Rookie Corner 029

A Puzzle by Futhark

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Futhark returns with a puzzle that he hopes will be better than his last one.  I’m sure you will let him know if he has succeeded.  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.

If you have a puzzle you would like to see published here then why not write to me, using the contact page.  New or repeat entries are more than welcome.

A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows.

Welcome back to Futhark with a crossword where the clues themselves were all fair and reasonable with little to comment on but with a grid that can only be described as something of a train crash. The problem is with the triple unches, particularly in the two long down clues with three sets in each solution.  One of the basic rules in constructing a grid is that answers should have 50% or more of the letters cross-checked with other solutions.  Here, particularly in the clues around the edges, the checking was as low as 33%.


1 Curiosity, dropping in after current short, develops avarice (15)
ACQUISITIVENESS – The abbreviation for alternating current followed by a word meaning curiosity with the initial IN removed (dropping in).  The word “short” could have been omitted here.

7 Bloom? Alternatively, catch nothing (7)
ORLANDO – … the actor.  A two letter word meaning alternatively followed by a word meaning catch (as you might **** a fish) followed by the letter that looks like 0 or nothing.

9 Goblin is carrying pancakes (5)
BLINI – The answer is hidden inside (carrying) GOBLIN IS.

11/22/13 Comments on poison, lacking nothing – mad? Out of one’s mind! (3,6,6)
NON COMPOS MENTIS – An anagram (mad) of COMMENTS ON POISON after removing (lacking) the letter that looks like 0 or nothing (as this has already been used in 7a, a different indicator for O should have been chosen here).

12 Pin-up Guido loves inside (4)
IDOL –The answer is hidden inside GUIDO LOVES.

13 See 11

16 I hear naught, sister! (3)
NUN – A homophone (I hear) of none.

17/18 Mix fat stack into quick-dry glue (4,4)
FAST TACK – An anagram (mix) of FAT STACK. A pity that the second part of the answer also appears in the second word of the anagram fodder.

19 Tuber (small), followed by dessert (4)
SPUD – The abbreviation for small followed by the diminutive word for pudding.

21 Fix half of bridge in parts (3)
RIG – Half of the letters of bridge. Clues such as these where letters are taken irregularly from one word to give the solution occasionally appear in daily cryptics followed by adverse comments the blogs.

22 See 11

24 First, reportedly torture Arab’s spirit (4)
ARAK – The first letter of the alphabet followed by a homophone (reportedly) of RACK (torture).

26 Warp network (3)
WEB – A double definition. I think that the two definitions here are very similar. Double definitions work best where there is clear water between the two meanings.

28 See 4 Down

29/10 Crazy ‘sandman’ ails and lands in Indian Ocean (7,7)

30 Betray one with dorsal puncture (4,2,2,3,4)
STAB ME IN THE BACK – The act of betrayal of injuring the setter (one) possibly for including eleven triple unches in the grid and solutions with much less than 50% checking letters in the solutions.


1 Treatment of presidential terms (15)
ADMINISTRATIONS – A double definition.

2 Fungal food in liquor noggin (5)
QUORN – The answer is hidden inside LIQUOR NOGGIN.

3 Scottish John follows headless lion into sea (6)
IONIAN – Remove the L from lion and follow it with the Scottish equivalent of the name John.

4/28 Flatten cow skin (minus top) and rust (4,5)
IRON OXIDE – Another word meaning to flatten or decrease clothes followed by a two letter word for a type of cow and a type of skin with the top letter removed.

5 Covered in 26a, decapitated and diminished (5)
EBBED – Take a word meaning covered in a web and removed the first letter (decapitated).

6 Device to make 24 in the neighbourhood remains unsold (5,2,3,5)
STILL ON THE BLOCK – What is used to make alcoholic spirits followed by a word meaning in the neighbourhood. This is a rare use of the meaning unsold although the final three words are given in Chambers as meaning up for auction.

8 Sounds like sheep rump for summer feast! (6)
LAMMAS – … 1st August – an old harvest festival day.  A homophone (sounds like) LAMB ASS.

10 See 29 Across

12 River goddess (4)
ISIS – A double definition of the river Thames at Oxford and an Egyptian goddess.

14 Symbol of child (little Emma) (5)
TOTEM – A three letter word for a child followed by the diminutive form of Emma.

15 Madly, I fan hag (Asian) (7)
AFGHANI – An anagram (madly) of I FAN HAG.

18 See 17 Across

20 Marsupial initially pads over soft sand, then hesitates (6)
POSSUM – The first letters (initially) of Pads Over Soft Sand followed by a word expressing a verbal hesitation.

23 Commentator apparently made wordplay before Italian (6)
PUNDIT – A homophone (apparently) of PUNNED (made wordplay) followed by the abbreviation for Italian.

25 One pole alongside ship (5)
ABEAM – The A from the clue followed by a word for a pole.

26 Treasure silly Wogan (5)
WONGA – An anagram (silly) of WOGAN.

27 Primarily, dentist alleviates rip in 15’s tongue (4)
DARI – The initial letters (primarily) of Dentist Alleviates Rip In.


  1. 2Kiwis
    Posted October 27, 2014 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    Dave. Just in case you are not in bed yet. The PDF version is not available at present.

    • Posted October 27, 2014 at 12:58 am | Permalink

      It definitely was there at one time! I’ve added it back in.

    • Posted October 27, 2014 at 1:01 am | Permalink

      I’ll add the answers in the morning as I’ve only just solved it.

  2. KiwiColin
    Posted October 27, 2014 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    Whoops. Sorry Dave I have left your comment stranded. It was just that the PDF was not behaving itself when we first tried to download.

    Have now completed the puzzle on-line which is a rather novel experience as we much prefer old-fashioned paper and pen and one of the team decided against the idea.
    Found the triple unches a bit of a problem with the long answers around the perimeter, particularly with 1d. At least one word that is not in BRB with the appropriate meaning too. Generally it all fell into place quite quickly but then I got held up with the last three or four. Initially having the wrong second word in the answer across the bottom did not help.
    Enjoyed the solve. Thanks Futhark.

    • Posted October 27, 2014 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Abracadabra – your comment is restored.

    • Jane
      Posted October 27, 2014 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

      Aah – there’s something very endearing about the idea of naming a kiwi ‘Colin’. I do hope there’s a film animator looking in!

  3. Beet
    Posted October 27, 2014 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    I finished it with a little help from There were three or four words I didn’t know, which is probably about average for a “proper” crossword so that’s fine. I also didn’t know that 9 across was the plural form. My favourites were 11 /22/13 across and 7 across. Like Kiwi Colin I also didn’t know what second word to put in 30 across. Now I have it, the clue obviously does work but perhaps it was an opportunity to do a little self reference and say “the setter” or “Futhark” which is a device I always rather like. Thanks Futhark!

  4. Futhark
    Posted October 27, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Hi all, thanks for the feedback so far.

    Dave has already mentioned to me about the dreaded triple unches, which I’d been unaware of – will make an effort to avoid them in future!

    KiwiColin, can I ask what word you originally had second in 30a? It’s just that I can’t think of any other word that would fit or make sense. Beet’s idea to include a self-reference is a nice one, should have thought of that as I generally like it when I come across it in a puzzle. I particularly enjoyed a clue in the Guardian years ago, can’t remember how it went but it was created by ‘Seamus’ and had something in the clue about ‘me’ or ‘myself’ with the synonym part being ‘dog’ or perhaps ‘gundog’ – of course, the answer was IRISH SETTER!

    Also, what’s BRB when it’s at home?

    Cheers all!

    • crypticsue
      Posted October 27, 2014 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      BRB? As it says just above the reply box, if you are asking a question, please check the FAQ first!

      (Its Chambers Dictionary which is a Big Red Book)

    • KiwiColin
      Posted October 27, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      Late reply caused by the time difference and a need to get some sleep. The word I originally had was IT, as Expat Chris also had from her comment below. Agree with her too that there was a lot to smile about in this puzzle. Cheers.

      • Futhark
        Posted October 28, 2014 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

        Ah, I see. I used ‘one’ in the clue to imply a first-person pronoun in the answer. Glad you enjoyed it anyway!

  5. Expat Chris
    Posted October 27, 2014 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    I, too, had trouble with the second word of 30A until 25D clicked. Tried to make ‘it’ fit, then make the second and third words ‘ in i’s (in one’s)…don’t ask!! I was a long time getting 1D, which considering that I live a hop and a skip from the Nation’s Capital and I hear the word on the news every day is disgraceful. I also had the wrong last word for 6D for a while. New words at 24A and 26D.

    Lots to like in this puzzle and it scores high on my smile factor for 7A, 23D, and particularly 8D. I also liked 4/28 and 20D. Good job, Futhark!

    The BRB is the Big Red Book, aka Chambers Dictionary, the Telegraph setters’ bible.

    • Futhark
      Posted October 27, 2014 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Chris, glad you enjoyed it.

      26d – yeah, I can see how that might puzzle non-Brits, especially! Even my dad didn’t get that one…I suppose it’s more often heard in London than anywhere else, although Wiktionary says it’s also used in NZ.

      • Posted October 27, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        … and in Newcastle!

        • crypticsue
          Posted October 27, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

          Not to mention Toughies 485, 612, 726, DT 26231, and ST 2586.

        • Futhark
          Posted October 27, 2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

          And what a wonderfully ethical company they are, too.

    • Jane
      Posted October 27, 2014 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      Hi Chris – can you come up with a ‘nudge’ for 1d? Mind is completely blank, despite it being the last one I need to complete. Of course, there’s always the chance I’ve got something else wrong but……. I don’t THINK so!

      • Expat Chris
        Posted October 27, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

        I’ll give it a shot, but I’m rubbish at hints! In the USA, it’s a term that refers to the Executive Branch of Government (that’s the President and his circle of advisors and appointees like the Secretary of State who do not get to vote on bills like the Senate and the House do. We talk about the current 1D, or “Under the Reagan 1D”, for example. It’s also a term for the handling of medical treatment. A nurse, for example, would take care of the proper 1D of medication to the patient.

        • Jane
          Posted October 27, 2014 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

          Actually, that was a pretty good ‘stab’ – well done you!
          Yep – I’m sure you can guess the offending letters!

      • Jane
        Posted October 27, 2014 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        OK – I’ve got it! Put the wrong first two letters in 1a (no wonder I couldn’t parse it) – but explains why I was struggling for 1d.

        • Expat Chris
          Posted October 27, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

          Ah…I think I can guess those first two letters!

        • andy
          Posted October 27, 2014 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

          Went wrong there as well for quite a while :)

  6. Rick
    Posted October 27, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Some quite inventive and generally very fair cluing, with 4/28 a favourite. Not sure about the synonym in 1a and some might object to the use of a trade mark name in 2d.
    Personally I find the disjointed solutions with all the resulting ‘see xx’ instructions very distracting, particularly if you are solving on screen rather than on paper.
    It sounds like BD has already marked your card about the triple (and double) unches so I won’t labour that point!

    • Futhark
      Posted October 28, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      I know clues that reference other clues can be frustrating, but they can also be fun, I think. The Guardian cryptic sometimes has cross-references in nearly every clue, so be thankful I only did two!

      • Futhark
        Posted October 28, 2014 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        Or maybe three, oops…

  7. spindrift
    Posted October 27, 2014 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Enjoyed that but struggled with the long answers around the perimeter. Sterling work Futhark!

  8. Kath
    Posted October 27, 2014 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed this too although I nearly ran a mile when I saw not only loads of triple unchecked letters (something that I’ve only learnt to notice from this blog) but also several clues that required an awful lot of jumping around the grid – like Rick I find it terribly distracting.
    I liked 11/22/13 and 20d. My favourite was 8d.
    Thanks and well done to Futhark.
    PS Can’t do 6d.

    • Beet
      Posted October 27, 2014 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      Hi Kath – I had trouble with 6d too. Assuming my guess is correct then I wasn’t familiar with 6d as meaning “unsold” but it sounds plausible if you know what I mean (a lot of my solving is based on “that sounds plausible” rather than actual knowledge!). Think American slang and in particular Jennifer Lopez for the “in the neighbourhood” bit.

      • Expat Chris
        Posted October 27, 2014 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

        Or new kids!

      • Kath
        Posted October 27, 2014 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        Thank you, Beet. I still can’t get it although I think I can make a pretty good guess at the last three words. It looks as if I’ll just have to be patient until tomorrow – not very sure what my virtues are but patience is certainly not one of them.

        • Jane
          Posted October 27, 2014 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

          How about considering the pieces of equipment you would need in order to produce part of 24a.

        • Franco
          Posted October 27, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

          6d – see the very last entry for block in Chambers 12th Edition.

          Beet beat me to it – “unsold” seems to be the definition.

          (Where did this grid come from?)

          • Jane
            Posted October 27, 2014 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

            Oops, Franco. BD just might slap your wrist!

            • Franco
              Posted October 27, 2014 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

              Not on a Monday!

              It is Monday, isn’t it? Hic!

              • Jane
                Posted October 27, 2014 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

                S’only just!

        • Expat Chris
          Posted October 27, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

          I don’t think it’s really that common of an expression, Kath. Certainly not one I’ve ever used. As Jane says, the first word refers to the apparatus needed to produce 24A or any other similar tipple. For the last three words, think where an item goes at auction.

        • Kath
          Posted October 27, 2014 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

          Ah – got it now although I’ve never heard of the expression meaning what it does here – thanks to all who’ve tried to bang some sense into my thick head.

          • Jane
            Posted October 27, 2014 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

            WELL DONE! Not often that the rest of us get to give ‘hints’ to you. No, I’ve never heard of the expression either, but will refrain from further comment on it because I’ve only been ‘moderated’ twice today and am just about to pour a ‘glass’ to celebrate!

            • Expat Chris
              Posted October 27, 2014 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

              If you’re in the UK, I’m a few hours ahead of you on the celebratory glass!

  9. Una
    Posted October 27, 2014 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    I echo Kath’s remarks about jumping around the grid and the triple unches, but it was really very good and not too hard except 1d. Never heard of that summmer feast. Thanks anyway.

  10. andy
    Posted October 27, 2014 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    My loathing of double unches and triple (I cannot remember seeing so many) is well commented on. That said I thought this was great fun, even if the long answer across the bottom is not a phrase i’m familiar with. Thank you Futhark.

    • Futhark
      Posted October 28, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      OK, thanks for the feedback everyone – let this post be the definitive apology for the sin MULTIPLE TRIPLE UNCHES! Point taken and I will avoid such transgressions in future. :)