Rookie Corner 004 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 004

A Puzzle by Futhark

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

The fourth in the new Rookie Corner series introduces Futhark, who is a friend of Hieroglyph. As usual, the setter will be delighted to receive feedback from you, the solvers. I do ask that you remember that for most setters this is a new experience, so please only offer constructive criticism.

A review by Prolixic follows:

Welcome to Futhark, our latest rookie with a good range of clues to keep us entertained.  There were a few rough edges including the dreaded indirect anagram but these were balanced with some good clues such as 1d, 2d and my favourite at 20d/6d.  Some of the surface readings could be polished so that they make more sense in their own right.  Compare the excellent 1d with 18a or 13d.  This was a promising start and we look forward to more from our runic setter.


5/7 Discharge, shudder and ring in cold place (6,6)
{ARCTIC CIRCLE} – A three letter word for an electrical discharge followed by a three letter word for a shudder or muscular spasm and another word for a ring.

8 Conservative correct to drop nothing from opinion (5-4)
{RIGHT-WING} – A word meaning to correct something followed by another word for a pinion (drop nothing, O, from opinion).  I think that this is gettable but in general producing a clue to a clue is not usual when setting crosswords.

9 Cat’s foil, the Hun! (5)
{JERRY} – A double definition of Tom’s partner (foil) in the cartoon series and an informal word for German soldiers.

10 Manage after apparent terrors in prediction (9)
{HORORSCOPE} – A homophone of horrors (apparent terrors) followed by another word meaning to manage or get by.

11 See 22

12 Includes messy sinters (7)
{INSERTS} – An anagram (messy) of SINTERS (products of natural fusing processes)

14 Hand in plaything at ancient city (4)
{TROY} – Put an R (hand) in another word for a plaything.  The “at” for a link word does not work particularly well as part of the cryptic grammar “wordplay at definition”.

18 Twist knee or gone mad over mechanism (3-6,6)
{TWO-STROKE ENGINE} – An anagram (mad) of TWIST KNEE OR GONE.  I am not keen on over as a link word.  “Wordplay over definition” does not work for me.  I wondered if “mad over” were the anagram indicator but mad on its own seems sufficient.

20 King makes a hash of itself (4)
{SHAH} – … another word for a Persian king.  An anagram (hash) of HASH (itself).

21 Mourns crippled New Testament saint, initially (7)
{LAMENTS} – Another word for crippled followed by the abbreviation for New Testament and the first letter (initially) of saint.  As S is a recognised abbreviation for saint, the clue would have worked equally well without the “initially”.

22/11 Oily-sounding seabird (6)
{PETREL} – An homophone (sounding) of something that is oily.  Again this is gettable but using an adjective to clue a noun is a bit of a stretch.

23 Little Stanley has strange morning, dropping in on tough guy (9)
{STRONGMAN} – An anagram (strange) of MORNING without (dropping) IN goes inside (has) the diminutive form (little) of Stanley.  Has is a little weak as a containment indicator.

25 Right in middle of e.g. vinegar? Noxious! (5)
{ACRID} – The abbreviation for Right goes in the middle of the type of compound of which vinegar is an example.  When giving an definition by example, a ? on its own would be sufficient. The e.g. could be omitted in this clue.

26 ‘Loco loco’ meshes computer systems (9)
{INTRANETS} – An anagram (loco) of TRAIN (loco) followed by another word for meshes.  I wondered who would be the first of our Rookies to give us the dreaded indirect anagram.  These are almost always considered the biggest no-no when setting clues as it can be almost impossible to get the required synonym and then make an anagram of it.  Stones rocking for country folk (7) anyone?

27 Gear can reverse spirit! (6)
{COGNAC} – Another word for a gear mechanism followed by a reversal of the CAN from the clue.


1 Foolishly, I stash car for antiques collectors (9)
{ARCHAISTS} – An anagram (foolishly) of I STASH CAR.

2 Stupidly, egg soars right at belligerent! (9)
{AGGRESSOR} – An anagram (stupidly) of EGG SOARS R[ight].  This is the third use of R (right – 14a and 25 a being the others).  Setters usually try to avoid repeating wordplay elements in crosswords.

3 Extended in a pinch (2,1,7)
{AT A STRETCH} – Double definition.

4 Measure of paraffin – or sherry? (4)
{FINO} – The answer is hidden in PARAFFIN OR

5 Very much a good hand! (1,5,4)
{A GREAT DEAL} – Double definition.

6 See 20

7 See 5 Across

13 ‘Chic toasts’ – random? Random! (10)
{STOCHASTIC} – An anagram (random) of CHIC TOASTS.

15 Crazy, Nora, crazy – it’s just for show! (10)
{ORNAMENTAL} – An anagram (crazy) of NORA followed by another word for crazy.

16 Short girl, insensitive, hesitates to count badly (9)
{MISNUMBER} – A four letter word for an unmarried girl with the final letter removed (short), a word meaning insensitive and a two letter word indicating a hesitation.

17 Barca’s Lionel burns sensi without one, resulting in chaos! (9)
{MESSINESS} – The surname of the Barcelona footballer Lionel followed by an anagram (burns) of SENSI without the I.

19 Stir a cc of eggnog initially into pale ale – it’ll make you sick! (6)
{IPECAC} – … a South American root that is a powerful emetic.  An anagram (stir) of CC E with the letters IPA (pale ale).  I am not sure that this clue works correctly.  The CCE mixture does not go wholly inside the IPA.  I have tried to use CC E and the initial letters of Into Pale Ale but then there is no indicator for the E as the first letter of eggnog.  If the whole is an anagram of CCE IPA then we have another indirect anagram.

20/6 Tangled set of ideas – hard to understand! (6,6)
{STRING THEORY} – A cryptic definition of set of ideas that describe quantum physicists use to describe the standard model of physics and into which they are trying to incorporate gravity.

24 Schedule in tarot almanac? (4)
{ROTA} – The answer is hidden in TAROT ALMANAC.

14 comments on “Rookie Corner 004

  1. There were a few clues that seem to break a rule or two, but we will leave those for the reviewer. However they were all gettable with a bit of effort. A few words that had us reaching for the BRB too. All in all, an enjoyable and satisfying diversion that we completed in reasonable time.
    Thanks Futhark. Your nom-de-plume was one of the things that we looked up in BRB.

  2. I can’t believe this is Futhark’s debut ! Very polished and approachable.One or two words I never heard of but I have to say I really enjoyed it.I hope he /she becomes mainstream in one of the papers.I strongly suspect that Futhark has a science background.

  3. 2 obscure words, at least to me anyway, at 19d & 13d only solved with the help of Mr Seiko. It didn’t help matters that I solved 23a as STRONGARM. Overall I quite enjoyed this.

  4. I thought this an excellent debut with some really good clues. My fave was 9a, followed by 8a, 10a, 15d, 16d and 17d.

    13d is new to me, but I was able to work out the anagram before checking that my answer was correct. 20/6 is also new to me. Here, it was possible to arrive at the answer from the word play, assisted by the checking letters, before finding out what it meant.

    One clue that didn’t sit comfortably with me was 11/22.

    I look forward with much interest to reading the review.

    Well done, Futhark! I really did enjoy this, and hope we shall be seeing much more of you.

  5. I enjoyed this very much – congratulations to Futhark.
    I’ve never met 13d and had to cheat. I’ve also never heard of 20/6 but managed to work that one out. Didn’t know 1d either. I didn’t know that belligerent could be a noun.
    It took me ages to sort out why the second word of 8a was what it was – I thought it was really clever when I finally got there.
    I liked 5/7 and 20a and 5d. My favourite was 9a.
    With thanks and more congratulations to Futhark (another new word for me today.)

  6. A promising debut. I did complete without hints (although not without the BRB) although there were several clues that bothered me. I spent too long trying to make an anagram out of ACCEPA for 19D: this is one of those “unless you’re British you probably won’t get it” clues. I don’t think I have ever seen a word split across two parts of the grid, as was 22/11, but since no other commenter has mentioned it maybe there’s something I’m missing here. And I wonder about the ‘sensi’ in 17D. But, on the other hand, I did like 5A/7D and, despite apparently it being a no-no, 26A raised a smile.

    1. My understanding of the convention on splitting a single word across two parts of the grid is that it’s ok only as long as each part is a word in its own right, so BARRED for example can be split into BAR and RED.

  7. Thank you Prolixic for the review. It is most interesting and helpful. On going through my hard copy, I note that I had difficulty parsing 19d, and didn’t realise it was an anagram. Oh dear!

    I also wondered about splitting a single word. I don’t think I’ve come across one like this before. Thanks for the enlightenment, Gazza.

    Huge thanks and appreciation to Big Dave and to all who give so generously of their expertise and their time, come high days and holidays.

  8. Sorry, late to solve this but just thought I’d say I enjoyed it. A promising debut (and love the sobriquet!) Thanks also Prolixic for a scrupulously fair review as always.

  9. Hi all, thanks for the feedback!
    This is something like my fourth or fifth crossword although my first to be published (the only audience for my previous puzzles was my dad – I often write one for him on his birthday).

    A word on the clues:

    8a – I’m not sure what Prolixic means here by “a clue to a clue” – could you elucidate?
    21a – Isn’t “St.” the usual abbreviation for “Saint”, not “S.”?
    22a – I thought this was fair as petrol is sort of, well, “oily”. Is it generally not done to use a word of one class (noun, adjective…) to indicate a word of a different class? However I can only apologize for splitting the word in two, this was purely to make it fit the grid.
    26a – Hadn’t come across the concept of the “indirect anagram” before and didn’t know they were taboo. But in a less technical sense I concede that this is a pretty convoluted clue.
    17d – Although the meaning of “sensi” isn’t important for the clue, I can understand why people might not have clocked it – it’s a slang term for (a type of) marijuana, from the Spanish “sin semilla”, meaning “without seeds”. Used only for its letter content, of course.
    19d – Here IPA doesn’t stand for “Into Pale Ale”, but (originally) “India Pale Ale”. I didn’t use “India” in the clue as, to me, “IPA” is pretty much a synonym for “pale ale” by itself. But then, I am a bit of a beer buff, so I appreciate this might not be so obvious to some.

    Whoever suggested I had a science background is spot on, I studied theoretical physics back in the day.

    Thanks once again everyone, I hope to have another puzzle up soon!

    Ollie a.k.a. Futhark.

    1. Welcome from me too and congratulation on a fun crossword.

      In response to the questions:

      8a. Normally the wordplay leads directly to a part of the solution such as put word A inside word B or add the odd letters of Word C to Word D, etc. In this clue, the solver had to interpret the clue as removing one letter from opinion and then find a synonym for pinion. It was a two stage process to solve – hence a clue to a clue. This one was gettable but, in the worst cases, they can make solving frustrating. An indirect anagram is worst case scenario.

      21a. The usual abbreviation for Saint is St but S is a permitted variant and listed as such in Chambers, the dictionary that may setters and editors use.

      22a. You can mislead but although petrol is derived from oil, I don’t think you would say that petrol was “oily” as the essence or characteristic of petrol. Changing parts of speech works best where the clue play on the ambiguities of the English language where, for example, wind could be turning something (a verb) or, as a noun, a strong breeze, etc.

      26a. I see you have already spotted the reason for not allowing indirect anagrams.

      19d. I suspected that it was pale ale indicating IPA but I still don’t think that the wordplay works.

  10. Ah, looking back I can see what is meant by an indirect anagram: the word to be rearranged is itself indicated by a clue rather than explicitly given. I can see why these are frowned on! Point taken.

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