Rookie Corner – 275 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 275

A Puzzle by Sundance

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Sundance 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 Sundance.  This was a good start but with some rough edges that need to be addressed.  I have pointed this out in the relevant clues.  A couple of general points.  The grid is one that you see in daily crosswords but it is not the most solver friendly of grids as there are four intersecting crosswords.  This means it is difficult to get cross-checking letters across the quadrants of the grid.  The other is the use of full stops in the clues themselves.  They may be used but too many any the clues become stilted.  The commentometer reads as 51/2 out of 27 or 20.4%.  Most of the errors are ones that are simple to remedy.


1 Do (holding Goodman). The state of a church when occupied (8)
PLENARTY – A five letter word for a social event around the name of Mr Goodman from Strictly Come Dancing fame.  As Goodman is used as a definition by example of someone with the first name required, this should be indicated.  Also, attention needs to be paid to the surface readings.  Whilst I am lenient because good surface readings development with practice, this one is pretty meaningless.

5 Complain and French will reprimand severely (6)
CARPET – A four letter word meaning complain followed by the French for and.  This has a much better surface reading.  It is what the setter should try to achieve with all clues though perhaps the will should be omitted as wordplay will definition does not read well cryptically.

9 The longest sentence. Similar and very realistic (8)
LIFELIKE – The longest prison sentence that can be given followed by a four letter word meaning similar.

10 Blood type of old queen found in Crewe (6)
ABBESS – A two letter blood type and the diminutive name given to Queen Elizabeth I.  I am not happy with the definition.  It references a book title “The … of Crewe” which, if you do not know the book, makes the definition meaningless.  Also, the “of” is out of place as it is not an indicator requiring you to join the blood type and old queen together.

11 Lover is average. The morning belongs to us (8)
PARAMOUR – A three letter word meaning average, the abbreviation for morning and a three letter word meaning belonging to us.

12 African therefore African country (6)
SOMALI – A two letter word meaning therefore and a four letter name of an African country.

14 See 19 Down

18 He’s a very clever young gentleman, don’t you know (10)
MASTERMIND – A six letter word or a young gentleman and a four letter word meaning “don’t you know”.  The definition should omit the a so that it reads “He’s very clever” and wordplay adjusted to take this into account.

22 Most of day (no day) with northern god (6)
SATURN – The name of the final day of the week without the “day” followed by the abbreviation for northern.

23 Strong drinks responsible for ride bans (8)
BRANDIES –  An anagram (unindicated) of RIDE BANS.  There is no anagram indicator here.  Responsible for, is not sufficient and as a link word, the definition is not responsible for the wordplay, the wordplay is responsible for the definition.

24 Ladies principles (6)
IDEALS – An anagram (unindicated) of LADIES.  Again, there is no anagram indicator.  I don’t think that the suggestion that a adding an apostrophe would solve this as the property of ladies is not the same or suggestive of an anagram of ladies.

25 Sluggish beetle n insect (8)
STAGNANT – A type of horned beetle followed by the N from the clue and a three letter social insect.

26 Germ cell or type of pie for Lawrence (6)
GAMETE – A type of pie with ingredients such as wild birds and animals such as partridge, pheasant, deer, and hare followed by the initial of the writer Mr Lawrence.  The “for” here is out of place.  It does not form any function in the wordplay.

27 Be ingenious in half an acre at Iver, Bucks (8)
CREATIVE – The central letters of “acre” followed by an anagram (bucks) of AT IVER.  Half as an indicator usually means the front or back half of a word, not the middle two letters.  The “Be” should be omitted as “be ingenious” would indicate “create” as the solution. 


1 Many an afterthought for small growths (6)
POLYPS – A four letter prefix meaning many followed by the abbreviation for postscript (afterthought).

2 Determined attempt for 6th letter or model (6)
EFFORT – The phonetic spelling of the 6th letter of the alphabet followed by the OR from the clue and the model of car sold by Mr Ford.  The structure of the clue as definition for wordplay is not the right way round.  You can have wordplay for the definition but not the reverse.

3 Initially a fire’s lit. Ashes may ensue (6)
AFLAME – The initial letters of the final six word of the clue.

4 Shorten limbs and go to war (4,2,4)
TAKE UP ARMS – The solution cryptically read might mean to reduce the length of your limbs.

6 Boar and hart combine for home of the smokies (8)
ARBROATH – An anagram (combine) of BOAR HART.

7 Falcon, for example somehow parroted (8)
PREDATOR – An anagram (somehow) of PARROTED.

8 It mixed with 21 can make you most irritated (8)
TESTIEST – An anagram (mixed) of IT and the solution to 21 down.

13 Winter’s rig tidied up by someone who gets the message out (10)
SIGNWRITER – An anagram (tidied up) of WINTER’S RIG.  Try to avoid repeating clue types in successive clues.  Four anagrams in a row is excessive and seven anagrams in the space of nine clues gives the crossword and unbalanced feel.

15 Impacting something wonderful (8)
SMASHING – Double definition.

16 Is mother possibly found on a map (8)
ISOTHEM – The Is from the clue followed by an anagram (possibly) of MOTHER.

17 Listen. Races holding the French small organ (8)
HEARTLET – A four letter word meaning listen followed by the abbreviation for time trials (races) around (holding) the French for “the”.

19 /14a: Gamine offering me a gin (6,10)
ENIGMA VARIATIONS – Gamine and me a gin are both anagrams of this piece of music read as a clue.  Nice as the idea is, this clue is incomplete as there is no definition as such and no indication that there is a reverse anagram.

20 A livid variety of festival (6)
DIVALI – The A from the clue followed by an anagram (variety) of LIVID.  Some editors will not allow definition of wordplay.

21 Fly back to New York s time (twice) (6)
TSETSE – Reverse (back) the abbreviation for Eastern Standard Time twice.

19 comments on “Rookie Corner – 275

  1. Very enjoyable, and a very pleasant end to my Sunday evening crosswording.
    The Goodman (1a) and the Lawrence (26a) caused a bit of head scratching.
    No anagram indicator in 24a?
    27a probably has too many words not associated with the lurker or its definition and indicator.
    Being somewhat pedantic, the 19d/14a answer is really only singular.
    Good clues – 9a, 18a, 4d, and 15d.
    Thanks Sundance, more of the same please!

  2. A warm welcome to Rookie Corner, Sundance. Your cluing is mostly sound and I’m sure that Prolixic will have some wise words for you which will be helpful for the future. It’s good to see some of your creative ideas, but a lot of your surface readings were nonsensical and this detracted from the enjoyment.

    Well done on a promising start. If you can improve your surfaces I feel sure you can make a big leap forward.

  3. Thanks Sundance. The SW corner held me up the longest but I did enjoy the solve – my favourite was 19/14a
    I’m sure the tiny quibbles I have will be addressed by Prolixic in his review, so thanks in advance to him

  4. Enjoyable to solve, and like others I also have a few easily resolved niggles on my page.
    The niggles are really attention to detail which is easily sorted, but the art of creating convincing surfaces is much harder.
    I’d modify or delete this grid as it’s extremely unhelpful to the solver.

    Well done for putting the puzzle together and thanks for the challenge Sundance – more like this would be very welcome.

  5. Welcome, Sundance.

    A creditable debut in Rookie Corner, but there are several instances where the clues either go against convention (for instance, you have “definition for wordplay” at least twice, and “wordplay by definition” as well) or they have surfaces that don’t make a huge amount of sense, 26a, 4d and 17d are possibly the worst examples. Prolixic’s invaluable guide will help you a lot with the former.

    I think you tended to overdo the anagrams too, at one point you had four in succession and seven in the space of nine Down clues. The one in 24a appeared to lack any anagram indicator, and the one in 16d ought to have been re-thought, as the solver is required to rearrange just one letter. “Holding” was repeated as a containment indicator, and as “Goodman” is just one example of someone with “Len” as a first name, a “possibly” or “maybe” ought to have been added. I suspect 1a was a gridfiller, as it’s not a word I’ve encountered before. I don’t personally like clues that have full stops in the middle, where possible it’s more normal to have commas or dashes to allow the words to flow.

    Please do pay heed to Prolixic’s review and I’m sure your second effort will be much improved as a consequence.

    Many thanks, Sundance.

  6. Welcome to the Corner, Sundance. I think that Silvanus has covered everything (and more) that I had thought of so I’ll just agree with his comments and applaud you for sticking your head above the parapet.
    I do hope that you’ll take all the comments on board and bring us another puzzle in the future.

  7. I found some of the cryptic wordplay a bit inaccurate, especially in the anagrams. In 24a, there’s no anagrind anagram indicator ( if ‘Ladies’ had been followed by an apostrophe it would have been ok, I guess, as it could have been interpreted ”principles’ is a property to be found in ‘ladies’). In 19d, another (double) anagram, I can’t see that ‘offering’ makes sense as an anagram indicator. In 26a, ‘for’ is redundant cryptically. In 15d, a double definition, the answer is an adjective, but ‘something’ is a pronoun, not an adjective. There were some nice ones, though, eg 5a + 23a. (Also, 1a + 17d were new words on me – I’ve been commented on myself for using obscurities – personally, I think it’s perfectly OK, as long as the solver can still use the wordplay to arrive at the solution readily enough, and I positively love learning new words! So 1a + 17d were fine by me.)

  8. Thanks for the review Prolixic.
    I think the definition in 1ac is deficient, as it is a church ‘office’ i.e. job that is occupied, not the church itself.
    Also in 11ac ‘belongs to us’ does not give ‘our’ – I can’t think of any simple synonym for ‘our’ though.
    Thanks Sundance for taking the plunge.

  9. Many thanks, Prolixic.
    27a is an interesting one. Aside from the incorrect inclusion of “Be” as you mention, by coincidence the answer is also a lurker. That is how I parsed it, even though “half” and “Bucks” would be padding. Your explanation makes much more sense.

    1. I assumed Prolixic’s interpretation would be correct without checking it – it usually is! But in fact the answer is an anagram of aCrE and AT IVER so it’s a bit of stretch to take CE as half an acre.

  10. Dear Readers
    Sundance here! Thank you so much to everyone who even looked at my puzzle. Extra thanks to anyone who thought that it appeared interesting enough to try and most thanks to the lovely people who took the time to offer creative criticism and complimentary comments.
    I thought I’d managed a reasonable puzzle but Prolixic’s wisdom has shown me that I can aim to improve and do better next time.
    Big Dave….you must get bored with praise for your website but to paraphrase an old advert, “it’s probably the finest crossword blog in the world”.

  11. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, particularly for the parsing of 27a. Like RD, I found the lurker and thought perhaps it was half of ‘an acre at Iver Bucks’. Sadly, the phrase has 17 letters, not the 16 that would have made that feasible!
    Perhaps Sundance will confirm his intention?

  12. It is a straightforward lurker albeit perhaps not the best ever constructed clue. I did not count the number of letters but can see that it would have worked better if the phrase had been 16 rather than 17 letters. There was no attempt at an anagram here.

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