Rookie Corner – 194 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 194

A Puzzle by Maclog

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have another puzzle from Maclog. 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.

Welcome back to MacLog who provided us with a Christmas cracker of a crossword.  The basics were all present but there were a few spiky bits of holly admits the tinsel glitter.  A little more time polishing some of the clues to remove repeated wordplay elements and looking at some of the less polished surface readings would have helped.  There were a few synonyms that did not quite ring true.  However, overall, there was improvement and it was enjoyable to solve.


1 Old man takes assistant often back for fruit (6)
PAPAYA – A two letter word for an old man or father followed by the abbreviation for personal assistant and a reversal (back) of a word meaning often.  As others have commented, AY does not mean often, it means always or for ever, as in the line of the hymn, “For his mercies ay endure, ever faithful, ever sure.”

4 Soldier tales told to petrify (8)
PARALYSE – A four letter word for a soldier followed by a homophone (told) of lies (tales).  My personal preference is, where possible, for homophones to produce a word in their own right but this is a self-imposed discipline and not an absolute rule when setting crosswords.

10 Computer image from uninhabited street is going back to mainly weeds yearly growing (7)
WYSIWYG – Remove the central letter (uninhabited – nice indicator) from a three letter word for a street an follow this with a reversal (back) of the IS from the clue and this initial letters (mainly) of the final three words of the clue.  A few points on this clue.  Having used back as a reversal indicator in 1a, a different indicator would have been better.  Mainly as an initial letter indicator is, I think, OK.  Mainly can mean chiefly which give the sense of the first letters as “in the first place”.  The biggest problem with this clue is the nonsensical surface reading.

11 Cats for example calm us when upset with one (7)
MUSICAL – An anagram (upset) of CALM US I (one).

12 Authentic sounding rock and roll (4)
REEL – A homophone (sounding) of REAL (authentic).  Care has to be taken when including homophone indicators in the middle of the definition and wordplay as the clue could be read as an indication that REAL is the solution.  Whilst this is a crossword and you have rely on checking letters, it is good practice to ensure that each clue can be unambiguously resolved to get the solution without checking letters.

13 Low flying airplane to haul catholic to service on time (10)
HOVERCRAFT – A four letter word meaning to haul followed by the abbreviation for Roman Catholic, the branch of one of the armed forces service) and the abbreviation for time.  As hove is the past participle of the verb to heave or haul, “hauled” would have been a more accurate indicator.

15 Agreement to take safety first in concert (6)
UNISON – The initial letter (first) of safety inside a word meaning an agreement.

16 Layer cake returning in quantity (7)
STRATUM – Reverse (returning) a four letter word for a type of cake or open topped pastry confection inside a three letter word for quantity.

20 Creator designed energy producer (7)
REACTOR – An anagram (designed) of CREATOR.

21 Bill has odd bulge and is sickly (6)
FEEBLE – A three letter word for a bill followed by the odd letters of bulge.  Ideally for odd letters the indicator should be oddly.

24 Doing minor alteration in restaurant (6-4)
DINING ROOM – An anagram (alteration) of DOING MINOR.  Some editors will not allow a noun such as alteration to be used as an anagram indicator.

26 Roger‘s nothing to chat about (4)
OKAY – The letter representing zero or nothing followed by a reversal (about) of a word meaning to chat.

28 Material for book involves two males touching (7)
BUCKRAM – The names of two male animals (rabbit and sheep).

29 Only two suppliers properly holding over parts ordered basically (7)
DUOPOLY – A four letter word meaning properly includes (holding) the initial letters (basically – as in from the outset) of the sixth to eighth words of the clue.

30 Task former monarch couldn’t start is finally done (8)
EXERCISE – A two letter word meaning former followed by the abbreviation for the current queen, the first letter (start) of couldn’t, the IS from the clue and the last letter (finally) of done.  Some editors will not allow “start” on its own to indicate the first letter.

31 Vulgar drunk admits name and is sacked (6)
CANNED – A vulgar term meaning drunk includes (admits) the abbreviation for name.


1 Truce broken after prisoner of war gets reduced authority (5,3)
POWER CUT – An anagram (broken) of TRUCE follows (after) the abbreviation for prisoner for war.  Whilst you could have “in the general election, Theresa May had her power cut, I don’t think that this means that “power cut” on its own means reduced authority.

2 Direction to go by Ireland first for flier (9)
PASSERINE – A four letter word meaning to go by followed by a four letter word Celtic word for Ireland and one of the directions of the compass.

3 Twists and was shaken by unknown (4)
YAWS – An anagram (shaken) of WAS after a letter representing an unknown quantity.  Whilst by works as a positional indicator in an across clue, it is less suited to use in a down clue.

5 Member supports constituents in comfortable seat (8)
ARMRESTS – A three letter word for a limb or member of the body followed by a word meaning supports.

6 Incorporated a Scots idea modified (10)
ASSOCIATED – An anagram (modified) of A SCOTS IDEA.

7 Perennial disgust expressed  by one (5)
YUCCA – A homophone (expressed) of YUCK followed by a letter representing one.

8 Brilliant displays in ruined castle (6)
ECLATS – An anagram (ruined) of CASTLE.

9 Shiny metal base (5)
AGLOW – The chemical symbol for silver followed by a three letter word meaning mean or base.

14 Trick money state creates initially circulates around the same spot (10)
CONCENTRIC – A three letter word for a trick followed by a four letter word for an American coin (money), the abbreviation for Rhode Island (state) and the first letter (initially) of creates.

17 Anonymous number outside to exist inside is not revealed (9)
UNBEKNOWN – A seven letter word meaning an antonymous number includes a two letter word meaning to exist.  I found the “outside to exist inside”unhelpful as it gives two positional indicator where only one is required.

18 Fish belonging to us held by good friends in France (8)
GOURAMIS – The abbreviation for good and the French word for friends goes around a word meaning belonging to us.

19 Green fee we had noticed is announced (4-4)
DEWY-EYED – A homophone of DUE (fee) WE followed by a word meaning had noticed.

22 Stay back! First let everyone get something to eat (6)
EDIBLE – A four letter word meaning stay s reverse (back – again!) followed by the first letters of let everyone.  Firstly would be a better indicator for the initial letters.  Also the GET as the link word does not work in the cryptic grammar as you have wordplay GET definition.

23 Why do garbled introduction? (5)
HOWDY – An anagram (garbled) of WHY DO.

25 Ornamental layer discovered in a creature (5)
NACRE – Remove the outer letters (dis-covered) from IN A CREATURE.

27 Source of drug firm can access initially (4)
COCA – The abbreviation for a firm or company followed by the initially letters of can access.  Again, initially has already been used as a first letter indicator so a different indicator should have been used if possible.

A very happy Christmas to one and all and, particularly, to all of the Rookies who have put their heads above the parapet to entertain us throughout 2017.

8 comments on “Rookie Corner – 194

  1. The right level of difficulty for one who, having solved today’s cryptic, and really ought to be getting on with sorting out the Christmas vegetables, before staring blankly at the Elgar Double Toughie..

    Lots to enjoy too but my gold medal goes to the lovely all-in-one/lurker that is 25d.

    Thank you to Maclog and in advance to Prolixic. Happy Christmas to both of you

  2. Welcome back, Maclog.

    I wasn’t expecting a Rookie Puzzle today so this was a pleasant surprise to tackle before the festivities proper kick in.

    Without the constraints of a theme this time, I enjoyed this much more than your last one, Maclog, and the surfaces were generally very good, with the notable exception of 10a, which stood out like a sore thumb unfortunately. One fewer anagram was a step in the right direction, although four homophones took you perilously close to the edge.

    As with your previous puzzle, my repetition radar bleeped numerous times, “first” and “initially” were both duplicated as was “by” as a positional indicator and “holding/held” as containment devices. “Back” was used three times as a reversal indicator. A little more time spent checking these at the editing stage would serve you well I feel. The definitions in 13a, particularly, and 25d raised eyebrows and I don’t think either “mainly” or “basically” can mean to select initial letters, sorry. “Ay” in 1a is not really a synonym for “often” and the cryptic grammar was faulty in 22d.

    My ticked clues were 11a (excellent), 24a, 26a, 28a, 30a and 7d.

    Many thanks for a enjoyable solve, I hope that your next one will have fewer niggles, you’re definitely improving I feel. Merry Christmas!

  3. I’m afraid I still struggle with your surface reads, Maclog. Silvanus has already pointed out the worst offender but I thought there were several others that did not pass muster. I would also take you to task over the ‘cake’ in 16a – it isn’t!
    Does a 13a actually ‘haul’ – I think it’s a moot point.
    Not sure that ‘had’ is necessary in 19d and I thought the last word in the clue for 1d could have been changed to better incorporate the electricity element.
    25d didn’t seem quite right – surely the creature is discovered between the ornamental layers?

    Having said all that, there were definitely some goodies to be found today – I particularly liked 26, 27&30a.

    Thank you, Maclog – I hope you continue to polish your setting and bring us some more puzzles next year.

  4. Enjoyed this, though I can’t help but agree with Silvanus, particularly re 22d & 10a, otherwise pretty good.

    Thanks for the puzzle Maclog.

    Best Wishes to all for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018

  5. Too busy yesterday to get on to this one but made it a priority this morning. Got held up both in the NW (10a was new to us) and in the SE where 31a put up a fight. Enjoyed the solve.
    Thanks Maclog.

  6. There were some problems and this took two sessions – admittedly because of a break for Christmas dinner – and input from an assistant to complete.
    This may have been because some clues weren’t totally accurate in their use of words; for example in 1ac ‘ay’ is not synonymous with ‘often’ and in 13ac none of the meanings of ‘hove’ given in Chambers is ‘haul’. I thought, too, that there was an over-reliance on initial letters, which may account for the repetition of ‘first’, etc. And I couldn’t fathom 31ac.
    On the other hand, there were some clues I thought really good: 4ac, 11ac and 18dn. The latter was a good example of a simple clue for an obscure (or less common) word.
    Thanks, though, for the puzzle, and best wishes to all for 2018.

  7. Thanks as always for the review, Prolixic, and a belated happy Christmas to you as well. Our Rookies are so lucky to have the benefit of your sage advice.

  8. Thanks to all for comments and thanks to Prolixic for review..points taken and apologies for WYSISWYG and ay ….will try harder…All the Best for the New Year !

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