3D Crossword Solution – July 2021

July 2021 puzzle page

Clues by Vlad and Grid by Gin

Theme: The Third Man

The winner of the July puzzle were Denise Brocklehurst and Monica Jeffrey of Weston under Wetherley.

Review of the July 2021 3D crossword

We were told that this puzzle marks a 58th and 70th anniversary of important dates in the life of one of a famous group (two of whose colleagues have been clued without definition). His epithet is unclued, but should appear highlighted in the completed grid. His previously hidden name (3) and ‘occupation’ (4) should also then be revealed, using new letters that must first be inserted into the hollowed-out dark squares on levels 5 and 3 respectively. In total, 7 of these hollowed-out squares need to be filled with a letter that (together with the adjacent letters) will form a run of (at least) 3 consecutive letters of the alphabet. Anagrams of these inserted letters will then supply the name (level 5) and occupation (level 3) that must be submitted with your solution.

First I need to make a sincere apology to you all. In the printed version of the calendar all the dark squares in levels 3 and 5 were solid, not hollowed out. We missed this in the checking process and I only realised it when I came to solve the puzzle just this week. (The online version has hollowed out squares). This made the description of the theme and the puzzle end game, which is in any case decidedly complex, even more difficult to follow. Congratulations to all of you who managed to overcome this additional handicap.

As usual when the rubric is at all abstruse I get straight into the solving. This was great fun with one wonderfully misleading solution, GREENE, which, coupled with THE THIRD MAN, proved a seductive blind alley and one which convinced me for quite a while. Full marks to Gin for this. The two clues with no definition leading to BURGESS and MACLEAN were decidedly tricky and came much later in the solve for me. Clearly we are in the realm of the Cambridge 5 and after a different third man.

So to the end game; this is very definitely a creative new innovation for 3D crosswords. Despite knowing at this stage that we are looking for Kim Philby it took me quite a while to fit ‘I’, ‘K’ and ‘M’ into the 5th row of the grid in the sequence H (I) J (K) L (M) N. Despite being freshly armed with the know-how it took a little longer to fit MOLE into the 3rd layer of the grid. Very satisfying.

So to the anniversaries; the defections of Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess cast suspicion over Philby, resulting in his resignation from MI6 in July 1951, 70 years ago. He was publicly exonerated in 1955, after which he resumed his career as both a journalist and a spy. In January 1963, 58 years ago, having finally been unmasked as a Soviet agent, Philby defected to Moscow, where he lived until his death in 1988.

Grid solution

July 2021 grid solution

Visual clue

A capital T followed by a he-man to give THE MAN. Inside this phrase is T(hora) HIRD, long-time collaborator of Alan Bennett. Altogether, we have the epithet given to the subject of the puzzle:


Visual clue for THE THIRD MAN
Drawing by Frank Paul

Clues and explanations

Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk.

DaySolutionDirection, Clue, CountExplanation
1APSES25up Slips out of Whitechapel finally – by tradition they’re in the East End (5)Lapses less (Whitechape)l
2BAIZA8d Business associate accepts American and Omani currency (5)Biz A round A
3BURGESS*8ba Desire to stop nonsense briefly succeeded (7)Urge in BS + S; Guy, Soviet agent 
  4CLYPE*20ac-5 Content to publicly persecute Scottish informer (5)Hidden
  5DOUBLE AGENT*3ac,4aw,25aw Suspicion about general possibly not right? Whose side’s he on? 6,5)Doubt round general less r*
  6EMEND13d ‘Editor’ describes people that do this (5)Ed round men
7EPODE22to Oriental mystery writer defending daughter’s poem (5)E + Poe round d
  8ERNIE6d Irene’s fancy man (5)Irene*
  9FACETS17to,16ba-5 Aspects one newspaper’s covered (6)Ace in FT’s
  10FILE*17aw Leaving Delaware behind, pass lodge (4)Defile less DE (lodge/file a complaint)
11GALLEON24ac,27aw-2 Presumption sweetheart’s aboard ship (7)Gall + (sw)e(et) + on
  12GATE*9aw,12ac Opening jar, removing recipe (4)G[r]ate
13GRANT*24ba,23aw-4 Good crosswords picked up award (5)G + rant (cross words hom)
14GREENE*9to,2d-3 Intelligence service finally comes round regarding writer (6)Gen (servic)e round re
15HIC30up-3 Husband’s looking after this? Gulp! (3)H i/c  + 2 defs
16ICE BAG32up,12to-2 Cooler in a big new church (3,3)CE in a big*
17IN ALL32to Everything considered, eventually stripped (2,3)(F)inall(y)
  18ISSUED1ac-6 Beat side US put out (6)Side US*
19JAVA28ac Yes, goes visiting Berlin and Paris island (4)Ja (German) + va (French)
20JEAN28ba Material girl (4)2 meanings
21LIEN26up-4 Fake news the end of civilisation? Right! (4)Lie + (civilisatio)n
  22MACLEAN*10d-3,20to-3,18ac-3 Thin coat put on at first (7)Mac + lean; Donald, Soviet agent
  23MISDID*10to,1d-2 Spies not cross aboutdepartment ? Director acted wrongly (6)MI Six less x round D + D
24MURIATE10ac Aim true running past compound (7)Aim true*; past = obsolete usage
25NAOMI19ac One guy coming back to catch old woman (5)I man rev round o
26OTAGO4d Goat wandering over South Island area (5)Goat* + o
27PEKE21ac Reportedly arouse best friend? (4)Pique hom
28REED*23up-4 Director looking embarrassed, taking Ecstasy (4)E in red
29REEFS11to After bust-up finally closes free bars? (5)Free + (close)s *
30RIOJA7d Wine, port and punch – beer at first off (5)Rio + jab less b
31SONNY*15aw Issue denial – not a thematic code name (5)Son + nay less a
32STEIN5d Wrong to hide the empty mug (5)Sin round t(h)e
33STERE15ba,14aw-3 Measure for timber – trees chopped up (5)Trees*
34THE THIRD MAN*29aw,30ac,33to-4 Unclued (3,5,3)
35TOYER31up Kick rector round back of rectory? He’s only being playful (5)Toe r round (rector)y
KIM34’s name (level five) (3)
MOLE34’s occupation (level three) (4)

Solvers’ comments

Always interesting to find words I’ve never heard before in these crosswords. [RE]

I got ‘The Third Man’ straight away from the picture clue, but was thinking in terms of Harry Lime rather than Kim Philby until I’d solved a few more of the clues, when the penny dropped. Another excellent puzzle, with some words I’d not come across before. Thanks! [RS]

Great fun, as usual. I wonder who are today’s equivalent of the Cambridge Five? [TH]

My kids were “He-Man” fans in the 80s so we were able to solve the cryptic drawing fairly readily, which gave us the theme – another good one. A couple of new (albeit old, in once case) words, which is always pleasing. Favourite clue day 5, which happens to be thematic of course. [CW]

This was a very meaty and very enjoyable puzzle that caused me to re-learn some of the history of that period. I liked the way that KIM and MOLE were placed under cover of the dark squares in two layers of the grid. I welcomed the inclusion of some unusual words among the answers, which were all fairly clued. [AB]

Enjoyable theme and clever but fair clueing. The new letters device was a nice twist. A nice challenge – needed to put aside and revisit a few times. [JP]

I generally shudder when I see Vlad’s name as setter, as he can be devilish. The daily clues were kinder than I expected, but the instructions regarding the “hollowed-out squares” to find the Easter egg are extremely opaque. Like the photo’s dual reference to “green(e)” and “Lime!” [JS]

Clever mixture of themes and satisfying clues. [J&JH]

It didn’t take too long to guess the theme, though I didn’t recognise the drawing of Thora Hird, as I’d forgotten about her association with Alan Bennett, so needed to work back from the title (T/he-/t/hird/-man) I then started down the wrong track, led astray by finding the author (14fh) & director (28th), but after failing to find who were the other two with Harry Lime the third, had another think, and remembered Kim Philby. It then took a while to verify his code name (31st) – and get the other two (3rd & 22nd). [PM]

Intriguing! [JC]

Whew! This one was tough but satisfying. While I had heard of Philby, Burgess and Maclean, I had forgotten a lot of the details, so this puzzle required some research into the fascinating stories surrounding the “Cambridge Five” spy scandal and these three infamous characters. I enjoyed re-visiting the intriguing history of international politics during the twentieth century via the dark tales swirling around these double agents. Vlad is a tricky setter – thanks to Vlad and Gin for this fascinating foray into the past, and for introducing me to a whole lot of new vocabulary along the way. By the way, thanks to a friend who also does these puzzles, I was able to understand the significance of the Graham Fox photo of the limes, not that I can recall reading the Graham Greene (!) novel or seeing the film “The Third Man”. Meanwhile the parsing of the Frank Paul cartoon for that clue still eludes me. [JA]

Having got “double agent” and “Greene” I was expecting fiction not reality. 13 Wordplay not understood. 27 Peak = arouse? [MJ]

Really clever endgame – great work on the grid. Nice clues, nice cryptic drawing. A good puzzle. [HS]

Generally enjoyable and an interesting theme. But the special instructions were unclear and very difficult to understand. We seem to be left with blank spaces which is unusual and we kept re-reading the instructions to try to gleam more direction, but in the end guessed that we’d got it right as we had all we needed to complete this form. It left us feeling that it wasn’t really finished though [JC]

I took a while to get into this as the clueing was quite hard. I’ve submitted with a couple of answers that have ? against them so I may get a Reject email but By the Power of Greyskull! I may have succeeded. [PD]

Loved it! Not easy but no quibbles with any of it. A few new words learnt too, always an education. Thank you Vlad. [SC]

Not sure why Alan Bennett was involved but otherwise ok [AM]

Brilliant puzzke with a very interesting theme. Is this the first time we’ve had to fill in cells which are ‘hollowed-out’? I can’t remember having to do it before but it certainly added some spice to the end-game. [JM]

Quite tricky this month! [GB]

A clever devious puzzle, appropriate to the theme! Thank you [SF]

Good puzzle [JM]

This one gave me some trouble – hence the later than usual entry. The squares on levels 3 and 5 were not hollowed out on the printed calendar [HB]

What an intriguing puzzle! I was flummoxed for a while by the Easter Egg instructions, but got there in the end. Thanks to all involved in constructing it. [SW]


A perfect theme for a crossword! Entertaining as ever. [JN]

Lacking confidence in answers to days 2 (wordplay), 13 (wordplay) and 29 (definition) I have been waiting for Hints & Tips but none arrived so will take the plunge! Very intricately planned, so admirable but a little over-convoluted for me, although I think I have worked out what the instructions regarding ‘hollowed-out squares’ mean! Many thanks. [EF]

Clever, liked the eggs which helped confirm answers too. 👍 [DM]

A very satisfying puzzle, challenging yet accessible and with an interesting twist. [JB]

We’ve just been to see “A Splinter of Ice” – a play about Graham Greene meeting Kim Philby in Moscow in 1987, so this was right up our street. We enjoyed all the cloak-and-dagger stuff! Oops! Time spent in Oman means I automatically spell baisa with an s! And I’m clearly asleep – putting amend instead of emend! [N&SI]

Great puzzle – really enjoyed solving the clues and working out the two takes on the theme. Didn’t get the Burgess/Maclean version til the end – not sure why it took so long. Thanks to all involved. [BS]

A fascinating puzzle reminding us of past history, though I did get distracted looking for Orson Welles…. Loved the Frank Paul cartoon of “T Hird”! But it was quite tricky to work out how to fit the “Easter Egg” words into the grid, And there were some really tricky clues, for which I was glad of the hints. [SB]

I found it interesting putting in the answers. My master sat up and finished it about 2.30 one morning. A good comment. [RG]

Great fun! Clever & tricky clues but always fair. ‘Best friend’ invoked the good kind of eye-roll. And a nice theme once the penny finally dropped! [JG]

Liked the theme and the way the related words (BURGESS, MACLEAN, GREENE, REED) were scattered throughout. Had to read the rubric multiple times about the ‘ ‘hollowed-out dark squares’ – that part was tbh almost incomprehensible. However once the grid was filled it was easy enough to work out the easter eggs. About the crossword overall – it was a fair level of difficultly and some very enjoyable clues (PEKE, RIOJA, GALLEON, JAVA all got a tick from me). There were also some that tbh I found difficult to like and in some cases to parse. *e.g. CLYPE, FACETS, ICE BAG, SONNY, MISDID (assuming I got that right !). MURIATE and BAISA — I had to use Chambers anagram helper and Wikipedia respectively – just couldn’t get those from wordplay alone. So, a mixed bag from me, but a positive experience overal. Thanks to Vlad, Gin and Frank Paul (I had to back associate to realise the arrow was point to T HIRD – got there in the end ). Cheers 3D Crossword team for all the effort you put in – despite my cavils above, this is a great experience every month! [ES]

All good fun – all very cloak-and-dagger! And an interesting device at the end, to tease out the last bits of thematic material – thinking INSIDE the box… [MC]

This one took a few passes before we got enough answers to make a proper go of it – making it all the more satisfying to finally complete it. An interesting topic for a theme – while we’d heard of the group, we’d not remembered the names of the individuals. Thankfully the clues were ultimately doable even without that knowledge, which was much appreciated. We had a great time with this, thanks! [AH]

I don’t often finish Vlad in the Guardian, so it was good to get to the end of this one, albeit only after waiting for the hints and tips to confirm a couple of uncertainties. Wasn’t sure I was going to make sense of the rubric but my what a clever grid that was. [PA]

Great puzzle! [MD]

3 thoughts on “3D Crossword Solution – July 2021

  1. I was puzzled as to why I got the message to say one of my answers was wrong. I double checked them all. So I was not happy to discover that Day 2 gives the answer “BAIZA”. I had put BAISA which is given as a correct spelling for Omani currency, when I looked it up.. This fitted “BIS A+A”. As I seemed to have found the correct answer, it did not occur to me that “BIS” might be spelt with a “Z” – so a bit unfair, I feel!

    1. Me too @sheila brain

      On the other hand, Setter will proibably say

      ‘biz’ is a synonym for business whereas ‘bis’ is not.

      Not a great clue either way IMO, though there were plenty of gems and maybe the best overall theme of the year to date.

  2. @Epeesharkey is correct that the wordplay forces the Z since BIZ is an accepted slang word for business, but BIS is not.

    The reason that the spelling BAIZA is used in this puzzle rather than BAISA is that BAIZA is the only spelling recognised by Chambers (and also the ODE). This is rather unfortunate since the spelling used on Omani banknotes is BAISA. Collins Online lists both spellings.

    I tried to address this issue in the Hints & Tips for July 2021.

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