Rookie Corner – 192 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 192

A Puzzle by Effra

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Effra is our latest recruit – enjoy 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.

A review by Prolixic follows.

This was a creditable start by Effra.  The basic structure of the clues and the cryptic grammar was there with only a few minor points to watch.  The biggest thing to watch for is the surface reading of the clues.  Some of the clues here did not make much sense in the own right.


1 Hammers coins (6)
POUNDS – Double definition, the second being the coins representing 100 pence.

4 Mouth pecker (6)
KISSER – Double definition, though the two meaning are somewhat similar.  It is good practice to keep the meanings in a double definition as separate as possible

9 Square team discharging sulphur (4)
QUAD – Remove the chemical symbol for Sulphur from the beginning of a word for a team.  This is a good example of where more attention needs to be given to the surface reading.  As a sentence in its own right, this is not very convincing.

10 Nothing’s convenient to wear on the moon (5,5)
SPACE SUITS – A word meaning nothing followed by a word meaning convenient.  Perhaps “to be  worn on the moon” would be a slightly better definition.

11 Leggy bird carrying launch of bullets for West Bank city (6)
HEBRON – A bird with long legs includes the first letter (launch of) bullets.

12 Dads taking drug provide aids for getting high (8)
FEATHERS – A word for fathers includes the abbreviation for ecstasy (drug).  For the cryptic grammar to work, it would have to be wordplay provides definition.  Here, providing aids would be a better option.

13 Platinum and gold surround love god.  Right old flier. (9)
PTEROSAUR – The chemical symbols for platinum and gold around the name of a god of love followed by the abbreviation for right.

15 Swings round beginning of stretch to the back (4)
PANS – A word meaning to stretch across has the first letter moved to the back.

16 Bet volcano flows in unexpected direction (4)
ANTE – Reverse (flows in an unexpected direction) the name of a Sicilian volcano.

17 Setting off a dog’s noise after letter (9)
EMBARKING – A two letter word the letter M followed by the noise a noisy dog makes.

21 Tree-dweller? (8)
ANCESTOR – Lovely definition of someone in a family-tree who, if you went back a sufficient number of generations would have been a tree-dweller.

22 Primarily a sexy temptress however, might actually be said to be breath-taking (6)
ASTHMA – The initial letters (primarily) of the second to seventh words of the clue.  The definition here is a little clunky.

24 Unimaginative to interweave genesis of Tolkien, Homer, Orpheus and elves for creation of new legends (10)
MYTHOPOEIC – A word meaning short-sighted or unimaginative includes the first letters (genesis) of Tolkien, Homer and in a different place (interweave) the first letter of Orpheus and Elves.

25 Boy with male chromosome becomes female (4)
LADY – A three letter word for a boy followed by the letter for the male chromosome.

26 Grabbing some of madam, Ned gets sent to hell (6)
DAMNED – The answer hidden (grabbing some of) MADAM NEDIt is better to try and have the hidden word not begin or end with the beginning or end of a word.

27 Sage setter’s staff is potassium-deficient (6)
MYSTIC – A two letter word meaning the setter’s followed by a word for staff with the chemical symbol for Potassium.


1 Wise one who’s easily offended by National Trust (7)
PRUDENT – A word for someone who does not like prurience followed by the abbreviation for National Trust.

2 Below milk dispenser changing penny for Newton (5)
UNDER – The cow’s organ that produces milk has one of the Ds (penny) changed to the abbreviation for Newton.  Again, another example where the surface reading needs improving.

3 Saddens, rarely removes grains (7)
DESANDS – An anagram (rarely) of SADDENS.

5 Frost limit? (6)
ICECAP – A weak definition of snow and ice on a mountain.

6 Borough borough (9)
SOUTHWARK – Cryptic definition of the London Borough that includes the district known as Borough.

7 Rotter’s ruffled reposts (7)
RESORTS – An anagram (ruffled) of ROTTERS.

8 United after 45 minutes of football with coach going the wrong way nets partly underwater (4-9)
HALF SUBMERGED – The period of time for the first 45 minutes of a football game followed by a six letter word meaning united includes (nets) a reversal (going the wrong way) of a three letter word for a bus.  The nets in the clue here as the containment indicator does not work in the position where it is used.

14 Spoil woman’s meat in South Yorkshire (9)
ROTHERHAM – A three letter word meaning to spoil or go putrid followed by a three letter word meaning woman’s and a three letter word for a type of meat.  Although used, prepositional indicators such as “in South Yorkshire” is not universally favoured.

16 Princess Royal holds in yell. Daughter gets riled (7)
ANNOYED – The first name of the Princess Royal includes a two letter word for a yell with these letters then followed by the abbreviation for daughter.

18 Bonkers canary incubating birth of hen – chaos! (7)
ANARCHY – An anagram (bonkers) of CANARY includes the initial letter (birth as in start of) of hen.

19 Restless, negative and angry, before intensive care (7)
NOMADIC – A two letter word to express an negative and a three letter word meaning angry followed by the initial letters of intensive care.  Unfortunately, the main dictionaries do not give IC as an abbreviation for Intensive Care.  Even if it used in hospitals, it is best practice only to use abbreviations in one of the main dictionaries.

20 Petals upset chief (6)
STAPLE – An anagram (upset) of PETALS.

23 One leaves loo offered for rent (2,3)
TO LET – Remove the I (one) from a six letter word fro a loo.

32 comments on “Rookie Corner – 192

  1. The SW corner was where we struck most problems. It took us a while to sort out the relevant tree for 21a and then 24a gave all sorts of problems. For a start we have a very obscure answer word but we did eventually get enough letter groups from the wordplay to look in appropriate places in BRB, find an answer that fitted the definition and then justify how the wordplay worked. All a bit complex for what we like to see in a Rookie puzzle. We also wondered whether there might be a typo in 7d but a check in BRB gave an alternative spelling that was new to us. That said there were many clues here that kept us smiling and enjoying the solve.
    Thanks Effra.

    1. Hello 2Kiwis, thanks very much for the constructive feedback. I agree 24a is an obscure word – I didn’t know it myself before I found myself forced to use it by the way I had filled in the rest of the grid!

  2. Well, I solved the Monday Rufus and then I found a Rufus-esque puzzle to continue my Sunday evening solving – thank you Effra.

    Last one in was 21a – some head scratching required there, but a good clue. I also liked 4a, 5d, and 6d for their brevity.

    Unlike the 2Kiwis, not too many problems with 24a; having come up with a plausible synonym for unimaginative with the available checkers it was relatively easy to ‘interweave’ the required letters and then confirm with a BRB check.

    Several possible favourites, but the overall winner is 6d.

    Well done.

  3. Nice puzzle Effra – especially so for a first effort.

    I found pretty well all the wordplays to be fine but some of the surface readings didn’t make much sense – not to me anyway – I could have missed a few things so I won’t be specific.

    21a was very good. I might have seen it somewhere before but that’s no crime.

    Otherwise 12a, 24a amd 25a were my favourite clues.

    Overall very well done – please do try another.

    1. Thanks – I appreciate the feedback about the surfaces. Plenty of other people have said the same below and I’ll think carefully about that next time.

  4. A mix of the quite clever and the ‘what??’, particularly 24a where I vaguely remembered the word. I haven’t bothered to find out how the clue works, not least because it is one of many ‘War and Peace’ length clues which left me needing a bit of a lie down after each one had been solved

    A good debut so thank you Effra and, in advance, to Prolixic

  5. Thanks Effra for a good debut puzzle.

    One bit of advice I was given by an expert setter & solver: try and make your surfaces read well as a sentence in their own right, so there’s something to visualise.
    And she suggested this test to me: “Could you walk into the pub and sensibly say this phrase without it sounding odd?” Well done in that many of your clues DO pass this test but some don’t so well. For me two top experts in this area are the setters Arachne and Nutmeg, e.g. Nutmeg in the Grauniad 5th Dec: ‘Fruit spread with snappy packaging (7)’ [answer below!]

    I like your inventiveness in 21a and I thought 7d particularly good, where I like how you leave ambiguity as to which 7-letters are the anagram fodder. I’ll say no more as I don’t want to spoil for other solvers!

    I look forward to your next puzzle & to Prolixic’s review tomorrow.



  6. I have 15A to go, but since 6D was a guess based on the checkers I had that may well be wrong. I found the very wordy clues a but off-putting, and I agree with others on the surfaces, but there was still plenty to like, particularly 21A. Thanks Effra.

    1. In total agreement with your sentiments Chris and 15a is also still eluding me with 6d only got via the checkers.
      I will however differ with you over a favourite – 5d took the laurels here.

      Thanks to Effra – anyone who attempts setting has my greatest admiration.

  7. Well done Effra on putting this together. Quite a feat. I did not find it easy. I missed 15a, and out of desperation I’d filled in something else using a P in 6d, presumably i’m lacking some knowledge there. Some new words, like the Kiwis I thought 7d must be a typo until I checked, and 24a was a struggle. Took me a while to twig interleaved, it works very nicely. However, I think the answer might be an adjective clued as a noun.

    My top clues were 12a (though a standard cryptic grammar error here, which you can get around by using ‘providing’) and 25a (where I had first filled in Lucy!). Unlike others, I wasn’t keen on 21a, I didn’t think the dweller bit was that accurate. Just goes to show people have different tastes.

    4a I found a bit same-sidish, presumably one comes from the other, ideally the two meanings would be unrelated.

    10a wear would have to be a noun for this to work, in which case ‘to’ is a link – I’m not fond of to as a link.

    22a is nice, I like breathtaking and the surface is very good for this type of clue (which is not trivial to do) – i’m a bit worried about the link/definition which i’m not sure works optimally and somehow needs to be nounal (it looks a bit like a homophone indicator, but nothing wrong with that)

    2d the ‘for’ seems to me to obfuscate the direction of change a little. ‘to’ is clear but hurts the surface.

    I agree with comments that some of the surfaces seemed a little surreal, others are very nice.

    Hope all that’s useful, it’s just the scribbles i made during the solve, and once again congratulations on a good puzzle that kept me entertained for quite a while. Many thanks for sharing, and I look forward to the review – and to your next puzzle!

    1. Dutch, thanks for this very detailed feedback. I clearly need to spend more time checking the grammar!

  8. Welcome Effra.

    I’m assuming from your setter name (and from 6d) that you’re either a current or exiled Londoner?

    I thought there were many good ideas here, but unfortunately they were betrayed too frequently by some very unconvincing surfaces, as others have said, and that’s the main area to work on for future puzzles I suggest. That apart, technically there didn’t seem too much wrong, although the cryptic grammar is certainly faulty in 12a. I thought there was also very little cryptic content in 5d and I couldn’t find either 3d or the abbreviation for “intensive care” in Chambers, perhaps both are in Collins? I don’t recall seeing “birth” used as a first letter indicator before and I wasn’t sure why “ripostes” needed to be spelt so unconventionally.

    My two (unqualified) ticks went to 25a and 1d.

    Thanks, Effra, it will be interesting to see your next one.

      1. Hi 3d was another word I was kind of forced into using because nothing else would fit around the other words that I wanted to have in the grid.

    1. I’d assumed REPOSTS had been used to make the anagram trickier, i.e. leaving the solver wondering on which side of the anagram indicator lies the fodder?

    2. Hi, yes I am a South Londoner who has lived at various times along the route of the River Effra (a tributary to the Thames that is now underground for much of its route). Thanks for the feedback!

  9. I found this quite tricky but there was a lot to like here, particularly the cryptic definitions – 1ac, 4, 5 and 21. In fact I wrong-footed myself from the start putting ‘forges’ at 1ac (one might forge something with a hammer, and ‘coining’ is sometimes used to mean forgery). I thought, though, that 4 could have done with a question mark.
    I thought of ‘space suits’ immediately for 10, but held back thinking the use of ‘nothing’, ‘wear’ and ‘moon’ might indicate something (not that I could think of it)) to do with the practice of ‘mooning’ – baring one’s backside as an offensive gesture. Perhaps that was just my devious mind, but if it was a deliberate misdirection, well done.
    Others I liked included 9, 27 and especially 13 with their chemical references (as a chemist – retired – myself).
    But as others have said, several clues were ‘clunky’
    As for the obscurity at 24, as an occasional setter I’m reluctant to criticise as it’s the sort of corner I can easily paint myself into, having fitted in the words I want and being left with an obscure word that’s also difficult to clue. But a bit of advice I’ve picked up from setters and others is ‘easy clues for hard words, harder clues for easy words’.

  10. Hi Effra
    Thanks, nice puzzle. I was generally impressed with your accuracy; there almost no loose words in there, and I think you’ve picked up a lot more quibbles so far than many puzzles with lots more mistakes get. I’d agree about some of the surfaces, but some are very good, so I expect that’ll come with practice.
    I liked 1a, 10a, 12a, 25a, 5d and favourite was 6d.
    21a I thought was a bit iffy, just putting it in from the crossers and checking, but thinking about it now, it seems to be a sort of double cryptic definition, a type of clue I like writing, so I’d better tick that one too.
    I liked plenty more where the construction was good, such as 2d, but where the lack of overall sense was a bit of a letdown.
    22a: acrostics are easy for solvers (no problem with that) but easy for setters too, so I think it’s worth making sure they’re ultra-smooth to read. Here, the breath-taking links nicely with the sexy temptress, but ‘however’ is a bit clunky. Also ‘be said to be’ seems to have a bit of excess padding. You can use the acrostic to link to the definition – for example ‘Primarily a sexy temptress, her moves are [what’s] breath-taking’
    I’ll look forward to your next.

  11. I quite enjoyed this – no need to repeat what has gone before; though I will second the ‘read it out loud to someone’ test.

    My observation would be that the clunkier clues tended to be for what I would consider ‘unkind’ words – 24a for example is not a good word to have to clue at any level. I think I would have tweaked the grid a bit at the start to make it easier for myself.

    Thanks for the puzzle Effra and in advance to Prolixic

    1. LetterboxRoy – I agree, next time I’m going to spend much more time upfront choosing words carefully that don’t box me into using the unkind ones.

      1. For me, going through lots of possibilities throws up lots of new ideas.
        Look forward to your next.

  12. I really enjoyed most of this and see lots of promise. Like others I was surprised by the spelling in 7d. Thanks to Effra – I look forward to your next one – and thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  13. Thanks prolixic for the usual excellent review.

    I guess 8d doesn’t really need a containment indicator. MERGED after (HALF + BUS<). I must admit I wasn't quite sure what NETS was doing, I thought it might be a link, as in 'gets', though it did clunk a little for me.

  14. Prolixic, thanks for the detailed review. What a great resource this is for anyone looking to improve as a setter.

  15. Many thanks for the comprehensive review, Prolixic – particularly for 15a where, despite having worked out the idea, I failed miserably.

    I’m sure Effra will take your comments on board and I look forward to seeing his next foray into Rookie Corner.

  16. Thanks Effra, that was really enjoyable.
    Failed on 15a. Was looking for a word for round starting with the first letter of Stretch in order to put it at the back. That word seems to do double duty though
    Maybe I’m wrong. No doubt someone will put me right.
    Hope to see more of you even though you come from South of the river.
    Thanks to Prolixic for the review.

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