Rookie Corner – 244 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 244

A Puzzle by Harold

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today Harold makes his debut in Rookie Corner. 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 Harold.  This was a good first Rookie crossword.  Only minor comments on some of the clues.  A few repetitions with the wordplay can easily be ironed out, which is the main comment of note.  The commentometer reads as 3/32 or 9.4%.


1 Bearer of moving charge fixed with bayonet? (5,4)
LIGHT BULB – Cryptic definition of a source of illumination that has a filament through which current passes and that is held in place with a bayonet fixing.

6 Practitioner treated 500 mice (5)
MEDIC – An anagram (treated) of D (500) + MICE.  As a general comment, provided that the abbreviation is clear, it is permissible to use an abbreviation as part of the letters to be rearranged.

9 Metallic component of Kazakhstan nickel? (7)
STANNIC – The answer is hidden in (component of) KAZAKHSTAN NICKEL.

10 Disturbed herons love habitats like this (7)
ONSHORE – An anagram (disturbed) of HERONS O (love).  Cluing an adjective can be difficult.  This clue works because herons are on-shore birds so the whole clue provides a suitable definition.  Habitats like this on its own would not have been an entirely satisfactory definition.

11 Setter’s inverted depression is clear (7)
EVIDENT – The abbreviated form of I have (setter’s) reversed (inverted) followed by a four letter word for a depression.

12 Runner‘s a natural flier (7)
HARRIER – Double definition, the first being another word for an athlete and the second a type of bird.

13 The best contact point for chocoholics? (5,4)
SWEET SPOT – An elliptical definition of the point that a a chocolate lover might enjoy.

15 Find girl in Lawrence’s embrace over the way (5)
THERE – A three letter pronoun for a girl inside the initials of Lawrence of Arabia.

16 Second swimmer undergoes heart transplant (5)
OTHER – The name of an aquatic mammal has the central letter changed (undergoes heart transplant).

19 Blend terrines with a hint of ecstasy for trips bringing one down to earth (2-7)
RE-ENTRIES — An anagram (blend) of TERRINES (a hint of ecstasy).

22 Mistake noted in assassination of mature leader of revolt (7)
ERRATUM – An anagram (assassination of) of MATURE R (leader of revolt).  I would omit the noted from the clue.

23 Fancy – even if before time (7)
THOUGHT – A six letter word meaning even if followed by the abbreviation for time.

25 Pull in a vehicle reversing in racing event (7)
ATTRACT – The A from the clue followed by a reversal of a type of vehicle inside the abbreviation for Time Trials (racing event).

26 Consummate leader fails to finish and is engulfed by hail (7)
ACHIEVE – A five letter word for a leader without the final letter (fails to finish) inside the three letter Latin word meaning hail.

27 Noble, but endlessly dim about … about … (5)
DUCAL – A four letter word meaning dim or boring without the final letter (endlessly) around a two letter abbreviation for circa or about.

28 Medallists perhaps redistribute purse following track investigation’s conclusion (7-2)
RUNNERS-UP – A three letter word for a track followed by the final letter (conclusion) of investigation and an anagram (redistributed) of PURSE.


1 Story about special league is just a yarn (5)
LISLE – A three letter word for a story or fib around the abbreviation for special and league.  I would omit the just from the clue as it does not really make the grade as a link word.

2 Building material‘s relative appeal edifies at first (7)
GRANITE – A four letter word for an elderly relative by a two letter word for sexual appeal and the first letter for edifies.

3 Line of smack leads to hospital department (7)
TANGENT – A four letter word for a taste or smack followed by the abbreviation for an hospital department.

4 Rough diamond?  Endlessly awkward and loveless (5)
UNCUT – A six letter word meaning awkward or rude without the final letter (endlessly) and without an O (loveless).  As endless has already been used as an indicator, a different one should ideally be used here.  Also love for O has been used previously.  Perhaps like a rough diamond would have been a more accurate definition.

5 Miss Davis scours almost half of Rochester for a kebab (9)
BROCHETTE – The first name of the Hollywood actress Miss Davis around (scours) the first four letters (almost half) of Rochester.  I am not convinced that scours is a containment indictor.  It can mean to cover or search an area but not in the sense of enclosing it.

6 Fur from married American cheat taking the essence of bonking to heart (7)
MUSKRAT – The abbreviations for married and American and a three letter word for a cheat includes the central letter (essence of) muskrat.

7 Compound in the southern States holds the leaders of Oman and Djibouti in isolation (7)
DIOXIDE – A five letter word for the Southern States of America includes the first letters (leaders of) Oman and Djibouti in separate places (in isolation).  Leader has already been used to indicate an initial letter so a different indicator would have been better.

8 Gloomy Marxist sees left and right in disorder (9)
CHEERLESS – The three letter name of a famous Marxist leader followed by an anagram (in disorder) of SEES L (LEFT) R (RIGHT).

13 Frindall used it for developing records about cricket averages primarily (9)
SCORECARD – An anagram (developing) of RECORDS CA (cricket averages primarily).  Frindall was possibly too obscure for most solvers who would have had to Google to find the relevance of the definition. The construction definition for wordplay does not work unless you treat the whole clue as the definition and I don’t know how Mr Frindall used scorecards.

14 Instrument used by soldier to measure variable quantity? (9)
PARAMETER – Split 4,5 this might indicate a measuring devices used by an airborne soldier.

17 Call up that woman first – she’s unorthodox (7)
HERETIC – A three letter word for that woman followed by a reversal (up) of a four letter word meaning call.

18 Lithium and essential oil together make up a hairy concoction (3-4)
RAT-TAIL – A reversal (make up) of the chemical symbol for Lithium and attar (an essential oil).  Make up is slightly inelegant as a reversal indicator.

20 Foot of fabulous bird you once squeezed (7)
TROCHEE – The four letter old form of you around (squeezed) a three letter name of a fabulous bird.

21 Soprano follows artist making an entrance (7)
INGRESS – A six letter name of an artist followed by the abbreviation for soprano.

23 Teach tenor control in the auditorium (5)
TRAIN – The abbreviation for tenor followed by a homophone (in the auditorium) of rein (control).

24 Tether ram that’s inside (3,2)
TIE UP – A three letter word for a ram contains the abbreviation for that is.

30 comments on “Rookie Corner – 244

  1. We really struggled to make progress in the SE quadrant. The breakthrough came when we Googled Frindall and found out about him. The checkers from this helped us finish. Still a few where we haven’t totally sorted out the parsing so may come back to those.
    Thanks Harold.

    1. Came back to this after a break and checked out all the parsing. Came to appreciate the quality of the clues much more than we had at the time of solving. So, a belated definite thumbs up from us for a well put together puzzle.

  2. Thanks Harold for an enjoyable puzzle. I particularly liked 12a and 27a.

    However, like the 2 Kiwis there a few clues that caused raised eyebrows and for which the parsing is not complete, for example:

    In 5d, I assume that ‘scours’ is intended as an insertion indicator?

    In 18d, I did not consider ‘make up’ as an obvious reversal indicator.

  3. As the others have said, an enjoyable puzzle for the most part but I do have a few quibbles. For example, the anagrams in 6 and 10a are definitely on the cusp (if not wholly) indirect requiring you to get a letter from something else in the clue. I’ll leave it to others who haven’t got to start work in a minute to point out some other things I spotted.

    There were however lots of clues I liked, especially 1a

    Thank you to Harold and, in advance, to Prolixic

    1. Funny you should say that about the anagrams. The other day in a NSSTP there was an anagram with “very loud” to denote 2 Fs and nothing was mentioned. I’ve always wondered if it was considered as an indirect anagram.

      1. I think it’s indirect. I like to see the actual letter in the fodder, so very loud for FF no, piano for P OK (but not softly for P)

        1. Harold’s citation below is interesting reading. I think he may get away with it. (very) Loud for (F)F and quietly for P are not uncommon conventions in the Graun, Indy or Times.

          Agree still best avoided though Dutch.

  4. A good mix of clue types and some nice interweaving of surfaces with wordplay, e.g. 10a. 20d and 24d were my favourites – very plausible surfaces! A high-quality puzzle and an excellent first appearance. Perhaps one or two more anagrams than ideal but that’s fine with me. [I think the Times ask setters to limit those to 4-6 anagrams or partial anagrams – I counted at least seven here.]

    An enjoyable puzzle – thanks Harold

    6a ok
    9a good
    10a is this a semi-&lit? I never was quite sure how to classify them! Half the clue is the WP and all the clue is the def. Neat.
    1d good surface with ‘yarn’ re-use
    19a good
    28a is this ‘track’->R**? Not sure
    3d good. How many drugs feature in the puzzle!? (3d, 19a, …)
    5d I assume this is *********? I don’t know the word as this exactly, is it the kebab or its skewer? Not sure, my ignorance.
    8d good
    12a good dd
    15a ok
    17d ok
    20d great clue
    21d good
    23d ok
    24d very good
    23a ok
    7d ok. surface a bit laboured but it’s ok!
    1a ok
    4d ok
    2d ok. Can a building material edify? Just about!
    11a ok. wp is fine; surface slightly clunky
    26a wp is fine; surface slightly clunky
    13d embarrassingly for me I don’t know who Frindall is / was. …After Googling … Oh yes, so that was Bill’s surname!
    16a I think I’ve parsed this one correctly. Good
    22a ok. Another anagram – how many in total?
    27a ok
    18d ‘make up’ – slightly loose wording, perhaps?
    25a ok. Some people are fussier about the def of those two letters – is it an event or series of events – but fine with me
    14d good
    13a fine

    1. I think you can order brochette in a restaurant. I’d be quite disappointed if it was just the skewer

  5. An enjoyable well-constructed puzzle – thanks Harold (If this is your first composition I’ll eat my hat!).
    Like CS I thought that a couple of the anagrams were flirting with being indirect and Frindall perhaps is a bit too specialised in terms of GK.
    My ticks went to 1a, 13a, 4d and 20d.
    More puzzles like this would be very welcome.

  6. Welcome, Harold.

    Like Gazza, I too would be amazed if this is the first puzzle you’ve created. I thought it was full of extremely high quality clues and the surfaces were generally excellent. There are a couple of areas I’d suggest to work on before next time, 1) elimination of unnecessary articles (certainly “the” in 7d, possibly “a” in 5d and 18d, for instance) and 2) there were several examples of indicators being repeated (e.g. “love” to denote O, “endlessly”, and “up” for reversals in successive Down clues). All of these are likely to be ironed out with a little more experience, I suspect.

    My printed page contains many ticks, but the clues that appealed to me most were 13a, 16a and 4d.

    Many thanks and congratulations on a very strong debut puzzle.

  7. Good puzzle that made me think, some of the definitions are nicely disguised with mostly neat surfaces to boot. The popular 1a 4d & 20d were my picks too.

    As others have noted, I would agree that there are one or two details to watch out for in the final brush-up, easily avoided repetitions etc., but nothing major.

    I would expect quite a low score on the meter, so well done and thanks Harold.

  8. What a great debut, Harold!

    The good news is that this was a very enjoyable and accomplished puzzle. The bad news is that, if you can take on board the comments (particularly Prolixic’s tomorrow) and keep this standard going, I would expect your days as a Rookie to be numbered and poor BD is running out of Rookies for the Monday slot!

    Silvanus has pretty much made the points I was intending to, for example: high quality clues and generally smooth surfaces.

    I have lots of ticks on my page, with 1a, 13a & 4d making it to my podium.

    Well done and thank you, Harold.

  9. A real curate’s egg of a puzzle for me although I’d certainly agree that, in the main, the surface reads were good and showed all the hallmarks of someone for whom setting is not a new experience.

    I particularly enjoyed 1,12,13 & 25a plus 17 & 24d – quite an impressive list.

    Thank you, Harold, I look forward to reading the comments from Prolixic tomorrow.

  10. Thank you to everyone for your helpful comments and suggestions on this puzzle. The perception that I have set puzzles before is correct, as I used to compile them for in-house newspapers and magazines produced by pupils in the days when I taught in boarding schools. But those were of a very modest standard aimed at novice solvers (the pupils) and well over 30 years have elapsed since my last effort. I was recently encouraged to dip a toe in the water once more by a friend who is a professional setter, and he has provided me with invaluable constructive criticism for which I am grateful and fully acknowledge. But, apart from an abortive effort which has not yet left the drawing board, this is my first attempt at a puzzle meeting modern standards.

    I’ll not comment further now in advance of Prolixic’s analysis, except to say that, as far as the indirect anagrams in 6 and 10 across are concerned I was aiming to follow the guidance given on ANAX’s DIY COW website here relating to what is acceptable according to Ximenes.

  11. A mostly sound crossword which didn’t take too long to complete. I had one or two reservations, starting with 1ac which I can’t parse though the answer is plain enough. 6ac and 10ac are verging on indirect anagrams but I’d give them the benefit of the doubt. And in 1dn I don’t think L is an accepted stand-alone abbreviation for ‘league’.
    I wasn’t too sure about ‘fur’ as the definition in 6dn but Chambers has it, so that’s OK. And I liked 7dn because the insertion of two letters at different points is clearly indicated – well done, there.
    Some other nice clues, too. I particularly liked 17dn (I’ve been struggling to clue that word – don’t worry I’m not going to plagiarise your clue), 18dn, 20dn and 21dn.
    Thanks, Harold, and I look forward to Prolixic’s review.

  12. Welcome Harold and thanks for the great fun.
    Smooth surface and fair wordplay made the solve very enjoyable.
    I’m certainly not a cricket fan but favourite is 13d.
    Didn’t understand the “instrument used by” in 14d and wondered if it was necessary.
    19a made me laugh. Heard about hash cakes but ecstasy terrines sound a bit dangerous to me.
    Thanks again.

  13. Great puzzle, Harold – and you also brought back some memories for me: my first published crossword was in our school magazine – a year after I’d left the institution in question and submitted it anonymously as the member of a particular house.

    Regarding indirect anagrams: Bunthorne of the Guardian, my own favourite setter, was a Ximenean and he often used them, so I don’t see a problem with, say, using standard abbreviations, expressed in full form, as part of the anagram fodder.

    Will look forward to seeing more of your crosswords.

  14. Got to this late, having wasted a day following the events in Commons. I was hoping to say I’d just be able to say “all my points have been covered”.

    I enjoyed this puzzle, I thought it was inventive, good mix of clue types. I was happy it was easy rather than stupidly hard, though i struggled a bit more in SE. I had to lookup Frindall and the foot.

    Glad you’ve been doing DIYCOW. It’s a great learning environment

    So just quickly, in the hope that this is useful to you, I’ll share my notes – some of it will just be my opinion/preference:

    11a inverted seems weird in the surface, why not returning? or should i be reading depression differently?
    15a I think it has to be “girl’s” so that it means “of girl”
    16a I prefer letter swaps to be specify the letters
    19a You don’t need “a hint of”, since e is the accepted abbreviation for ecstasy
    1d I think “just” is padding
    4d I think diamond is padding. The answer means rough, not rough diamond. the “and” doesn’t read right in the cryptic reading, “is loveless” perhaps
    6d 7 words to insert a K?
    13d the “for” is padding, can be omitted
    14d “to measure” I think? is padding – only there for surface?
    18d as pointed out, up is a reversal but not ‘make up’. something like “served up” or “raised” might, though i don’t like the past tense

    I’m sure prolixic will give you a more considered view tomorrow.

    Well done, pretty good. Keep it up, I look forward to your next one.

    1. Inverted in 11a struck me too. It can mean reversed, but generally it means upside-down – in an across clue? Probably OK though.

  15. Late to this but I very much enjoyed it. 20d was by far my favorite and worth the price of admission on its own. Congratulations, Harold!

  16. An excellent effort, I thought. If I have any quibble at all, it’s about the definition in 1a, I thought ‘bearer of moving charge’ is too obscure and convoluted. And fewer and fewer 1a’s are ‘fixed with a bayonet’ these days – especially outside the UK!

    And 18d’s solution was unfamiliar to me – also a word in the wordplay – though it wasn’t too hard to figure out.

    Favourite? Hard to pick – there are plenty of good’uns! If I must choose one … hum…. ha …… let’s say 7d.

    BTW, unlike some it seems, I did remember Bill Frindall. He was the third man in the TMS commentary box, alongside “Johnners” and “Aggers”. And always coming up with weird statistics to amuse us all! His Wiki entry notes that on the very day of his funeral, in 2009, the shortest-ever Test was played: England v. W. Indies, abandoned after just ten balls. That’s the sort of statistic he loved to quote!

  17. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and well done Harold – looks as though you may well be tempted to get No.2 off the drawing board!

  18. I am delighted that this puzzle has received so much constructive comment, and am very grateful to Prolixic and everyone else who has provided helpful advice and suggestions. I shall certainly take on board the needs for brevity and avoidance of repetition in wordplay elements in future puzzles, and also try hard to cut down on the number of anagrams. I hope to be able to feature again in the Rookie Corner before too long.

    There is one point I’d like to clarify. In 19 down, “make” was not intended to form part of the reversal indicator, which is just “up”. What I had in mind was that “together make” should have the meaning of “combine”. I do, of course, appreciate that “together” would serve this purpose without more, but I wanted the surface reading to make sense and thought that the most economical way of doing this was to do what I did.

  19. Great puzzle, Harold, and much easier than your excellent puzzle on 1across. I agree with most of Prolixic’s remarks, but re ERRATUM, I found the ‘noted’ helpful in confirming the answer, since it is exactly the word used when an error is noted. (By contrast, “just” in 1d is just surface verbiage). I think the most serious criticism is the use of “make up”, which you admit you used for the sake of the surface. The temptation to polish the surface at the expense of the wordplay is something to be avoided.

    1a had me scratching my head almost till the end, even when I had L?G?T/???B, which was obviously LIGHT something. The answer popped into my head while I was looking at another clue and I had to smile as I saw how the clue gave that answer. I didn’t know Frindall and didn’t have the internet to hand when I did the puzzle on paper, but I got it and assumed Frindall must have done what it says in the clue. I see now from his Wikipedia that

    “He modified the linear scoring system invented by John Atkinson Pendlington and developed by Australian scorer Bill Ferguson into a version that is known as the Frindall system”,

    so I guess that’s basically right.

    Good job, Harold. Well done.

  20. PS interesting that you used two opera abbreviations in consecutive clues (21,22dn; soprano, tenor). I wouldn’t even have known those abbrevs.

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