3D Crossword Solution – June 2024

June 2024 grid page

Clues and Grid by Shark

Theme: The regeneration of Doctor Who (1974)

The winner of the June puzzle is Kevin McDermid of Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Review of the June 2024 3D crossword

A busy grid this month at 7x5x7 and 38 entries, with some intriguing unclued entries. The instructions tell us this is in service of a theme. Who is it about? Yes!

There were a few awkward words in the answers, but the cluing is pretty straightforward. Trickiest clue for me was probably 11, where you need to anagram one of the other answers starting at 29 (FARSI+EE)*. Pretty sure it made sense when I did it, but I was confused when I revisited it for this review!

I don’t think I’ve seen ANKUSES in the plural before, but the surface of the clue paints a picture. I’m not sure I’d want to yank an elephant though. Sounds dangerous.

OMENTAL was a good use of those checks but a bit of an obscure word. Cluing was clear, but might be hard if you didn’t have checks yet.

The simple clue of Earth? for PLANET OF THE APES may have been tricky for anyone unfamiliar with the film, but, technically, Earth is the planet of all the (real) lifeforms we know of. (Apologies to any Gallifreyans reading this.)

But it’s rather important as an entry because it shares most of its lights with PLANET OF THE SPIDERS, the Doctor Who serial which is the thematic seed of the puzzle.

So what of the unclued entries?  It’s pretty easy to suss that 32 is SURNAME. If you’re hip to the theme, that will get you (23) PERTWEE and (33) TENNANT. Reading the middle layer left-to-right and back-to-front yields REGENERATION.

We’re told to change these names to bring them right up to date. You can replace the checks and middle letter of PERTWEE with BAKER to get new Away words (reflecting the regeneration commemorated here). Similarly, you can do the same with TENNANT and GATWA (showing the latest).

The instructions suggest this is possible because the TARDIS (yellow cells, top-to-bottom) is BIGGER ON THE INSIDE. The idea is that you can write the second and fourth letters larger to fill the space, though that still leaves the words normally sized on the most inside. I think the idea was good but the instructions muddied the waters.

The pictorial clue is ten ants surrounding a knight from chess, but trimmed on the right — TEN(N)ANTs.

Transforming names is a good mechanism and thematic, but it’s not very slick here (only makes sense in one of three directions). Getting all the pieces to fall into place was quite a feat of construction, though, and this puzzle is well worth your time, lord.


Grid solution

June 2024 3D grid solution

Visual clue

A knight chess piece (notated as N since K is used for the king) sits in the middle of a group of ants — ten to be exact. The rightmost ant’s antennae extend across a dotted line in the path of a pair of pliers, indicating that anything over the line is to be cut. And so we get:


Visual clue for TENNANT
Drawing by Frank Paul

Clues and explanations

Thematic solutions are indicated with an asterisk. Arrows indicate regenerated solutions. While the regenerated versions of the two Doctors were required (making each 5-letter name ‘bigger on the inside’ to span 7 cells), for all other solutions, either version was allowed.

DaySolutionDirection, Clue, CountExplanation
1ADDER6to Summer’s crazier with no money (5)(m)ADDER
2AIR RAGE4d Scrap with energy next to first class passenger ultimately results in this (3,4)RAG E (after) AI (passenge)R [semi &lit]
3AMPLE→AMBLE11aw Handsome models undressed (5)(s)AMPLE(s)
4ANKUSES11ba Ignoring head and tail, pulls, manipulates and goads (7)(y)ANK(s) USES 
5CENSE→CEASE15aw Burn thus being inside church (5)ENS (inside) CE [note that “thus” = “frankincense”, but also semi &lit]
6EATER→EAGER14aw Apple tree about to be chopped up (5)(TREE A)*
7ENSNARE13ac Decoy moved swiftly back in different directions (7)RAN (inside) ENSE
8EXCUSER14ac One who forgives former wife swearing as Romeo moves on (7)EX CURSE (with R moved)
9FARSI29to Language is remote. Yes: it’s Italian (5)FAR SI
10FOSTERS1d Brings up beer? (7)Double definition
11FREESIA29up Roughly another 29 besieging Eastern European plant (7)FARSI* (29to, i.e. another 29) (around) E E
12GOANS→GOWNS18to Indians spell answer (5)GO ANS
13HOG-DEER19ba Small Indian animal — domestic animal in this place according to Spooner (3-4)DOG HERE (Spoonerism)
14INCISOR22up One primarily next to canine is regularly four? (7)I N(ext) C IS (f)O(u)R [&lit]
15KARMA→KAAMA10aw Fate of shock when connected to Armageddon (5)(shoc)K ARMA(geddon)
16KOSHERS10d,23ac-3 Prepares Jewish food in Greek island for that lady (7)KOS HERS
17KYU10up Kentucky university’s grade for novice (3)KY U
18LIEGE30to To illustrate cracking invention that’s superior (5)EG (inside) LIE
19LUGGAGE30up Traps ear … dope! (7)LUG GAGE
20OLD SALT3ac Experienced sailor traded, beginning to end, with a lieutenant (3,4)SOLD (with S moved to end) A LT
21OMENTAL3d Relating to internal fold of bananas (7)O’ MENTAL
22PLANET OF THE APES5ac,7to,27to Earth? (6,2,3,4)Cryptic definition
24PITAPAT26up A quick step putting bread on butter? (7)PITA PAT
25PLEURAL26ba Relating to more than one lining undersurface of ribcage? (7)PLURAL (around) (ribcage)E [&lit]
26PROOF5to Backing from demonstration (5)PRO OF
27RENEWED25up Tear around sheep being invigorated (7)REND (around) EWE
28RETCH→REACH16aw Gag snake by the sound of it (5)“WRETCH”
29SEE RED→SERRED8aw,13up-2 Burst a blood vessel and this might be the result? (3,3)Play on words
30SEPAD24aw Suppose one’s home is at the far side of Kent (5)PAD (after) SE
31SHWAS→SHEAS9aw Starts to say hyphenated words as vowels sounds (5)S(ay) H(yphenated) W(ords) AS
32SURNAME24up Unclued
34USAGE2aw Treatment of meat product once it’s gone off (5)(sa)USAGE
35WAFFLED28ac Went on transport, short of time and made tracks (7)WAF(t) FLED
36WARRED28up-6 Fought naked having tipped over wine (6)RAW< RED
37WHEEL OF FORTUNE20up,7to-2,1ac Women follow bad alternative-music show on TV (5,2,7)W HEEL OFF OR TUNE
38WOLF SPIDERS28to,21ac Web designers withdrawing stream (reappears finally after a rest) (4,7)FLOW< (reappear)S (after) SPIDER
RequiredREGENERATIONA term was coined for the first time in 5ac,7to,21ac (12)
OptionalBIGGER ON THE INSIDEA well-known description associated with the shaded cells (6,2,3,6)

Solvers’ comments

I spent a while expecting a term introduced in Planet of the Apes, but eventually read the instructions more carefully. An amusing tribute to the Whoniverse. [NI]

After I’d finished all the Days and worked out REGENERATION and TARDIS, it then took me ages to try to untangle what the second paragraph of the instructions was on about. In particular I didn’t understand how to make the surnames PERTWEE and TENNANT into “up to date” references. I tried to fit in the Fifteenth Doctor NCUTI GATWA but couldn’t seem to make the letters work. So finally I have tried BAKER, another surname belonging to two actors who played the Doctor. I am now hoping this might result in a “Well done!” response when I click “SUBMIT” (fingers crossed). However I still cannot see how to deal with the blank spaces remaining where I stretched the five letters across the seven squares to make the names “bigger on the inside”, so in a sense even if everything else is right I haven’t quite got there. I have to say that I enjoyed the clever and satisfying clues throughout, but I found the endgame very tough. Thank you to Shark for a very challenging June outing. Update: A successful entry, but still those blank squares. Sigh! [JA]

It took me far longer than it should have to get the theme, considering I’m a Doctor Who fan! As usual, some words I’d not come across before. Nice to see a Spoonerism for one of them. Thanks to Shark for the puzzle and Frank Paul for the picture clue (although I only really got it after already solving day 33). I’m not sure if I filled in the changed words (or not) correctly – I’m pinning my hopes on the Hints and Tips later this month. ETA looks like I got it right after all. Still a bit baffled, though. I look forward to seeing the completed grid in the June newsletter. [RS]

Nice commemoration. I used to be a fan, but I’ve drifted away of late — have to rely on my wife to keep up to date now. [TH]

An enjoyable puzzle with a puzzling twist at the end involving names of different lengths – all very neatly done. I did not know enough about the theme at first but had no difficulty finding out more about this unique TV series. [AB]

The “no blank cells” is confusing. [RS]

Brilliant. Got the theme early and then it was a delightful puzzle to finish. And I learned more about the theme. Best ever I think. [SB]

Ingenious! I had to reread the preamble several times. [PD]

A tough one – never heard of ANKUSES, CENSE, HOG-DEER, KOSHERS, KYU, OMENTAL or SEPAD. This made it difficult to complete the grid. Nice misdirection with ‘PLANET OF THE APES’ which made me think that was the theme / link for a while. getting ‘REGENERATION’ and ‘TARDIS’ helped get me on the right path but then I was completely baffled by the instructions as to what to change, how and why. I kinda got the gist but was stuck until I tried to complete this entry form and realised that only 5 letter words were needed although the apparent answer was 7 letters long. Finally figured out it must be an earlier Doctor plus the most recent, but more head scratching ensued before trying out the answer I’ve entered here. It didn’t help that I’d never heard of ‘friends of the doctor’ but I still don’t see the relevance, as that implies it’s the companions not the doctors… unless I have completed it incorrectly which is entirely possible as I only saw four new words, not eight. It was a shame that these instructions weren’t clearer. Fingers crossed I’ve worked it out now!! [JC]

Very enjoyable, after a few sessions on it & pulling my hair out reaching the endgame!🤯 Definitely the most troublesome one of the year….so far.👌😀 [MN]

The clues were a good mix of relatively easy and quite tough with a couple of new-to-me words and a couple of odd alternative spellings but the treatment of the surnames – oh man that was proper tough! Not helped by the instructions. Didn’t like them at all! Still, many thanks to Shark for the entertainment. [SC]

Instructions are a bit confusing and not entirely sure which versions of words to enter above. But good theme! [EW]

Tough for someone who’s never seen watched it!! [JS]

Very clever, still not sure convinced I have the changed entries correct. A very enjoyable solve so a big thank you to Shark. [GW]

Quite a lot going on with this one! Realised the theme early on, as I have been a fan of this programme for almost 50 years. Some of the clues were tough and a couple of solutions were not words I had come across before. However, an enjoyable and fair challenge, thank you. [JT]

Great crossword. I remember getting very upset when I was 5 when Jon Pertwee turned into Tom Baker after the fight with the giant spiders. Turned out alright in the end though. [TC]

Well this was a marathon! I really enjoyed the challenge, got stuck on the red herring and then once I realised the true theme, sorted out the changed answers and made eight new words. Wonderful! A really clever grid and some lovely clues. I particularly liked day 34. Well done to Shark and thanks to all involved. [BS]

This is very tricky. Got lost in Planet of the Apes before boarding the TARDIS and still not sure about the newly formed words. However, thanks for the entertainment once again. [HH]

Phew! I found this a huge step up in level of difficulty from previous puzzles this year. The rubric completely baffled me and, although I’ve apparently submitted the correct solution, it still does! [JB]

Hopefully I have completed it successfully, but I still don’t fully understand the substitution instructions. [RP]

I’ll be amazed if my entry is correct as this was REALLY difficult!!! [RE]

For the first time since I started on this voyage of discovery, I found this puzzle unsatisfactory and I didn’t enjoy trying to decipher how I was supposed to change the names. The hints and tips were therefore indispensable! [SF]

This was a fiend of a puzzle with some tricky cluing and answers that needed searching for. I am still not at all sure of all of them. Worthy of the Doctor, I suppose! It was a clever idea to feature the regenerated doctors to be entered in the grid, and I have duly tried to fit in the changed names, but am mystified as to how that works and where I find eight new words resulting from them…. [SB]

Got the theme soon enough but I didn’t get what was going on with the two ‘regenerations’ until the Hints & Tips gave me a kick in the right direction. Thanks team. Entry form sent off after a belated watch of ‘Dot and Bubble’. Still got it after all these years! [PA]

Well, I think I answered all the clues correctly but had no idea what the rubric meant – I could see the surnames that needed replacing but no criteria for choosing between many possible options. So in cowardly fashion I waited for hints and tips and am not much the wiser, except that they indicated which names to choose and encouraged me to submit the answers, so I do so rather shiftily since I haven’t really solved the puzzle, and we’ll see in a moment what happens! Many enjoyable clues and potentially a nice idea although I have never been a big fan! [EF]

Brought back memories of hiding behind the settee. Really enjoyed the puzzle. [JM]

A very clever puzzle, but my response will depend on whether I have understood properly the very confusing instructions or not (need the brains of the Doctor!). but as a Dr Who fan from the early series, and nice to see Tom Baker and Ncuti Gatwa feature, as the best and most charismatic of them all in my view (with David Tennant close behind). [MS]

I really struggled with this one as I know nothing about Doctor Who. I also found the instructions rather confusing. However the puzzle itself was enjoyable. [MP]

Brilliant puzzle! [MD]

The rubric was difficult to understand. [RC]

My “well-known description” is something of a guess despite having watched for over 60 years. It might be “change of …” or indeed anything else. Initially I tried fitting Whittaker and Gatwa, as that made 14 letters. Where do the second and sixth letters of the originals go? Fortunately the “hints & tips” gave clear enough instructions. 11 Should this say 9 or 29to, or is “another” supposed to direct us? 13 Anagram not indicated? 26 A sort of double definition? 31 “vowel”? 33 Wolf spiders rarely make webs according to wikipedia. [MJ]

Kicked ourselves when we eventually found the theme, but still struggled with the unches. Also managed to get new words swapping Pertwee -> Whittaker (reversed)!! [J&JH]

Instructions felt a bit convoluted this time: think they were working so hard to not give anything away that it was hard to figure out the ask even with all the answers + knowing the theme. Spent quite a while thinking I’d got an answer wrong because I didn’t understand what the form was expecting me to enter… [JG]

Difficult but rewarding. [RL]

Hard. My master has only just handed it to me. [RG]

Nice Doctor Who theme! A little wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey on the parsing of several of the clues, so will wait for the official explanations. [SC]

Tricky! Especially due to not being familiar with the Doctors Who. [DB]

3 thoughts on “3D Crossword Solution – June 2024

  1. Thanks to all those that got through the puzzle as it appears to be trickier than most this year.
    50 years ago when PERTWEE changed to BAKER started a chain of REGENERATIONs leading up to the current example of TENNANT to GATWA. The 7 to 5 similarilty was too good not to miss and with the phrase BIGGER ON THE INSIDE in a TARDIS, this meant the letters on the inside could be made bigger to span the grid and thereby no blank cells appear. Clearly that didnt come across well enough to most, and so apologise that the instructions baffled them.
    A little harsh “ab” suggesting “not very slick”. If you actually examined the grid more closely, 2 out of 3 directions made real words, and all 8 five letter entries made real words in the layers. The other direction was BAKER and GATWA, so just left the verticals. Making real words reading up and down as well as fitting REGENERATION in a whole layer and adding the episode is impossible (I can assure you I tried). Multidirectional changes are very difficult in 3D puzzles, which I did achieve with FREDDIE MERCURY and FARROKH BULSARA, but no other thematic entries were in the grid. This puzzle had a lot more thematic material and I had to sacrifice one direction of real words. I suppose it depends on what a solver wants out of a puzzle … setters are always keen to understand how to improve their grids for next time (which I have the pleasure of being invited back for 2025), so see you all net year.

  2. Thank you to everyone for the comments on what I agree with JB was the most difficult of the year so far. Our Reviewer is on balance very positive, but I must respond to one phrase she uses: “not very slick”. Apart from the near-impossibility of making the letter-regenerations work in all three dimensions (try it!) there is the fact that the creation of non-words in the vertical lights was there in the instructions. So I would absolve Shark on that point: he is an amazingly skilful (and original) setter.
    As for the instructions themselves, which are the reason for pretty much every criticism from the solvers: I can only say that there as Editor I must take responsibility, along with the team which considers such things. We had made changes to Shark’s original rubric in an effort to help you! I think that the concept of a letter which straddles two cells is perhaps difficult to envisage, but there is brilliance in the way it combines two Whovian ideas – the Tardis being bigger on the inside, and the regeneration of Doctors, both of which are signalled clearly in grid and instructions. I am not sure that Shark (or the Editors) could have managed that better in any way. Maybe the message to solvers is that, just as we occasionally put two characters in one cell, so we must be ready to conceive of one character stretching over two cells!
    But thank you to all solvers for their comments, and we shall certainly try to make sure that instructions are always as helpful as possible, without giving the whole thing away.
    And remember (as PA clearly did) the existence of the excellent Hints and Tips.

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