Rookie Corner – 265 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Rookie Corner – 265

A Puzzle by Brunel

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

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 Brunel.  Another solid crossword with only a few technical issues.  Watch out for repeated wordplay elements.  Although difficult, the solution were reachable from the clues.  I know girl’s names have been mentioned in the comments.  Technically, they are permissible but boys and girl’s names can be overused so should be used sparingly.  The commentometer reads as 3/30 or 10%.


1 The Second Coming? (7)
REVISIT – Another way of saying call again on someone or come again.

5 Unevenly tall trees, for starters? Yes, for starters (7)
FIRSTLY – The odd letters (unevenly) in tall preceded by (for starters) some coniferous trees and followed by the single letter abbreviation used for yes.  Interestingly neither Chambers or Collins give Y for yes as an abbreviation.

9 Anti-US rioting in island’s returned, potentially continuing long-term (11)
SUSTAINABLE – An anagram (rioting) of ANTI-US inside a reversal (returning) of an island associated with Napoleon (maintaining the ’s) from the clue.

10 She fires arrows, losing her bow (3)
ARC – Remove the HER from the clue from a word for someone who fires arrows.

11 Colourful flyer for concert returned to house (6)
MORPHO – Return a four letter word for a concert (associated with an annual series at the Royal Albert Hall) and follow with the abbreviation for house.  A couple of points on this clue.  First, returned has been used as a reversal indicator already in 9a so a different indicator should ideally be used.  Secondly, definition for wordplay is the wrong way around.  Wordplay for definition is better.

12 Traces of stormy weather, this might concern (8)
FORECAST – An anagram (stormy) of TRACES OF.

14 Firm decision to scare off cheeky bird, into misbehaving (13)
DETERMINATION – A five letter word meaning to scare off followed by a type of bird that is associated with being cheeky and an anagram (misbehaving) of INTO.

17 Leaderless paladins pursuing Scot on horse, in old stories (7,6)
ARABIAN NIGHTS – A four letter word for a horse followed by a three letter Scottish name and another word for paladins with the initial letter removed (leaderless).

21 Inviolability of court inspired by reason (8)
SANCTITY – The abbreviation for court inside (inspired by) a six letter word meaning reason

23 Join pair of tiniest bits, then peel fruit (6)
TOMATO – Join together two copies of a word for a tiny bit of matter and then remove the outer letters (peeled). 

25 Endless river of love (3)
NIL – Remover the final letter (endless) from the name of an African river.  Some editors will not allow wordplay of definition.

26 Tie wearing old timers to shake hands, possibly (11)
EXTREMITIES – The TIE from the clue inside (wearing) the prefix for old and an anagram (to shake) of TIMERS.

27 Medic in A&E neatly removing every other gland (7)
ADRENAL – The abbreviation for doctor (medic) inside the A&E from the clue followed by the odd letters (removing every other) of neatly.  On its own, the solution means relating to the gland – it is not the gland itself.  You would say your were having treatment on on ???? gland, not your ????.

28 Swelter freely in struggle (7)
WRESTLE – An anagram (freely) of SWELTER.


1 Summary is always returned, covering the whole lot (6)
RESUME – A three letter poetic word meaning always is reversed (third time used as a reversal indicator) around a three letter word meaning the whole lot.

2 Girl, much embarrassed, with face shielded thus? (7)
VISORED – A two letter girl’s name followed by a phase (2,3) meaning much embarrassed.

3 Pie that’s hashed with last of egg pasta (9)
SPAGHETTI – An anagram (hashed) of PIE THATS G (last bit of egg).

4 Vehicle‘s speed (4)
TANK – Double definition of an armoured vehicle and a word meaning to speed.

5 Convulsion is overcoming brothers, with one getting inflammation (10)
FIBROSITIS – A three letter word for a convulsion and the IS from the clue around a four letter abbreviation for brothers and the letter representing one.

6 First Lady to meet Queen about chief magistrate (5)
REEVE – Reverse (about) the name of the first lady in the bible and the abbreviation for the current queen.

7 Masses of little grey cells – that’s finally lacking with the friend of Poirot (7)
THALAMI – Remove the final letter from the that in the clue and follow with the French (of Poirot – although Belgian he spoke French) for “the friend”

8 Knox-Johnston’s craft turned round island on blowy night (8)
YACHTING – Reverse (turn around) a three letter word for in island and follow with an anagram (stormy) of night.

13 Non-zero target, including money to add, giving overall amount (5,5)
GRAND TOTAL – A four letter word for a target has the O removed (non-zero) and included the name of the South African currency and a three letter word meaning to add.

15 Sex goddess‘s hairdo reportedly tied wavily (9)
APHRODITE – A homophone (reportedly) of AFRO (hairdo) followed by an anagram (wavily) of TIED.

16 Swapping places, woman rules plant producing henna (8)
LAWSONIA – A five letter woman’s name goes after (swapping places) a three letter word for rules.

18 Eclipse may be natural – unnatural viewed backwards, when partial (7)
ANNULAR – The answer is hidden and reversed (viewed backwards, when partial) in NATURAL UNNATURAL.

19 Poet’s island is place wherein a maiden must mostly dwell (3-4)
SEA-GIRT – A three letter word meaning to place includes the A from the clue and a four letter word for a maiden with the final letter removed (mostly).

20 Canadian native picked up sweet (6)
MOUSSE – A homophone (picked up) of MOOSE (Canadian native).  One point to watch is putting a homophone indicator between the definition and wordplay as the solver will not know whether the definition comes at the beginning or the end.

22 Connection point, sheathed in metal, holding current (3-2)
TIE-IN – A compass point inside (sheathed in) a three letter metal with an insertion (holding) of the abbreviation for current.

24 Tom’s cry for loose women to remove Nick’s top (4)
MEOW – An anagram (loose) of WOMEN without the N (removing Nick’s top).  Another clue with definition for wordplay.

20 comments on “Rookie Corner – 265

  1. That was great fun. Certainly no walk in the park but slowly and surely it all fell into place with plenty of aha moments along the way. Quality clues throughout. A couple of new bits of knowledge such as 11a and 16d but well able to be derived from the wordplay. A real thumbs up from us.
    Thanks Brunel.

  2. Most enjoyable puzzle which I thought was pitched at just the right level – thanks Brunel.
    I didn’t know the colourful flyer or the henna plant but the wordplay for both was clear. My anagram counter reached nine which is possibly a bit high.
    My selections for the podium were 1a, 23a and 8d.
    More puzzles of this quality would be very welcome.

  3. Sorry, Brunel, I was a bit disappointed not to see progress from your previous Rookie offering. This was a tough puzzle overall, which in itself is fine. However, in terms of enjoyment, it was a curate’s egg for me with some very good clues and some less so. In a lot of cases you have sacrificed surface smoothness for wordiness and complexity.

    – 11a was a new word for me but readily derivable from the clue.
    – The definition in 12a seems a bit loose.
    – You have used the American spelling of the “cheeky bird” in 14a.

    My strong personal preference is not to use undefined people’s names as part of the wordplay, e.g. “girl” in 2d and “woman” in 16d. This device should certainly be avoided in the latter case where the answer is so obscure. Last time you did this twice in one clue so I suppose this is a step in the right direction!

    My top two were 23a & 8d.

    Thanks for the challenge, Brunel, and please do take on board Prolixic’s pearls of wisdom. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic, particularly for the one parsing which has so far eluded me.

    1. RD – I know you have a particular dislike of undefined forenames and I’m not overly keen on them myself. But, do you have a similar aversion to undefined rivers and plants, for example? There must be just as many river names as forenames (if not more).

      1. good point. i think there are some common rivers, plants and girl’s names that appear to be accepted (though i share the dislike). It is too easy, though, to slide down the slippery slope of obscurity

      2. Sorry for my slightly delayed reply, Gazza. I’ve been beavering away in the garden since I posted my comment and just popped indoors for lunch. Can rabbits beaver?

        You are right. It is a very subjective issue, but my feeling is that, although the number of rivers and number of plants are also vast, the use of undefined forenames and abbreviated forenames seems to be much more common and the variety of rivers, for example, appearing in clues feels much more limited. That is only an impression and I would happily accept that I am wrong if Mr K fancies generating the data!

        Although I would prefer no vague names at all, I could possibly be persuaded to accept a maximum of one per puzzle as long as the answer is not obscure.

        An exception that proves the rule (which in addition is an answer to Stan XYZ’s recent question) is, “Two girls, one on each knee”. This is an absolutely brilliant clue because it is humorous, the wordplay is precise and the surface is impeccable. Those factors for me trump pedantry and mere technicalities. We did have another good example recently which, I’m sorry to say, I have forgotten.

  4. I too thought this an enjoyable puzzle – like Gazza I didn’t know the flyer or the plant, but the clues were helpful. I marked a number of clues for favouritism including 23a and 8d.

    I’d also agree with Gazza’s “more please” – thank you to Brunel and, in advance, to Prolixic

  5. Thanks Brunel, excellent puzzle.
    Some quite tricky ones but wordplay v accurate and helpful, after a bit of thought.
    Though the longer more complicated clues were all well put together (7, 8 and 19 v good) my faves were 4, 10 & 23.

  6. Thanks Brunei, some excellent stuff here. I loved the disguised definitions in 26a and 23a. I thought 10a, 12a, 8d were excellent (though i had to look up KJ).

    I have further ticks against 5a, 9a, 11a, 14a, 3d, 5d, 7d, 15d.

    some minor quibbles like the link directionality in 25a, otherwise an elegant clue.

    I think 27a and 18d are close to falling into the strawberry jam or sports car category, something to watch out for. A sports car is a car, but sports by itself is not something you can define by car. You can define estate by car (Chambers defines ‘estate’ as ‘estate car’, but not ‘sports’ as ‘sports car’). Unlike an estate, you don’t drive to the corner shop in your sports. Possibly not the best analogy, but i hope i’m making sense. Maybe it’s easier to say you have a noun defining an adjective, which doesn’t really work.

    I thought this was a great puzzle, not too difficult though some GK I had to look up, and very entertaining. Congratulations, well done.

    1. an attempt to clarify – I think the answers to 27a and 18d each need two words, the second corresponding to your definition, in order to be covered by your definition (as with sports car).

    2. I actually met RK-J many moons ago so that solution wrote itself in as I was checking the wordplay

  7. I was out of step with others when it came to this setter’s first puzzle and feel no differently about this one. I can appreciate the cleverness of some of the clues but when it comes to surfaces and the complexity of some of the wordplay, I find enjoyment flying out of the window.

    Sorry, Brunel, perhaps I just have to accept that your style is often outside of my comfort zone.

  8. I thought that this was a good puzzle, even though I’m not overly keen on unusual words in a Rookie puzzle where really, I’m looking to see the setter’s style develop, not broaden my vocabulary.

    Technically good with some very crafty wordplay which I enjoyed, but I would have liked more of a laugh along the way – which I know is difficult. I always think that the best clues are a bit like a joke when you twig the punchline.

    Thanks and well done Brunel

  9. Quite a tricky puzzle but with the help of a (human) assistant and checking a couple of things in Chambers I, or maybe I should say we, got there in the end. The NW corner was the trickiest. Our favourite clues were 11ac and 23ac; I thought 11ac was very good; although some people object to the definition for wordplay format there are cases when it leads to a brilliant clue and in this case ‘flyer for concert’ with its suggestion of a publicity leaflet made for a nice misdirection, which I guess could have been intentional.
    Tricky it may have been, but a great puzzle nevertheless and I don’t think it’ll be long before Brunel makes it into the NTSPP slot.

  10. Very late on parade to look at this one, but I have to say that my feelings were encapsulated by RD’s opening comments. I didn’t derive the same level of enjoyment as with the setter’s previous puzzle, whether that was due to the obscure nature of some of the solutions (gridfillers?), I’m not sure.

    I also felt it was a little heavy on the anagrams, and I noticed the repeated use of a certain reversal indicator. Instances of “Wordplay of definition” and “definition for wordplay” jarred too.

    Many clues and constructions to admire, but I felt quite a few rough edges too, so overall I was a little disappointed, but perhaps I had raised my expectations from the setter’s last effort.

    Thanks, Brunel.

  11. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, particularly for the confirmation that I had gone somewhat astray with 19d!

  12. Many thanks to all for the favourable comments + also the constructive criticism, which I’ll try to take on board. One thing that came out was that I seem to be misusing ‘f’or’ as a link word –
    I’ve been using it to simply join wordplay and straight definition, no matter what order they appear in, but I can now see it’s a bit more specific than that. To me, using boy’s/girl’s names seems
    OK, but I guess you don’t want to overdo it, as with anagrams (which Silvanus picks up on), as these devices can be seen as an easy way out, perhaps.

Comments are closed.