Rookie Corner – 242 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 242

A Puzzle by Bardwig

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Many thanks for your response to my appeal for more Rookie Corner puzzles.  I now have a  few in the queue and that includes three new setters.  Today’s puzzle is a debut by Bardwig. 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 warm welcome to Bardwig.  New setters are always welcome whatever their level of ability.  These puzzles give them the chance to cut their teeth and learn from the commentators and fellow setters.  In terms of ability, this was a polished crossword.  The main comment is that nearly 60% of the clues required some level of general knowledge in either the definition or the wordplay.  This is on the high side.  Fortunately, most of the wordplay was helpful to the solver in reaching general knowledge definitions and many of the definitions has clear solutions so that the general knowledge wordplay could be worked out.

The commentometer reads as 3.5/27 or 12.96%.


1 Carpenter’s interlocutor cut across original line the opposite way (6)
WALRUS – A three letter word meaning cut around (across) a two letter prefix meaning primitive or original and the abbreviation for line all then reversed (the opposite way).

5 Lively session follows cold comfort (8)
COSINESS – An anagram (lively) of SESSION after (follows) the abbreviation for cold.

9 Karpov’s a bitter rival of his! (8)
KASPAROV – An anagram (bitter) of KARPOVS A.  I am not convinced that bitter is an ideal anagram indicator.

10 Bilbao language graduates with a question in Cordoba (6)
BASQUE – The abbreviation for Bachelors of Arts (in the plural for graduates) followed by a Spanish word that can indicate a question?

11 Norma Jean’s policy of convenience used by capital commuters (8,4)
BAKERLOO LINE – The adopted surname of Norma Jean (also known as Marilyn Monroe whose real surname was Moretenson) followed by a phase 3,4 that could describe a policy in relation to a toilet.

13 Half sounds like more! (4)
DEMI – Double definition, the second being the first name of the actress ???? Moore (sounds like more).

14 Skittles over 22: Vladimir Ilyich loses his head (8)
NINEPINS – A reversal (over) of the solution to 22d and the Russian leader whose first names were Vladimir Ilyich without the leading L (loses his head).  I don’t think that over works given its position in the clue as it needs to operate as an imperative interaction in the cryptic reading and you would not “over something”.

17 347 Series and so on: Hingis forgoes the second one (8)
ETCHINGS – The abbreviation for “and so on” followed by the HINGIS from the clue without the second I.  So far every clue has required some general knowledge other than 5a.  Here, the definition is too specialist but the wordplay is very clear to compensate.

18 Sharks from Greater Manchester initially spiked drink (4)
SALE – The first letter (initially) of spiked and a three letter word for a type of beer (drink).

20 Preparing egg diet? Try an alternative (7,5)
GETTING READY – An anagram (alternative) of EGG DIET TRY AN.

23 Hera’s husband cut short good mother in a forum and a frenzy, perhaps (6)
ZEUGMA – The name of the Greek God and husband of Hera without the final letter (cut short), the abbreviation for good and a two letter word for a mother.

24 Crumby actor in a sequel to Kidnapped (8)
CATRIONA – An anagram (crumbly) of ACTOR IN A.  Again this is perhaps requiring too much general knowledge.

25 Audacious aristocrat aboard iron ship (8)
FEARLESS – A four letter word for an aristocrat inside the chemical symbol for iron followed by the abbreviation for steamship.

26 Recorded conservationists interrupting senior citizen’s ecstasy (2,4)
ON TAPE – The abbreviation for National Trust inside a three letter abbreviation for a senior citizen followed by the abbreviation for ecstasy.  What did setters do before they could use ecstasy?!


2 Trojan War hero gives a judge a kiss (4)
AJAX – The A from the clue, the abbreviation for judge, the next A from the clue and the letter that represents a kiss. The cryptic construction definition gives wordplay is the wrong way around.  The wordplay gives us the definition.

3 Enjoy going round The Tavern to make a second impression? (9)
REPUBLISH – A six letter word meaning to enjoy around a three letter word for a tavern.

4 American umpire’s call to down tools (6)
STRIKE – Double definition of a call that might be made by the umpire in  a baseball game and industrial action by workers.

5 Jokes about past love nest: thus conceal the evidence (5,4,6)
COVER ONES TRACKS – A six letter word meaning jokes around (about) a four letter word meaning past, the letter representing love or zero and the NEST from the clue.

6 Summons from a pub one’s trashed (8)
SUBPOENA – An anagram (trashed) of PUBONES.

7 Ivana’s allegedly a bit of a nose (5)
NASAL – The answer is hidden in (a bit of) IVANAS ALLEGEDLY.

8 Wayward Sylt nun swallows gin cocktail in spectacular fashion (10)
STUNNINGLY – An anagram (wayward) of SYLT NUN includes an anagram (cocktail) of GIN.

12 Say if one’s a keen observer (7,3)
WEATHER EYE – A homophone (say) of “whether I” (if one).

15 Russian protest group put one in rising Conservative’s drink (5,4)
PUSSY RIOT – Put the letter representing one inside a five letter word meaning conservative’s (maintaining the ‘s) and follow with a three letter word meaning to drink and reverse all of the letters (rising).

16 Overwhelm antinude freak (8)
INUNDATE – An anagram (freak) of ANTINUDE.

19 Tit’s equal partner also provides ink (6)
TATTOO – The word that can follow TIT in an expression of reciprocity and a three letter word meaning also.

21 Castleford player in row about the heart of rugby (5)
TIGER – A four letter word meaning a row or line around the central letter (heart) of rugby. As we have had about and a containment indicator, a different indicator should ideally be used.

22 Bargain one found amongst the Edinburgh separatists (4)
SNIP – The letter representing one (third time of usage) inside an abbreviation for the ruling party in Scotland (Edinburgh separatists).

24 comments on “Rookie Corner – 242

  1. Quite a bit of GK required here, 18a really had us searching Google, but we did eventually get everything sorted. Noted the pangram but it did not help us with the parsing.
    Thanks Bardwig.

  2. Thanks Bardwig and well done, quite enjoyable but as the 2Kiwis said GK required which spoilt it a bit. Some of the parsings are escaping me and I will have to wait for Prolixic’s review. I missed the pangram, but that is quite normal for me.

  3. An excellent crossword, pangram and all. Thank you Bardwig – I bet this isn’t your first cryptic crossword.

    Lots to enjoy, especially as unlike the 2Ks and Senf, I did have the required knowledge to complete crossword. No queries either

    Looking forward to the next one

  4. I really enjoyed this – thanks Bardwig. I appreciate that the GK involved may have made the puzzle a bit tricky for non-UK solvers (and non-rugby-fans) but it was fine for me (I didn’t know the 347 series but the wordplay was clear).
    Some of the surface readings (e.g. 23a and 15d) don’t make a great deal of sense but most are ok.
    I loved 11a (which made me laugh) and I’ve also ticked 25a, 3d and 6d.
    I’m looking forward to your next puzzle.

    1. That’s pretty much exactly what I was going to say so thank you, Gazza.

      Well done and many thanks, Bardwig. More soon please.

  5. Great fun – many thanks Bardwig. Some nicely polished clues and perhaps enough GK for a round in a Pub Quiz: however, like Cryptic Sue I was more than happy with those. And the pangram helped me with my LOI in, too (23a) – which may be a first as I often miss those entirely.

    I look forward to your next one!


  6. Good puzzle, thanks Bardwig. I have no idea what the 347 reference is about, or Kidnapped. 2d has definition gives wordplay, but that’s a minor point.

    I’d like to try another so keep ’em coming.

  7. Thanks Bardwig
    All pretty polished, some nice clues (12d, 13a, 6d, 25a I liked).
    I usually like general knowledge in a crossword, but didn’t find it added much to the fun here. I think that was because you’ve treated it in quite a literal way, which made some clues very transparent. E.g. ‘Carpenter’s interlocutor’, ‘Russian protest group’ ‘sequel to Kidnapped’ ‘Vladimir Ilyich’ etc. In places it seemed gratuitous – 11a for example, where Norma Jean gives it all away and makes the rest of the clue (i.e. all the good cryptic bits) almost redundant.

  8. Very good indeed. I was able to work out the answers for the GK ones and then call on Mr. Google for verification, but that didn’t detract from the puzzle for me. Well done Bardwig. I, too, look forward to your next one.

  9. Welcome, Bardwig

    Your pseudonym immediately made me think of David Mitchell in Upstart Crow, perhaps you’re a fan?

    I thought there was a lot of promise shown here, the anagrams were excellent, even if 9a was a little too obvious, and there was a good mix of different clue types. I would suggest that you try to concentrate on improving the surface readings next time, some were fine, others less convincing.

    My ticks coincidentally went to exactly the same clues that Mucky nominated.

    A good debut overall, thank you and congratulations.

  10. When I saw the comments about GK being required I almost decided not to try this, but I’m very happy that in the end I plunged in. I thought it was excellent, a lot of fun and not too difficult. The other halves of the clues requiring arcane knowledge were very clear. I especially liked 20a, 25a and 15d.

  11. A good polished crossword. I stumbled a long time over 1a of all things – why did I not think of that Carpenter right at the start?!

    When I saw 23a go down, I thought to myself, aha! Pedant’s-corner! Ingenious how you got your definition in, but not quite precise enough (see Fowler’s for the definition, and Henry V Act 4 Sc 7 line 1 for a classic example). I’m sure no-one else will be bothered about this, though!

    24a did need some GK, which I guess many people won’t know – but I was familiar with it. Not much of a read, I thought… And other clues also need GK. I think that’s fair enough.

  12. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Bardwig.
    I thought this was a good debut – perhaps a little heavy on the GK but nothing that couldn’t be relatively easily checked. I was lucky with 18a as their original ground was a 5 mns walk from home in my early teenage years. Not that I attended the games, just the discos afterwards!

    Quite a few ticks from which I put 25a on the top of the pile.

    As Silvanus mentioned, I think surface reads are the thing you need to work on for next time – I’ll look forward to your next compilation.

  13. Many thanks Bardwig,

    A very good puzzle though not sure how far I would have got without google and BRB. I’d never heard of 23a, very interesting. I probably should have known the 347 series and the kidnapped sequel. My last one in was 13a, debating between the three possible halves – duh. Good use of an exclamation mark.
    I really liked 15, mainly because i thought oh no, this is going to be a piece of history I don’t know, so i was pleasantly surprised with the answer. 20a is excellent with the ambiguity in anagram indicator. I really liked 9a too (though I’d question “bitter” as a word suggesting a rearrangement of letters)

    And a pangram to boot! congratulations!

    some technical questions that i hope you find interesting

    14a, to me the verb tense doesn’t go well inside the reversal fodder whereas “losing” looks fine
    26a the ‘S can only be interpreted as HAS cryptically, which doesn’t read well: A interrupting B has C. A interrupting BC would be better.
    7d I think this works better without the “a”: “Hidden-fodder bit” vs “hidden-fodder a bit”
    12d I don’t the homophone of one works, since I is not a synonym of one.
    16d freak seems to want to come before the fodder – now why is that? freakish seems to work afterward. ideally, you would not use made-up words in the anagram fodder. similarly, is there such a thing as a Sylt nun (8d)?

    I agree with the comment on a few surfaces, I wondered if i might be missing a joke in 19d – maybe I am, I’d hate that. but most surfaces are great.

    Well done, looking forward to the review and to your next puzzle

    1. Actually, one does occasionally use ‘one’ to refer to oneself; in fact, one believes one for I in crosswords is based on that synonymity rather than I’s resemblance to the number 1.

    2. dutch, thank you for your encouraging comments. The technical issues you raise are certainly interesting ones and I’d welcome other people’s views on them too.

      14a My original draft contained what I thought were too many -ing constructions: I replaced them, for example, in 5a, 14a, 17a, 2d, 15d and 19d. Maybe I should have left at least a couple of these in place.
      26a Yes, you’re right about “has” in the cryptic reading … But isn’t the most important thing for the surface to read well? I think the cryptic reading can take care of itself, providing it’s grammatically sound in the way it presents the instructions.
      7d Missing out the “a” wouldn’t affect the cryptic reading but I don’t think it would do the surface any favours.
      12d mucky has already answered this one for me – thanks, mucky!
      16d I agree with you about made-up words so I googled “anti-nude” and did find a few examples in news reports. As regards Sylt, if I ever get to visit the island, I’ll remember to look out for any nuns.

      1. in general: a good surface is important – but it must never be at the expense of good cryptic grammar, which includes the flow of the whole cryptic reading including the link.

        7d i don’t think ‘cake a bit’ is the same as ‘a bit of cake’ or ‘cake bit’. But prolixic did not highlight any concerns.

        I didn’t see any nuns on sylt, which does not mean there aren’t any. In general, be careful of what you find on google. the dictionaries are a better place to decide whether something is a word or not.

        Anyway, as mentioned, great puzzle, great debut on Rookie corner.

  14. I thought this was a most excellently balanced debut puzzle with some fairly obvious GK and not too difficult. I particularly enjoyed 23 as it is a favourite word of mine but very rarely seen. I look forward to your next.

  15. Thanks to Prolixic for the review and thanks also to everyone who has posted above for your generous and thought-provoking comments.

    My dad introduced me to cryptic crosswords in the early 1970s, when our daily paper was the Guardian. The setter who fascinated me most was Bunthorne, whose puzzles were full of literary and various other cultural allusions. The clues were completely impenetrable to a rookie solver but, at the same time, read so elegantly that they were always worth piecing together retrospectively. Anyway, Bunthorne is the setter who has most influenced me, which is why there is so much GK involved in this first effort. But I must admit 60% is probably too high: next time I need to keep a proper count of such references when writing the clues.

    1. As someone who tested Bunthorne’s puzzles, knew Bob quite well and have a large collection of his puzzles, I’m sure he would have been pleased with your post.

      You can make accessible and challenging puzzles without requiring a PhD to solve them and you certainly achieved that. Look forward to the next one.

  16. A rather late comment from me to add to the praises of Bardwig’s excellent debut.

    I enjoyed this very much, although, like others, found it a bit heavy on the GK side. Saying that, my fave, however, was 9a. I thought it worked very smoothly and, despite Prolixic’s doubts, I rather liked the anagram indicator!

    The other clues I particularly liked were 10a, 11a, 13a, 26a, 3d and 12d.

    Many thanks, to Bardwig for a very fine puzzle indeed.

    My appreciation to Prolixic for his excellent elucidation. I needed explanations for four clues — 1a (can’t believe I didn’t pick up on this!); 4d (didn’t know the call); 18a; and 19d (despite being very familiar with the saying!).

  17. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic – particularly for the explanation of ‘ur’ which I didn’t know.
    Hope we can look forward to another puzzle from this setter.

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