Rookie Corner 014 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 014

A Puzzle by Futhark

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have another puzzle from Futhark.  Has he learned the lessons from comments on his debut puzzle?  Now is the time to find out.  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 of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.

Welcome back to Futhark with his second crossword in the Rookie corner.  I thought that this was better than his first crossword with a definite improvement in the surface readings of the clues (with an honourable exception for 3d).  There were still a few rough edges that I have indicated but these are usually the sort of things that get ironed out when a crossword is test-solved.

I counted 11 anagrams in this crossword.  This is undoubtedly too high.  A better balance of clues gives a more enjoyable crossword.  The grid was unusual with three distinct diagonal sections.  Although not wrong (and some papers use grids with four separate sections joined in the middle), it does not make life easy for the solver as there are fewer cross-checking entries between different parts of the grid if you get stuck for a solution.


5 Record is cut, containing LP, for example (4)
DISC – The answer is hidden in (containing) RECORD IS CUT

8 Delights to ensure trap is set (10)
ENRAPTURES – An anagram (is set) of ENSURE TRAP.  A minor point, definition TO wordplay does not work.  Wordplay TO definition or Definition from Wordplay is the usual order.

9 See 14 Down

10 Hot, in a queer sort of way? Queerly Homeric, too (10)
HOMOEROTIC – An anagram (queerly) of HOMERIC TOO.  People have commented on whether this clue is appropriate.  It could offend in two ways – those who do not like sexual references in clues and those who dislike the use of the word “queer” to refer to those who are lesbian, gay or transsexual.  Unless you are setting the likes of a Private Eye crossword, it is probably better to avoid clues that are likely to offend.

11/15/24 Fantasy epic found in random ‘other things’ folder (3,4,2,3,5)

12 Musical body part? (5)
ORGAN – A lightly veiled cryptic definition of part of the body that is also a word for a musical instrument.

13 Conservatives leading socialists into rocky gaps (6)
CLEFTS – An abbreviation for conservatives goes before (leading) another word for socialists.  I think that socialists collectively are referred to as “the left” rather than lefts.  Lefties would be the plural collective noun.

16 Nothing in title about this instrument (4)
OBOE – A O (nothing) goes inside an honour awarded by the Queen.  I am not sure that an OBE is a title as such.  It is an honour unlike a peerage or knighthood that confers a title on a person.  The about is padding here – Nothing in title for this instrument would be better.

17 Punished for being intoxicated! (5)
CANED – A double definition.

18 Price of carbon and oxygen on the street (4)
COST – The chemical symbols for carbon and oxygen followed by the abbreviation for street.

19 Prevents political alliance of South Korea being reversed (6)
BLOCKS – Another word for a political alliance followed by a reversal of the abbreviation for South and Korea.  I don’t think that this clue works with the final abbreviations.  Although S can be used as the abbreviation for South, K is the abbreviation for Cambodia (formerly Kampuchea) not Korea.  SK is the abbreviation for Slovakia.

20 Sneakily scuttle, start something then do nothing (5)
SIDLE – The first letter (start) of something followed by a word meaning do nothing.  Am I a lone voice in believing that start on its own does not (in the cryptic grammar) mean the first letter?  It should be “start of”.

21 Thick coat of tree, apparently (3)
FUR – A homophone (apparently) of FIR (tree).  Apparently is not really used as a homophone indicator without adding some reference to hearing.  Reportedly would be better.

22 Crazy for a filter on introductory discount (5,5)
TRIAL OFFER – An anagram (crazy) of FOR A FILTER.

24 See 11

25 Who let ants dance about in display of skill? (6,4)
TALENT SHOW – An anagram (dance about) of WHO LET ANTS.

26 Reclines dishonestly (4)
LIES – A double definition.


1 Early man, carelessly grooming, can drop short measure of gin (3-6)
CRO-MAGNON – A anagram (carelessly) of GROOMING CAN after removing the first two letters (short measure) of GIN.

2 Le Pen’s diseased 12 (6)
SPLEEN – A part of the body that is an answer to 12a.  An anagram (diseased) of LE PENS.

3 ‘Greek spirit’ (or ‘French zoo’, for short) (4)
OUZO – The French for “or” followed by the first two letters (for short) of zoo.  I am not sure that “for short” really indicates the removal of the last letter.  Shortly or briefly would be better.  As the surface reading does not make sense, a better way of cluing the word could be found.

4 For each one, gauges boundaries (10)
PERIMETER – A three letter word meaning for each, an I (one) and another word for gauges.

6 Silent confusion of the creeks (6)
INLETS – An anagram (confusion) of SILENT.

7 Secret enemy conceals Greek isle (5)
CRETE – The answer is hidden in SECRET ENEMY.

8 They log on, uncertainly, to study tribes (9)
ETHNOLOGY – An anagram (uncertainly) of THEY LOG ON.

13 Ruin each A.C. converter of mediaeval poet? (10)
CHAUCERIAN – An anagram (converter) of RUIN EACH AC.

14/9 Daft cow’s father lies in direct path! (2,3,4,5)
AS THE CROW FLIES – An anagram (daft) of COWS FATHER LIES.

15 See 11 Across

19 Sturdy shoe of second-rate ruffian (7)
BROGUE – A letter meaning second rate followed by another word for a ruffian.

20 Brief briefs (6)
SHORTS – A single definition of pants unless you have a better suggestion!

21 Frippery makes priest sick! (5)
FRILL – The abbreviation for Father (priest) followed by a word meaning sick.

23 Assist a wager (4)
ABET – The A from the clue followed by another word for a wager.


25 comments on “Rookie Corner 014

  1. BD, feel free to delete my comment if you deem it inappropriate. Although I completed the puzzle without difficulty, I thought the wording of the 10A clue to be in very bad taste. It quite spoiled what was otherwise a reasonable effort.

  2. Re Expat Chris , I fail to see what is objectionable about 10a, other than not being very cryptic.It seems to me that the meaning of a clue and it’s solution are generally unburdened by political correctness.Delete me too, if you think that’s necessary.
    As to the rookie puzzle, I really enjoyed it because it wasn’t really a toughie. Thanks Futhark.

    1. Sensitivities aside I thought 10a was a very clever construct. X-word was thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. So thanks to Futhark & to tomorrow’s reviewer. Now I’ve only got the FT, Grauniad cryptic & quiptic then back to the DT backpage before I may have to do some light work. I’m on appearance money only today as result of Labyrinthitis & a torn chest muscle from over exuberant pruning of trees.

      1. I also damaged a rib muscle a few weeks ago, clamouring over the garden fence , having locked myself out.Very very painful but it is getting better , slowly.At the start I’d put the pain on a par with labour pains.

  3. Futhark, Many thanks for your latest offering to Rookie Corner.

    I enjoyed it … but … maybe too many obvious anagrams?

    My favourite: 10a

    Looking forward to your next appearance in the corner.

  4. Seems have been the ‘Day of the Anagram’ today with this puzzle and the eight in the Rufus back-pager. Agree with StanXYZ that the ones here are a bit too obvious, especially the long ones which are guessable immediately from the enumeration alone.

    Quite enjoyed the puzzle though so thanks to Futhark.

  5. I quite enjoyed this one – I found it fairly straightforward (apart from the two that I absolutely can’t see even though I have alternate letters in both – 1d and 17a)
    Even I thought there were rather too many anagrams – especially now as I’ve just read BD’s comment in the “other place” on crossword setting guidelines.
    I assume that 21a is a homonym but, if it is, don’t really think that apparently is the best ever indicator.
    I liked 14d/9a and 21d.
    With thanks to Futhark.

    1. 17A is a slang word for being drunk and also the kind of punishment that a headmaster might mete out. Of course, since you and I are perfect ladies we would not be personally familiar with either scenario!

      1D is an anagram of grooming can, omitting the first two letters (short measure) of gin. The answer is an early type of man.

      1. Thanks very much. I’ve never heard of the 17a slang word.
        Still looking at the anagram – might have to carry on looking for a while . . . .

        1. Kath, I think you said you do your crosswords on paper? If so, have you tried writing out the anagram letters in a random arrangement? Often when one scrambles them up, the answer is much easier to find. I make two lines out of the letters rather than just having one long line — e.g.
          Catnap would be

          1. Thanks – yes – I always write the letters down even if the answer is pretty obvious. I’ve been caught out too many times by just “seeing” it and writing it in – sometimes I just “see” it a little bit wrong!

          2. If I have to write out the anagram (and I usually try not to first, because I like to make things difficult for myself!) I’ve taken to writing the vowels and consonants on separate sides of the jumble – I think that helps.

        2. would never have got this one even with so many checking letters.
          Luckily husband is better educated than I am and I only had to tell him the definition and 3.6 and he got it – didn’t even need to tell him the letters that were already in or any of my spare ones.
          I give up – I’m the crossword solver in this house!

          1. Hi Kath
            Your other half is like me and guessed the answer from def and enuneration – parse it later.

            Buck up girl – you’re a blogger now

  6. I also enjoyed this puzzle. The three clues I liked most were 20a, 3d and 19d. There are rather too many anagrams. I agree that some are a bit too obvious. Nevertheless, I don’t mind them.

    I was stuck on just one clue, 17a. Thanks for the hint, Expat Chris. I’ve never heard of it.

    I now look forward to the review with great interest.

    Good to see you back, Futhark, and thanks for the pleasurable solve.

    1. Have indeed just read Prolixic’s enlightening review with great interest. Even though it is not a very satisfactory clue, I did like 3d because it made me smile! Aside from 17a, I had no problems solving this puzzle.
      Thanks and appreciation to Prolixic.

  7. SPOILERS contained- don’t read before solving

    I didn’t quite warm to this- for a start, the grid is essentially three barely connected sections (top left third, bottom right, and diagonal central section), and two lights at 8 and 14 have two consecutive uncrossed letters. The grid has a homemade feel about it, which generally has me looking for Ninas – I don’t think I see any in this case, or theme words which I at one point thought I may have sensed.
    The puzzle could never be published, since no editor would allow “queer” in the wordplay for “homoerotic” to be used, and I’m very surprised to see it here.
    As others have said, the puzzle is very heavy in anagrams, and very easy ones at that- I’d also point out there are two intersecting embeds, CRETE and DISC which seems a bit excessive.
    Also, an OBE is an honour, not a title, and I can’t see how “apparent” can indicate a homophone.
    Sorry Futhark – keep at it.

  8. Agree with the comments about the anagrams – maybe one or two too many, but I am sure that the construction of anagram clues is not always easy. I tend to agree with Expat Chris re 10A, although I cannot immediately think of an alternative to using the Q word without perhaps offending someone even more. Perhaps “Strangely, hot Romeo in charge, found he was gaily aroused”.!!

    Overall an enjoyable diversion. Well done Futhark – I thought 4d was a “proper” clue – more like that please.

  9. Well, I liked 10a, and enjoyed the solve, notwithstanding the plethora of anagrams. It was pretty easy, even for me, but I won’t complain about ease if there is also enjoyment – which there was. I got 17a, but join those that hadn’t heard of 1d. Thanks, Futhark :).

  10. I’m afraid Futhark I agree with baerchen verbatim ,the NW corner seemed to focus on the odd obscurity no matter what the price , largely anagrams and 10a potentially offensive to the majority . I would also ask in reflection which clue made you smile the most when setting or solving .
    Cheers I will look forward to the next one .

  11. I quite liked this fairly gentle puzzle in lots of ways but it does have too many anagrams for my liking. I too thought ‘apparent’ didn’t do the trick for a homophone. I didn’t mind 10 at all though I suspected it might prove controversial.

  12. Hi all, setter here. I’ll reply in more detail later but I’d just like to say that if this puzzle comes across as a bit unpolished, there’s a reason for that – it’s the first one I ever made, a looong time ago now. I sent it to Dave when he asked us rookie setters for puzzles in an ’emergency’, and it was all I had to hand. So that might explain it if people think it’s a step backwards from my ‘first’ puzzle!


    1. Well then, thanks for stepping up in an emergency and exposing your first efforts to (sometimes harsh) scrutiny. Onwards and upwards!

  13. OK, so it seems some people thought there was something offensive or weird about 10a. I’d better set this straight (so to speak):
    * For those who thought it was derogatory or in some way “un-PC” – loads of gay or bisexual people describe themselves as “queer” and routinely talk about queer politics, queer issues, queer history and so on, or even just queerness generally. So it’s totally different from using a word such “faggot”, for example, which is unambiguously derogatory.
    * For those who are offended merely by a reference to sexual orientation, I suggest you lighten up and stop being so prudish – it’s hardly as if either the clue or the answer was in any way obscene or sexually explicit.

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