Rookie Corner – 201 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 201

A Puzzle by Fiddler

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Not to be confused with last week’s Rookie setter, today we have a debut puzzle from Fiddler. 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 to Fiddler.  At first glance as I solved this, I was less than enamoured with the crossword.   However, on preparing the review, my opinion has improved.  It was a case of the poor clues overshadowing the good ones.  There is plenty to enjoy and a few train crashes along the route.

Across

6/7/21 Both needed to get some sun on leave (2,5,3,2,5)
IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO – An all in one clue with the first part of the solution (all but the last to letter) meaning both needed to get some sun followed by a two letter word meaning leave.

9 Returning, the Italian journalist visited small grocer’s? (4)
DELI – Reverse (returning) the Italian word for “the” and the two letter abbreviation for editor (journalist).  A small point, but what is the apostrophe doing in the definition?

10 Losing draw, awkward customer from East End took on Pole amidst chaos, showing courage (10)
MANFULNESS – Hold onto to your hats as we begin the explanation.  Inside (amidst) a four letter word for chaos include a word for an awkward customer after removing the initial H (from East End) and the abbreviation for draw (losing draw) and adding the abbreviation for North (Pole).  Although D for draw is used in football pools, it has not figured as an abbreviation in Chambers or Collins (I have not checked the OED).  Normally, you could use only abbreviations featured in one of the main dictionaries when setting clues.

11 Gramophone in trial takes award with nothing added, surprisingly (8)
VICTROLA – An anagram (surprisingly) of TRIAL VC (Victoria Cross or medal) O (nothing added).  As a study in how not to compile a clue this is excellent.  The solution (eight letters) has only three cross-checked letters and is an obscure word so difficult even if you have all the cross-checked letters.  The wordplay is an indirect anagram as you need to get from award to Victoria Cross to VC as part of the letters to be rearranged.  Whilst you could legitimately have Victoria Cross in the clue (as the abbreviation is a direct substitution) the wordplay here is too indirect for it to stand in a daily crossword.  The nothing added is OK as there is a direct O = nothing substitution.

12 Excites youngster holding records (4,2)
PEPS UP – The abbreviation (in the plural) of for extended play records inside (holding) a three letter word for a youngster.

14 Aurora is arising in the east (4)
ASIA – The answer is hidden and reversed in AURORA IS ARISING.  As a hidden word clue, this lacks both a hidden word indicators and a reversal indicator.  Perhaps “Aurora is against holding back the east”

16 Good time to mingle, anticipating character who never arrives (5)
GODOT – An anagram (to mingle) of GOOD + T (time).  This clue has three unchecked letters in a row.  This is not usually permitted in a daily crossword.  Here, the problem could have been overcome by changing (as suggested) a pair of solutions to provide a five letter intersecting down clue or have two three letter words as additional down clues (LEO and OVA).

17 Credentials covering revolutionary not hot, frozen (4)
ICED – A two letter word for credentials around (covering) crossword land’s favourite revolutionary with the H removed (not hot).

18 Sailor returns with note after a short while – simple creature (6)
AMOEBA – The A from the clue followed by the abbreviation for moment (short while) and a reversal of the abbreviation for Able Seaman (sailor) and a musical note.

19 Place equipped for holidaymakers sounds like a flamboyant spectacle. (8)
CAMPSITE – A homophone of camp sight (a flamboyant spectacle).  A small note, but full stops are not needed at the end of clues.

22 European bird to spread damage? (10)
BUTTERBUMP – A six letter word meaning to spread (as in applying spread to a piece of toast) and a four letter word meaning damage.

25 Clue not inept, incorporating sharp point (4)
TINE – The answer is hidden (incorporating) in NOT INEPT.  The “Clue” is padding and not needed for the solution.  Where possible it is better to avoid padding words.

26 Achieves silver, snatching victory – astonishing! (5)
AWING – The chemical symbol for silver includes (snatching) a three letter word for victory.  Again the “achieves” is padding and could be omitted.

27 Vote tax authority out of Italian province (7)
TREVISO – An anagram (out) of VOTE IRS (tax authority).  Again, an indirect anagram.  It is not fair to expect the solver to get from tax authority to the American Internal Revenue Service to IRS.  Some editors will not allow wordplay of definition.

Down

1 Taking seat, disturbed in bar by arousing performance (10)
STRIPTEASE – An anagram (disturbed) of SEAT inside (taking…in) a word for a bar or band.  As a link word, by is unusual.  Wordplay by definition does not read particularly well.

2 Flung out wildly. Forty-seven killed from rifle held by one with frenzied mob (6)
AKIMBO – Remove (killed) the 47 from the name of the rifle AK-47 and follow with the letter for one and an anagram (frenzied) of MOB.  The clue here is misleading as the “held by” implies that there is a containment in the wordplay where it is, in the solution, a simple charade.

3 Special nibs used to sign out books (4)
ISBN – An anagram (special) of NIBS.  The definition here is a little oblique.  Perhaps identify books would have been more precise, even at the expense of the wordplay.  More importantly, it is good practice to try to avoid abbreviations as solutions.

4 Let it stand as proof, pinching bottom of mistress (8)
STRUPMPET – The printer’s instruction for let it stand includes (pinching) a four letter word for bottom.  Again, the “as proof” would probably be better omitted or, at least, changed to “in proof” to indicate where the printer’s instruction would be found.

5 Hear area for croquet has become abandoned (4)
LORN – A homophone of Lawn (area for croquet)

6 Freeze National Insurance for old people (5)
ICENI – A three letter word meaning freeze followed by the abbreviation for National Insurance.

8 Smoke following confusion over story genre? Incomprehensible! (7)
OBSCURE – A four letter word for smoke (as used in food preparation) after (following) an anagram (confusion) of SOB (story genre). A third indirect anagram (good job BD does not operate a three strikes and you’re out policy).

13 One put pest into a mixture made for plant (10)
POINSETTIA – An anagram (mixture) of I (one) PEST INTO A.  The “put” here sticks out like a sore thumb.  It does not operate as an insertion indicator on its own.

15 Around morning, distilled Cuba’s liqueur (7)
SAMBUCA – An anagram (distilled) of CUBAS around the abbreviation for morning.

16 Jokes about boy exercising right to wear best clothes (4,4)
GLAD RAGS – A four letter word for jokes around (about) a three letter word for a boy and the abbreviation for right.  Perhaps “having” right would be better than “exercising” right.  The “to wear is also padding as it is not needed in the wordplay.  “Jokes about boy having right clothes” would have sufficed.

20 Plan agent returning with charter? (6)
MAPPER – A three letter word for a plan with a reversal of a three letter word for a travelling representative or agent.  As there is a close correspondence between the plan and the charter, this could have been avoided by something along the lines of “Agent Ayres, perhaps, returns with charter”

21 See 6 Across

23 Slave to find alien lost in lavatory (4)
TOIL – Remove the abbreviation for Extra Terrestrial (alien) from a word for a lavatory.

24 Goddess predicting fate of our planet in broadcast? (4)
URTH – A homophone (in broadcast) of earth (our planet).

As a little experiment, I am testing ing an informal commentometer to look at the crossword review.  Where here are major comments I will award one point.  Minor comments such as ‘padding’ or practices where views differ will not be counted towards the score.  The results will be subjective but give an indication of the overall quality of the crossword.  Setters can see where they are improving as successive crosswords are published.  The number of comments will be divided by the number of clues to give an overall percentage.  The lower the percentage the better.

For Fiddler’s first crossword the commentometer reads 42%.


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36 comments on “Rookie Corner – 201

  1. Well we did get it finished and think we understand what Fiddler intended with each clue. Some really obscure answers here such as 24d and a few more where the spelling differs from what is in BRB. Assuming we have read them correctly, two indirect anagrams are also present. We feel that the input of a test-solver could have been a big help to Fiddler as there are some clever clues in here.
    Thanks Fiddler.

  2. Nice puzzle Fiddler – very amusing in parts -. I bet 6a/7a/21d was pre-baked and seeded in – maybe as the inspiration or the puzzle – either way it was very good.

    A few quibbles though.

    I wonder if you are American, or a longtime resident there.

    22a – the answer is the US term for that bird so replacing “European ” with eg “American” would have been better, assuming puzzles here to be written in a UK context, event though the audience itself is much broader than that.

    Indirect anagrams raise their head again. In easy to medium puzzle series (eg DT “back page”) they are usually not allowed at all. DT Toughie not sure – depends whether Manley & co have nobbled the new puzzle editor yet or not. In more sophisticated ones they are, but subject to the proviso that the indirect component must be very obvious.

    Sometimes there is a middle ground where very obvious single letters may be fed in – eg N for “new” etc.

    Ximenes, in his earlier writings gave the example of “the cup that cheers” for TEA as being allowable – a different criterion – the reasoning there being that it couldn’t possibly be anything else. In his later book (which was obviously intended to empower self-styled pedants – just as it has) he outlawed them altogether – a simple rule – simple people like simple rules.

    I spotted them in:

    11a – not a very obvious award and my no means the only possible one.
    27a – obvious maybe if you’re American – otherwise not and a solver would usually expect the American-ness to be indicated – so a double fault there.

    ————————

    In 20d the definition was good but the rest of the clue really depended on exactly the same idea. It works – but clues are usually better if they come at the answer from two independent angles.

    13d I twigged what you wanted but I don’t think the wordplay describes that precisely.

    24d – rather an obscure goddess – but we live and learn.
    ————————

    Not a quibble, but in 2d I couldn’t see how “forty-seven killed from rifle” gave me the required letters. It may well do – but I didn’t twig – so I shall await revelation.

    Overall very enjoyable. The quibbles noted above didn’t detract from that as I’m well used to many different setting styles going a long way back – just relating it all to current UK practice.

    1. I would have to disagree with JS on 22a. the BRB does not indicate US and some on-line dictionaries say European.

      1. Thanks for your feedback. I’m new to this so learning all the time. ‘Rifle’ reference was ‘AK 47’ – a little obscure on reflection.

        1. Welcome to the blog Christoper. I presume from your e-mail address and comment that you must be Fiddler. A full review will be up later.

        2. Actually, being the solid and reliable Russian rifle beloved of guerillas the world over it frequently gets mentioned in the news so it’s not all that obscure at all. I must have just been having a senior moment. I knew I wanted AK – I knew that there was such a rifle that started with AK but I couldn’t remember the rest of it – and for some reason the penny just didn’t drop – even though I was staring right at it.

          Re that bird – common names for birds vary the world over, even between localities in the same country – so always a possible source of contention, especially in an international environment.

  3. This needed a lot of reference material to complete the solve which reduced the enjoyment and I agree with the 2 Kiwis that some of the answers were obscure.

    I thought 10a was a bit of a war and peace clue (14 words) and 19a and 2d were not far behind.

    Assuming I have 14a correct, I am not sure if it was meant to be a reverse lurker. If this is case, the containment indicator should precede the words of containment.

    I agree with JS on indicating the ‘home’ of the tax authority in 27a, but I did learn that Italy is divided into provinces.

    Perhaps 11a also needs to have a country indication – I am not sure how widely available the items were.

    Thank you Fiddler.

  4. Quite a mixture in this very difficult solve – some of the difficulties caused by the grid itself – and I speak as a person who very rarely notices a grid with unches whether double or in this case triple.

    As others have said, the inclusion of indirect anagrams should be avoided at all times. You also have several clues which are on the War and Peace spectrum in terms of numbers of words used. I’m not a fan of a clue where you have to have a lie down after you’ve read it and then go back to try and work out the wordplay.

    6a has a * by it as I did like this one. 11a – I knew the gramophone but am not entirely sure how the wordplay works – I put it in from checking letters. 22a is surely a Norfolk term for the bird in question rather than widely European? 20d the office dictionary isn’t very helpful but if the solution is a map agent’ then surely the word agent is doing double duty here both as part of the definition and the wordplay.

    As for test solving, speaking from my considerable experience, I think initially you’d do better to find a more friendly grid or two and do a few more Rookie Corner puzzles where you will get many people ‘test-solving’ in one go which will give you the feedback you require to progress with your crossword setting.

    Looking forward to seeing your next attempt when hopefully you will have take on board both the comments you will receive here today and the wise words of Prolixic in his review

  5. Welcome to the world of setting Fiddler – some of those clues were terrific. My podium finishers would be 1d, 16d, and in gold place 6d – a gem.

    The puzzle was rather uneven, which is normal at first of course, so my main advice would be to re-write clues that you yourself, if you encountered them as a solver, would think were weakest. If you can find a test-solver, great, but not everyone can at first!

    Another thing is the grid – if you had made 11a ‘virtuous’ (that gramophone clue was a bit of a stinker) and 16a ‘ghost’, say, then a word like ‘stoic’ could have gone down through the middle to avoid those double and triple runs of unchecked squares. In order to help me find words that fit, I use Chambers Word Wizard: http://chambers.co.uk/puzzles/word-wizard/.

    As regards a piece of advice above to not be too pedantic about rules, all I can say is that for me personally my puzzles improved as I learned and followed the rules of crossword setting more closely, as did the responses I got from solvers.

  6. Welcome Fiddler. I thought this was a mixture of some good clues (e.g. 19a, 4d, 15d and 23d) and some definite no-nos (Irrespective of what Ximenes may or may not have said in the past you should avoid indirect anagrams these days).
    There are quite a few unneeded words in the clues (e.g. ‘clue’ in 25a and ‘taking’ in 1d). I like ‘charter’ as the definition for 20d but it overlaps with ‘plan’. I’m not sure what the story genre is in 8d but if it’s sob(-story) then this is another example of an indirect anagram.
    I look forward to your next puzzle.

  7. Hi Fiddler
    Sorry, I couldn’t solve much of this before starting to reveal letters. A mixture of obscure solutions, complicated clues and misleading words made me give up.
    The grid is a bit odd, but I think all you’ve done is removed the 5 letter down entry in the centre. I assume you did this because you were stuck for a word to go in there. Even as it is, I can think of ASDIC, but as Maize suggests, much better to change 11a and give yourself a couple of more standard words.
    There were plenty of good ideas and nice clues that worked: 5d,12a, 6d, 23d, 20d, 17a etc.
    Those I had issues with:
    6a – I can see the wordplay for the last word (two words, perhaps), which is fine. Either you have no wordplay for the first three words, or the first two words of the clue act as both wordplay and definition. This is a bit unsatisfactory, particularly as in this case those words are basically a shortened version of the whole.
    8d – I don’t understand ‘confusion over story genre’
    11a – It’s a difficult solution, 3/8 checked letters is not enough, it’s a complicated anagram construction with an indirect element that is clued in a very vague way. Ouch
    25 ‘clue’ is padding, so misleading
    14 If ‘in’ is the containment indicator, it should come before ‘Aurora is arising’. There’s nothing to indicate reversal – arising is part of the fodder, so can’t do it, nor does arising work in an across clue.
    24d Fair clue, but didn’t know it
    27a Indirect anagram again
    22a Hadn’t heard of this, though it’s a great word, one to remember. Whether or not ‘European’ is an accurate description of the bird, sometimes adding information like that is misleading. A solver is never going to get the answer because ‘European’ narrows the range of possible birds. On the other hand, European is a common word in clues, either to indicate E or something like FINN, SERB, etc. Since it’s a difficult solution, best to minimise ambiguity in the clue.
    26a ‘Achieves’ is redundant, I think. Placed at the beginning of the clue, it’s one of the possibilities for the definition, so it’s doubly unfair.
    10a I think ‘losing draw, awkward character from East End’ is handful > ‘andful > ‘anful. I haven’t come across D for draw – it’s not in Chambers, but the whole combination is overly complicated. Then you have ‘taking on pole’ where taking on isn’t really doing anything, but adds to the already high word count.

      1. It works as an instruction, ‘get silver’ = find something that means silver. It’s also less likely to be the definition, but it’s still padding. Get is so useful and all-purpose I usually have to edit it from about half my clues when I’ve finished a puzzle.

  8. Think I should leave it to the experts to dissect this one but suffice to say that, in its present form, I didn’t find this to be a particularly enjoyable solve. Surface reads, obscurities and War & Peace clues all spring to mind.

    All credit to you, Fiddler, for the work it undoubtedly took to put this puzzle together – I hope the feedback from Prolixic and others will be of value to you for the future.

  9. Welcome Fiddler.

    I got maybe a third of the way through this before starting to do a bit of revealing. As the Kiwis say, it’s generally clear what you intend but some things are too indirect and some answers are not exactly the most well-known.

    The fine details are being covered in fine detail by those better qualified than me so all I’ll say is that you could do much worse than follow the advice of Maize, Gazza and Mucky.

    My favourites are 19a, 15d and 23d.

    Thanks Fiddler, and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  10. Welcome, Fiddler.

    I started off enjoying this, but I have to say my enthusiasm waned rapidly the further I advanced through the grid. I managed to complete 90% unaided, but it was a real struggle towards the end, and I would never have got 11a (Chambers spells it differently to you), 22a or 24d without electronic assistance.

    A lot of good ideas on show, but I agree with Gazza that there was a surfeit of extraneous words (padding) in many clues, and Maize has said almost exactly what I was going to say about the grid, but expressed it more succinctly! My repetition radar bleeped with “returns”/”returning” used on three occasions as a reversal indicator. I think most of us can forgive, but certainly not overlook, the use of an indirect anagram in a debut puzzle so long as it doesn’t recur in future ones.

    My ticks went to the 6/7/21 combo, 12a and 5d, with 6d receiving a double tick, definitely your best clue for me by far.

    I think a lot of promise was displayed, but I would urge you to follow the advice Prolixic will give you in his review and I’m sure your next puzzle will be a lot better for it. Thanks, Fiddler.

  11. Hard to disagree with any of the previous comments. There’s a few errors here and there, but don’t be put off by that – it’s not unusual for a Rookie Corner debut.

    The clues I liked were the shorter, tidier clues (eg 6d) – the long convoluted clues can be tiresome. Couldn’t agree more with Maize/Mucky about the grid tweak, avoiding 11a (word and clue) altogether. A difficult word to clue often results in a clunky clue construction, and not too entertaining for the solver to find it’s an obscure answer. It all gets rather mind-boggling.

    I would suggest perhaps filling the grid with basic English whilst you develop your setting style. Generally easier to define and therefore easier to clue smoothly in many cases.

    Well done for creating a puzzle at all Fiddler, thank you, and I look forward to your next.
    Thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  12. I found this difficult – it’s taken me ages and I haven’t even quite managed to finish it.
    I’m very happy to leave the clever stuff to the clever people who know what they’re talking about.
    There were some clues that I really enjoyed – 12 and 19a and 1, 4, 6, 16 and 20d.
    Thanks and well done to Fiddler for the crossword and thanks, in advance, to Prolixic for untangling all the ones that I can’t.

  13. I started off thinking ‘this is a good accessible puzzle, just right for a debut’. Then I ground to a halt confronted by several obscurities found neither in Chambers nor Collins, e.g. 22a. I got some without being able to parse them – 8dn being a case in point and I see now, from others’ comments that it was because of the indirect anagram. Personally I don’t have a problem with indirect anagrams if they’re obvious but I realise that what I might think is obvious may be totally obscure to someone else or, as in this case, vice-versa.
    To my chagrin (as someone interested in that sort of thing) I didn’t get 11ac and still can’t see how to parse it. Also, some publications don’t allow trade names, and Chambers marks this with a trademark symbol (and, incidentally, spells it slightly differently although this may be an error as I would spell it the way it is here).
    But there were some good clues. I particularly liked 10 and 16 across, and 15 down.
    I also liked 2dn for its surface, although the wording implies a different order for the elements of the answer from what it actually is.
    But thanks, and good luck with your next puzzle.

  14. An appeal.

    If “war and peace” is intended as an amusing alternative to “long” please be assured that, like most clichés, any element of amusement was lost on about the thirtieth repetition, since when it has become tiresome.

    Many have expressed many times over their preference for short clues (the hallmark of dull setters) over long ones (the bête noire of weak solvers, in terms of wordplay evaluation) – others the opposite.

    The best setters of the past and present have used both from time to time and never worried about length provided the other criteria of a good clue are met.

    Members of the Ximenes-worshipping faith may like to note that their hero Ximenes suggested 90 letters as a maximum (just as a rule of thumb – not an immutable law) – no clue here is that long. For a clue to contain interesting ideas it often needs a fair few words to express those ideas. As long as none are spare no harm is done.

    1. Bless you JS, I love your passion for crosswords, but I wonder if there’s a forum where you could ‘address’ people whose views differ from your own which is more appropriate than the comments to a Rookie’s first outing!

      1. There’s no insult in what I wrote – certainly none intended – there is however one in “war and peace” as it’s a ridiculous exaggeration of “long”.

        People are entitled to their views and of course there’s no such unique thing as “the rules”, even though some pretend that their favoured version is it. Endless banging on on the one theme can give newcomers the impression that there is only one acceptable approach – probably the intent, but far be it from me to assume that.

        One of the strengths of this slot is that rookie setters put up highly original puzzles most of which probably reflect the sort of puzzle they like to solve themselves and are maybe built around one or more bright ideas they thought it would be fun to share with others. Obviously some sometimes could be improved with bit more work, and it’s fair enough for comments to reflect that, but it’s not fair to bully rookie setters into a particular style of cluing which happens to be favoured by the commenter without indicating that that is what they are saying.

        Personally I don’t read other comments or the blog (if it’s there) when I first comment. I just indicate what occurred to me as I solved. I usually go fairly fast and it’s not intended to be comprehensive – just a few notes. If others did that there would obviousy be the possibility of several comments saying the same thing – but not many others seem to do that and I think there’s a bit of axe-grinding going on sometimes.

        1. Nobody is “bullying” anyone. The advice is freely given and can be adopted or ignored as a Rookie setter wishes, and Prolixic’s review will invariably contain comments like “some editors might not accept this” to indicate that the clue construction is unorthodox or non-Ximenean.

          I also disagree that most novice setters create puzzles that they would like to solve themselves. In my experience, the tendency for new compilers is to make their early crosswords too hard and impenetrable, as they would hate their creations to be considered very easy to crack. In the unfortunate words of a recent Rookie incumbent, “I wouldn’t want to be another Rufus”. They would do well to recognise that the likes of Snape/Eccles, Maize and Dutch, who have all graced Rookie Corner in the past and have become setters in the national press, have produced accessible puzzles from the very beginning. I’m sure that all those named would absolutely deny that their particular styles have been restricted by comments received on this Blog, in fact I’m convinced that the opposite is the case.

    2. I’d say most people would realise that individual comments reflect individual opinions. If those commenters who don’t like long clues say so, then the setter gets an accurate idea of how popular they are. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a clue criticized in Prolixic’s review just on the grounds of being long.
      You’re right that the weight of comments is in a particular, probably conventional, direction. I think the first puzzle I solved here was Fiddlesticks’ first one (called Coder, I think) about a year ago. The clues were full of dots and dashes and complicated subtractive anagrams. It was a bit of a headspin, very difficult to the point of being a slog, but also thoroughly original. It’s a shame if people are discouraged from trying stuff out like that, but the type of comment you get here is very consistent, and if a new setter doesn’t know the audience here, they can easily find out.

  15. I did not get very far on this and I confess that I did not pursue the route of revealing letters to give me a toe hold. That said, to paraphrase another cliché (close your eyes, JS) I may not know much about the techniques involved in crossword setting, but as a solver I know what I like. Thanks Fiddler, but today this was just not for me. I do look forward to hopefully doing better on your next offering.

    On another matter, I see no evidence of “bullying” of rookie setters, but I was disturbed to see what appears to be finger pointing from a rookie towards a respected veteran blogger and solver with regard to a War & Peace mention. Personal insults should have no place on this forum. Send an e-mail and sort out your concerns that way.

  16. It is well known that War and Peace (which I haven’t read) is very long but it is also regarded as Tolstoy’s masterpiece and one of the finest achievements in all of literature so perhaps there is another interpretation available.

    I don’t know who coined its use in reference to crossword clues but many others besides the two here have used it, both on this site and elsewhere.

    Mr Google gives me 21 hits here, but a few of them refer to the actual novel so maybe with 30 I am guilty of exaggeration myself.

    1. Email from one of my favourite if not much seen these days setters back in April 2015 when I tested one of her Rookie puzzles ” are the exclamation marks signifying the clues that were bordering a bit too much on War and Peace?”

    2. “War and Peace” has become something of a cliché, so I have adopted my own alternative unofficial name for verbose, long-winded clues. I call them JollySwagman clues.

  17. Thanks to all for your invaluable feedback. I’ve looked closely at everyone’s comments and have found them constructive and encouraging. On this basis, I will definitely work on a new crossword and try to improve. Once again, many thanks.

  18. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, as informative and fair as always. I like your idea of a commentometer – should prove to be an invaluable tool for our Rookies to check on their own progress.

  19. I found this quite difficult, for all the reasons mentioned above, although, perhaps surprisingly, I did manage after quite a long struggle to get all but 1d and 11a.

    I think what JS has said about “War and Peace” is quite reasonable and doesn’t constitute a personal attack on those using it but is simply bemoaning the use of what has become a tired old cliché. One can often see clues criticised as “chestnuts” and if ever there was a chestnut, surely “War and Peace” is it? In fact, my own first puzzle here (Rookie 173) had some clues so described and I found it quite amusing then, never having seen it used before. It’s worth noting that Prolixic explicitly addressed these complaints with the words: “The length of the clues is a matter of taste and preference for the setter”. Of course, as JS freely admits, commenters are equally entitled to express a personal preference for shorter clues, but the hyperbole of the expression does come across as a bit snarky.

    1. My problem with JS is not so much the issue of long/ short clues – I like a long clue myself, but rather the issue of learning the rules/ ignoring the rules. I also disliked being told I have a simple mind, which, as someone who tries to follow the rules I did indeed find insulting.
      I think it’s good for Rookies to learn the rules before they break them – rather like Picasso famously learning to paint by the rules first, before later in his life ripping up the rule book to such great effect.

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