Rookie Corner – 230 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 230

A Puzzle by DMS

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today’s new setter is only new in the sense of setting a whole puzzle – many of you may remember him as aclueaday on Twitter, and more recently as 7UpisLemonade. 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.

A strong start for DMS in his Rookie debut.  The main points to watch are the repetition of wordplay indicators and ensuring that the clues only have the words required for the solution.  In a couple of cases the words added took the solver in the wrong direction in a slightly unfair way.  The commentometer reads at 5 out of 29 or 17.2%.


1 Group of 12, 13a, 20 and 25, perhaps? (6)
SMITHS – A word that could go after each of the solutions given in the clue to create groups of artisans is also the name of a band or group.

4 Races king instead of bishop – on these? (6)
TRIKES – A word for groups of people (races) has the abbreviation for king instead of the abbreviation for bishop.

8 Let go of present (7)
RELEASE – Double definition, the second being used in the sense of presenting a new film or record.  The two meaning are quite similar and maybe a greater separation between the two meaning would be better.

9 Train? Make it a loco! (4,3)
TAKE AIM – An anagram (loco) of MAKE IT A.

11 Traversed 20a? No thank you! (4,6)
WENT ACROSS – Spell out 20 and remove the abbreviation for thank you (the initial letters).  The abbreviation is not give in Chambers or Collins.  As a rule, only abbreviations used in one of the standard dictionaries should be used when setting clues or if text speak is used, this is indicated

12 Turn the key of timepiece wanting a start (4)
LOCK – Remove the initial letter (wanting a start) from a timepiece.

13 Awful chess player (5)
BLACK – Double definition, the second being the colour of one set of chess pieces.

14 He was often seen interviewing or returning when rubbish is collected (5,3)
ROBIN DAY – Reverse (returning) the OR from the clue and add a phrase (3,3) for when rubbish is collected.

16 Goes out and returns topless (8)
EGRESSES – A nine letter word meaning returns without the initial letter (topless).

18 Noisy argument with dandy? (5)
ROWDY – A three letter word for an argument followed by the D AND Y from the clue.  The question mark indicates that the clue is slightly elliptical.  Some editors might require a stronger indicator that “DANDY” has to be split D AND Y.

20 Promise Germany fight is over (4)
WORD – The IVR code for Germany followed by a three letter word for a fight all reversed (is over).

21 Spa town where 100 men work with terrible health (10)
CHELTENHAM – The Roman numeral for 100 followed by an anagram of MEN HEALTH.  There are too many anagram indicators here as there is only the one anagram of MEN HEALTH.  The clue as written tells the solver that there is an anagram (work) of MEN and an anagram (terrible) of HEALTH.

23 Tomato doesn’t have to be found in school bread basket (7)
STOMACH – Remove the final TO from tomato and put the remaining letters in the abbreviation for school.  A couple of points here to note.  Ideally, the clue should indicate which“TO” is to be removed from tomato.  More importantly, the cryptic grammar resolves to A be found in C which is not a grammatical construction in the cryptic reading of the clue.

24 Tool was returned after unnecessary worry (7)
FRETSAW – Reverse (returned) the WAS from the clue after a word meaning unnecessary worry.

25 Second place for struggling Elvis to get the runs (6)
SILVER – An anagram (struggling) of ELVIS followed by the abbreviation for runs.

26 Shut and shut again? (6)
UNOPEN – An elliptical clue where the second part cryptically means the first part.


1 Kidnapped? (5)
SUEDE – Word for kid (or other form of leather) that has been napped.  As with 18a, some editors might require a stronger indicator that you need to split the clue into KID-NAPPED.

2 Leaves cold? (4,3)
ICED TEA – Cryptic definition of a chilled caffeinated brew.

3 Spooner notes fishes will get you high (4,5)
HASH CAKES – A Spoonerism of CASH (notes) HAKES (fishes).

5 Arsenal risk removing the odd backs (5)
REARS – Remove the odd letters from the first two words of the clue.

6 King repositioned Merlin to seat of government (7)
KREMLIN  -The abbreviation for king followed by an anagram (repositioned) of MERLIN.  As K for king has already been used, a different indicator should have been used.

7 Bats inside cage? (4-5)
STIR-CRAZY – Cryptic definition of a form of insanity suffered by prisoners.

10 He sang a version of, ‘I’m so sorry’ in English with nothing held back (9)
MORRISSEY – An anagram (a version of) IM SO SORRY E after removing an O (with nothing held back).  The IN in this clue needs to be removed as it functions only as padding but is suggestive of being part of the anagram letters to be rearranged.

13 Large insects swallow all ages of talkative people (9)
BIGMOUTHS – A phrase 3,5 indicating large insects includes (swallowing) the letter used in films to indicate that all ages can view it.  For the cryptic reading to work this needs to resolve to A swallows B or A swallowing B.  Some editors will not allow wordplay of definition but will allow definition of wordplay.

15 Boss’ hit upset Ron Burton (4,2,3)
BORN TO RUN – An anagram (upset) fo RON BURTON.  Bruce Springstein is “The Boss” not Boss.

17 Big Brother creator, George Orwell’s finally getting new rally (7)
ENDEMOL – The last letters of George and Orwell include the abbreviation for new and a four letter word for a rally or protest.  I think that knowing the name of a production company for a program strays too much into general knowledge for a clue.

19 Shoe? Rugby player returns mine! (7)
WINGTIP – A four letter word for a rugby player followed by a reversal (returns) of another word for a mine.  As return has already been used twice (once as returned) a different indicator should have been used.  As the answer is an American word for a shoe, this should have been indicated.

21 Use a chopper? (5)
CYCLE – Cryptic definition of riding a bike.  As chopper in lower case is a motorbike and the answer indicated moving by pedal power, chopper should have an initial capital to indicate a type of bike.

22 25 in a turmoil once more (5)
AGAIN – The chemical symbol for the answer to 25a followed by an anagram (turmoil) of IN A.

47 comments on “Rookie Corner – 230

  1. Our last two answers, and they took quite a long time, were 1a and 1d. It is a good thing we were warned that we were dealing with an experienced clue writer as we might have been tempted to abandon the puzzle without a completion. That would have been disappointing as there are heaps of clever and original clues here that took some teasing out. We found the GK required for 17d and 14a a bit challenging (at least they were for us) but we did manage to get them both from the wordplay and then checked on Google.
    A real challenge and satisfying to get a completion.
    Thanks DMS.

  2. Quite tricky, especially the NW corner with 1a and 1d being proper d’oh moments I think you possibly have to be a certain age to solve this one – certainly for the the interviewer and the chopper It probably helps if you are a music fan too Only one question mark too

    Thanks to DMS and in advance to Prolixic

  3. Those of you with vey long memories may recall that aclueaday was at Roger Squires’ 80th Birthday Bash in Ironbridge (centre, next to Regalize).

  4. There’s lots of clever stuff here. I had the right-hand side completed at one stage with the left empty and my last few answers in the NW corner took me ages. I thought 1a was an excellent example of misdirection because (having got 10d) I couldn’t stop thinking of the wrong type of group.
    I have a couple of queries – the abbreviation for ‘thank you’ (11a) isn’t in Chambers and shouldn’t Chopper in 21d be capitalised?
    I didn’t know the shoe (19d) which seems to be an American term and the 17d company only rang a bell after I had all the checkers in.
    The clues I liked best were 18a and 7d.
    Thanks DMS – more like this please.

    1. That’s jolly nice of you, Gazza!

      You’re right, of course, about the chopper clue – that needs a rewrite!


  5. Hi DMS,

    Great fun and some super short clues here – I wish I could write them!
    I thought 4a, 9a, 7d, 22d & 18a were good. Some more comments:

    14a clever wordplay; surface slightly odd?
    2d interesting cryptic!
    17a a good spot; George Orwell’s finally feels ‘slightly’ stretched in the wordplay but worth it for the overall clue
    11a I didn’t ‘know’ this abbreviation but have seen it many times (i.e. not in Chambers). I like this clue a lot!
    16a it felt like there must be several words that would fit this clue but the checkers finally helped me find it!
    13d I didn’t know this could be one word. Of course, 1a defined it so. Perhaps there are lots of other themed answers I am missing? (There normally are)
    19d Didn’t know this word but readily gettable from the wordplay
    23a I didn’t know this definition but again readily gettable from the wordplay. Would ‘one’ before ‘to’ in the clue be slightly fairer and still work in the wordplay? Not sure.
    21d I did wonder what chopper you’d had in mind … Gazza’s comment is fair here
    26a I guessed this one – I am missing something!
    10d tricky if one was without the General Knowledge – another good spot
    1a clever. I’m never sure how best to deal with a definite article in this type of clue/ answer – does anyone here have suggestions?
    1d good clue – clever!

    I’d have found the temptation to write (& include) other 1a references irresistible! In fact I have found it irresistible ;-) Perhaps …

    Sort of ‘Hand in Glove’ (4) … or … Hand In Glove’s class (4)

    … or even, stretching the bounds a bit

    Order we have monks in at present ‘might’ be so described (6,5,2,9,3)

    that sort of thing (one of those ones maybe guessable from the word lengths and parseable afterwards).

    I’ll stop there.

    Loved it – many thanks! I look forward to the next.


    1. Wow! Such a detailed response! Thanks very much, Encota!

      All points made are fair! 14a especially – but that was the umpteenth reworking of that clue! I realise that I shouldn’t get so hung up on my original idea as it sometimes makes the clue look entirely forced!

      Whilst there wasn’t exactly a theme, once I’d spotted that there were a few ‘smiths’ in there, I followed with 10d and 13d, 4a & 22d!

      Thanks again!

  6. Thanks DMS
    Lots to like. 1a & 1d also my last entries, both very satisfying in the end, 1d only after trawling through most of the alphabet. 1d/18a not my favourite device, but nicely done here.
    I don’t understand 26, and didn’t like ‘in English’ in 10d. Otherwise no problems, and I enjoyed 7, 11, 12 and 15. Also 17, because it’s not the sort of thing I would know, yet somehow I did.

    1. Thanks mucky!

      26 is a (sort of) double definition. If something is shut, it can be loosely defined as un-open, and to un open could be to shut again!?! Probably needs a rewrite!!

  7. Lots to like in this puzzle. 1a & 1d last in for me too.

    The abbreviation for thank you didn’t bother me as a text-speak colloquialism – but Chopper should be capitalised, surely.

    My only reservations about this puzzle was the dated references and that the answer should be in the dictionary, which is why I am not keen on names, brands etc. If a solver is fortunate enough to be born after the 60’s, the clues can become almost meaningless and a little alienating. That is a general point, this was not the worst offender by any means.

    That aside I thought this was a great puzzle and enjoyed the cleverness of many of the clues, so thank you DMS.

    1. Thanks LetterboxRoy, for the nice comments!

      I agree, I’m showing my age with this one! I’m pleased that the answers were gettable through wordplay, though, and the knowledge can come through checking Google etc. Expanding one’s vocabulary and general knowledge through solving cryptic puzzles is why I love them so!

      1. Absolutely! I am happy to spend all day long reading up on Lorelei, Delphi or finding the origins of words such as quiz or curmudgeonly…

  8. Hi DMS

    congratulations on your first full grid. Lots to like. Some thoughts below, hopefully this is constructive criticism, you don’t have to agree. But this is the great thing about rookie corner, you can collect loads of feedback.

    I liked the spoonerism, though it needs ‘Spooner’s’ or something else, just Spooner by itself I think is not a full instruction

    1a Last one if of course, and at first i didn’t see a wp/def split until i got the connection with 10d. Very nice. A word of warning though. 1a plays an all important role in puzzles as the first (hence mood-defining) clue people see, so it pays to use this as a hook – whereas some find a series of cross-references off-putting.

    The abbreviations for thank you and dandy are not in chambers, which is what i use for my definitive list of acceptable abbreviations.

    21d personally not keen on ‘where’ as a link, would have preferred “100 men work…in spa town”

    23d ‘doesn’t have to’ and ‘be found’ clash grammatically in the cryptic reading

    24d I think ‘unnecessary’ detracts from the accuracy of the definition

    25d I think “the” gets in the way, it is baggage

    26a – did not fully understand, maybe i have a wrong answer. The answer I entered is not in Chambers

    10d “in” does not work here to add E to the anagram

    13a cryptic grammar i think would need swallows, fix by using swallowing. Not sure about U=’all ages’ rather than ‘for all ages’, but maybe. I wouldn’t do that. Surface a bit surreal

    15d – I think this has to be “The Boss”

    17d The ‘s and ‘finally’ don’t work together. either George Orwell finally, or George Orwell’s last characters, etc. With apologies for this dutch import.

    Hope that is useful. No doubt prolixic will give a thorough review. Lots of clues I really liked, and plenty tricky – took me a while to finish NW.

    Well done again, and looking forward to the next one

      1. Ah! nice. went straight past me. Of course not all editors would allow that, involving a double separate.

  9. Welcome, DMS.

    I found it hard to get on to your wavelength initially, until 15d gave me my first answer, but even after that I needed some electronic help to finish. Overall it was very enjoyable though, but I do have a number of quibbles:

    1. My Repetition Radar bleeped quite a bit, with “K” for King used twice (and in intersecting clues too) and “return” used three times as a reversal indicator.

    2. I couldn’t find 3d in the BRB, unless I’ve missed it.

    3. A few clues didn’t quite work, either with the cryptic grammar or construction being slightly off (21a, 23a, 10d, 17d for instance).

    Chambers seems to suggest that “chopper” in 21d need not be capitalised, surprisingly, so I think you are fine with that one.

    Lots to like, and some excellent ideas, the rough edges will no doubt become fewer with successive puzzles. My favourite clue was 1d.

    Many thanks, DMS.

    1. Thanks silvanus – most appreciated.

      My repetition radar went off AFTER I submitted :|

      All of these comments are taken on board, and I’ll bear them in mind whilst constructing my next.


  10. Hi Dutch – thanks for the comments!

    It’s fantastic that you lot act as my test solvers, and all feedback is greatly appreciated! Hopefully it will enable me to finesse the puzzles I create.

    And dandy was indeed meant to be d and y!

    (gah – this was meant to be a reply, but hopefully Dutch will get to see it!)

  11. Goodness! I have a full grid, even if a couple were outright guesses (that I then revealed letters to check). On first quick read through, I thought I would never get a toehold then I saw that the setter had kindly included my hometown at 21A. That was my way in, and the right hand side fell fairly quickly. I surprised myself by sorting out 1A with just the help of 25A, which of course led me to the other three in the group. 17D was my last in and the only word with those checkers that the internet turned up. New to me. I am old enough to remember 14A though. The field of contenders is crowded but I think 1D is my favorite.

    Thanks, DMS. I really did enjoy this.

    1. Thanks Expat Chris – it was both a pleasure and a pain to set! I’m surprised that 1d hasn’t been used before (to my knowledge)

  12. Great challenge; well done DMS. Right hand side was most enjoyable; left hand side is unfortunately still empty!!

    Loved 14a; favourite clue for a long time.


  13. I’ve enjoyed this very much in dribs and drabs throughout the day, and now I’m sunk – damn!
    I have four that I can’t do – all in the top right hand corner – plus the longish one down the middle.
    Also I have a couple that I think have to be right but can’t see why.
    I confess to finding crosswords that start off with the first clue being references to other clues (at least I assume that’s what they are) a bit intimidating but I know that’s my problem.
    Lots of good clues – 18a and 7d and 15d just because I love it!
    With thanks and congratulations to DMS for the crossword and, in advance, to Prolixic for the review tomorrow.

      1. Every time someone mentions (for example) the SE corner of a grid, I have to say ‘Never Eat Shredded Wheat’ to myself! You are not alone!!

        I’m pleased you enjoyed it (so far!)

        1. I used to use the same for tens of years until someone said to me, “You do know it spells WE across-wise, don’t you?” And No, I didn’t until then :-)

          And I’ve enjoyed reading your comments to everyone who posted!

  14. Hi DMS. Thanks for the crossword – I enjoyed what I could do.

    I got stuck and allowed myself to look at the comments when I had only a single answer (20a) in the lhs and almost all of the rhs filled. Managed a few more from them, but soon after was resorting to revealing stuff.

    Couldn’t think of the right kind of chopper, but can’t really use not having been born in the 70s as an excuse since none of the references were actually unknown to me. Just couldn’t brain today …

    1s a and d (aandd?) were very clever, but my favourite moment was when I twigged 2d. I also enjoyed 18a and 7d. (7d made me think of Wednesdays, which I usually spend in an office which is virtually a Faraday cage, and I always refer to those times as being in the cage. Does drive me bats sometimes!)

    Thanks again, DMS – I look forward to your next one. And thanks in advance to Prolixic for the review.

    1. Thank you very much, Kitty – most kind! I think my favourite is 2d also as I’m a sucker for a cryptic definition!

      1. Mine too! Best bit of the crossword!

        In 1a (which I didn’t get), I don’t think just “of” really does it, unless I’m missing something. Also, it really is The Smiths, isn’t it?
        I think this this would be a fairer clue:

        With the first group, perhaps after 12, 13a, 20 and 25? (6)

        Ie: “With the word ‘the’ in front of it, it’s the name of a group, and it could follow each of these answers to form a new word”. Still tricky and no less nebulous.

        Also, as it wasn’t a full theme, why not crossreference1a from10d?

        1. Thanks Whynot!

          I agree – your 1ac works perfectly!

          As to why I didn’t cross-reference? I feel it’s more satisfying as a Nina, especially with 13d, 4a & 22d!

              1. Ah, yes. Like most of their songs, the best bits are when Morrissey is silent. Imo, Johnny Marr knocked on the wrong door that fateful day…

      2. Domiciled as I am in the USA, the correct answer for 2D sprang to mind as soon as I read the clue, but I didn’t pencil it in right away because I couldn’t believe it would come up in a UK crossword!

  15. I’m so miserable,
    I think I want to die.
    Couldn’t do the crossword
    My, oh my!
    Couldn’t do the crossword
    Why, oh why?
    I think I want to die.

    Can’t stand Morrissey anyway …

  16. I set a crossword a couple of years ago that had a perimeter Nina that read “M-A-R-R-J-O-Y-C-E-M-O-R-R-I-S-S-E-Y-R-O-U-R-K-E”. The trouble was that in order to shoehorn that lot in, the rest of the puzzle was rubbish. Unlike yours.

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