Rookie Corner – 219 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 219

A Puzzle by Webb

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

It’s been a long time since we had a new puzzle from Webb – enjoy.  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 Webb.  In most cases, the wordplay is fine but some of the definitions are not exact synonyms for the solution.  In the last crossword by Webb, I commented that getting the wordplay right is the first stage and that polishing the surface readings follows.  Webb clearly has the technical aspects nailed down but should now look to get more sensible surface reading in some of the clues.


1 Some socially redundant instrument (4)
LYRE – The answer is hidden in (some) SOCIALLY REDUNDANT.

3 Adviser of firm Muslim ruler in a series of books (10)
CONSULTANT – The two letter abbreviation for company (firm) followed by a six letter word for a Muslim inside the abbreviation for New Testament (series of books).

10 Someone arranging earrings with a ring? (9)
ORGANISER – An anagram (arranging) of EARRINGS + O (ring).  As arranging is a wordplay indicator, perhaps a stronger definition that someone is needed here.

11 Strange un-American antique (5)
CURIO – Remove the US (un-American) from the end of a seven letter word meaning strange.  The solution is a knick-knack of any age.  It is not necessarily synonymous with an antique.  Perhaps old curio would be better.

12 Game animal (7,7)
BRITSH BULLDOG – A cryptic definition of a playground game with associations with a canine creator.

14 Wired up rum, perhaps (5)
WEIRD – An anagram (up) of WIRED.

15 See 24 Down

18 6 elating funny criminal of sorts? (9)
VIGILANTE – An anagram (funny) of VI (6) ELATING.

20 The last word of a French god, perhaps (5)
ADIEU – The A from the clue followed by the French for God.

21 Act sensibly – roll on after one tears off (6,2,6)
LISTEN TO REASON – A four letter word for a roll or rota followed by an anagram (off) of ONE TEARS followed by (after) the On from the clue.

25 I had turned back over in a state (5)
IDAHO – The I from the clue followed by a reversal of the HAD from the clue and the abbreviation for over.

26 Fillet served on mate of porcelain (4,5)
BONE CHINA – Another word meaning to fillet something followed by the word indicated in Cockney rhyming slang for a mate.  Whilst correct wordplay is more important when learning to set “mate of porcelain” does not read at all well.  Webb had the wordplay largely nailed down but does need to concentrate on some better surface readings.  Some editors will not permit wordplay of definition.

27 Environmental essay’s statement on possible state policy (5,5)
GREEN PAPER – A five letter word for environmental followed by a five letter word for an essay.

28 So-called late fruit (4)
SLOE – A homophone (so-called) of SLOW (late).


1 King John’s leading appearance? (4)
LOOK – The abbreviation in chess notation for King preceded by (leading) a three letter word for a john or toilet.

2 Following about (9)
REGARDING – Double definition, the first as ins heeding or observing the rules.

4 Old boy’s meeting complex (9)
OBSESSION – The abbreviation for Old Boy followed by another word for a meeting.

5 Plant a piece of Irish rubric (5)
SHRUB – The answer is hidden in (a piece of) IRISH RUBRIC.

6 Pass around a companion internally (7)
LOCALLY – Reverse (around) a three letter word for a pass and follow it with a four letter word for a companion.  I am not sure that the definition and the solution are synonymous.

7 Being bitter, tart tucks into Rex? Just the opposite! (5)
ACRID – The abbreviation for Rex inside a four letter word for tart.

8 It must be considered if getting a hawk (7-3)
THOUGHT OUT – A six letter word for if followed by a four letter word for hawk.  Whilst the indefinite article can be included in clues, should be limited to senses where a noun in clued.  Here tout is used in a verbal sense (the noun is a hawker) so the a should not be included in the clue.

9 Union director, for one (6)
UNITED – A five letter word for the name of a British workers union followed by the abbreviation.  There is, perhaps, too much overlap between the wordplay and the definition here.

13 Intravenous drip fed into bulge that’s turning (10)
SWIVELLING – The abbreviation for intravenous drip inside (fed into) an eight letter word for a bulge.

16 Sanction something sought by potter? (9)
CLEARANCE – Double definition, the potter being a snooker player.

17 Revolutionary riot ideal for a paper’s article (9)
EDITORIAL – An anagram (revolutionary) of RIOT IDEAL.

19 Perjured private in rest (3,4)
LIE DOWN – A five letter word meaning perjured followed by a three letter word meaning private.

20 Cuban archive’s hidden rebel (6)
ANARCH – The answer is hidden in CUBAN ARCHIVE.

22 Reserve of society couple, we hear (5)
SPARE – The abbreviation for society followed by a homophone (we hear) of PAIR (couple).

23 Bone fragment raised in archaeology initially (5)
TIBIA – A three letter word meaning fragment reversed (raised) followed by the first letters (initially) of in archaeology.

24/15 Desire to travel when they’ve hit face in distress? (4,5,4)
HAVE ITCHY FEET – An anagram (in distress) THEY’VE HIT FACE.

The commentometer reads as 3 out of 29 (10.3%).

27 comments on “Rookie Corner – 219

  1. Lots of good clues that we enjoyed and it all went together with a reasonable amount of head-scratching required. Still not quite sure how 9d fits together cryptically so will keep working on that.
    Thanks Webb.

  2. Hi Webb,

    Generally a pretty sound puzzle which was enjoyable to solve. There appear to be two common themes in my analysis that I did as I went through (see below, IF interested!): (1) there are a few words added to help the surface but which were perhaps not cryptically justified and (2) the cryptic grammar is otherwise sound but at the expense of clear surfaces. Sounds like I want to hav emy cake and eat it!

    Good fun – I look forward to your next.



    1a ok
    10a ok; added ‘a’ to make surface work not ideal but alright
    25ac ok; added ‘a’ to make surface work not ideal but alright
    27ac ok
    1d good clue
    5d ok. Surface’s image a bit muddled?
    7d again wordplay works but surface a little muddled
    17d good
    19d ok
    20d ok? Is this an old word – does it need an indicator? Not sure
    22d good
    26a wordplay ok but surface a little muddled
    3a good, this works, I think
    11a ok
    18a good clue
    8d ok; added ‘a’ to make surface work not ideal but alright
    20a ok
    21a good wordplay and I think the surface works, too
    4d ok. Would ‘Old boy meeting’s complex’ be slightly better, as the apostrophe s then becomes the link word? Not sure.
    12a fine
    2d answer = following? I think so.
    6d ok; added ‘a’ to make surface work not ideal but alright. ‘Pass around companion nearby’ or similar might be better?
    24d etc. ok
    13d good clue
    14a not sure about the indicator used
    9d the ‘for one’ is nicely deceptive, but the meanings on each side seem rather similar
    16d can only see one word that fits but can’t really see why. Me being stupid at silly o’clock, probably!

    1. For 16d we thought that the potter might have been at The Crucible. Is that any help?

          1. I, too, was stuck on Harry!
            I’ve just found these on the internet so will be very late posting comments.

  3. An enjoyable, fairly straightforward solve. A nice mix of clue types. Like Encota, I’m not sure following equates to the solution of 2d. Like the Kiwis, I’m not sure about 9d either

    Thank you to Webb and, in advance, to Prollixic

    1. For 9d the first 5 letters are the name of a Trade Union and the sixth is the abbreviation for director.

  4. Thanks Webb – an enjoyable puzzle. I think the main area that needs working on is the surface readings some of which (e.g. 18a, 7d, 24/15d) don’t mean a great deal.
    The clues I liked best were 11a and 1d.
    I look forward to your next one.

  5. Thanks Webb. It all went in ok after just about the right amount of thought.
    Plenty of good clues: I ticked 3a, 10a, 11a, 21a, 16d, 17d, 28d.
    27a I found pretty weak – essay for the second half is really no different from the meaning in the solution. 26a ‘mate of porcelain’ also not great.
    Generally, I thought your wordplay was very good, but often let down by having basic definitions bolted on, with the two halves not matching. ‘mate of porcelain’ ‘desire to travel…’ ‘wired up rum’ being examples. I wonder how you go about writing a clue. Do you start with the definition, or do the wordplay first then try and add the definition? I usually try and start by thinking of a definition I like, then try and construct wordplay that will go with it. That often doesn’t work, and I’ll have to go back and use a different definition. Sometimes a solution suggests a nice wordplay, in which case I’ll start with that then try and come up with a definition to fit. Either way, there’s always a process of going backwards and forwards between the two sides, making adjustments until it all fits together. I’d be interested to know what others’ routines are, too.
    Can anyone suggest an example of where though and if mean the same? I see Chambers has if for though, but I don’t understand it.

      1. Thanks, I guess that does it. Usually, though implies that what follows is true, whereas if only considers that it might be. For your example to work, this must not apply to either the if or the though in your example. I can’t work out which it is, but accept they’d both be used in the same way.

      2. In my view they have slightly different meanings, interchangeable or not.

        To take your example, Gazza, ‘if’ means they may be unintended – ‘though’ means they are unintended.

        This is one of my question mark clues.

    1. “Though it be as crystal, yet ’tis murky still”, as the Bard might (but probably wouldn’t) have written

  6. btw, there were no buttons (check, save, reveal etc.) when I solved the puzzle online

    1. I’m having a problem with the buttons – they are being set up in the ccw file but not appearing in the downloaded file – I’ll try again.

      1. When I tried it last night, CHECK was there, but not SAVE, so although the bits I did were right, I lost them all over night, so DNF.

  7. Welcome back, Webb.

    As it has been quite a while since your last puzzle I couldn’t remember too much about it, but BD’s archive reminded me that the wordplay was generally sound and well-constructed, but some of the surfaces left a bit to be desired. The same could probably be said about today’s puzzle too.

    26a I felt was possibly your weakest surface, and I can imagine it’s very frustrating that you are finding that aspect of setting the hardest to nail. My advice would be that, if it doesn’t make sense or if you can’t imagine reading it or someone saying it outside of a crossword context, it’s best not to persevere with it and think of something different. I did think you achieved just about the right degree of difficulty for a Rookie puzzle, had a good range of different clue types and displayed some excellent ideas.

    My clear favourite clue was 8d.

    Many thanks, Webb. I hope the interval between puzzles won’t be as long next time.

  8. This was not too taxing and I thought it was very enjoyable. Like Encota, I noticed a handful of spurious “a”s to make the surfaces read sensibly, and there were a few other clues which were rather meaningless. However, other than those comments, this was a very accomplished offering with 1d my favourite.

    Many thanks Webb, and please keep them coming.

  9. Nice to see you back again, Webb.
    As with your first puzzle, there were some very good ideas on show here but – and it’s a big but – the surface reads let you down once again.
    The ones that worked for me included 27a (although I take the point made by Mucky) along with 8,16&17d. 8d being the star of the show.

    Thanks for the puzzle and I do hope that you’ll bring us some more.

  10. Overall – enjoyable; 1d favourite but I do have one or two queries where I think the definition is not quite accurate enough, or the logic is slightly muddled. All doable if.

    Thanks for the entertainment Webb.

  11. I agree that the surfaces are not great in places. I quite enjoyed the solve, even though I have several question marks on my page (normal for me and rookie puzzles). I thought 11A was rather good. Thanks Webb.

  12. Overall this was good and made for a satisfying solve, but a few clues could have done with a bit more polishing – or even a complete rewrite:
    11ac – not sure that the answer is synonymous with the definition (a case, maybe of ‘all A are B but not all B are A’)
    26ac – the surface doesn’t make sense. This is one which might benefit from a complete rewrite, which night be difficult but I can see possibilities.
    2dn – like others, I’m not sure that the two words in the clue are synonyms of the answer, although if you take the first six letters of the answer as a noun and, for instance, say ‘having ______ to the rules’, that might be equivalent to ‘following the rules’.
    8dn – I’m another one who doesn’t think ‘if’ and ‘though’ are not really equivalent. – see Mucky’s thread at #5 above.
    6dn – again, I’m not sure that the answer is synonymous with the definition
    9dn – I didn’t have any problem solving this, but I think ‘union’ in the clue is too similar in meaning to the answer.
    On the other hand, I particularly liked 3ac, 10ac, 18ac and 13dn, so here’s looking forward to your next appearance.

  13. nice to see you again web, i’ll just say that i thought the clue lengths ere admirable and a pretty good effort overall. Late in the game, so not much to add to the constructive criticism, but i’ll try..

    The “a” in 10a needs deletion since it is NOT part of the anagram, my feelings stronger than encota, and arranging is definitely doing double duty,

    26a wordplay of def

    13d you may not need intravenous.

    14a i don’t think you need ‘perhaps’ -surface weird though

    Agree with comments on surfaces – e.g. 26a i wasn’t sure what that meant.

    but overall an enjoyable solve so many thanks

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I was rather relieved to read your comments about the need to now concentrate on improving surfaces – it would make such a difference to Webb’s puzzles.

    Well done on getting a low reading on the comentometer, Webb!

  15. Spent a while trying this last night but was a bit put off by poor surfaces, as noted by others. Fell asleep and DNF as mentioned above.

    1d was great!

    21a v nice wordplay although I only got as far as pencilling in TO REASON.

    In 10a, I think the QM serves as anagrind, so “arranging” is part of a clear def.

    Thanks, Webb. Sorry I didn’t try more, but buttons …

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