Rookie Corner – 289 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 289

A Puzzle by Modica

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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 Modica with a very good crossword that shows a lot of improvement in the setter’s skills.  The commentometer reads as 3/28 or 10.7%


8 Guided back being conscious of state (8)
DELAWARE – A three letter word meaning guided is reversed (back) and followed by a five letter word meaning being conscious of.

9 Initially a readable and broadly international classical language (6)
ARABIC – The first letters (initially) of the second to seventh words of the clue.

10 Cool tune? (3)
AIR -Double definition, the first meaning to put out to cool in a breeze and the second being another term for a tune.

11 Greek fruit right for fighter (8)
GRAPPLER – The two letter abbreviation for Greek followed by a five letter name of a fruit and the abbreviation for R.

12 Quiet newspaper man following US code pulled two sides together (6)
ZIPPED – The abbreviations for quiet and editor (newspaper man) after (following) the equivalent to the UK postcode in America.

13 Nasty cold warned Doctor Nick (3,8,4)
NEW SCOTLAND YARD – An anagram (doctor) of NASTY COLD WARNED.  For the cryptic grammar to work doctor needs to be before the letters to be rearranged as it is used as an imperative verb.

15 Stall when the shops are open? (3,4)
BUY TIME – Double definition, the first meaning to prevaricate and the second obliquely when the shops are open.  The second part of the definition really requires an ending “ing” to be grammatically correct.

18 Altercations result from a phrase misheard (7)
AFFRAYS – The A from the clue and a homophone (misheard) of PHRASE.

21 Welcoming force? Curiously it’s a Soho CID scam (15)
SADOMASOCHISTIC – An anagram (curiously) of ITS A SOHO CID SCAM.  I am not sure that the definition is quite accurate.

24 Sea included in global ticket (6)
BALTIC – The answer is hidden (included in) the last two words of the clue.

25 Perhaps fall sees trees in this condition (8)
LEAFLESS – An anagram (perhaps) of FALL SEES with the clue providing the definition.

26 Policeman has cold heart (3)
ICE – The answer is hidden in (has…heart) of the first word of the clue.  Having the definition in the middle of the clue is not ideal.  Cold heart of policeman would have worked better.

27 Cell discovered when gas surrounded ancient city (6)
NEURON – A Nobel gas used in fluorescent tubes includes the name of a biblical city.

28 Immature quick-witted pest (8)
GREENFLY – A five letter word meaning immature followed by a three letter word meaning quick-witted.


1 Persuade greengrocer to accept award (6)
DEGREE – The answer is hidden (to accept) in the first two words of the clue.

2 Foppish American place of learning (6)
CAMPUS – A four letter word meaning foppish followed by a two letter abbreviation for American.

3 Performing band call in groom for couples’ pleasure (8,7)
BALLROOM DANCING – An anagram (performing) of BAND CALL IN GROOM.

4 With extreme tiredness cautiously accepts drug (7)
WEARILY – A six letter word meaning cautiously includes (accepts) the abbreviation for ecstasy.

5 Swinging Viscount brought to book (6,2,3,4)
TARZAN OF THE APES – Cryptic definition of the jungle character who was Viscount Greystoke.

6 Crooked expat Ray has to cough up (8)
TAXPAYER – An anagram (crooked) of EXPAT RAY.  The definition defines a verb but the answer is a noun.  Perhaps he has to cough up would be better.

7 Moving in a sequential way left and arrived home sooner than expected (8)
LINEARLY – The abbreviation for left and a phrase 2,5 that might indicate arrived home before time.

14 Variable so to speak but for what reason? (3)
WHY – A homophone of Y (variable).

16 Composed a bad tune with no let up (8)
UNABATED – An anagram (composed) of A BAD TUNE.

17 King wobbles outside for slow cooked delicacies (8)
TROTTERS – The abbreviation for Rex (king) as a seven letter word meaning wobbles outside.  Opinions will differ on whether the solution describes delicacies!

19 Garret regularly produces paintings (3)
ART – The even letter (regularly) of the first word of the clue.

20 Old King showing support for Eton perhaps (7)
COLLEGE – The name of the king who was a merry old soul includes (showing) a three letter word for a support.  The inclusion indicator (showing) is not a very good one.

22 Dispatched the Italian inside without a sound (6)
SILENT – A four letter word meaning dispatched includes the Italian for the.

23 Slight alteration to sunlit characters (6)
INSULT – An anagram (alteration to … characters) of SUNLIT.

27 comments on “Rookie Corner – 289

  1. An excellent puzzle that we cannot fault at all. Well constructed clues with smooth surface readings throughout.
    The two that we selected for special mention are 5d and 21a but many others that we could have picked.
    Thanks and well done Modica.

  2. Hi Modica,

    Some good clues in here. I liked 20, 8, 15, 21, 25, 3, 5 (I think), 23.

    6 is clueing a verb, but the answer’s a noun.
    7 “and arrived” is superfluous, I think, and can be cut without affecting the clue.
    10 I’m not sure about “cool”? Ah, no, wait, as in “put out to air”? I guess so.
    26 I don’t think the definition works here. “Policeman’s heart is cold stuff”? But that’s not a great surface. Hmm.


  3. That was fun, thanks Modica.
    I liked the 18a homophone and the 24a lurker. However, a bit of a Hmm on the 26a lurker.
    Absolute favourite – 5d – a 15 letter non-anagram will always get a good ‘score’ from me.
    The anagram count is a little on the high side (at least you avoided indirect ones this time), I counted seven. Some of that is probably setting yourself the challenge of four 15 letter answers, three of which were part of the anagram count.
    Thanks again and well done.

  4. Your debut Rookie puzzle was very good, Modica, and I thought this one was even better, which is great to see.

    13a is the HQ of the Metropolitan Police; I may be wrong but I don’t think there is a prison there. As a (very good!) homophone, surely 18a is “heard” not “misheard”? And, far from being an expert in these matters, I think the definition for 21a is incomplete – “welcoming force” just defines the last 11 letters not the whole word.

    But these are all very minor comments. This was a lot of fun, your cluing is accurate and you have polished your surfaces beautifully. 25a is my favourite; it’s such a good anagram combined with an “all-in-one” that even I won’t mention the American usage. :wink:

    Very well done, Modica, and thank you. I anticipate that you will get a very good commentometer score from Prolixic.

  5. A very enjoyable crossword, thank you Modica – keep up the good work . I’d agree with the earlier comment about 6d. My favourite was 5d

    Thanks also in advance to Prolixic

  6. Thanks Modica
    Nice puzzle, quite a helpful grid and some clear wordplay and definitions made it all go in pretty quickly. I liked the clues in which the definitions were more like hints, e.g. 3d 21a. 25a very good.
    I had a few quibbles; parts of speech in 6d (maybe 7d? though maybe it works ok), order of words in 13a, but not much else.

  7. Very impressive and enjoyable – thanks Modica.
    As others have pointed out 6d doesn’t work and I’m not convinced that ‘showing’ is a satisfactory containment indicator (20d).
    I thought that 15a and 5d were both very good but my favourite was the excellent semi-all-in-one at 25a.

  8. Delightful! Impressive, too. My favorites among a strong field of contenders are 21A and 5D. Thanks Modica.

  9. A good puzzle which I enjoyed, impressive too that you didn’t shy away from some very tricky words to clue and define
    A couple of small points which I’m sure Prolixic will iron out, but a very well put together puzzle overall
    Well done and thanks Modica

  10. Welcome back, Modica.

    An improved grid, fewer anagrams and a better crossword than last time, well done on achieving that.

    Still the odd rough edge and very occasional unconvincing service in evidence, but that’s only to be expected. Most clues were extremely good. I do agree with TheVoidTLMB’s observations about 6d, 7d and 26a, maybe simply “cold heart of policeman” would have done the trick. As an imperative, “Doctor” in 13a should precede the words in the anagram fodder, not follow them. “Overheard” might have been an improvement for 18a. These are mostly minor points though, overall I enjoyed the solve and think you’ve made distinct progress. My ticks went to 9a, 25a, 1d, 3d, 5d and 16d.

    Many thanks, Modica. Keep up the good work!

  11. Nice to see you back again, Modica, and it was good to note that you’d steered clear of indirect anagrams and not-so-general knowledge this time. I was a little worried when one of the first to fall here was 21a but fortunately that didn’t set the tone for the entire puzzle!
    My ticks went to 8,15,25 & 28a plus 4d – always a good sign when solvers opt for a variety of favourites.

    Many thanks – I hope there are plenty more to come.

  12. Hi Modica,
    Great puzzle, where you’ve built well on f/b from last time. LOTS of good clues – my list looks very similar to Silvanus above. There were a handful where slight / small mods will help:
    8. “Being conscious of” doesn’t quite feel a synonym of the five letters required
    13. Anagram indicator not ideal
    27. Surface not easy to understand
    6d. Maybe add “, he” to fix this?
    7d. Maybe delete “and arrived”
    17d. Definition is a matter of opinion :-)
    20d. “entertains” might be better than “showing support” for container-and-contents indicator.
    Most of these have been covered somewhere above, I think.
    But these are minor in the overall puzzle, which I liked a lot. Well done!
    I hope you find this feedback useful.

    1. Hi Encota,
      17d definition is decidedly a matter of opinion – I wrote ‘yuck’ alongside it!

  13. From someone who is only a solver & not privy to some of the niceties related to crossword setting then all I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed your puzzle Modica and I look forward to your next offering.

    Now to print off the BP, the grauniad cryptic & quiptic before the 3 grandchildren descend on us & wreak havoc!

  14. I really enjoyed this.
    I got off to a cracking start then it all went a bit quiet for a while and didn’t get many answers on first read through.
    I really like anagrams and, at the risk of blowing my own trumpet, am usually pretty good at them but the two long ones – 13 and 21a – had me stuck for a very long time.
    Needless to say the last one to go in was 1d – how dim can I be but they’re always things I miss.
    So many good clues that I can’t pick out any in particular or I’ll be here all night.
    With thanks and a big :good: to Modica and, in advance, to Prolixic.

  15. An enjoyable puzzle, all solved without assistance, but a few clues weren’t ideal. For instance in 13ac the answer is clearly an anagram of the first three words but although the surface makes sense the cryptic grammar is wrong – ‘doctor’ is used as a verb and so should precede the anagram fodder – it might just about work with some judicious use of punctuation. And as TheVoidTLMB says, the answer to 6dn is a noun whereas the clue indicates a verb – maybe the clue might read “Crooked expat Ray – one who has to cough up”.
    But there was plenty to like here – hope to see you in this slot again before long.

  16. Liked this, a smooth solve with no ‘huh?’ moments. I enjoyed the long anagrams particularly. In some places the grammar has been tortured for the sake of the surface (but perhaps the surface is 21).
    Thanks Modica :)

  17. I thought that this was a lovely puzzle and although some perceived shortcomings have been pointed out by others, I didn’t find that they detracted from a very good effort indeed. Favourites were 25a, 5d and 7d. Thanks Modica.

  18. I enjoyed this very much, especially the long anagrams, 13a in particular. NW corner was the last part to be completed and 1d did elicit an audible groan when I eventually cottoned on.
    I have huge admiration for anyone learning to set cryptic crosswords, as I’m only just learning to solve them. So, many thanks to Modica for an enjoyable puzzle.

  19. Many thanks for all your comments and the constructive feedback and of course to Prolixic for the review. Also thanks to Big Dave for publishing my crossword. It is something of a nerve wracking experience putting a crossword out there for scrutiny but the experience (and this site in general) has been invaluable.

    Thanks, once again.

    1. You’re right about it being a nerve-wracking experience but I’m glad I found this site. Nothing beats having hardened setters and solvers offer constructive criticism. It’s easy to let one’s own sense of humour take over when writing a clue, making it read better but not be quite correct (like your own Doctor Nick clue). I’m sure I’m guilty of including a couple similarly incorrect in my next puzzle, but there’s only one way to find out!

  20. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. It’s good to see just how much Modica has improved since his debut offering – I hope it encourages him to bring us more puzzles.

  21. I’m visiting relatives in America, only have my phone and have no access to a printer. I’ve looked at the clues and entered three or four answers, but with scratchy Internet here in Tennessee I’ve decided to wait until. I get home next Wednesday when I’ll print it out and try to finish it. The clues look good nice and smooth and, although I haven’t solved them all, the anagrams look fun.

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