Rookie Corner – 174 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 174

A Puzzle by Metman

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Here is the latest puzle from Metman. 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.

Metman’s latest crossword has all the basics more or less in place but lacks a little finesse in some areas.  It is the sort of crossword that a few changes to polish some of the cryptic grammar and the surface readings could have elevated the crossword considerably.  I have tried to indicate where changes could have helped.

Eight anagrams and three hidden words was at the maximum end of what would be considered normal though admittedly some daily crosswords contain more than this number of anagrams.


6 Governess found by Bracknell spreads the light (5)
PRISM – The name of the Governess in the Importance of Being Earnest is also the name of an optical instrument that refracts light.

7 A post without app can be soothing (8)
OINTMENT – Remove the letters APP from another word for a post or position one occupies in a job.  The A could have been removed.  I am not sure that the surface reading makes much sense.  “Preparation to remove apprentice from post”

10 Retain Jure defence cover for being damaged (7)
INJURED – The answer is hidden (cover for) in RETAIN JURE DEFENCE.  Again the surface reading could have been improved here with something like “Damaged section of certain Jure defences”

11 Eastern masculine influence covering family exerting quite a pull (7)
YANKING – The Chinese masculine counterpart to Yin around (covering) a three letter word for family.

12 Chucking the puck is considered saucy (7)
KETCHUP – An anagram (chucking) of THE PUCK.

13 Awful liar etc., but gives a performance (7)
RECITAL – An anagram (awful) of LIAR ETC.  Perhaps “Awful liar etc giving a performance” would give a better cryptic reading as wordplay BUT definition jars a little. 

14 One French noble can be too big to handle (11)
UNCOUNTABLE – The French masculine form of one followed be a five letter word for a noble and word meaning can.  The word “can” on its own does not mean able – it means “able to” Not sure that the definition here is quite correct – perhaps “too many to comprehend” would have been better.  Also the structure wordplay BE definition does not work.  Perhaps “Hundreds may be powerless to arrest nobleman”

19 Tomboy let date slide (7)
LADETTE – An anagram (slide) of LET DATE.

21 Hair no longer fashionable may upset the workers (7)
LOCKOUT – Another word for a tress of hair followed by word meaning no longer fashionable.

23 Severely censure during break for out-of-date street light (3,4)
GAS LAMP – A four letter word meaning to severely censure inside (during) a three letter word meaning break.  The surface reading here is marginal.

25 Element to prevent food protection (7)
TINFOIL – A three letter metallic element followed by a word meaning to prevent.

26 Ask, was it upsetting this emblem of evil? (8)
SWASTIKA – An anagram (upsetting) of ASK WAS IT.  The position of the anagram indicator here is wrong.  If you are using upsetting it needs to be upsetting -> letter to be rearranged.  Perhaps “Ask was it dire, this emblem of evil” would have been better.

27 Chainmail I acknowledge protects this artery (5)
ILIAC – The answer is hidden in (protects) CHAINMAIL I ACKNOWLEDGE.


1 How the Japanese throw a party (8)
JIUJITSU – A cryptic reference to a Japanese martial art form that involves throwing a person or party.

2 Crumpled hard scrim may get rid of this (6)
SMIRCH – An anagram (crumpled) of H (hard) SCRIM.

3 Author’s cover memo led pun to be misunderstood (3,2,5)
NOM DE PLUME – An anagram (to be misunderstood) of MEMO LED PUN.

4 At first early naval vessel yawed bringing a feeling of discontent (4)
ENVY – The initial letters (at first) of the third to sixth words of the clue.

5 Smear with 7a (6)
ANOINT – A straight definition with nothing at all cryptic that I can see.

6 Uses sick PR to needle someone (6)
PRICKS – An anagram (uses) of SICK PR.  Uses as an anagram indictor in this sense does not work.  Using or Employing might be better here.  Also the definition does not lead to the plural required by the answer.  Perhaps “Employing sick PR needles someone”.

8 Small carrier of fare (7)
MINICAB – A cryptic definition of a smaller vehicle that may carry a fare paying passenger.

9 Turned fifty-one in age but nimble (5)
AGILE – Reverse (turned) the Roman numerals for 51 inside the AGE from the clue.  The structure wordplay BUT definition does not sit quite right.  “Perhaps turned fifty-one in age being nimble” would have been better.

13 Old banger upset cart (10)
RATTLETRAP – A word meaning to upset or disturb followed by another word for a horse drawn cart.

15 Injure Northern girl with this (7)
CUTLASS – A three letter word meaning to injure followed by a four letter word for a girl.  I don’t think that the qualifier “Northern” is required here.

16 Funnily, one comic referred to business (8)
ECONOMIC – An anagram (funnily) of ONE COMIC.

17 Martial ignorance conceals line-up (5)
ALIGN – The answer is hidden (conceals) in MARTIAL IGNORANCE.

18 A bent on the written word (6)
ITALIC – The name given to type that is inclined (bent) on the page.  This is one of those instances where there is not a direct equivalence of A = B and B = C meaning that A = C.  Here A bent can mean an inclination and and inclination can indicate a slope but that does not mean that bent means slope.

20 Deny it belongs to her (6)
DISOWN – A three letter possessive form of Diana’s followed by a word meaning belongs to.

22 Was able, acted, and was quite open about it (6)
CANDID – A word meaning was able followed by a word meaning acted.  The tense used here is not correct – was able leads to could, not the first three letters of the clue.  Maybe “Canon acted and was quite open about things” would have worked better.

24 Parisian food could give great anguish (4)
PAIN – The French word for bread is something than in English means great anguish.

28 comments on “Rookie Corner – 174

  1. A gentle start to the week – thanks Metman!

    My LOI 13d. A good mix of clue type though perhaps slightly heavy on the anagrams and ‘hiddens’ – compared with some what some editors like, anyway.

    My favourite surface was 15d – very tidy!



  2. Thanks Metman

    I may be pickier than most, but I did find quite a lot of niggles here. If you’d like a complete list, please ask BD for my email address. Much of it is nailing the definition with the right part of speech and verb tense, and being careful with the cryptic grammar, especially the links.

    The clues that worked for me were: 3d, 15d (though a question mark might look good), 13d (though the last synonym shares 3 letters – not wrong, just not ideal), 9d, 11a (though I might have been tempted to omit ‘quite’), 23a (works technically, though I’m not sure I understand the surface), 24d (though the link looks a bit like an anagrind – not wrong), and 25a (though the surface seems counter to what you’d normally want?).

    The puzzle was readily solvable, always a good thing, and there was a good variety of clue types. I’m hoping the feedback will be useful to you

    many thanks for sharing.

  3. Welcome back, Metman.

    Whilst I think your surfaces were, with a couple of exceptions, better than last time, as Dutch says there were still quite a few niggles evident, they are proving frustratingly difficult to iron out it seems. I wrote “doesn’t quite work” beside several clues. I agree with Encota that there seemed to be an over-reliance on anagrams and “lurkers”, together they made up well over one third of the total clues. My two favourites were 11a and 26a.

    I noticed quite a few verbal phrases to clue nouns, such as 6a (I liked the literary allusion though), 7a, 12a, 21a and 24d for example, some of which cried out for the inclusion of an “it” or “that” I felt. I was also struggling to find much of a cryptic element to either 5d or 8d.

    Overall the solve was an enjoyable one, and I’m glad that you’re determined to keep going, Metman. I’m sure that, eventually, you’ll give Prolixic almost nothing to comment on, but not quite with this one unfortunately! Many thanks for the entertainment.

    1. Metman, I agree very much with Silvanus’ comments, except that 8d struck me as an almost Rufus-esque cryptic definition.

      It took me a while to drop onto the correct wavelength but then it all came together quite smoothly. I did however need to trawl the depths of my memory for both 6a & 13d (my last one in).

      A handful of specific comments:

      7a: there is no need for the “A”.
      14a: for me your definition doesn’t really define the answer.
      15d: there is no need for “Northern”.
      18d: is the answer really a “bent” character?
      22d: uses the wrong tense – it should be “is able”.

      That said, I did enjoy the solve overall. 19a, 8d & 13d were my podium choices. Many thanks, Metman

      1. Yes, perhaps I was somewhat harsh on 8d, the alternative meaning of “fare” hadn’t occurred to me. Apologies to Metman and thanks to RD!

        1. Yes, Jose, you are right. I was thinking of bent as an adjective meaning curved, not as a noun which, as you say, means inclination.

        2. I’m not convinced it does work: bent=inclination, but not that kind of inclination. Slant would work fine for me.

          1. D and Prolixic: Bent = inclination/leaning (see LRB). Italics are inclined/leaning characters. The clue (which is a mere word puzzle, not a piece of precise literature) works fine for me, even if a slight play on words might be evident.

            1. I don’t agree Jose – the meaning of “tilted” is not there in bent. And it would have been an easy fix.

              1. I absolutely see/respect your point, which is axiomatic from a blinkered/purist viewpoint. Strictly speaking, and to be fair, the clue should have included “Bent” or a ? at the end to indicate the play on words/deliberate grammatical anomaly or twist. These types of clue are quite common and if such a device can’t be used in a cryptic clue, where can it be used? Using “slant” would be ultra-conventional and turn easy clue into a very easy clue.

  4. Solved this one quite easily and awarded several ticks – 19&25a plus 1,8,9,13&20d.
    However, like Encota, I did find it a little top heavy with anagrams and would also echo Dutch’s comments regarding correct parts of speech, verb tense and cryptic grammar.

    I wonder whether you did take on board the advice to get someone to test solve your puzzles? I can’t help but feel that many of the ‘niggles’ would have been spotted by a fresh pair of eyes. You obviously have some good ideas – 11a springs to mind – it’s a shame for them to be let down by the wording of some of the clues.

    Thanks, Metman, I hope we’ll see some more from you.

  5. Hi Metman, thanks for the puzzle
    Generally I’d echo others’ comments. There are plenty of sound clues here, but also quite a lot where what you have written is in the same ballpark as what’s in the solution, both in terms of definitions and wordplay, but not quite on the nail. (Sorry to mix metaphors)
    This may not cause a problem where the answers are obvious, as most of these were. However, when a solution is not obvious, the solver is going to rely on a much closer examination of your clue’s elements for hints/parts of the solution, and then inaccuracies will either be discouraging or a complete barrier to solving. For example:
    ‘Was able, acted, and was quite open about it.’ Let’s say you meant the definition to be ‘quite open about it’. This is clear enough to indicate the solution, but ‘about it’ is not really needed. If I hadn’t got the solution, I then would have looked at the parts of the clue. ‘Was able’ is not the same as the first part of the solution. Acted is OK for the second. ‘And’ I would probably ignore as a link, but I would expect the second ‘was’ to have a function. ‘About it’ might be an indication that ‘it’ is contained in a word meaning ‘was quite open’. So of the four elements in your clue, (One giving each part of the solution, plus ‘and was’ for a link, plus definition), I would say three either contain errors or are vague/misleading.

  6. My sincere thanks to all who have commented. All valid of course, though I thought 14a was an acceptable ‘lego’. Elementary error in the sense of 22d – shouldn’t have missed that. Oddly, I thought this was an improvement over my previous efforts. I was clearly deluded! hey-Ho Thanks once again. I’m off back to the drawing board!

    1. 14a: I don’t think ‘can’ translates to ‘able’ – I think it translates to ‘is able’, so the lego unfortunately doesn’t quite do the trick for me. I think that means ‘be’ is the link, which I have seen, though I’m not keen on it. “Can be’ would be a nicer link I think, but that would be double duty for ‘can’.

  7. It sounds as if I didn’t find this quite as straightforward as the rest of you – it took me ages to get started but then I really enjoyed it.
    Lots of anagrams but I’m not complaining – I like them.
    I was foxed by 6a for far too long.
    I’m pretty sure my 1d is right but I don’t ‘get’ the party bit of the clue.
    I liked 6 and 11a and 15 and 24d. My favourite was 13d.
    With thanks and well done to Metman and thanks, in advance, to Prolixic.

  8. Thanks for the input Kath. ‘party’ refers to a person, any person. Hope that sounds right.

  9. Pretty good, I thought – just the odd mistake or two which as Jane says, a test solver would (or should!) have spotted.
    Mucky makes a good point; we all managed to solve it but had it been more difficult the one or two clues may have been confusing under scrutiny.
    Many thanks for the puzzle, look forward to your next.

  10. Nice straightforward rookie.
    Just what was needed for another hot morning.
    Thanks to Metman for the fun.

  11. Very late onto this one. We were away all day and then had a significant power outage for several hours.
    Not much to be added to what has already been said. We did manage to get it all sorted without major hold-ups.
    Thanks Metman

  12. Thanks as always for the review, Prolixic. It must be so frustrating for our Rookies when you demonstrate how just a little tweak to a clue can make such a difference but, hopefully, it motivates them to think again and again about every clue they write.

    Keep at it, Metman!

    1. I couldn’t have put it better, Jane! Many thanks Prolixic and I look forward to the next one Metman.

  13. Thank you Metman, for what I found to be a very enjoyable puzzle. Managed to solve all but three, and as I hadn’t heard those words before I let myself off for that.

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