound, including some very clever ones (“Key Times for 4aw”, “The sound of substantial wind” for example). [HE]

Loved it. [BB]

One thought on “3D Crossword Solution – March 2021

  1. Nothing to add to my (maybe oververbose) comment with solution. Other than continued admiration for this whole enterprise. The 3D s so far are re-kindling my love of cryptic crosswords, even as my usual focus (Guardian prize) is starting to become a bit same-y.

    The 3Ds so far have great themes, well chosen difficulty level and the grid construction and Easter eggs add interest on top. So thanks again, not only to the setter and grid designer (Arachne and Patch this month) but to all behind this endeavour. Epeesharkey

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