Rookie Corner – 072 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 072

A Puzzle by Metman

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This week we have Metman, another new setter, presenting his debut puzzle. 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.

Prolixic has updated his document entitled “A brief guide to the construction of cryptic crossword clues” which can be downloaded, in pdf format, from the Rookie Corner index page or by clicking below.

Download asa Word file

A review of this puzzle by Prolixic follows:

Welcome on board to Metman.  I found this relatively straightforward but there were a few obscure definitions that could have been simplified for the convenience of solvers.  Most of the issues have been raised in comments on the crossword as well as the good points – of which there were many.


6 Dan went to the church hop (5)
DANCE – The DAN from the clue followed by the abbreviation for Church of England.  This could have been improved by providing a synonym for Dan such as Desperate man or Expert.

7 Finished novel but what you did to have too many bodies? (8)
OVERBOOK – A four letter word meaning finished followed by another word for a novel.  The clue would suggest that that answer is in the past tense “what you did…” so “but what you do to have…” might have been better.  Even then, the link word “but” does not sit will as wordplay but definition.

10 OK, a rake is moved to get some backing (7)
KARAOKE – An anagram (is moved) of OK A RAKE.

11 Go on gal about days of yore (4-3)
LONG-AGO – An anagram (about) of GO ON GAL.  Three anagrams in a row reduces the feeling of variety and pace in the puzzle and should be avoided if possible.

12 Sir Dave is confused though has wise words to offer (7)
ADVISER – An anagram (is confused) of SIR DAVE.  Perhaps “he has wise words to offer” would better fit the definition.  Also the link word could be better as wordplay though definition does not sit very well.

13 ……but this one came up with the cash (7)
SPONSOR – A person who acts as the answer to 12 across and provides money for a project.  As has been noted, it looks as though the ellipses from the end of the previous clue have been added to this one. 

14 Employs husbandry concerning origin and sounds replete (11)
RESOURCEFUL – A two letter abbreviation meaning concerning or about followed by another word for origin and a homophone (sounds) of FULL (replete).  The definition suggests that the answer is a verb but the answer is an adjective.

19 Did She leave this writer looking so? (7)
HAGGARD – The author of the novel “She” is also a word meaning looking tired and dishevelled.  The “She” could have been put at the front  of the sentence to disguise the capital letter.

21 Sick testament radiates malice (3,4)
ILL WILL – A word meaning sick followed by another word for a testament left by the deceased.  I am not sure about the radiates in this one as it is hardly a link word and as part of the definition would suggest a verbal answer.

23 Groused about Haitian bread (7)
GOURDES – An anagram (about) of GROUSED for the currency of Haiti.

25 Is this where you keep your clothes for the car? (7)
GEARBOX – A cryptic definition of part of the car that sounds as though it may be where clothes are stored.  “In the car” might have been better although in general (as a personal preference more than a rule), I don’t like the use of expressions such as “in X” to provide a definition of part of X or a place in X (see the next clue).  Perhaps “Part of the car that may be used to store clothes!”

26 Press into service in China (8)
SHANGHAI – A word meaning to press into service is the name of a city and port in China.

27 What’s the point of this place? (5)
LOCUS – The central point or focus or a place.


1 An open grave reveals a needle man (8)
ENGRAVER – The answer is hidden in OPEN GRAVE REVEALS.  There is no hidden word indicator in this clue.  Although reveals could be a hidden word indicator, it is part of the hidden word letters so would be doing double duty. Perhaps “Contents of open grave reveal a needle man”

2 US oven switches concerning vessels (6)
VENOUS – An anagram (switches) of US OVEN.

3 Front of landscape? (10)
FOREGROUND – Not sure that there is anything cryptic here.  A straight definition of the part of the landscape nearest the viewer.

4 Vile changes to screen (4)
VEIL – An anagram (changes) of VILE.

5 Pom or alsatian have standards (6)
MORALS – The answer is hidden in POM OR ALSATIAN.  Strictly, the cryptic grammar should be A or B has answer.

6 This order will be executed, or you might be! (6)
DIKTAT – The order of a dictator that could result in death for those who don’t obey it.

8 Bed was ripe to take a sickie (4,3)
BUNK OFF – A word for a bed followed by a word meaning ripe (in the sense of rotten or smelly).

9 I hear you drilled for the directors (5)
BOARD – A homophone (I hear) of BORED (you drilled).  The “you” is slightly superfluous.  “Reportedly drilled for the directors” would work equally well.

13 A shoat is a drain on its mother (7,3)
SUCKING PIG – A young porcine animal that drains (sucking) its mother’s milk.

15 No good standing for this locum (5-2)
STAND-IN – Remove the final G (no good) from standing.  As the whole answer is in the clue, this is not the best of clues.  Maybe “Reputation’s no good for locum”.

16 Casual ring around to place a bet on a horse (4-4)
LAID-BACK – Reverse (around) DIAL (ring) followed by another word meaning to place a bet on a horse.

17 Express sadness re your sartorius etc, with a lisp (5)
THIGH – How you might lisp the word sigh (express regret).  This clue does not work for me as the definition is in the middle of the clue and the final wordplay element is too far from the word to be lisped.

18 A bundle of nerves (6)
PLEXUS – A straight definition that sound as though it means something different.

20 This S. American has a neat job (6)
GAUCHO – A cryptic reference to South American cattle ranchers.

22 ‘ell, one is competent and responsible (6)
LIABLE – The letter phonetically represented by ‘ell followed by the letter representing one and a word meaning competent.

24 Calypso house has lively area (4)
SOHO – The answer is hidden in (has) CALYPSO HOUSE.


41 comments on “Rookie Corner – 072

  1. A more gentle Rookie than some we have had lately. Our first reaction was that there were too many anagrams but when we did a count up we only counted 6 which is quite acceptable. Perhaps having three consecutive ones in 10, 11 and 12 across gave a false impression. The ones we liked best were 3d and 17d.
    We enjoyed the solve.
    Thanks Metman.

  2. Welcome Metman and thank you for a nice crossword, which I enjoyed.
    I suspect more experienced solvers than I will have rattled through that, I only had a slight hold up in the SW corner, but an easy crossword is certainly no bad thing. A couple were perhaps a bit too easy – one where you only had to remove the final letter of a word in the clue, for example.
    There might be a couple of cases where link words are used that can’t really be link words, but I will leave that to the expert.
    I liked 18d and 26a best (although ‘in China’ as a definition will divide opinion, I think)
    Thanks again

  3. Welcome Metman, and thanks for an entertaining debut puzzle. It was certainly at the gentler end of the spectrum, and although there were a few rough edges, I felt that it contained some really good constructions with a good balance of different clue types.

    I was amused when I read the comment from 2Kiwis that the crossword appeared to contain too many anagrams, as I thought exactly the same initially, but I soon realised my impression was a false one as well! It was a pity that “about” was used as the same indicator for two of the six anagrams (11a and 23a) though.

    There seemed to be several slightly obscure medical references (are you a doctor by any chance?) and the Haitian “bread” was definitely a new word for me.

    I liked 19a, but felt that the capitalisation could have been disguised to improve the clue, by having “She” at the beginning, rather than as the second word.

    From a grammatical perspective, in 7a, there seemed to be some inconsistency in the tenses, with the clue being in past tense but the answer being in the present. Also 14a suggested a verbal answer rather than an adjectival one.

    6a and 15d each gave away too much of the answer in their respective clues, and were probably the weakest part of the puzzle, and I felt that neither 13a nor 25a quite worked.

    My favourites were 26a, 16d, 18d, and especially 20d.

    Congratulations on a very promising first puzzle and I look forward to your future efforts.

      1. Indeed it did, Hilary, hence why I parenthesised it! I hadn’t heard of the currency before though.

        1. I had to Google it after using BRB to find a possible word to fit Ooops let out my secret method.

  4. Yes Snape I did ‘rattle’ through this one but enjoyed the experience. As others have pointed out, there are a few quibbles for Prolixic to comment on but also some very nice surface readings.

    Well done Metman – hope to see you here again soon.

  5. Well done, Metman! I thought it was a good debut and for one would rather see a Rookie ease in gradually and work up the difficulty level with subsequent efforts than launch with something overly ambitious that seems to want to to out-toughie the toughies and fails. To be sure, there were a couple of weaker clues (6A and 15D, for example), but even experienced setters fall down sometimes. I don’t share Silvanus’ concern about grammatical inconsistencies. I thought 7A and 14A were just fine, though I do agree with his point about 19A. Nevertheless, that was my favorite clue, though I also particularly liked 20D. Looking forward to seeing more of your work!

  6. Hi Metman, thanks for the puzzle.

    Like others initially I thought it was going to be an anagram fest, I think 5 of my first 6 in were anagrams. There’s also 4 hidden clues, so that’s one reason why this is reasonably straightforward.

    A few specifics:

    7a I agree that the surface grammar doesn’t quite work

    12a To properly define the noun I think you could do with an extra “he” i.e. “though he has wise words to offer”

    23a I don’t mind some GK in a crossword but from feedback I’ve had myself I think it’s tough not only to include a word most of us wouldn’t know but also to use a more cryptic synonym to define it. I think it would have been kinder here to use “coins” or similar just to narrow it down a bit.

    27a Not sure how this works. Latin for place, fine, not sure what else. I will doubtless be missing something

    5d Alsatian is still capitalised in the dictionary, even as a breed of dog ( I think dog breeds named after places generally are still capitalised unlike poodles and terriers etc.)

    9d/17d More unches than crossers is a no-no for me. But 9d was very easy which made up for it, whilst 17d wasn’t; as I had no idea what Sartorius is, even though it turns out I must have a couple lurking somewhere.

    16d I think you only need the first 3 words of this clue. I don’t quite understand how the rest works because “to place a bet” would be “lay” not “laid”, but I may be missing something.

    18d Guessed from crossers, not well enough up on anatomy to know the meaning

    20d Nice use of neat

    24d easy to spot but I felt the definition would be a bit vague with harder wordplay

    25d I’d suggest “in the car” reads better than “for the car”

    Overall there are some lovely cryptic ideas in here, 3d, 19a, 25a, 26a, 16d, particularly. I think you could do with a bit more variety, didn’t spot many (any?) container clues, reversals or deletions. E.g. if you like hidden clues make one or two of them reverse hidden. .

    Good luck with the next puzzle!

    1. Hi Starhorse,

      For 27a, I read it as a double/cryptic definition – the word can certainly mean a place, but it is also a mathematical term for a point or set of points.

      I think 16d is fine, “to place a bet” equals the second half of the clue, the first half is parsed by “ring around”.

      1. I also read it as a double definition, though I thought the two definitions are too closely related.

    2. I thought 16d worked ok: laid = ring around (dial backwards), to place a bet on a horse = back, casual = definition.

      1. Ah, OK I didn’t know the maths term (might have done 40+ years ago, but long forgotten if I did).

        Re 16d drafting a puzzle a few weeks back I clued the same answer as “Casual Call?” which is why it immediately struck me that “Casual ring around” was a clue in itself. I hadn’t recognised the ring around was part of the second half wordplay – apologies Metman, thanks Silvanus and Dutch.

  7. Hi Metman, thanks, I enjoyed this. As others have said this was definitely towards the gentler end of the spectrum, but that’s no bad thing. The Haitian bread was a new one on me, and I also had to look up what sartorius meant. My favourites were 18d and 20d.

    I’d also definitely agree with Silvanus and Expat Chris that if you could have disguised the capital in 19a at the start of the clue that would have been better, as it would have made it much less obvious what you were referring to.


  8. Good debut but like several others felt a bit overloaded with GK, relying on Google to do a cryptic crossword is unusual to this extent paticularly with the medical references. However, putting those caveats aside I did enjoy solving it and look forward to your next outing in the Rookie chair. Many of my thoughts have already been expressed and I will be interested to read the review tomorrow.

  9. argh, have tried twice to submit an extensive comment – third time lucky i hope.

    Thank you very much Metman for sharing this lovely puzzle with us. I enjoyed solving it and learned a few things in the process. You have beautifully managed to avoid the usual rookie pitfall of making things overly complicated. The puzzle was nice and gentle for the most part with a few head scratchers, just perfect. Nothing wrong with a few easy clues to get started. Unlike others apparently, I really liked “No good standing…” – there is something appealingly brazen about having the answer in your face, the trick is to disguise it well. Some lovely aha moments I thought eg the She novel (though I agree that “She left..” would have been a better disguise) and the neat job, very nice.

    I agree with the comments above, 7a i thought “did: was the wrong tense, 13a I wasn’t sure where this was coming from though the answer is clear, 14a I agree the definition seems to be the wrong part of speech. 27d as mentioned above I thought the two definitions were closely related if not the same, in a good double definition clue they would be unrelated.

    1d I thought “reveals” was doing some double duty, in 5d I thought “have” needs to be singular in the cryptic reading (“pom or alsatian” contains….), and in 17d I thought “”with a lisp” should come at the start so it is closer to the bit it qualifies (express sadness).

    I hope these comments are useful to you. Thank you again for a most enjoyable puzzle, well done! I look forward to the next one

  10. Welcome to Metman from me too.
    Still having a bit of trouble in the SW as it has been the case in all the crosswords for a while now.
    Can’t parse 26a although I think I have the right answer.
    Always thought there was a ” L” in 13d but the dictionary contained it.
    22d made me smile
    Knew about the Haitian currency.
    Still haven’t got 17d and 19a.
    Maybe help will come my way or I’ll just wait for the review.
    Thanks to Metman.

    1. for 17d I had to look up sartorius. 19a the capitalisation of She suggests a well-known novel and author…
      26a “press into service” i think is the definition

      you’re a genius for knowing Haitian currency – were you there?
      I also thought I needed an L in 13d…


      1. Ps: Haiti remains very French. No real difficulty. But I have only been to Dominican Republic or St Domingue as we call it.

  11. I really enjoyed that – I agree that it was easier than lots of Rookie corner crosswords but it was, for me at least, certainly not a read and write.
    I didn’t know the Haitian money, or the word ‘shoat’ and I don’t really understand my answer for 6d.
    I liked 12a (glad to see that BD’s been knighted!) 19 and 23a and 20d. My favourite was 18d – made me laugh!
    With thanks and a big “Well done” to Metman – perhaps he could do something about the appalling Oxford weather.

  12. A very nice puzzle , though not a toughie.
    I didn’t quite the clue in 13a.I see the “one ” but where did the other letters come from ?Shoat is new to me.
    I liked many of the clues, especially 25a and 19a.
    Thanks again, Metman.

  13. Thank you Metman. As others have said, this was towards the easier end, though the GK required for 23ac and ‘shoat’ was beyond me. Google to the rescue!
    25ac was the standout clue for me.

  14. Welcome Metman, that was a very enjoyable debut. My favourites were 12a for a nice surface reading and I thought 18d was an excellent cryptic definition. Perhaps because I am not such a good solver, and therefore used to having to always having to cheat on the last few clues, I don’t mind having to look up a few general knowledge things and in fact I like learning new words, so I was happy with the level of GK.

  15. Thank you Metman! Very enjoyable.

    Most of what I intended to say has already been said.

    But one question ,,, 13a – it’s very strange to see an ellipsis with so many dots … especially when the preceding clue doesn’t have any?

    Quibble … quibble!

    Looking forward to the review from Prolixic and the next puzzle from Metman.

    1. Presumably an editorial mistake:-

      12a Sir Dave is confused though has wise words to offer … (7)

      13a … but this one came up with the cash (7)

  16. Regarding the Haitian bread, Alchemi (I think) made a point a while ago which I hadn’t considered but was appreciated – that anagrams are normally straightforward, but they are not the best for more obscure words, because if you don’t know the word you have no indication as to which order the letters should be. Other clue formats, such as charades or reversals, mean you can piece together the answer without having heard of it.

    For 1d, apart from the double duty, I think that hidden words are best if the core of the word isn’t one of the words of the clue, so grave as a sound is present in the answer. (What is the term for a pause between syllables? I should know it?) Hence, to my mind, something like Gauteng rave reveals… would be more deceptive, although of course ‘open grave’ is an actual phrase, so better in that regard.

    1. The Haitian bread was a rewrite as initially Metman had clued GOURDES as the plural of GOURD. I think an anagram of a word which has 4 checked letters out of 7 is fair game.

      By the way, Metman has tried to respond but is having difficulty posting a comment.

  17. Seems like some of our Rookie setters are the fiercest…and pickiest…critics. While I realize that the criticism is intended to be constructive, I can’t help thinking that for a first-timer to be faced with a laundry list of “errors” before the review is even posted is more than a bit unfair.

    1. I have to say that when I did my first one I appreciated knowing every little criticism for all the clues, as it is far easier to learn when you have made a mistake. Even when the clue is technically correct, it is good to know what people appreciate about a clue, and what leaves people cold, and I found it pleasing that people would take the time to analyse my clues. Everyone on here is so encouraging, and the criticism is always constructive.

      BD, yes, it is perfectly fair, but it was a very helpful comment from Alchemi that has stuck in my mind.

      1. Exactly right Snape. I can only speak for myself, but suspect others would agree, that when you start setting you very quickly become amazingly self-critical! And I firmly believe that if you want feedback it’s only fair to offer it if time allows.

        Picky? Perhaps. Fierce? Definitely not.

        There’s a good mix of reviewers on here, coming from different viewpoints, and it helps make it a very useful and instructive forum.

        Just to illustrate, Silvanus (and later others) queried the grammar I 7a and 14a, looking at it presumably from a setter’s perspective. You Chris thought it was fine – and if you got the answers correctly from the clues why, purely from a solver’s point of view, should you not?

        It takes all sorts and long may it continue.

    2. That’s a good point, Expat Chris. I think I’ve been guilty of trying to second-guess the reviewer before.
      Congratulations, Metman, I enjoyed your puzzle very much; the top half was relatively quick to solve, the bottom half had a few new words, including my favourite clue,18d.

  18. Rather than go through every comment individually (take all day and bore everyone to death!) may I express my sincere appreciation to everyone who has taken the trouble to make constructive criticisms and complimentary remarks. I am very grateful for both and take them all on board.
    I do tend to go bull-at-a-gate style and have completed 50 cryptics in about 6 weeks. I shall now go through them all again and do some serious editing!
    A special thanks to Prolixic for his review and valuable comments – very much appreciated Sir.
    One of my daughters read through the comments yesterday and said ‘What a wonderful community’
    And that sums up the whole website for me,

    1. Hi, Metman, glad to see that you have overcome your communication difficulties.

      50 puzzles in six weeks – wow! Perhaps your blog name should be Prolific instead?!

      I do hope though that you will not send all 50 of your puzzles to Big Dave in one go, as his queue is already fairly long (to which some of us can personally testify, hint hint!).

    1. Ha! I’m like that, Beet. I can probably produce a puzzle in under a week, but then will revisit it again and again, trying to rewrite the weakest clue each time. Dreadfully inefficient, but what passes for fun in my little world!

  19. Only managed to get to this one late last night so most of my thoughts have already been covered either by other comments or the excellent review from Prolixic. The thing that struck me most was the huge variation in difficulty between clues – from the likes of 6a & 15d to the currency in 23a and the science in 17&18d. I guess that isn’t incorrect but it does give the feeling of a rather ‘unpolished’ puzzle.
    Lots to like though, so thank you Metman – hope we see more of you ‘ere long.
    By the way, I was another (like JL) who thought 13d always came with an extra ‘L’!

      1. Yes – I did eventually check when I’d run out of all possibilities for a different answer.
        Something else ‘new’ I’ve learnt from this one!

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