Rookie Corner – 233 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 233

A Puzzle by Perceval

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today’s puzzle is a second one from Perceval. 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 Perceval.  After a very large score on the commentometer for his first crossword, there is a much improved score in this crossword – possibly the biggest improvement between crosswords that we have seen.  The score here is 4 out of 29 or 13.7%.

A few points to watch.  First, there was an over reliance on foreign names and words.  A better balance gives a smoother experience when solving.  Secondly, overly complex clues like 9d, whilst technically correct are off putting.  Where possible, shorter snappier clues are better (and sometimes more difficult to solve!).


1 Earn lots deviously and veer astray (3,4)
GET LOST – A three letter word meaning earn followed by an anagram (deviously) of LOTS.

5 Court deliberated finally on austerity measure – relief? (7)
WOODCUT – A three letter word meaning court (in a romantic sense) followed by the final letter of deliberated and a three letter word for an austerity measure.

10 Sense King is implicated in summons (4)
WRIT – The abbreviation for king inside (is implicated in) a three word for sense (or humour).

11 Novel, “Dans Le Ciel”, reveals adulteries (10)
DALLIANCES – An anagram (novel) of DANS LE CIEL.  The letters to be rearranged are incorrect as there is an extra E and a missing A.  Whilst you could have “Dans La Ciel”, this would not be a valid clue as Ciel required the masculine article “le”.

12 Love nest next to southeast port (6)
ODENSE – The letter representing love or zero followed by a three letter word for a nest or study and the abbreviation for Southeast.

13 Wheel of fortune stops halfway – audible gasp – then rolls (8)
ROULEAUX – The first half of a wheel used in gambling followed by a homophone (audible) of “oh” (gasp).  A minor point but the plural can end (according to Chambers) AUX or AUS.  Either would be an acceptable solution based on the wordplay.

14 What about politician? A jerk – that’s clear! (8)
EMPHATIC – A two letter word meaning what around the abbreviation for Member of Parliament (politician) followed by the A from the clue and a three letter word for a sudden jerk.

16 Releases crosspieces and doesn’t show (5)
BAILS – Triple definition, the first being part of a legal process to release an accused pending a trial, the second being crosspieces across cricket stumps and the third meaning doesn’t show up.

17 Detective has company club (5)
DISCO – The abbreviation for a detective with an S (has = ’s) followed by the abbreviation for company.

19 Circus performers you’d have a drink with? (8)
TUMBLER – Double definition, the second being a type of glass.

23 “Regret thus” said philosopher (8)
ROUSSEAU – A homophone (said) of RUE (regret) SO (thus).

24 Reportedly spacious but damp (6)
RHEUMY – A homophone (reportedly) of ROOMY (spacious).  A minor point but try not to have consecutive clues with the same clue type – here homophones.

26 Trying fashion for strange rites with Hindu symbol at Fenland cathedral (10)
TIRESOMELY – An anagram (strange) of RITES followed by a two letter word used as a mantra or word said in Hindu meditation and the name of a Cathedral in the Fens.  A couple of points – the Hindu word is a syllable not a symbol.  The clue structure of definition for wordplay is the wrong way around.  The structure with for is “wordplay for definition.”

27 Heartless Friar at the French lady in Berlin (4)
FRAU – The outer letters (heartless) of Friar followed by the French of “at the”.

28 Almost poetry expert but was designer (7)
VERSACE – A five letter for poetry with the final letter removed (almost) followed by a three letter word meaning expert.

29 Yes! Approval among ship’s councils (6)
SYNODS – The abbreviation for Yes and a head gesture signifying approval inside the abbreviation for steamship.  Strange but true, neither Chambers or Collins give “Y” an abbreviation for yes.


2 Discrimination over student subculture rising in private domain (7)
EARLDOM – A three letter word meaning discrimination in music before (over) the abbreviation for a learner or student and  reversal (rising) of a musical subculture.

3 It’s disclosed in letters from Aristotle to Nicomachus (3,2)
LET ON – The answer is hidden in ARISTOTLE TO NICOMACHUS.

4 Perverted individual, missing eye apparently, keeps diamonds and drugs – most uncool (7)
SADDEST – A six letter word for a perverted individual who delights in inflicting pain without the I (eye apparently) includes (keeps) the abbreviations for diamonds and ecstasy (drugs).

6 Take too many debts? Nasty (6)
ODIOUS – The abbreviation for overdose (take to much) followed by a word representing debts.

7 Rendezvous spot where model Jerry is instructed to cavort? (5,4)
DANCE HALL – As an imperative instruction this would instruct the model Jerry to move around to music.

8 A Spanish fellow is biased (7)
UNEQUAL – The Spanish for A followed by a word meaning fellow or similar.

9 German playwright impressed by Pacino and setting up rerun (switching Nicholson for Depp initially) to show “Renaissance Man” perhaps (8,5)
ALBRECHT DURER – The first name or the actor Pacino followed by the name of a German playwright (first name Bertolt) followed by a reversal of the rerun from the clue with the N changed to a D (Nicholson for Depp initially).  The convoluted nature of the clue is not particularly attractive for solvers.  The technical term for a convoluted clue is an “otter” – don’t ask me why!  More of an issue is the use of “impress by” that does not work as a charade indicator.  It implies that the AL goes inside the name of the playwright.

15 They go from door to door and get horribly stuck wearing woman’s belongings (9)
HUCKSTERS – An anagram (horribly) of STUCK has a word meaning belonging to a woman around it (wearing).

18 Glorify beheaded queen by spreading lies (7)
IDOLISE – The name of the Queen of Carthage in Virgil’s Aeneid has the first letter removed (beheaded) followed by an anagram (spreading) of lies.

20 Late believers? (7)
MARTYRS – Cryptic definition.  This does not quite word for me as there is no indication that the believers were put to death, which the solution would require.  Perhaps “Unwillingly late believers”

21 Artists lurking in and outside centre to get loot via window (3-4)
RAM-RAID – A three letter word meaning centre has the abbreviation for an artist before it and within it.

22 Selfless ethical centre shelters debased sex symbol (6)
HEROIC – The three central letters of ethical includes the name of a love god without the final letter (debased).

25 The end according to Almodóvar is playful and mischievous (5)
ELFIN – How Almodovar (a Spanish filmmaker) would say the end.  Perhaps too much general knowledge required about Spanish filmmakers needed for this clue.

19 comments on “Rookie Corner – 233

  1. There seems to be a problem with 11a. We think there is an extra E instead of an A in the anagram fodder.
    It was a puzzle that certainly had us working hard but we did manage to get everything sorted eventually with some great penny-drop moments. We did wonder whether there might be a way of writing some of the clues, eg 9d, a little more succinctly.
    Plenty to enjoy.
    Thanks Perceval.

  2. I enjoyed solving this, particularly 21d, as it is a phrase I had never heard of but could deduce from the wordplay. I agree with the Kiwis about 11, and I also wonder a little about using “but” twice as a link word. Maybe that’s OK? A question for Prolixic. Also, I don’t really get 16a, but that’s undoubtedly my fault. Thanks to Perceval!

  3. Tricky in places and enjoyable in places – shame about the mistake in 11a.

    Thanks to Perceval and in advance to Prolixic

  4. Thanks Perceval
    Very good puzzle – I enjoyed it a lot. I remembered your first being on a 13×13 grid but couldn’t remember the puzzle itself so I’ve just been back to have a look. What hasn’t changed is your use of quite unexpected definitions, sometimes just on the edge of acceptability. This made the puzzle quite tricky, in a good way. In the first some clues and solutions weren’t matched in terms of parts of speech – there’s a bit of that here too, but it didn’t interfere. Otherwise, it looks like you’re a different setter.
    My two favourite clues were 13a and 20d. Other good ones: 5, 12, 14, 27 across; 8, 15, 18, 21, 22
    I didn’t notice the anagram error, and liked the European references in general. I wasn’t so keen on the longer ones, though they work fine.

  5. Well done Percival, a definite improvement. 14a is my pick of the bunch.

    There are a few niggles – 26a definition for wordplay, 27a ‘at the French’ (but maybe that’s ok?), the rather clunky 9d (which I revealed) and possibly the tense of 25d and a couple of flaky surfaces. Minor stuff.

    Thanks for the entertainment Percival, look forward to your next.

  6. Welcome back, Perceval.

    I agree with LBR, a distinct improvement on your debut puzzle, especially regarding the grid and the elimination of indirect anagrams.

    I can’t say that I particularly enjoyed the solve though, at times some of the wordplay seemed tortuous, and in the case of 9d I was beginning to lose the will to live! Quite a few surfaces could have benefited from more polish I felt, and I think you slightly overdid the foreign language elements (“at the French”, “a Spanish”, “according to Almodovar”, as well as the (flawed) anagram fodder in 11a).

    In my opinion your best clues are the more succinct and less ambitious ones, such as 14a, 19a and 24a.

    Many thanks, Perceval.

  7. Hi Perceval, thanks for the puzzle, which kept me amused for some time – I found it quite tricky. Last one in was 2d, and I didn’t see the parsing for a while. Not sure whether it’s a subculture or a member thereof.

    Pity about 11a, you must be kicking yourself, don’t worry happens all the time. Test solvers help to spot stuff like that.

    Wasn’t sure about symbol in 26a – thought it was a syllable or sound ( and def for wordplay).

    I wasn’t keen on ‘impressed by’ in 9d, which is too long really anyway as other have said. Maybe ‘supporting’ is more accurate?

    Not sure we need both playful and mischievous in 25d – makes it harder to parse.

    Yes, like others I found it mildly tortuous with a few stretches – but some people like that. i would work harder to get a few killer surfaces in there, but that is personal taste. Congratulations on putting this together. Many people don’t realise just how much of a feat that is. And thanks for sharing.

  8. Mixed feelings on this puzzle. I’m not a fan of needing “people” knowledge in order to fully parse a cryptic clue (Model Jerry, German playwright, beheaded queen). Some really neat clues (5A, 24A) and some clues with surfaces that make little sense. Still, in the end I know I couldn’t even begin to set a puzzle so my hat’s off to you Perceval.

  9. I’m inclined to think that you try to hard at times Perceval – an instance being the inclusion of Almodovar in 25d. A decent cryptic clue with a good surface read will win out every time.

    I did give ticks to 14&24a plus 7&20d – 5a would also have made the cut with slight re-wording.

    I certainly appreciate the effort that must have gone into constructing the puzzle – as others have said, it’s quite a task to undertake – but perhaps ease off on the difficulty factor and concentrate more on the clue content next time?

    Many thanks for all your hard work.

  10. Hi guys,

    Thanks for all your comments. Certainly kicking myself on 11a! Can’t believe it! I did have this one test-solved but it eluded all of us…it was simply too convenient an anagram option I suppose.

    I imagined 9d would not be to everyone’s tastes, but I did quite like it and had some positive words of encouragement from another solver, so I decided to keep it in.

    By way of explanation, I am a languages teacher which is where the proliferation of foreign wordplay comes from I guess…will try to keep a lid on this in future puzzles, though. (To LBR, ‘au’ does indeed work as ‘at the’ in French :-)

    Really appreciate all the detailed feedback. It helped me greatly after my first effort.

    Thanks to all. Looking forward to Prolixic’s scrutinizing eye tomorrow.
    Jack (Perceval)

    1. I certainly didn’t, and when the difference is so minor I don’t think it really matters that much.

      It would have been much easier for Perceval to make 1a into a six-letter answer than to convert 29a into a seven-letter one!

    2. As you know, I very rarely notice a grid, except these days I have noticed that there seem to be more with double unches, so the answer to your question is ‘probably not’

    3. I didn’t notice, but I did notice an asymmetrical grid in an FT puzzle the other week, and I didn’t really like it.
      I don’t agree with silvanus that because it’s minor it doesn’t matter. If it was completely asymmetrical the setter would be saying symmetry doesn’t matter – fair enough. If it’s just one or two squares it looks like a fudge, which is what I thought of the FT grid.

  11. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. An otter! Must try to remember that one.

    Well done to Perceval for the good score on the commentometer.

  12. Rather late coming here to comment, and I think most of what I could say has been said already. I did notice the asymmetrical grid, and more importantly the faulty anagram – one thing that I worry about when compiling is getting anagrams correct. I rather liked the Almodóvar reference, though, even if it did immediately give away that I was looking for something from Spanish.

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