Rookie Corner – 284 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 284

A Puzzle by Bardwig

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

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 much improved with some very good cluing.  There are only some very minor points on the cluing.  The commentometer is 1.5/26 or 5.7%.


4 Old ringmaster’s bridge between Hebrides and Fair Isle (6)
BAILEY – Triple definition, the first being the circus ringmaster who collaborated with Barnum, the second being a temporary bridge and the third being a shipping forecast area between Hebrides and Fair Isle.  Perhaps somewhere between Hebrides and Fair Isle would be better but that is my dislike of prepositional indicators such as in India to define a city in India.  The type of bridge is a compound noun clued by only its second part.  Perhaps type of bridge would be more precise though it is marginal.

6 Stormy section engulfs a water sportsperson (8)
CANOEIST – An anagram (stormy) of SECTION around (engulfs) the A from the clue.

9 Party rejected conditional seat shuffling (6)
FIESTA – Reverse (rejected) a two letter word expressing a conditional statement and follow with an anagram (shuffling) of SEAT.

10 Bully man of action outside colliery (8)
DOMINEER – A four letter word for a person who acts around (outside) a four letter word for a colliery.

11 Seconds count in unfamiliar terrain, among the stars (12)
INTERSTELLAR – The abbreviation for seconds and a four letter word meaning to count votes inside an anagram (unfamiliar) of TERRAIN.

15 Tyneside bairn’s first in unlikely sport (7)
NETBALL – The abbreviation for the UK region where Tyneside is located followed by the first letter of bairn in a four letter word meaning unlikely, in the sense of an unlikely or unbelievable story.

17 Good property to develop (7)
GESTATE – The abbreviation for good followed by a six letter word for an estate.

18 Chartist with iPod upset autocracy (12)
DICTATORSHIP – An anagram (upset) of CHARTIST IPOD.

22 How home office staff work on vehicle certification, see (8)
REMOTELY – A two letter word meaning on or about, followed by the annual certification required for vehicle and a three letter name of a diocese (see).

23 Foot supporter at home only (6)
INSOLE – Two letter word meaning at home followed by a four letter word meaning only.

24 St Bernard maybe needing one for road and rail (8)
BANISTER – An anagram (maybe) of ST BERNARD when the abbreviation for road has been replaced by an I (one).

25 Comic character‘s love of olive oil, so to speak (6)
POPEYE – The comic book sailor loved by Olive Oyl (a homophone – so to speak – of olive oil)


1 Judge McVey heard court comedian (6)
JESTER – The abbreviation for judge followed by a homophone (heard) of ESTHER (the first name of the politician McVey).  As the name of the politician is a definition by example, this should indicated.

2 Beam regularly ready for escape (3,2,5)
RAY OF LIGHT – The odd letters (regularly) of “ready for” followed by a six letter word meaning escape.

3 Egg in hard hat, say, unexpectedly breaks (8)
HOLIDAYS – The letter with a round shape (egg) inside the abbreviation for hard and a three letter word for a hat followed by an anagram (unexpectedly) of SAY.

4 Support surprisingly brief conclusion (8)
BEFRIEND – An anagram (surprisingly) of BRIEF followed by a three letter word meaning conclusion.

5 I mark it: unknown face (8)
IDENTITY – The I from the clue followed by a four letter word for a mark or dint followed by the IT from the clue an a letter representing an unknown quantity.

7 Half lift up old oak tree (4)
ILEX – Reverse (up) half of the letters in lift and follow with a prefix meaning old.

8 Model’s original name for show (4)
TURN – The model of car offered by Henry Ford followed by a two letter word meaning original or primitive and the abbreviation for name.

12 Gossip sheet’s endpiece later modified to include Ms Macpherson (10)
TALETELLER – The final letter (endpiece) of sheet followed by an anagram (modified) of LATER around the first name of the model whose surname is Macpherson.  Again as a definition by example for the first name, this should be indicated.  

13 Poor Babe Ruth gets nothing for posh housecoat (8)
BATHROBE – An anagram (poor) of BABE RUTH after the U (posh) has been replaced by an O (nothing).

14 Two chess associations planned move on the rugby field (3,5)
SET PIECE – Two words associated with chess (the first being all the chessmen together and the second being an individual man).

16 Detectives in bad taste demanding trial (4,4)
ACID TEST – A three letter abbreviation for detectives inside an anagram (bad) of TASTE.

19 Approach exhaustion: thus a US candidate might stand down (3,3)
RUN LOW – How an US candidate is described in comparison to a UK politician who might stand for election followed by a three letter word meaning down or depressed.

20 Arrest the predecessors of HSBC (4)
GRAB – The letters that go before each of the letters in HSBC.  A very well spotted definition.

21 Last word from Geva Mentor (4)
AMEN – The answer is hidden in (from) the final two words of the clue.

54 comments on “Rookie Corner – 284

  1. Thanks Bardwig! That went in smoothly enough until all that was left was 4ac…which took as long as the rest of the puzzle. Devious. Not sure about the middle definition.
    Lots of nice surfaces, overall I liked 14,15 and the felicitous 20. 15 favourite.

  2. Very enjoyable, probably equates to a typical Monday back pager.
    I really liked 4a, 25a, and 20d.
    Thanks Bardwig.

  3. 3, 4a, 14, 20 were my faves. Spent far too long thinking “I’m *sure* it was ‘Midland’ “…
    Nice one.

  4. The third definition for 4a was new to us and needed Investgoogling but we had got the answer from the first two meanings. Still not quite sure of the wordplay for 8d and 19d. Will give them more thought later.
    Plenty of clues to enjoy with a generally well put together set of clues.
    Thanks Bardwig.

  5. I liked this for the most part, but I do have a few question marks on my age, particularly in relation to the US candidate part of 19D and (if my answer is correct) to 8D. Mrs Bale would have known the answer to 4A in the blink of an eye. A tad too much general knowledge required overall perhaps. Thanks Bardwig.

    1. I just revealed letters for 8D and my answer was wrong but I’m still no wiser. Maybe I have to sleep on it.

  6. Some very good clues, with a few that have question marks by them. I’m particularly intrigued as to why 7d says ‘oak’ tree as surely that’s a Quercus not a 4d? My favourite was 20d

    Thanks to Bardwig and, in advance, to Prolixic

  7. Thanks Bardwig
    Excellent puzzle. There were quite a lot of easy ones, and the large number of anagrams also helped (10/26 clues maybe a little too many). I liked the clues where the definitions were well hidden like, say, 24a. 3d was my favourite – amusing surface, disguised definition, lots of elements smoothly combined.

  8. Very enjoyable puzzle with some good misdirections. My anagram counter has reached ten which is rather on the high side.
    The third definition of 4a took me ages to fathom and then dropped with a satisfying clunk.
    My ticks went to 14d, 19d and (excellent spot) 20d.
    Thanks to Bardwig – more like this would be very welcome.

  9. What a great crossword! Cryptic precision and very good surfaces all around. 11, 18, 22, 12, and 14 were particularly great (though I could easily add another 4 or 5 clues to that list) and 20 one of those clues which gets a spot on the favourites list for sharing some great word trivia.

    25 struck me as not quite up to the standard of the rest, as the “OO” phrase made the answer a bit obvious in a way that had me hoping there was a more interesting answer I’d failed to spot. Maybe using some other synonym for OO in the clue would have made it more satisfyingly cryptic.

    Thanks, Bardwig

  10. Saw the puzzle in the early hours and had a quick read through the clues to see any jumped out at me. 25a did and 20d, despite having a MENSA test feel (I’m not a member but my wife is) already looks like it’s going to be my favourite!

    I feel a bit daft as I’d thought, and had mentioned here, that my puzzle was going to be number 284. I’ll print yours out, Bardwig, and post more thoughts later.

  11. Very nice indeed. Every clue gets a thumbs up.
    I too thought there were too many anagrams. But then again, they were such good ones. It did make for a puzzle with lots filled in quite quickly though, which subtracted I suppose from the pleasure of frustration.
    4a was last one in, although the second def was the unfamiliar one for me: neat to have a clue where peoples’ different gaps in GK still allowed working out the answer (then looking up the missing bit to confirm).

  12. Enjoyable puzzle with only one or two slight reservations already mentioned above. In particular I thought the surfaces were good throughout, if a little elementary in places. I found the mental image of an egg in a hard hat (neat wordplay) strangely amusing and HSBC is a great spot so those are my favourites
    A good puzzle Bardwig, well done and thanks

    1. Hi LetterboxRoy,
      Just posted my comment and only then saw yours appear. Perhaps I should have simply written, “What LbR said”!!

      1. Hello Encota – the number of times I could just post ‘Ditto’ to a previous comment is remarkable and comment overlap happens all the time, sometimes quite amusing :smile:

  13. Hi Bardwig,
    Overall a very high quality puzzle, I felt. Well done!
    A few comments:
    4ac this one is likely to be tricky to parse fully for most people (probably for different reasons!), though still a decent clue!
    Similarly ‘original’ in 8d may be quite difficult for particular audiences that you may want to keep ‘onside’. I’d see it as ok in a harder thematic but wouldn’t expect to see it in the Telegraph, for example.
    Some beautiful surfaces – “Egg in hard hat say, unexpectedly breaks (8)” at 3d being a great example of conjuring up visual imagery :-)
    I didn’t quite get the first half of 14d – my ignorance, I’ve little doubt. I look forward to seeing Prolixic’s analysis tomorrow! I haven’t fully parsed 19d, either.
    It’s hard to pick out a favourite clue but 20d is a very good spot.
    I look forward to more – thanks again!

    1. Hi Encota,

      Think of the first half of 14d as two words that can be preceded by “chess” (“two chess associations”).

      I’m pretty sure that the synonym for “original” in 8d has cropped up before occasionally in Telegraph Toughies, but I agree that it’s far less likely to appear in a backpager.

  14. Welcome back, Bardwig.

    Well done, I certainly think you have made progress and improved your surface readings since your earlier puzzles, I do agree though that the number of anagrams needs reining in and, once again, there were probably a few too many General Knowledge references. I thought 20d was an excellent and really clever spot.

    Overall I warmed to the puzzle and found it entertaining to solve, far better to have an accessible crossword like this one than some of the impenetrable ones of recent vintage.

    Congratulations and thanks, Bardwig.

  15. Thought our setter had made something of an effort to cut back on the more obscure GK although I did need to check on the oak tree and had forgotten the abb used in 8d, which I should have remembered from his first puzzle.
    There did seem to be quite a profusion of anagrams/partial anagrams – maybe something to watch out for when setting future puzzles?
    I wasn’t overly keen on 19d and thought 25a was perhaps a little too straightforward but overall this was a most enjoyable solve and contained some excellent clues. Think my favourite was 20d – well spotted indeed.

    Thank you, Bardwig – hope we can look forward to seeing more from you.

  16. Hi Bardwig

    Some excellent stuff here. I thought HSBC was very innovative (20d). I absolutely loved how the egg “unexpectedly breaks” (3d) and I thought the detectives “demanding trial” was excellent (16d).

    I’m not so keen on manipulating anagram fodder (24a, 13d). I’m not convinced you’d get away with that in some papers. I think you were kind to leave home office in lower case – took me a while regardless!

    Count me in on those confused by 4a, I needed to google for all 3 (GK) definitions, which to me is not the makings of a good clue.

    I wasn’t sure about conditional (9a), support (8d – though i see it’s in the thesaurus), and i think original (8d) is a prefix which not everyone finds elegant, though it does get used

    I didn’t understand the second half of 19d. In fact I had a different answer until I had to fit in love of OO.

    Congratulations and many thanks

  17. Thank you to everyone for your complimentary remarks.

    I suppose the biggest problem this time was my unwillingness to sacrifice what I thought was a half-decent surface reading just because it contained an anagram. Instead, I adopted the purely arbitrary system of counting only 0.5 for a partial anagram, in which case the overall total would be slightly lower … but probably still too high anyway.

    Will look forward to Prolixic’s review tomorrow.

  18. I was confused about people referencing *three* definitions in 4a. I see why now. I read it as two, but on reflection, I think Fair Isle should be SE Iceland, but maybe I’m misunderstanding it.

    1. It depends on whether you’re going from the map or from the broadcast order – it works ok in the latter case.

    1. Great surface reading, Bardwig, and, despite too many anagrams (I know how difficult it is to only use the acceptable number, rather than just the best and saving the rest for another puzzle) I found it a pleasing puzzle overall. I liked 11a,17a, 22a, 24a, 3d, 4d, 5d, 16d and, best of all, 20d!

      However, I thought 4a was unnecessarily confusing when it could have been a simple three-word double-definition; Judge McVey in 1d had me wondering if Judge Judy is Judy McVey as there was no indication that McVey could have been, for example, Williams or Rantzen rather than a judge, and 25a was too obvious (but welcome at the time as I was very tired when I looked for a way in the early hours!)

      My (Dumber) puzzle is hopefully next up (but I said that last week too) so feel free to return fire :)

      1. McVey is a politician – she is/was a Conservative minister but I’m not sure what her current status is as they’re all getting booted out/resigning/changing party at such a rate of knots that it’s difficult to keep track.

        1. I knew of her but that wasn’t really the point. I know the same point could be made of Ms McPherson but that was pretty ovbious [sic.] given the overall clue. I was just thinking of clueing/cluing etiquette I suppose.

          1. Funnily enough, Gonzo, The Void and I have discussed this issue elsewhere recently. I tend to think that McVey is a particular “type” of Esther just like Ash is a type of tree, so I’m not sure a definition-by-example is really necessary. If “tree” can clue ASH in an answer, I’m not sure why the same doesn’t apply to names used in this way. It’s an odd one.

            1. I meant to say that Esther is a type of McVey. To make the clue sound all you need to do is read “McVey” as pointing to a type of McVey, in this case Esther, just as “tree” could point to “ash”. Using an example to clue a category name isn’t on, but using a category name to clue an example is always fine, I would have thought.

              1. Hmm… I’m not sure. “Name a McVey” could elicit the answer “Esther” and vice versa, no?

                1. Maybe the ‘vice versa’ is the issue? That it can go both ways makes it tricksier than simply ‘tree’ to indicate ‘ash’.

    2. Interesting, one of my pet peeves. Not necessarily here, but sometimes a potentially lovely double def is spoilt by making it triple. Something to watch out for.

      1. I can’t see the point of making a triple. I’ve always tried to go by the rule that there ought not be any unneeded words. The idea is to be misleading but fair. It’s hard enough working out correct clues without having words included that do nothing more than make the clue read better. It’s not only about pleasing the setter, it’s about being fair to the solver. Plenty of times I’ve ditched a clue because, no matter how pleased I felt about the reading of it, and the fact that it worked well enough, I couldn’t justify submitting it because there were unnecessary words.

        Sometimes you just have to work harder. It’s worth it in the end.

        1. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s difficult enough for potential solvers to work out cryptic clues without adding to the challenge by including words that are neither part of the definition nor the cryptic. I know some words and phrases like ‘leads to’, ‘becomes’ etc are not strictly part of the cryptic, but they do help the solver see which end of the clue the definition is.

    3. My niggle with ‘bridge’ to clue ‘bailey’ (I think we are past spoiler warnings now) is that ‘bailey’ is not used on its own to mean ‘bailey bridge’, and has meanings in its own right. If you asked a builder to ‘build me a bailey across that river’, you could just as easily get a wall. And flooded.
      It’s like using ‘wagon’ to clue ‘covered’, or ‘owl’ to clue ‘barn’.
      Nevertheless, a really good crossword. I never go into counting things like anagrams, if I notice I notice…it’s all about entertainment.

      1. Although I see what you’re driving at, Gonzo, I think you’re nit-picking a bit too much there. We already know it’s a bridge, and you wouldn’t talk to a builder in cryptic terms even though some of the buildings on The London skyline look as though that is what did actually happen!

        1. No, I don’t think it’s nit-picking, any more than the McVey issue. It’s about what I consider fair and accurate. YMMV.

  19. All in all, a sound puzzle. I did have reservations about ‘conditional’ in 9ac and 25ac was possibly a bit obvious.
    But despite it being my last one in I thought 4ac was good, and as a double definition it might also have been a bit obvious. I enjoyed the realisation of what the third definition referred to – a laugh out loud moment.
    I also liked 20dn (echoes of the computer in 2001 A Space Odyssey!)
    And I think you missed a trick in 22ac; you could have used initial capitals for Home Office to compound the misdirection.
    I’ll be looking forward to your next one.

  20. Late to this, but I can only endorse the comments of others. 20d was completely brilliant — an absolutely outstanding clue in any context. Congratulations, Bardwig!

  21. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, nice to see one of our newer Rookies making good headway.
    Well done, Bardwig, keep up the good work.

    1. It’s reassuring to see Prolixic’s comments back up some of our own. I have an idea I know who Big Dave is but not anyone else. What I am aware of however is that we rookies are showing our stuff to some very well-respected compilers and cannot fail to learn from you/them.

      I just wonder why some of the comments appear as a string of one-letter lines that are difficult to read?

      1. Big Dave is Big Dave

        The string of letters occurs because each reply is indented slightly so on a small screen it gradually gets squashed
        It is therefore good practice in my view to make a new post referencing the original if there are already more than, say, five replies

        Looking forward to seeing your first

        1. Thanks, Roy. I hope it’s worth the wait. I’ve already finished Dumber 002 and have filled the grid of 003 and written a few clues. Being retired helps!

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