Rookie Corner – 255

A Puzzle by Heno

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today Heno, one of our regular commenters, puts his head above the parapet!  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.

What fun to have Heno appear as a Rookie. Some good clues and some rough edges but a strong enough debut.  A review follows.

My earlier message was slightly tongue in cheek but there is an important point.  Reviewing the Rookie crosswords is fun but does take a considerable amount of time.  Anything between 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours goes into the solving, writing the review and adding it on-line.  Most of this has to be done when I get home in the evening.  If, by that time, you have, as with this crossword, at least three almost full analyses of the clues and other semi-analyses, it all seems rather a waste of time.

One of the joys of the site is that everyone contributes and shares experiences but effectively having three full reviews of the technical aspects of the clues plus my review is getting out of hand.  Not only that, it also means that I have to review the reviews as there are, sometimes, points where I need to comment on the comments.

I am more than happy to carry on reviewing the Rookie puzzles but subject to Big Dave’s approval, if people would prefer to move to a model where everyone comments and reviews to the comments become more of a bazaar, I won’t feel offended.

I hope that this is not a case of raining on Heno’s parade so here is the review.  The commentometer is 6.5 / 29 or 22%.

Across

7 Cutting Carol taking European vicar back (8)
SEVERING – The abbreviation for European and reversal (back) of the abbreviation for reverend (vicar) inside (taking) a four letter word meaning to carol.

9 Payment to grind old floorwalker losing pound (6)
SOCOME – The name of one of the characters in Are You Being Served without the letters in the abbreviation for pound (as a weight).  The definition is an archaic legal term not in the main dictionaries.  It is not a payment but a legal right to grind corn.  The character in Are You Being Served was not a floorwalker – that was Captain Peacock.  As the letters in the abbreviation are removed separately, this should have been indicated.  The use of obscure archaic words such as this should be avoided unless you are setting advanced barred crosswords.  In the preamble, there is usually a note to say that one or more of the solutions are not in Chambers.  The crossing letters would allow “Sachmo” (Louis Armstrong” as an alternative entry.

10 Gains sound like seas including tragic king (6)
CLEARS – The letters CS (homophone – sound like – of seas) include the name of a tragic Shakespearean king.

11 Builders online vicars? (8)
ERECTORS – The abbreviation meaning on-line followed by another word for vicars.  Technically, someone is either a vicar or a rector of a parish.  At one time, parishes had a rector.  However, sometimes a person would become the rector of two or more parishes so they would appoint someone under them who would vicariously be the parish priest in place of the absentee rector – hence the term vicar.  However, this is a very subtle distinction and in common parlance, people would use the terms interchangeably.

12 Pain in the bones caused by current in mad rheostat riots (14)
OSTEOARTHRITIS  -The abbreviation for current inside an anagram (mad) of RHEOSTAT RIOTS.  I am not keen on definition caused by wordplay as a clue structure.  The surface reading goes beyond the surreal into the nonsensical!

15 Short girl may be spikey? (4)
BARB – Remove the ARA (short) from a seven letter girl’s name,  The convention is that indicators such as short are used to indicate the removal of a single letter, not an indeterminate number of letters.

17 Firstly light action saving equestrian s rising beam (5)
LASER – The initial letters (firstly) of the second to sixth words of the clue.

18 Some passengers ailing go by boat (7) (4)
SAILING – The answer is hidden in (some) the second and third words of the clue.  Ideally, a hidden word clue should not end at a word break.  The clue is not technically incorrect but it is more satisfying for the solver when it is properly hidden.

19 Cricket or part of golf course without parking left in (4,4)
FAIR PLAY – A seven letter word for part of a golf course has the W removed (with-out) and the abbreviations for parking and left included.  Some editors will not allow the lift and separate device of taking a single word “without” to give “with out”.

21 Sign varies in the Zodiac (5)
ARIES – The answer is the final five letters of the second word of the clue.  There is little to indicate that there is a hidden word and the definition seems to be at both ends of the clue.

24 Restrained leg pressed on the radio (8)
PINIONED – A three letter word for a leg followed by a highly dubious homophone of ironed (press on the radio).

26 Old architect taking in 4th grade blue (6)
INDIGO – The first name of Mr Jones, the 17th Century architect includes the fourth letter in grade.  Some editors would not allow a simple 4th to indicate the fourth letter of a word but most would be happy with this.

28 25 has drugs making confection (6)
TOFFEE – Another word for a posh person (25) has two Es (drugs) added.  Not sure that the answer to 25 down is necessarily a posh person.

29 Nightmare opposite? (8)
DAYDREAM – The opposite of a bad night time dream would take place during the day.

Down

1 Glance up at angler’s equipment (4)
REEL – Reverse(up) a four letter word for a lascivious sideways glance or look at someone.

2 Dear me! Strange, I’ve done it again! (6)
REMADE – An anagram (strange) of DEAR ME.

3 Beast that may gore you? (4)
OGRE – An anagram (that may … ) of GORE.  Whilst you occasionally see anagrams posed as Word A may be or become Word A as an indication of an anagram, I am not enamoured of the device.

4 A character assassination could be covering (6)
ASMEAR – The A from the clue and a five letter word for a character assassination.  Perhaps “Poetically covered a character assassination” would be better wording for the clue.

5 Whizz galleries may be media (8)
ACETATES – A three letter word meaning whizz followed by the plural (as there are more than one) of art galleries in London.

6 Awesome VIP remiss about direction (10)
IMPRESSIVE – An anagram of (about) of VIP REMISS followed by the abbreviation for East (direction).

8 To place in office left Stalin out (7)
INSTALL – An anagram of L (left) STALIN.  A duplication of L for Left here.  It was used in 19a.

13 Man cars for execs at work (5,5)
STAFF LIMOS – A five letter word meaning to man followed by a word for posh cars.  The definition seems incomplete or cars is doing double duty as part of the wordplay and the definition.  It would have worked better as “those for execs at work”

14 Electric scientist manipulated Telstar without right (5)
TESLA – An anagram (manipulated) of TELSTAR after removing the abbreviation two letter abbreviation for right.  Technically, as the letters for right are not removed in order this should have been indicated.  Perhaps “Scientist redesigned interior of Telstar.”

16 These are sent in when fibs fail oddly to convince the landlord (8)
BAILIFFS – An anagram (oddly) of FIBS FAIL.  The whole clue provides the definition.

20 Bloomers without drug makes small horses (6)
PONIES – Remove the first E (drug) from the name of a plant.  Again there is duplication with E for drug having been used in 28a.

22 Passengers amendments (6)
RIDERS – Double definition, the second being written amendments made to a contract during negotiations.  The clue should have an ‘s or an s’ to be grammatically correct.

23 DIYer sorted without hesitation, first time, organised (4)
TIDY – An anagram (sorted) of DIYER T (time) without the ER (hesitation).

25 Naff Cardinal is swell (4)
DUDE – A three letter word for naff followed by one of the cardinal directions of the compass.

27 o.g. up by Pacino gets there in the end (4)
GOAL – Reverse (up) the OG and follow with the first name of Mr Pacino.  The OG on its own spoils the clue.  Perhaps “Raising a self-inflicted mistake, Pacino, for one becomes the target.

As some people have notices, the grid was asymmetrical.  There is no absolute rule against such grids but the vast majority of crossword are symmetrical and this convention should be adhered to unless there is a very good reason for departing from it.


46 responses to “Rookie Corner – 255

  1. We ended up revealing letters to get 4d and 9a, both words that we had not met before. Managed to get everything else sorted although it did take us quite a long time.
    Well done Heno to put it all together. Thanks for the fun.

  2. Well done Heno, very enjoyable and, like the 2Ks, I had to use the Reveal Button for 4d and 9a. I will be interested to read what Prolixic says about 9a because I could not find the answer in the BRB and definitions I could find on-line did not really suggest ‘payment’ to me. Instead, the on-line definitions were suggesting ‘practice.’

    Best clues – 7a and 11a.

    I do have a ? against the homophone in 24a – another one to wait for Prolixic.

    Thanks.

  3. Thanks, Heno, for an enjoyable solve, and congratulations on an impressive first outing in Rookie Corner.

    Some very nice surfaces here (15a, 18a, 29a, 1d, 2d, and 16d in particular) and I admired many of your clever wordplay devices. The definition in 19a raised a big smile. I ticked quite a few clues, of which I’d nominate 2d as my favourite.

    I felt that most of the clues were pitched at the right level for a rookie. I did have to reveal 9a, which was annoying because I had got the right answer in the way that I think you intended, but crossed it out when I couldn’t find it any of the major dictionaries. If I’m understanding the wordplay correctly, I think you need to indicate that the letters to be dropped are not adjacent. I hesitated at the lift and separate requirement in 19a, the homophone in 24a doesn’t work for me, I’m not seeing an anagram indicator in 3d, I’ll need the review to understand the definition in 13d, and the dictionary doesn’t appear to support 25d’s usage of cardinal (nice misdirection with the false capitalization, btw). I did notice that the grid doesn’t have rotational symmetry, but the last time that issue came up here I think the conclusion was that grid symmetry is a convention and not a rule.

    Well done, Heno. I’m looking forward to solving your next one.

  4. Some of this went in very quickly, but that left a few toughies. I guessed 4d from wordplay but have never heard that word. Totally clueless about 9a. Overall, though, very enjoyable. Thanks to Heno.

  5. Thanks Heno, that was fun. Like others, I found those two in the top right were darned difficult!

    My favourites were 18a, 6d and 2d. My more detailed comments, written in the order solved, are included below. I think the “Could I plausibly use this sentence down the pub?” test is always a valuable one when checking surfaces. I’ve just tried it out on 17, 5 & 20 …

    Cheers all,

    -Encota-

    NOTES:
    10ac ok. Tenses feel a little strained
    12ac. The thought of there even being being ‘rheostat riots’. made me smile. Didn’t they occur the year after the Potentiometer Polls (and featured armed resistance, perhaps)? That’s my kind of surreal!
    17a The wordplay is fine; the surface is somewhat odd, though
    18a Good. Not sure what the extra (7) is for?
    21a Don’t understand the wordplay here.
    26a ok. Some editors won’t like ‘4th grade’ to mean ‘4th of grade’
    27d this is gettable but the definition feels slightly loose, as does the use of this particular abbreviation
    29a ok
    1d is the def quite right? not sure
    2d good – I like this one, esp the “I’ve” which seems to work well two ways
    5d clue grammar seems ok but I don’t understand the surface. Probably me
    6d I can solve the anagram but is the def quite right? Ah, no got it. Good clue!
    8d ok
    14d ok
    16d nice try
    20d clue grammar seems ok but I don’t understand the surface
    22d good. might improve with an apostrophe somewhere?
    23d ok
    19a ‘without’ might be stretching it a bit. an inventive clue.
    25d I think I’ve solved this
    28a is the 25d synonym accurate enough? Unsure
    15a ‘short’ normally indicates one letter being removed but there’s no logical reason why it can’t be two or more
    3d if I am parsing this correctly then the word(s) added to make the surface work are padding in the cryptic grammar
    7a good
    11a good. might improve with an apostrophe somewhere?
    24a won’t work in some accents. always tricky, these
    13d ‘cars’ is doing double duty? I may have this one wrong
    9a not in Chambers or the ODE or Collins. It’s tricky (aka borderline seen by some as unfair) using words outside of these. And splitting LB for pound without any indicator is probably a step too far, too. see what Prolixic thinks tomorrow.
    4d I think the word you’ve used is an archaic adjective, so not sure the definition ‘could be covering’ is quite right, unless ‘covering’ can be read as an adjective?

  6. Fun indeed – I wouldn’t know where to start to write a cryptic clue so am in awe of anyone who can write enough to fill a whole crossword

    I marked a few things in the same was as others have done but I did think that there are some really good surface readings in many of the clues. My favourite clue is 19a

    Thanks to Heno and in advance to Prolixic

  7. Well done, Heno, on sticking your head above the parapet to be shot at with an enjoyable first puzzle.
    As with others the NE corner gave me the most difficulty. I’m not sure that the lady in 9a would be described as a floorwalker – wouldn’t that have been Captain Peacock?
    I did like the use of with-out in 19a so that’s my favourite but I also ticked 6d and 25d.
    I hope that the comments here and the excellent advice you’ll get from Prolixic will encourage you to produce more puzzles.

  8. Congratulations, Heno, on a very accomplished Rookie debut. There was a lot to like here with some clever ideas on show.

    Several of your surfaces ranged from iffy to nonsensical, but smooth surface readings are the icing on the cake when everything else is in place. I loved 19a (sadly it is fast beoming an archaic definition in these days of sledging and sandpaper) but it was pipped as my favourite by the excellent 11a.

    A few random comments:
    – 9a I was utterly bemused by this and had to reveal the answer.
    – 18a There are two different enumerations showing.
    – 21a The wordplay seems strange. If it is intended to be a lurker it’s not really hidden and there doesn’t seem to be a lurker indicator.
    – 24a An utterly non-homophonic homophone! Would this one work for anybody?
    – 1d I’m not sure that the answer reversed is a glance and I don’t think “at” works as the linking word to the definition.
    – 3d If this is meant to be an anagram what is the anagram indicator?
    – 13d I can’t fully parse this one.
    – 22d The pedant in me would like to see an apostrophe after “passengers”.

    I hope that list is helpful. Prolixic’s review tomorrow will assist you a lot in smoothing out the rough edges.

    Very well done, Heno, thank you and please do keep them coming.

    • Hi RD,

      It’s not pedantic to require correct punctuation! As with the title of Gyles Brandreth’s recent book, there’s a huge difference between “Have you eaten, Grandma?” and “Have you eaten Grandma?”!

  9. All but four went in reasonably smoothly, then I got left with 4&9, 13&24.

    9 in particular is an obscure, archaic legal term clued with an obscure reference to an old TV show character, remember how to spell her name then remove separately the imperial abbreviation. A bit too much going on there.

    There are clearly other issues too which I will leave it to Prolixic to spell out, but overall I enjoyed the solve. I’m another that quite liked the ‘without’ in 19a.

    Many thanks for the entertainment, and well done on a pretty good, despite the niggles, debut. Thanks Heno, do come again.

  10. Welcome, Heno – well done to you for sticking your head up above the parapet.

    Think all of my pencilled comments have been covered by others so I’ll just mention that I wouldn’t have got 9a without the hint from Gazza and that 11&19a were the top two for me. Sadly, I think Prolixic may well say that the necessary split of ‘without’ in the latter wouldn’t find favour with many editors.

    Hope we see you in Rookie Corner again.

  11. Hello Heno, thanks for an interesting solving experience.
    I have ticks for 7ac,12ac,19ac and 14dn.
    Some points have been fully covered by others, but here are my notes.

    – 9ac too obsbcure wordplay for an obscure word unless you were making a themed puzzle.
    – 24ac my dictionary has pinion as two syllables pin-yon, so the homophone doesn’t work unless you are taking ‘ioned’ separately, and even then…
    – 28ac I don’t think a dude is the same as a toff – the latter implies class distinction rather than clothing.
    – 29ac perfectly gettable, had me toying with ‘day stallion’.
    – 1d it turns out that ‘leer’ can mean ‘to glance sideways’, hence leery I suppose, so well done!
    – 3dn do ogres have horns? Perhaps some indication of ‘mythical’.
    – 4dn I think your definition needs to equate to ‘covered’: ‘the children are asmear with jam’ rather than ‘jam is asmear the children’.
    – 13dn Wordplay overlapping definition.
    – 16dn Very gettable, so the unusual construction is forgiven.
    – 20dn ‘making’ would rescue the surface a bit.
    – 22dn another vote here for passengers’.
    – 23dn no anagrind – would work as a charade with ‘after time’ instead of ‘first time’ if perhaps weakening the surface.
    – 25dn Clueing E as cardinal [point] is fine.
    – 27dn if ‘o.g.’ is intended to be read as ‘own goal’ (no other def. in Chambers) that is a bit of a giveaway.

    Thanks again, and I hope you will forgive my sins when the time comes.

    • 27d: Original Gangster, I thought, which chimed nicely with Pacino. But that’s probably not in a dictionary as an abbreviation… yet?

  12. Hi Heno,

    It was good to see you at the Birthday Bash and congratulations for producing a submission for Rookie Corner.

    I’m sure you’ll find Prolixic’s review extremely helpful.

  13. Was also a bit stuck with 4d/9a but reading the blog helped with these.
    Loved the “sounds like seas” in 10a and the spikey girl in 15a.
    Lots to like for a first go at the rookie.
    Congratulations and thanks for the fun.

  14. Hi heno, very happy to see you have submitted a puzzle, well done!

    Much has been said already.

    The grid is asymmetric, which you would never see in a professional puzzle. Grid symmetry contributes to the joy of solving (yes!), so ignore at your peril.

    Surfaces. These should not just look like meaningful sentences, they should be meaningful sentences. That is the art. Enjoy the frustrations of trying to include meaningful surfaces.

    I thought 4d and 9a were unfair. If a word is not in the dictionary, think again. 4d is archaic. Avoid such Grid entries

    10a works if “sound” is a noun. If it was intended as a verb, there is a cryptic grammar issue.

    12a, sorry, mad rheostat riots means nothing to me surface wise

    15a. There are many girls names, I think they should be avoided in a clue.

    17a. Firstly is an adverb. Does it work here? At first, or for starters, would work fine.

    18a ailing looks a lot like sailing, which meant the hidden wasn’t very hidden for me.

    19a I disapprove of “without” here.

    21a fails technically – lack of indicator to show what is happening.

    24a homophone is not a homophone

    29a how is this a cryptic clue?

    2d unlike encota, I don’t get the “I’ve” – the definition should be “done again”, I’ve points wrongly to a person.

    3D fails technically, no anagram indicator

    13d cars is doing double duty

    14d. Clue would be better without “electric”

    16d “to convince the landlord” is padding and should be omitted

    27d og I think is own goal, bit strange given the answer. Also def should be “the end” not “there in the end”

    Hope that is useful,
    Good luck and learn from the feedback!

    • Very good post as I would expect from you, but 19a ‘without’ is a standard in the graun, times, toughies and elsewhere.

      Here, for example:

      Understand, upon reflection, why prince regularly does without (8)

  15. Well, I think most of the comments I could make have been covered by others, particularly with regard to 9ac, but here are a few.
    In 14dn there’s no indication that the abbreviation for ‘right’ has to be split before removal from ‘Telstar’ – ‘manipulated the interior of Telstar’ would have avoided that and worked just as well.
    It took me a while to see how to parse 20dn but I liked it when I did, though the grammar requires ‘make’ rather than ‘makes’.
    On a pedantic point in 11ac your alternative for ‘vicars’ is not strictly correct, but I can’t explain fully without creating a spoiler.
    But there was a lot to like here, I thought 12ac, 19ac, 6dn and 8dn were good – although 8dn might have read better as ‘… Stalin left out’.

  16. Thanks for your comments and feedback. Glad that some of it was liked. I can see that I’ve a long way to go, so I’ll be taking all that on board. As regards 14d, doesn’t “right away” indicate that “rt” is to be taken away? Looking forward to seeing Prolixic’s revue.

    • It does, Heno. The thing about 14d is that when telling the solver to remove RT, you’d ideally need an indication if RT doesn’t appear together and in order in that which it’s to be deleted from. In your clue, however, I think it’s ok because the anagram indicator comes first – i.e. your manipulated TELSTAR could be TESLART – from which RT can be removed. Maybe that’s not ideal, especially because “teslart” is not a word, but it can certainly be argued for.

      • The order of the subtracted letters has never really bothered me; I suppose it depends on whether you are viewing a word as a sequence of letters or merely a set of them. The extra layer of uncertainty when using an abbreviation (and not the common one) gives me more pause.

  17. I was delighted to see Heno’s name in this corner yesterday, and enjoyed tackling this.

    Everyone has indeed covered everything, so all I will add is: thanks Heno, and hope to see more puzzles from you.

  18. Well done, Heno – I enjoyed this and I think you’re very brave.
    I still have a few missing answers.
    In view of all the very detailed comments I’m not convinced that we will get a review from Prolixic – I think he could be forgiven for feeling a bit redundant, not that he is of course!

  19. Hi Heno. Sorry to be a bit late on this one but I really wanted to congratulate you on your debut Rookie puzzle. I have nothing further to add to the comments, but it’s nice to see such encouragement from everyone. I’m sure it won’t be long before you’re knocking out puzzles with polished surfaces and perfect cryptic grammar. I, for one, will look forward to them!

  20. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic – I thought for a while that you weren’t going to bring us one.

    If people are looking for a show of hands, I for one would very much miss your in-depth reviews. You are quite simply the yardstick by which Rookies and solvers alike judge the merits of a puzzle.

    • Speaking as one who has benefited from your helpful and insightful reviews, Prolixic, I should be very disappointed to see the end of them. If I may make a suggestion, would it perhaps be worth seeing what effects it might have if your review were to accompany the puzzle at the time of its publication?

    • Prolixic, I agree 100% with Jane. Your insights and advice are of inestimable value to both setters and solvers.

    • Hear, hear.

      Prolixic’s clue-by-clue reviews have made Rookie Corner what it is today – the go to place for any aspiring setter.

      The mere fact that so many such setters have progressed to national publications from Prolixic’s initial tutelage is a testament to how invaluable his guidance is.

  21. Thanks to Prolixic for the review. I will take note of your comments, and will try and improve my next effort accordingly. It’s been quite an experience so far. Thanks to everyone who commented and suggested improvements.

  22. Thanks for the review Prolixic.

    I have only ever provided a handful of puzzles, but in a very short space of time you clearly guided me to being able to produce a half decent puzzle for which I cannot thank you enough.

    I would be very disappointed to lose Prolixic’s clear and insightful reviews in Rookie Corner. May I respectfully suggest that commenters do not post clue by clue analysis of their own.

    Personally, I don’t take too much notice of other folks’ mini-reviews. No offence, but generally others throw bananas whereas you fire arrows, Prolixic.

  23. I’ve always thought Prolixic’s reviews were beautifully balanced masterpieces that encourage and convey the most important messages to the setter, whereas the comments (certainly mine) often articulate personal preferences, views that perhaps might (or might not) be of interest, and a personal experience of solving focussing perhaps on a few details.

    I would hate to lose Prolifix’s comprehensive review, which incidentally I read religiously every week whether or not i do the puzzle, to pick up some learning.

  24. I’ve only been here for the blink of an eye, but I find your reviews really clear and helpful, Prolixic. I hope they continue.

    Re 26a, I read it as referring to “the fourth best (exam) grade”. I didn’t even notice that it was also the fourth letter of “grade” until I saw some comments. :) Which were you intending, Heno? Or was it a fortuitous double-up?

  25. As another who has benefitted from Prolixic’s beautiful reviews and who savours them every week, I would also hate to lose them. Prolixic’s concise explanations of the issues that register on the commentometer are extremely helpful, and it’s inspiring (and humbling) to read his suggestions for how clues could be improved. I will therefore happily refrain from raising technical questions about specific clues until after the review has been published.

    That said, I do find the discussions here about questions of style and the finer points of cryptic grammar, and Prolixic’s authoritative rulings on those comments, useful and illuminating. So, Prolixic, it’s a lot to ask, but if that discussion was deferred until after your review, any chance that you could monitor those comments and contribute your expert insights when appropriate?

  26. I think I must be speaking for all Rookie setters when I say that I greatly appreciate the careful and thoughtful reviews that Prolixic provides. It obviously requires a great deal of time and effort and it is, of course, a shame that the only remuneration can be our heartfelt thanks. It is sad that we live in a world where a consultant performing a “due diligence” review of similar complexity for a venture capital firm could perhaps pull in $10K for the same amount of work.

  27. This is a very late comment from me, but comment I must!

    I totally concur with Jane. I think it would be something of a tragedy were Prolixic to discontinue his insightful and expert reviews. As Jane says, he is indeed ‘the yardstick by which Rookies and solvers alike judge the merits of a puzzle’. This is a plea to the Grand Inquisitor to continue his outstanding and selfless nurturing of the Rookie Corner. We all benefit enormously.

    That said, I enjoyed Heno’s debut very much. It was fun but also quite tricky in places. I never did get the answers to 9a and 4d, although I did suspect that the ‘payment to grind’ might be some sort of old legal right. But I didn’t pursue it, and am most grateful to Prolixic for his explanation.

    The clues I liked most were 19a (my fave) and 10a, 11a, and 22d.

    Many appreciative thanks to Heno for this really good debut puzzle and to Prolixic for his excellent elucidation.

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