Results of the 2020 3D Crosswords World Championship clue writing competition

November Extra 2020 puzzle grid

The Instructions

The November Extra puzzle is also the Tie-break Puzzle for the 2020 3D Crosswords World Championship. To qualify for the World Championship, solvers must have successfully solved at least 12 of the 2020 puzzles (which may include the August Extra). This Tie-break puzzle must be correctly solved in order to win the World Championship. It can also form the 12th qualifying puzzle to secure entry.

World Championship entrants must also write and submit two cryptic clues, one each for a word and a phrase obtained from within the solutions of this puzzle. The word to be clued should be found at 5aw, 6d (3-5), with the phrase located at 6d,6ac (5,5).

The winner of the World Championship will be the solver whose combination of clues is judged to have shown the most originality and creativity in their clue-writing, whilst maintaining a good and fair standard of cryptic cluemanship.

The word and phrase to be clued were:


The Results

There were 35 entries for the November Extra Crossword and 21 entries for the 3D WC clue writing competition.

The clues were assessed and marked by Shirley and Charles Curran. Shirley sets professionally as Curmudgeon and Chalicea. 

Two solvers sent in an outstanding pair of clues and stood out as potential winners of this year’s championship. These were Hamish Symington, and Nick and Sarah Inglis. It was extremely difficult to choose between these two entries but after very careful reflection first place was awarded to Hamish.

Peter Aylmer, Steve Trollop and Jack Nichols each received VHC for their entries for TIE-BREAK.

Winning Entry: Hamish Symington

A beer kit is brewed – it settles (3-5)


Very Highly Commended. This is concise and has a good surface reading. The setter has seen the potential of the anagram used in a plausible context as the beer can settle and the ‘tie-break’ settles the dispute.

Commune’s schoolmaster appearing with ball, introducing a couple of rules (5,5)


Very Highly Commended. There is a fine surface reading here – the BEAK with the BEAD adding a pair of R(ules) to the game. We especially like the adventurous use of ‘Commune’ as a definition for BREAK BREAD, whilst using a different meaning of the word in the surface reading.

Runners Up: Nick and Sarah Inglis

Becker tirade not resolved by net cord and this decider (3-5)

BECKER TIRADE NOT is an anagram of (resolved by) NET CORD + TIE-BREAK (this decider)

Very Highly Commended. This was a convincing compound subtractive anagram with the amusing retrospective look at Becker’s tirades. We were not totally convinced by the ‘net cord’ but know how difficult it is to get a perfectly convincing surface reading in a difficult construction like this. The setter(s) avoided using dictionary synonyms of ‘tie’ or ‘break’ – flaws that weakened several of the other clues, we thought.

Celebrate Eucharist with a dark beer transubstantiated by bishop (5,5)

Definition: Celebrate Eucharist. 
Anagram (transubstantiated) of A DARK BEER after (by) B (bishop)

Very Highly Commended. We were delighted to find another clue that went beyond the ‘share a meal’ definition, then continued the religious context by using the B(ishop) for the B and a splendid anagram word ‘transubstantiated’. A superb clue that stood out.


“Harris is responsible for this tripe” – oddly, judge gets Trump’s second term (3-5)

T(r)I(p)E (oddly) + B[R]EAK
from Peter Aylmer

Very highly commended. This clue really scored, particularly as we are clue-judging on the eve of the inauguration of the US ‘tie-breaker’ Kamala Harris so the definition was spot on.  The wordplay was very clever with odd letters of tripe giving the TIE then Trump’s second (R) being inserted into BEAK (judge). The surface reading is amusing (but horrifying – please never let it happen!).

Slyly take endless bribes to determine the winner (3-5)

Anagram (slyly) of TAKE BRIBE(s)
from Steve Trollop

Very Highly Commended. The setter has seen the possibility of a highly relevant surface reading using the idea of bribes to secure the prize, and has constructed a concise and really clever anagram with the appropriate anagram indicator ‘slyly’. (He needed to start his clue with a capital letter, of course.)

Secure recipe in Bake Off decider (3-5)

TIE + R(ecipe) in anagram (Off) of BAKE
from Jack Nichols

Very Highly Commended. This is a superbly concise clue with an excellent surface reading and the clever insertion of R into Bake (off = anagrammed) in the wordplay, giving BREAK so neatly serving its double purpose in the surface reading. ‘Tie’ in the sense of ‘equal in competition’ and ‘secure’ come under the same headword but the setter has used them in a sufficiently different way to get away with that small flaw, we feel.

On behalf of the 3D Team I would like to thank everyone who entered.

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