Rookie Corner – 254 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Rookie Corner – 254

A Puzzle by Bardwig

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have a second puzzle from 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 review by Prolixic follows.

Welcome back to Bardwig.  This crossword was a step up from his previous crossword with much more polished clues.  The high level of interlinked clues obviously will not find favour with all solvers.  With the degree of interlinking, it can make it much more difficult to find a toehold into the grid.  However, there were some easier clues to assist the process.

There were a few minor points on the clues themselves.  The main points I would suggest for the next crossword would be to massively reduce the general knowledge type of clues and to try a more conventional grid fill.

The commentometer reads as 3.5/26 or 13%.


9 Result of red card: Batley hard-hit but not dead (5,4)
EARLY BATH – An anagram of BATLEY HARD after removing the abbreviation for dead.

10 Name omitted from flowery discourse (5)
ORATE – Remove (omitted) the abbreviation for name from a six letter word meaning flowery.

11 Weaver reflected state of Manchester in a 23d (7)
ARACHNE – Reverse (reflected) the abbreviation for New Hampshire (state of Manchester) and include it in the A from the clue and the answer to 23d.

12 23d that is breaking glasses (7)
SPECIES – The abbreviation for that is inside (breaking) an informal word for glasses.

13/7 Old German ruler’s original option (11)
ALTERNATIVE – The German word for old follower by the regnal indication of the current queen and a six letter word meaning original.  Splitting an answer across two grid entries is a device sometime seen in the Guardian but rarely in other national papers.

14 Nick a 22d 4 with a change of heart (9)
APPREHEND – The A from the clue, the abbreviation for the answer to 22d and another word for the answer to 4d with the central letter changes (with a change of heart).

16 Historic moment for RAF heroes – if, in truth, traumatic (5,6,4)
THEIR FINEST HOUR – An anagram (traumatic) of HEROES IS IN TRUTH.

19/21D Know-all with canny eye unravelled the source of “13,7,24” (9,6)
KELLYANNE CONWAY – An anagram (unravelled) of KNOW ALL CANNY EYE.  Although not technically incorrect, setting a general knowledge answer as a fifteen letter anagram is not the fairest form of cluing.  It is not just general knowledge clues where this is thought by solvers to be unfair.  A pet peeve of many solvers is cluing obscure words as an anagram.

21 Starts to cheer as daring Dutch yachtswoman leaves vessel (5)
CADDY – The initial letters (starts to) of the third to seventh words of the clue.

22 One-time item of underwear (7)
SINGLET – A six letter word meaning one followed by the abbreviation for time.

23 Start a narrative about some bug in the water (7)
RANATRA – The answer is hidden (some) and reversed (about) in the START A NARRATIVE.  Although the word is not in the main dictionaries, the cluing is more straightforward to compensate.  Nevertheless, the “about some” does not gel well as a hidden reversal indicator.

24 Waller accepts the first of cruel home truths (5)
FACTS – The first name of the jazz pianist and singer Waller includes the first letter of cruel.  Where you are using a name as a definition by example, it is better to provide a definition by example indicator.

25 Carney oddly alone perhaps when Valentine’s Day comes (4,1,4)
ONCE A YEAR – An anagram (perhaps) of CARNEY AOE (the odd letters of alone).


1 Composer Mooney agreed to accommodate a son of Homer (4,6)
BELA BARTOK – The name of the paper columnist Mooney and a two letter word meaning agreed includes (to accommodate) the A from the clue and the name of Homer Simpson’s son.  This is another clue where perhaps the general knowledge required is too great.  There must be a better way to clue the BEL required.

2/8 Tell the world how to get hens wet? (5,3,4)
BREAK THE NEWS – A reverse anagram clue where the first five letters give an anagram indicator and the remaining letter when rearranged would give hens wet.

3 Ambassador enters island state, ignoring American sign (6)
CYPHER – Include the abbreviation for His/Her Excellency (ambassador) inside the name of a Mediterranean island without the abbreviation for United States.

4 /8d: Canard: “Soccer bosses were informed about Spain and Sweden.” (4,4)
FAKE NEWS – The abbreviation for Football Association (soccer bosses) followed by a word meaning were informed about that includes the abbreviation for Spain and finished off by the abbreviation for Sweden.  Having the same down entry as two solution is confusing.  My first thought was that there was a mistake in the clue.  It is best avoided.

5 Bishop maybe espies abomination in two churches (5,5)
CHESS PIECE – An anagram (abomination) of ESPIES inside two abbreviation for church.  Some editors would not allow a noun as an anagram indicator.

6 Parliament raised energy tariff – that’s logical (8)
COHERENT – Reverse (raised) an abbreviation for House of Commons and follow with the abbreviation for energy and a four letter word for a tariff.  The abbreviation is not in the main dictionaries so should not be used.  Also the House of Commons is only part of Parliament.

7 See 13 Across

8 See 2 Down

14 Estrangement from a 4,8,23d (10)
ALIENATION – The A from the clue followed by another word for the answer to 4d and another word for the answer to 23d.

15 Rolls in the hay following mucky film (5,5)
DIRTY HARRY – A five letter word meaning mucky followed by a three letter word for grass around the abbreviation for Rolls Royce.

17 Cavalier comic footballer 23d on a roster (8)
ROYALIST – The first name of the comic strip footballer ??? Race followed by the A from the clue and another word for a roster.

18 Dido surprisingly draws rare birds (8)
ODDITIES – An anagram (surprisingly) of DIDO followed by another word for draws.

20 Madness not applicable in case of Beatles girl (6)
LUNACY – The abbreviation for not applicable in the name of a girl who appears in a Beatles Song the sky with diamonds.

21 See 19 Across

22 Thus pink paper offers a form of Brexit (4)
SOFT – A two letter word meaning thus followed by the abbreviation for Financial Times (pink paper)

23 End of Melchester’s magnificent run (4)
RACE – The final letter of Melchester followed by a three letter word meaning magnificent.

26 comments on “Rookie Corner – 254

  1. That took us a long time and was hard work but we did eventually get everything sorted apart from 13/7 where we ended up revealing a letter or two. (Perhaps the confusing enumeration did not help). Having to deal with lots of cross-referenced clues also tends to make us grumpy. Several places where we needed Google help, 19/21 and 23a being a couple. The abbreviation needed for 6d does not seem to be in BRB.
    Those were the negatives for us but there were plenty of positives as well with some very clever wordplay and mis-direction so there are quite a few ticks on our pages too.
    Thanks Bardwig.

  2. I really enjoyed that. At first I was irritated to see all the cross-references, but they turned out to be very helpful. 18d my favorite. Incidentally, this took longer than the Guardian cryptic and quiptic combined. Thanks to Bardwig!

  3. This was quite hard to get started & I wondered if I was going to feel it worth the effort. But once I got going with one or two of the easier clues – 21a, 3d and 5d, if you’re asking – then all (pretty much!) was well.

    You’ve created some accurate clues with some very good & some excellent surfaces – quite a feat! I particularly liked 15d’s clever re-use of Rolls.

    A few other assorted comments:
    25a good surface
    11a I didn’t know its state but very gettable from the rest of the clue
    19a I didn’t know this name but gettable from the rest of the clue – assuming I’ve guessed the right first name, that is! [Checked on Google. Phew!]
    23a slight pity you needed a word that’s neither in Chambers nor the ODE here. Found it on Google, though. [I briefly tried changing out 18d but with no success – tricky, of course, as you need 23d and 21d to be unchanged]
    6d guessed from the definition but I can’t parse this one. Oh, I just have: are those first three letters justifiable with their definition? Maybe needs “Parliament in part”? Not sure

    A nice puzzle – many thanks Bardwig! Keep ’em coming!


    1. Thank you for your complimentary remarks, Encota.

      I agree in retrospect that the 23a entry is a pity. Alas, I was too obsessed with using the clue I’d prepared for 15 but now wish I’d saved this for another day. If I were composing the puzzle again, I’d use a cricket county at 15 and put RUN WITH at 23a, leaving various options for 18 since 21a could also be modified if necessary.

  4. I too get grumpy when there are lots of cross-referenced clues. This was a mix of the very solver-friendly and the I’ve no idea what is required. There are a number of clues requiring some GK – I cheated and checked up who was the source of 13,7.24 as I’d have been looking at the anagram in 19/21 for ages without.

    As the 2Ks say, lots of positives and I have marked a number of clues I liked

    Thanks to Bardwig and in advance to Prolixic

  5. At first sight this puzzle seemed rather off-putting with its many cross-references and I did consider giving it a miss. I’m glad that I got stuck in, however, because there are lots of clues to enjoy here.
    The anagrams for 16a and 19/21d (although I didn’t know the know-all and had to look her up) were both excellent and I also liked 2/8d.
    Apart from seeking assistance with 19/21d I had to verify the 23a answer,
    I think that there are problems with a couple of abbreviations (the rolls in 15d and the parliament in 6d – which in any case is only half a parliament).
    Thanks Bardwig – please keep them coming.

    [Update: I’ve just read Encota’s comments and realised that I was thinking of the wrong sort of Rolls]

  6. Well, that was interesting. At first glance, my immediate thought was ‘This is not for me” but I stuck with it and solved all but 23A ( I cheated on that one). A case of ‘guess the word then parse’ in some instances, though. More than a touch of American political references here but perhaps that was to my advantage. I did look up Melchester early on. The strip was new to me. I ended up with several ticks on the page, but 4/8 is my favorite. Thanks Bardwig.

  7. Welcome back, Bardwig.

    I remember saying after the setter’s debut that I thought more attention should be given to the surface readings in his/her next puzzle, so I was very pleased to see a distinct improvement in that area. I’m not a fan of interdependent clues in crosswords either, I feel that many setters who favour such devices do not always appreciate how solvers can find them tedious. Like Bardwig’s first puzzle, I thought there was an over-reliance on General Knowledge, by my count more than a third of all the clues required the solver to know (or look up) something not immediately clear from the wordplay alone. I would suggest reducing that significantly in future. I couldn’t find 23a in Chambers, if it was anything other than a grid filler, I’d be very surprised.

    Aside from the above gripes, there were some really excellent clues in the puzzle – I gave ticks to 10a, 25a, 2d/8d and 15d, and a double tick to 16a, a superb anagram. There was a lot of invention and many clever ideas in evidence, so much to commend.

    Many thanks, Bardwig, I’d love to see a more conventional puzzle from you (minus the GK and interdependent clues), I’m sure you have the talent to produce one, I suppose the question is do you want to?

  8. Most of my comments have already been raised by previous commenters and the easiest point for me to start is to agree completely with Silvanus (as usual!)

    Just to add a few relatively minor points of my own:
    – I’m very dubious about splitting a single word across 2 separate answers as in 13a/7d, although it is an excellent clue.
    – I don’t think “abomination” as a noun works as an anagram indicator in 5d.
    – In 17d the cross reference to 23d doesn’t work. The footballer played for Melchester, but that’s not what the wordplay is suggesting.
    – Apostrophe please in 20d: “Beatles’ girl”!

    Many thanks, Bardwig. I enjoyed this on the whole and there is a lot of promise here. If you take on board Prolixic’s comments tomorrow, I’m sure you’ll keep on improving.

    1. Hi RD,
      Re 17d’s cross reference: It works for me, so… I wonder if you know the footballer’s surname?

  9. This ticks all the wrong boxes for me. The cross-references are tedious, not keen on the 13/7 split and also have a positive dislike for names I’m supposed to have heard of ie 19/21, (Who?)

    However many of the clues were excellent so you clearly have a talent for this lark, but like others, I could have done without the extra faff. Silvanus’ last line sums it up nicely.

    Very well done Bardwig, thank you.

  10. I was really hoping for an easing off on the GK in Bardwig’s second puzzle but ’twas not to be and the addition of interdependent clues certainly didn’t help to make this a solver-friendly puzzle.
    Managed most of it via enumeration and wordplay but hit a brick wall with the 19/21d combo, the strange split in 13/7 and the unknown 23a. Unfortunately, wrestling with those detracted somewhat from the enjoyment to be found elsewhere.

    16a was the absolute star of the show – more like that would have been very welcome and I think you probably have the ability to do just that.

    Thank you, Bardwig – but hope your third puzzle is compiled along more conventional lines.

  11. Thanks for all the feedback so far and especially to those of you who persevered with the puzzle in spite of an evident lack of enthusiasm for cross-referencing clues. I must admit I was genuinely surprised to learn solvers can be frustrated by these, though I suppose it’s only a bit like me groaning every time I see preambles to crosswords concerning letters to be omitted, added, highlighted or whatever.

    I’ll respond to the comments concerning individual items tomorrow after Prolixic’s review has appeared.

    1. Hi Bardwig,

      As a Listener ‘near’-obsessive I can’t let your point about ‘that’ sort of Preamble go past without comment ;-)

      So, for anyone who’d like a go at Listener or Listener-like puzzles, I’m told my blog on the subject last week was very helpful.

      L4539: ‘Removal’ by Gos

      Each to his own, of course!


  12. I’m quite a slow solver, and the cross references put me off to start with. Ended up getting there, just about, but 23a was beyond me.
    11a and 19a were my faves.

  13. I thought some of the simpler clues here were excellent – 16a, 21a, 22a, and the 2d/8d combination, to name a few. I had no problems with the American GK required for 11, 13/7/24, and 19/21. On the other hand, I had no idea who Mooney, Melchester, Batley, and Carney are/were, so those surfaces made no sense. It didn’t help me, but I did know Dido from her collaboration with Eminem :) . I had to think again after realising that Bart Simpson wouldn’t quite fit in 1d.

    Like several previous commenters, I stumbled over abomination as an anagram indicator, some non-standard abbreviations, and the unconventional splitting of the 13/7 answer across two slots in the grid. Given its connection to unlocking the pivotal 23d, it is a shame that 23a is not in any of the major dictionaries. Also, for me, that clue’s “fodder some” is not the same as “some of fodder”. I didn’t see what 23d was doing in the wordplay for 17d, and “the” in 15d appears to be surface padding that has to be ignored in the cryptic reading of the clue. I’d have attached a definition by example indicator to Waller in 24a.

    Thanks, Bardwig, for an enjoyable crossword. I look forward to seeing your next effort.

  14. Thanks for the review and the explanations, Prolixic. I see now that 17d is perfectly fine – I was confused because while I had heard of Roy of the Rovers, I didn’t know his full name. And thanks again to Bardwig.

  15. Many thanks to Prolixic for the review. In addition to the recommended main points for next time, perhaps I should also add one of my own: try to cast off some bad habits I’ve acquired from the Guardian.

    As regards some of the specific issues mentioned by both Prolixic and other commenters:

    – 13/7: I didn’t think twice about joining these as one word since, having been raised on the Guardian crossword, I assumed it was a perfectly legitimate strategy. One classic example I recall from that paper is the answer “Battle Hymn of the Republic”, where the last two items appeared in the grid as THERE and PUBLIC.
    – 19/21d: I feared the person in question might be less famous than I hoped but thought this might be partially offset if 75% of the crossing letters are consonants, although I must admit 23a (see below) didn’t help at all here.
    – 23a: Apologies all round for this grid entry. I’ve explained what led to its inclusion in my response to Encota @3 above. Prolixic describes precisely what I was trying to do: compensate for the obscurity by providing a hidden answer – which, I once read somewhere, is the easiest type of clue to solve. Unfortunately it didn’t work as intended.
    – 6d: Again I was inspired here by an old Guardian clue: “Modern, parliamentary type of committee (2,3)”. Okay, if the abbreviation is considered unacceptable in crosswords, I won’t use it again but I’m not completely convinced “Parliament” and “House of Commons” can’t be used synonymously: what about, for example, when reference is made to former MPs becoming members of the House of Lords?

    1. Just a quick response to your question about Parliament. The UK Parliament has two chambers, the lower being the House of Commons and the upper being the House of Lords. Any member of either chamber is, therefore, a member of Parliament, but the term MP is used only in relation to those who sit in the House of Commons. The House of Commons is a subset of Parliament. Hope this helps to explain why the expressions are not synonymous.

  16. Only just found time to look at this again and – as always – many thanks for the interesting review, Prolixic. Reads as though Bardwig could make good progress if he takes on board all the advice. Hope it works out for him and will look forward to seeing his next puzzle.

  17. Very late to the party this week – it’s half term in most English schools and I’ve been in loco parentis for grandchildren. So there’s not much I can add – maybe a couple of points or so.
    I took a while to see that 21ac was an initial letters clue but when I did I thought it very good. By the way the definition is ‘leaves vessel’, not simply ‘vessel’ – i.e. a vessel for (tea) leaves.
    As for words split over more than one grid entry, I don’t have a problem here so long as both entries are valid words in themselves but that’s probably because I’m used to the device from the Guardian and also the Indy. The same goes for having to split a word in a clue, e.g. requiring the solver to split ‘backstop’ into ‘back’ and ‘stop’ to indcate a reversal of the latter to give ‘pots’
    Again, cluing an obscure word as a hidden, provided there’s at least 50% checking isn’t a problem for me. 23ac was easy compared to 19/21.
    I did struggle with parts of this but overall it was a satisfying solve. As well as 21ac I liked 9ac and 11ac.

Comments are closed.