How to solve 3D crosswords

If you want to know how to solve cryptic clues, have a look at this introduction to cryptic clues and the Hints & Tips. If you want to know how to navigate different kinds of 3D crossword grids, read on…

They might look a little scary, but because there are more word ‘cross- overs’, they give more help. Unfortunately, the setters know this!

Our calendars feature several kinds of 3D grid: the cube, seven dials, sphere and torus.

3D cube showing clue directions

Cube

Imagine that you are standing on the top of a block of flats. You see five squares going across and five going away. Great! It’s a 2D crossword.

Whilst nearly all solutions run from one side of the flats to the other, ‘RUSHTON’ changes direction. This friendly ‘snake’ is at 2aw,8ac-3. Notice the openings of four ‘lift shafts’ on the top floor. Let’s go down.

You see other floors as we descend that have crosswords set out on them too. But there is more to see.

Look up and down to find words that start at the top and run down (d) to the bottom. ‘PEARS’ is at 6d.

Now we have a 3D crossword. Fabulous!


Seven Dials grid showing clue directions

Seven Dials

But wait… there’s more! At least one puzzle in every calendar is a ‘Seven Dials’ structure, where clues directed:

di are diametric and usually run from the number indicated on one side of a dial through the centre to the other side of the dial

C are circular, running from the number around the dial in a clockwise direction

AC run in an anti-clockwise direction

d have conventional down solutions


3D sphere showing clue directions

Sphere

With spherical grids, solutions run:

E – circularly eastward
W – circularly westward
N – longitudinally north
S – longitudinally south
N→S – down
S→N – up
di – diametrically
di – diametrically from centre in direction indicated by clock face, e.g. 4 o’clock

Colours guide the eye along lines of longitude.


3D torus showing clue directions

Torus

The torus is formed of eight dials projected as they would be seen by a traveller going round inside the torus. Clues directed:

di run along the line of the diameter of a dial
di – diametrically from centre in direction indicated by clock face, e.g. 4 o’clock
C are circular, running from the number around the dial in a clockwise direction
AC run around a dial in an anti-clockwise direction
W run from one dial to another in a westerly direction moving round an equatorial torus
E run easterly from one dial to another.


ⓘ See more help topics.