As usual with an Elap mathematical, I get a feeling of dread. That said, all mathematicals fill me with varying degrees of dread. Elap’s last gave us two 5×5 word squares. This time, we had four 4×4 squares, and it seemed they would be wordy as well, given that the digits had to be replaced “preferably all in upper case”.

The letters in clues stood for 27 different integers formed by taking a perfect cube up to five digits and truncating the first digit and any remaining leading zeros. In fact, they had to be “shaved off” and that, together with the title and 13ac’s *r-A-Z-O+r* would undoubtedly mean something!

As it turned out, this wasn’t too tricky a puzzle. Listing all the 5-digit primes, minus their first digits and zeros, gave 42 such numbers ranging from [2]7 (3³) through to [9]7336 (46³). After truncation, they were from [6]4 to [2]9791.

The starting point was 4through where *UUU (3)* was a 3-digit number and had to be 7³ = 343. 17dn (*E – pp (3)*) came next, with p = 4 and E = 331 or 375. Next was 8th (*Uz – pp (3)*) with a couple of options for z followed by 12ac (*CU – UU (5)*) where C had three options but, crossing with 17dn, gave 6656 as its value.

From there on, progress was fairly steady although not as quick as I initially thought it would be. It was nice to just have to rely on pencil, paper and a calculator. No doubt some out there decided that a program written in C#+ would be a good way to tackle it!

Sorting the values into numerical order, we ended up with **pUzzLiNG** (solvers’ activity in filling the grid), **dEPIlaTORS** (what replaced values 0–9) and **A WorD CuBe** (what solvers should end up with). The word cube that resulted had 4-letter words running across, down and through the cube.

Thanks for an enjoyable and easy-going mathematical, Elap.