Rookie Corner – 177 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Rookie Corner – 177

A Puzzle by Manxman

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today Manxman is putting his head above the parapet with 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.

If you have sent me a puzzle recently please be patient.  I try to alternate new setters with existing ones.  Currently I have three more new setters, with a possible fourth, and several puzzles by existing setters.

A review by Prolixic follows.

Thanks to Manxman for taking the time to produce a good first crossword.  There was some solid cluing and nice touches with attention to the surface readings.  There were some minor niggles that I have indicated but these are all ones that will be easy to correct with more practice and polish.


8 Nonsense encapsulated in low pest (8)
MOSQUITO – A five letter informal word for nonsense inside (encapsulated in) the sound a cow makes (low).

9 Look largely empty but handsome (6)
SEEMLY – A four letter word meaning look or appear followed by the outer letters (empty).  The structure wordplay BUT definition is not a particularly elegant one.

10 I would be listened to with a hypothesis (4)
IDEA – A homophone (be listened to) of the contracted form of “I would” followed by the A from the clue.  Be listened to does not quite fit in the cryptic reading of the clue.  Perhaps “I would broadcast a hypothesis” would have been better.

11 Too small? French and German articles are measured (10)
UNDERSIZED – The French masculine form of A and the German masculine for of the followed by a word meaning are measured.  Perhaps the are could be omitted from the clue as the are measures gives the resulting wordplay in the solution as are ?????.

12 Writer makes reluctant soldier? (6)
COWARD – Double definition of the playwright and author of works such as Blythe Spirit and a word that describes a soldier reluctant to fight.

14 Make conditions healthier – commonsense includes a thanks to leader (8)
SANITATE – A four letter word meaning common sense includes a letter meaning one or a, a two letter word meaning thanks and the first letter (leader) of to.

15 Is in Paris about an African leader’s country (7)
ESTONIA – The French third person singular of the verb to be (is in Paris), a two letter word meaning about, a letter meaning one (an) an the first letter (leader) of African.  Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators.  In this clue and the preceding one, leader has been used as an initial letter indicator.

17 A crime in the East is absurd (7)
ASININE – The A from the clue followed by a three letter word for a crime, the IN in the clue and the abbreviation for East.

20 Flyer with nuts and bolt (5,3)
FRUIT FLY – A family of food of which nuts are loosely a member of followed by a word meaning to bolt or run quickly.  The overlap between flyer and part of the solution should have been avoided.  As nuts are an example of the food family, this should technically have been indicated but not all editors will require this.  Perhaps “Maybe nuts and bolt put together in subject of scientific research?”

22 Made befuddled on spirit (6)
DAEMON – An anagram (befuddled) of MADE followed by the ON in the clue.

23 Hot air at Jeremy’s pressers (5,5)
STEAM IRONS – The physical form of water in a gaseous state followed by the name of an actor who first name is Jeremy.  Here there is a stronger case for indicating that Jeremy is a definition by example.

24 Dislike cover on egg top (4)
HATE – A three letter word for a head covering followed by the first letter (top) of egg.  Top would work better in a down clue.  Regardless of this, egg’s top or top of egg would give a better cryptic reading of the clue.

25 Cut-back holding key for prosperity (6)
WEALTH – A three letter word meaning cut or chop is reversed (back) around (holding) a three letter name of a key on a keyboard.

26 You will be broadcast before current season (8)
YULETIDE – A homophone (be broadcast) of the contracted form of YOU WILL before a word meaning current.  Again the “be” jars slightly in the cryptic reading of the clue.  Perhaps “‘You will’, it’s said, before current season”


1 M5? Pigs pursue inconsiderate drivers (4,4)
ROAD HOGS – A word for which the M5 is a definition by example (hence the question mark) followed by a word for pigs.  This is one of the clue where the definition with the enumeration is enough on its own to solve the clue without the wordplay.  

2 Blue water (4)
AQUA – Double definition of a type of blue and another name for water from which the colour gets its name.  Perhaps there is too much of a link between the two parts of the definition.

3 £51 solution? (6)
LIQUID – The Roman numerals for 51 followed by an informal word for a pound (£).

4 Juno the beauty (7)
GODDESS – Double definition of he mythical being of which Juno is an example and another word for a beauty.

5 Brief panties for playing with (1-7)
G-STRING – Double definition of a scanty form of underwear and something on a violin that produces a musical note when bowed.

6 Pay and beat church allowance (10)
REMITTANCE – A five letter word meaning to pay followed by a three letter word meaning beat and the abbreviation for Church of England.  Again, there is a large overlap between the wordplay for pay and the solution.

7 First letter of French holy man (6)
ELDEST – The phonetic spelling of L followed by the French for “of” and the abbreviation for saint (holy man).

13 Beastly snowman as described in Nepal possibly (10)
ABOMINABLE – The adjective that describes a Yeti.

16 Describing jumbo’s food? (2-6)
IN-FLIGHT – Where food might be served on a Jumbo Jet.

18 The middle of the day is the best part (8)
NOONTIDE – Double definition, the first self-explanatory and the second being a poetic way of describing the highest point or culmination of something, as he was in the ???????? of his acting career.

19 Does cruciverbalist use crossword setter for this? (7)
SYNONYM – The word that described the relationship between cruciverabalist and and crossword  setter.  

21 Rubbish United playing one down? Result is bad (6)
ROTTEN – A three letter word meaning rubbish and the number of players in football team if playing one man down.  There is perhaps too much equivalence between the word for rubbish, the synonym and the required solution.

22 Make drinkable from delta’s source? (6)
DESALT – An anagram (source) of DELTAS.  I am not keen on the use of source as an anagram indicator

24 In the top 20? This might be! (4)
HITS – An anagram (this might be) of THIS.  There is no proper anagram indicator in the clue.  The answer in the plural would require “these might be” in the surface reading.

22 comments on “Rookie Corner – 177

  1. It all went together fairly smoothly although I’m not yet quite sure how 18d works. Some really good clues in here but also some where a bit more work could have improved the puzzle. For example it is a pity that 18d and 26a ended up with the same four letter ending. Over all, enjoyable to work with and shows a lot of promise for the next one.
    Thanks Manxman.

  2. Congratulations to Manxman on a promising debut. You could perhaps try to make some of your definitions a little more cryptic, e.g. ‘inconsiderate drivers’ in 1d gave me the answer without needing to look at the wordplay and ‘flyer’ in 20a contains a significant part of the answer. The clues I liked best were 22a, 25a and 7d.
    Thanks Manxman – looking forward to your next puzzle.

  3. Welcome, Manxman.

    I thought this was a very commendable first puzzle, with lots that I really liked. I do agree that some of the clues (3d, 4d, 13d etc.) were perhaps too solver-friendly and were immediate write-ins, but there were plenty that had me scratching my head too, especially on the right-hand side.

    The surfaces stood up well to scrutiny in most cases, although a few like 8a and 20a were a little strained I felt. “Make” or “makes” seemed to crop up several times as link words to the definition, and my tip would be to avoid such repetitions if possible. Similarly, it slightly jarred that “described” and “describing” occurred in successive clues too.

    All in all, a very good and entertaining puzzle however, and I awarded ticks to 9a, 11a, 12a, 22a, 23a, 25a, 26a, 1d, 16d and 19d.

    Congratulations and thanks, Manxman. Looking forward to your next one.

    P.S. Great to see BD’s comment that a few other first-time setters will be appearing soon in this slot. Well done to them!

  4. So nice to get a debut puzzle with concise cluing and due attention given to surface reads. As others have mentioned, there are a few areas where improvements could have been made but I thought this was a very good first effort and I enjoyed solving it.

    My ticks went to 12,22&25a plus 3d.

    Thank you, Manxman – please let us have some more from you.

  5. Ditto to what Jane and Silvanus have said.

    I was going to question if the answer to 22d was a real word but it is in the BRB (and it’s much shorter than the word I would have used!) It took me quite a while to parse 14a until I realised that commonsense is of course an adjective.

    I don’t think I’ve seen an = 1 = I before as used in 15a. a = 1 = I is something that crops up a lot. It seems to be acceptable although it is something I’m personally not particularly keen on.

    I’ve got lots of ticks on my page, and 25a was my favourite, with 7d a close second.

    Many thanks, Manxman, for the entertainment, solved sitting outside in the sun with a glass of chilled white wine. More soon please!

  6. I enjoyed this – thanks, Manxman. You have some good ideas and didn’t risk getting too tricky too soon (though I struggled in places, particularly the SW, and used a few aids because the bank holiday is fast evaporating in the heat). I don’t mind a bit of solver-friendliness! As Jane says, concise clues and good surfaces.

    RD has picked good favourites, both ones I found tricky, and I would add 22a – which came much more easily to me! (Oh, I’ve just realised that I’ve managed to copy Gazza’s picks.)

    Thanks again Ma, and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the analysis.

  7. Great debut, Manxman. Congratulations! I was unable to get the first word of 23A, most likely because I’ve been away for so many years that some slang words never occur to me now. I did reveal letters to get it, though I seem to think that back in the day “cake” would have followed the answer. My favorites are 25A and 7D, the latter having led me all around the houses before it dawned on me. I also ticked 6D and 24D. I have a question mark beside 18D that no doubt Prolixic’s parsing will resolve tomorrow.

  8. Hi Manxman
    Well done – quite a neat debut, with clear definitions and concise wordplay. I was sure we’d had one of yours before, but I think I must just be confused by having had MANXMEN as a solution here a while back.
    I liked 3d, 9a, 22a, 25a, 19d and 24d (last in, took a little time to see how it was working)
    I’m not sure 10a quite works. I think ‘I would be listened to’ is supposed to be ‘IDE’, but that’s not how it’s said in the solution, which is generally what is referred to when using homophones. For it to work, the solution would have to be pronounced ‘IDA’.
    Apart from that, the main thing I noticed was a bit of, er, (etymological crossover?) same-both-sidesiness. I.e. where the words you’ve used in the wordplay are essentially the same, or closely related to your definitions. E.g. in 6d, ‘pay’ and ‘allowance’, 21d ‘rubbish’ and ‘bad’, and to a lesser extent in 1d (the M5 element) 2d and 4d
    Thanks for the entertainment, good luck with the next

    1. Yep, guilty as charged Mucky – MANXMEN was one of mine. Good luck Manxman with the Judgement of Prolixic tomorrow – it’s the italics you need to worry about😂

  9. I enjoyed this.
    As others have said there were enough user-friendly clues to get started and I needed them as I depend heavily on anagrams to do that and, unless I can’t count, there was only one of them.
    25a had to be what it was – if I get caught out with that kind of key once more I’m going to give up.
    I also took ages to see why 24d was what it was which was just plain dim.
    I have a couple of answers that I don’t quite understand and a couple more that I’m totally stuck on.
    I particularly liked 11 and 12a and 5d. My favourite, once I’d realised which Jeremy we were talking about, was 23a.
    With thanks for the crossword and well done to Manxman and thanks, in advance, to Prolixic.

  10. Hi Manxman & All,

    Just catching up on remembering that it is Monday. Tough work, these Bank Holidays :-)

    Great first puzzle – really enjoyable. I thought 25a, 9a, 3d and 22a were particularly good clues. I liked the deception in 16d too!

    A few thoughts on possible areas for improvement:
    – 24d: does the anagram indicator after ‘this’ work? Not sure.
    – 11a: second half of clue could be a bit tighter
    – 23a: does Jeremy need a definition_by_example indicator?
    – 6d: are the meanings of ‘pay’ and ‘remittance’ different enough?
    -15a: some don’t like ‘an’ for 1 for I but ok with me

    Look forward to the next one!



  11. Thanks as always for the review, Prolixic. I’ve no doubt that Manxman will be pleased by your overall reaction to his puzzle.
    Must admit that your alternative clue for 20a would have led to some serious head-scratching here – ‘subject of scientific research’ covers just about everything these days!

    Thanks again to Manxman.

  12. Congratulations on a very commendable debut, Manxman. I enjoyed the puzzle. Among the clues I liked most were 23a, 25a and 3d. Well done and thank you very much.

    Many thanks to Prolixic for the fine review. Surely Manxman will be well pleased and benefit greatly from the analysis.

    1. You had a typo in your email address, Catnap, which was what sent you into moderation. I fixed it for you, but it might be worth checking when you next comment in case your browser has remembered the wrong one.

      1. My apologies, Kitty. Fortunately, I don’t store my pasword in my browser. The fault is all mine. I keep getting my fingers between the keys. You deserve some Dreamies as a thank you for getting me out of moderation…

Comments are closed.