Results of the 2023 3D World Championship and RPM Trophy competitions

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

This year, for the first time, the marking of grids for both the World Championship and the RPM Trophy was carried out anonymously (i.e. designers’ names were not provided to the marking team). I have to say it was quite exciting to see the names of the winners eventually revealed. 

3D World Championship

1st Rachel Sheldon (Rikki): grid 2nd=, clue 1 VHC, Clue 2 HC.

2nd Garry Stripling (Gin):  grid 1st,  clue 1 C, clue 2 HC.

3rd Heather Knowles and Chris Cooper (Calluna):  grid 2nd=, clue 1 VHC, clue 2 C.

3D Crosswords World Championship trophy
“Not a piece of cake” 3D Crossword World Championship trophy

The 3D World Championship is designed to reflect an overall excellence in the world of 3D crosswords. As such solvers are required to complete twelve 3D crosswords correctly over the year, including solving the November Extra puzzle in order to be eligible to compete. Solvers are then required to submit clues to two set words or phrases and design a 3D crossword suitable for inclusion in the 3D Calendar. 

The winner receives the magnificent “Not a piece of cake” amethyst trophy (pictured). The presentation is made at the annual 3D awards lunch held, where possible, at a venue near to the winner’s home. This year the presentation will be held in either April or May (date to be confirmed) at a venue in Reading. 

In addition, the winning 3D grid submission is guaranteed a place in the 2025 Calendar.

It is always nice when a new winner emerges so many congratulations to Rachel for winning this year’s competition. I would also like to mention 4th placed Abby Braunsdorf, very closely positioned just behind the top three, for a very well constructed grid, and give a special commendation to Jonathon Treml for bravely tackling a spherical grid and making a very good fist of it. 

Entrants were required to write clues for CRACKERS and ROBIN REDBREAST. Below are the clues submitted with the ratings and comments of the judges (Charles and Shirley (Curmudgeon) Curran).

Clues for CRACKERS

Bletchley Park Wrens out to lunch (8)

by Calluna
Double definition – Bletchley Park Wrens were a group of women who were code breakers (CRACKERS) at decryption establishment Bletchley Park during WW2; and out to lunch (CRACKERS) being slightly crazy, in a world of their own.

VERY HIGHLY COMMENDED. This superb double definition clue had the judges going to Chambers as we were not aware of the second definition – the term ‘out to lunch’. The two definitions fit together beautifully and complement each other nicely forming a subtle and succinct clue with no wasted words.

Primal Scream can’t keep Parisian cuckoo. (8)

by Rikki
Here ‘primal’ refers to prime numbers, so take letters 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19 (the first eight primes) in the words following primal, ie sCReAm Can’t KeEp paRiSian = CRACKERS; ‘crackers’ and ‘cuckoo’ are both slang terms for ‘insane’.

VERY HIGHLY COMMENDED. The clue is very clever indeed using that rare device of the ‘prime’ letters that always has solvers wondering. The clue is succinct with no redundant words but the judges wondered about the ‘pub test’ (regarding surface sense). Would this sentence say anything to you if you overheard it in a pub. You might know of the Scottish rock group, Primal Scream (the caps are a prompt that that is intended) but you would surely wonder why they were hoping to ‘keep’ a ‘Parisian cuckoo’. Still, it’s a super clue.

Get these biscuits with your money and a little credit. (8)

by Patch
Definition: these biscuits. Crackers. Wordplay: CR is a little credit added to ACKERS, a synonym of money.

HIGHLY COMMENDED. Editors would prompt the setter that ‘ackers’ is slang usage and ‘your’ doesn’t fully indicate that, although it might imply that the solver’s spoken language is being referred to. The setter would also be nudged to put the ‘little credit’ (abbreviation nicely indicated) in front of the ‘ackers’. Editors tend to strike out redundant articles (‘a’ here) for succinctness. However, the clue works well – even if they sound like expensive crackers.

How to be kings (including current) and queens for a day? You are all such nuts! (8)

by Leo
Party hats reference, CR + K for Kings, including AC for current, plus plural of ER. CRACKERS as both solvers and synonym for crazy, so a triple definition rolled into one?

HIGHLY COMMENDED. The judges wondered whether the implied reference to the party hats (‘how to be … for a day’) was redundant and added six words to a clue which was already over the desirable length (ten words or less). The setter is expecting the solver to recognise the two ‘kings’ abbreviations (CR and K) but ‘including current’ cleverly gives the AC and hints at the current king with the ERS adding queens. There is a slight flaw in the setter’s amusing desire to involve the ‘crackers = solvers’ since ‘such nuts’ is nounal – an adjectival sense is needed (something like ‘similarly nuts’) but we had to admire the amusing reference to us – the crackers/solvers.

Nutty nut openers? (8)

by Gerontius
Double definition

COMMENDED. The clue is possibly over-generous in simply giving the solver the ‘nut openers’ definition that can hardly be anything other than crackers, and then confirming the answer with a further definition of CRACKERS. However, with regard to surface sense, the judges are wondering how those ‘nut openers’ can be ‘nutty’ in the sense of ‘insane’ or ‘crazy’. The clue scores points for its succinctness and a generous clue is always a welcome opener for a crossword solver.

Mad crakes available on credit (8)

by Gin
MAD here has two functions. It is the definition and at the same time an anagram indicator for CRAKES plus CR, the abbreviation for credit.

COMMENDED. The judges are wondering about the surface reading of this clue. Chambers gives two dialect uses of ‘crake’ but neither of them really suggests items one would wish to acquire on credit (and, of course, an editor would prompt that a dialect indicator is needed). However, the judges were amused by the double usage of ‘mad’ as the definition and anagram indicator. The word ‘available’ which is used here as a juxtaposition indicator, is probably redundant.

Stretch in pincers? No, Peg – it’s madness! (8)

by Xam
RACK (stretch) in PINCERS minus PIN (peg)

COMMENDED. As setters, we have to be very careful about matching the grammatical function of the word we are defining in our definition. ‘Crackers’ is adjectival in the ‘madness’ sense and this setter has given a nounal definition. The manipulation of the letters of RACK in (pin)CERS is subtle and imaginative but leads to a clue whose surface reading is somewhat obscure.

Crazy people chasing after the speed of light? Kind at first to their very core! (8)

by Absolution
RACERS (people chasing) after C (the speed of light) with K(ind) inserted (to their very core): C + RAC(K)ERS.

COMMENDED. The setter has broken the defined word into three wordplay elements, creating a fifteen-word clue which would not meet with editorial approval (ten words are ‘too many’ for most editors!). Four are needed to produce the C then ‘people chasing’ for the RACERS. (That is not strictly justified by Chambers) and seven to incorporate the K. Nevertheless, this clue passes the ‘surface sense’ test and creates an amusing image of mad but benevolent scientists.


Ron Stabber, dire criminal, gets bird! (5,9)

by Gerontius
Anagram (indicated by “criminal”) of “Ron Stabber dire”, with “bird” in the slang context of prison as definition.

VERY HIGHLY COMMENDED. Naturally the setter has opted for an anagram to get round this relatively difficult pair of words to clue. ‘Ron Stabber’ is rather a giveaway as the solver immediately spots an anagram. (We are encouraged not to use names, like ‘Ron’ unless we can see no alternative but here criminal Rons of the past probably justify the creation of this villain). The clue is enriched by the subtle use of the two meanings of ‘bird’ linked to the sense of the ‘stabber’ being punished ‘getting the bird’ and the ‘little red bird’ that the solver ‘gets’. That gives a succinct and very successful clue with a plausible surface reading.

Bird plunderin’ vacated Scots port, it’s reported. (5,9)

by Xam
Sounds like robbin’ redd Brest.

VERY HIGHLY COMMENDED. The judges had to admire this courageous clue that avoided the almost inevitable use of one of the many potential anagrams and split the difficult pair of words into three wordplay elements using the homonyms for robbin’ = plunderin’ and Brest (the port) = breast. The obscure Scots’ legal term ‘redd’ joined them together nicely and gave a third homonym. A lot of thought has gone into this succinct and subtle clue.

Boris partying with bartender? It’s a common sight during the festive season. (5,9)

by Leo
Anagram (partying) of BORIS plus BARTENDER

VERY HIGHLY COMMENDED. An anagram was the obvious way to cope with this difficult pair of words but the judges laughed out loud at this setter’s choice from among the many available. How very topical to have Boris partying during the festive season and how nicely that anagram indicator has worked here. We also appreciated the subtle definition of the little ‘festive bird’. The clue would be criticised for its wordiness (the essential words are ‘common festive-season sight’) but the humour and quality of the clue made it stand out.

Bartender’s biro scribbled cheery bird. (5,9)

by Rikki
Anagram (scribbled) of BARTENDERS BIRO. Definition ‘cheery bird’ .

HIGHLY COMMENDED. Naturally, faced with this pair of words to clue, most setters would opt for an anagram and this setter has nicely attached it to the anagram indicator – having the ‘biro’ ‘scribble’. We wondered about the choice of ‘cheery’ as the adjective to select the robin from the immense range of birds when the solver maybe needed a reference to colour or the robin’s ‘Christmas’ significance. The succinct clue reads well and wastes no words.

Blushing bluetit finds similar with thievin’ infered (5,9)

by Gin
Bluetit turning red (blushing) becomes REDBREAST (similar, i.e. another kind of bird). Infered suggests a homophone synonym of thievin’ – robbin’, hence ROBIN. No direct definition but two sections that combine to make a whole.

HIGHLY COMMENDED. This clue is praiseworthy because of its determination to avoid the obvious use of an anagram to clue the difficult pair of words. The judges smiled at the ‘blushing bluetit’ leading to ‘red breast’. The ‘finds similar’ is a somewhat uncomfortable link (suggesting perhaps the ‘bird’ which, as the setter says, is an absent definition) and the ‘infered thievin’ is perhaps unfortunately placed at the end, rather than the beginning of this subtle clue. The clue is succinct and the surface reading is almost plausible though we doubt whether a bluetit ever blushes (😊).

Spinning, bruce dern (not upper case) orbits a colorful bird (5,9)

by Absolution
Anagram (spinning) of BR(uc)E DERN ORBITS A. Definition: colorful bird

HIGHLY COMMENDED. Even if, like the judges, the solver was not familiar with the actor Bruce Dern (and needed the Internet to explain), he would still realise that he was faced with an anagram, and would admire the way the setter has managed to remove the extra UC and justify it in the clue as the removal of the caps from the actor’s name. This clue benefits from the precise use of ‘colorful’ in the definition. The surface reading is a little shaky – why would BD be spinning and orbiting a bird? Maybe he could have been ‘wandering’, and found himself ‘orbiting’ the little thing (though clearly he had to ‘orbit’ to give the anagram fodder). However, the clue is concise and effective.

Lively twitchers’ banter about nothing, a common flyer (5,9)

by Calluna
An anagram (lively) of BIRDERS (twitchers) + BANTER about O (nothing)

COMMENDED. Sadly the first element of this clue (anagramming BIRDERS) functions as an indirect anagram. This is strictly not allowed in crosswords. The letters to be anagrammed must be present in the clue and not given as a synonym. This error is a shame since the clue is relatively succinct and reads well.

This bird likes crumbled breadbin stores (5,9)

by Patch
Definition – this bird. Anagram (crumbled) of BREADBINSTORES.

COMMENDED. The setter has, naturally, chosen an anagram to handle this relatively difficult pair of words to clue (though what a shame that the anagram doesn’t quite work with the anagram fodder not exactly matching the words to be anagrammed). The anagram gives a fine surface sense (the breadbin stores) with ‘crumbled’ as an amusing anagram indicator, and almost justifies the use of ‘likes’ as a juxtaposition word though that isn’t actually one that would be conventionally accepted as a link word. Solvers would probably like an adjective to define ‘this’ bird from among the hundreds of available ones (five pages in Mrs Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary!). The clue is succinct and creates an attractive surface reading of the robin enjoying the crumbs put out for him but it is marred by those flaws.

Overall we were delighted that the number of entries at eight was up on recent years’ and we very much enjoyed assessing both the clues and the grids.

As a footnote, I regret not being able to say anything meaningful about the grids themselves but, because some will be appearing in a future calendar, the themes have to remain secret.

RPM Trophy results 2024

1st  Alan Chamberlain (Komorník)

2nd Heather Knowles & Chris Cooper (Calluna)

3rd  Nora Boswell (Bozzy)

RPM trophy
“Stacks of 45s” RPM Trophy

All three of these puzzles, along with numbers four and five in the results listing, were marked Very Highly Commended. Altogether we received 13 entries for the RPM Trophy, well up on last year’s seven entries, which is very heartening for the future of the Calendar. All of us are delighted with the quality of grids submitted and Komorník, at his editor’s desk, is particularly delighted with the diversity of themes he has to select from. Along with the World Championship winning grid, the RPM winning grid is guaranteed a place in the 2025 Calendar.

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