Rookie Corner – 298 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 298

A Puzzle by Bardwig

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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 was a step up in terms of the complexity of the cluing, partly because in a few cases, there were some stretches required in terms of getting to the required wordplay in the solutions from the clues provided.  However, overall the clues were more polished and enjoyable.  The commentometer reads as 2.5/28 or 8.9%.

A very merry Christmas to all the Rookies who have entertained us over the past 12 months and to all who have commented, encouraged and critiqued their creations.


1 Sportswoman Eleanor briefly accepts hitherto unspecified bet during training run (7,6)
NETBALL PLAYER – A four letter diminutive form of Eleanor includes the abbreviation for to be arranged (hitherto unspecified) and the resulting word is followed by a three letter word meaning to bet inside (during) the abbreviation for physical exercise (training) all followed with the abbreviation for run.  I think to get from hitherto unspecified to the required abbreviation is too much of a stretch.

8 Kim Jong Un’s Force for Justice doctored strong evidence (7,3)
SMOKING GUN – An anagram (doctored) of KIM JONG UNS with the J (justice) replaced by G for Force.  Whilst J for justice is OK, the abbreviation for force is F.  G is the abbreviation for the acceleration due to gravity, and to get from force, to gravity to G is too indirect, particularly when used in an anagram type of clue.

9 Some of Seamus Heaney’s schmaltz (4)
MUSH – The answer is hidden (some of) in the third and fourth words of the clue.

10 Jerk blanked church architect (4)
WREN – A six letter word meaning twist or jerk with the abbreviation for church.

11 Encounter tramp with American piebald (4,4)
BUMP INTO – A three letter word for a tramp followed by a five letter word for an American piebald horse.

13 Eccentric takes after current Establishment figure creator (3-5)
ICE-SKATE – An anagram (eccentric) of TAKES after the abbreviation for electrical current and the abbreviation for Church of England.  I think to get from Establishment to Church of England is probably a little too much of a stretch.  As the solution is the instrument that creates the figures, even if under the control of the person wearing them, I think that the definition is OK in the same way that a writer can describe a pen even though it is under the control of the author.

14 1000 men backing gulf state painter (6)
MOREAU – The Roman numeral for 1000 followed by the abbreviation for Other Ranks (men) fan a reversal (backing) of the abbreviation for United Arab Emirates (gulf state).

16 Cinema crowds getting one for nothing (6)
FLICKS – A six letter word meaning crowds with the O (nothing) replaced by an I (one).

18 Fine gold lock in the Tower of London perhaps (8)
FORTRESS – The abbreviation for fine and a two letter word for gold in heraldry followed by a five letter word for a lock of hair.

20 Reject hawk holding hard line (5,3)
THROW OUT – A four letter word meaning sell or hawk includes (holding) the abbreviation for hard and a three letter word for a line.

22 Groom reflected a way of working in ancient days (4)
COMB – The abbreviation for modus operandi (way of working) inside the abbreviation for before Christ (ancient days) all reversed (reflected).

24 Opening window (4)
SLOT – Double definition for a small opening and a period of time or window of opportunity for doing something.

25 Where Elaine Paige became famous by embracing tyro willy-nilly (10)
INEVITABLY– A phrase (2,5) for the show that propelled Elaine Paige to greater public recognition followed by the by from the clue around the abbreviation for learner (tyro).

26 State lost when EU was abandoned (3,5,5)
NEW SOUTH WALES – An anagram (abandoned) of LOST WHEN EU WAS.


1 Heard modern miracle re-established a kind of order (9)
NUMERICAL – A homophone (heard) of new (modern) followed by an anagram (re-established) of MIRACLE.

2 Thus initially a royal son proceeds (7)
TAKINGS – The first letter (initially) of thus followed by the A from the clue, the name of a royal male ruler and the abbreviation for son.

3 Relative value not expressed evenly (4)
AUNT – The even letters in the second and third words of the clue.

4 Easy to read French articles about Soldier Boy’s origin (7)
LEGIBLE – The French masculine singular definite article used twice (articles is in the plural) around the abbreviation for an American soldier and the first letter (origin) of boy.

5 Far from brief note: lines characteristic of a grudge-bearer? (4,6)
LONG MEMORY – A four letter word meaning far from followed by a four letter word for a note and the abbreviation for railway (lines).

6 Two dollars off, medium dry could be more palatable (7)
YUMMIER – An anagram (could be) of MEDIUM DRY after removing the abbreviation for dollars on both occasions where it appears.  As Collins gives d for dollar in its own right as an abbreviation, this is an acceptable use.

7 Sappers prepared fresh start (5)
RESET – The abbreviation for Royal Engineers (sappers) followed by a three letter word meaning prepared.  Perhaps to start afresh to give the verbal form would be better although Collins gives the nounal form of the solution

12 He sang of maids not performing (4,6)
FATS DOMINO – An anagram (performing) of OF MAIDS NOT.

15 Gathers up small litter in Napoleonic retreat (9)
ASSEMBLES – The abbreviation for small followed by a four letter word for litter inside the name of the island where Napoleon was exiled with all the letters reversed (up).

17 Native American guard holding ball carrier’s head up (7)
CHOCTAW – A five letter word meaning guard includes (holding) a letter resembling a ball followed by the first letter (head) of carrier with all the letters then reversed (up).  The repetition of the wordplay indicator “up” is particularly noticeable as it was used in the previous clue.  There is also a repetition of holding and a containment indicator.

18 Natural survivors meet match at Lords maybe (7)
FITTEST – A three letter word meaning meet or proper followed by the word for an international cricket match that might be held at Lords.  Note that the correct spelling is Lord’s.

19 Stun completely somewhere between Shannon and Malin (7)
ROCKALL – A four latter word meaning stun followed by a three letter word meaning completely for the name of one of the shipping areas.

21 Classical beauty with style will secure win ultimately (5)
HELEN – The last letters (ultimately) of the third to seventh words of the clue.

23 Opinion that is held by German carmakers (4)
VIEW – The abbreviation for “that is” inside (held by) the two letter abbreviation for Volkswagen (German carmakers).

44 comments on “Rookie Corner – 298

    1. Thanks Jane. No wonder we couldn’t make progress down there. Now it all falls into place. Well most of it.

      1. Thanks to those who pointed this out. It happened because I had to cut and paste the clues from a pdf in order to build the files – usually the problem is so obvious that I can correct it. I have updated the submission instructions.

  1. A very skilfully put together puzzle that really had us working hard. Several things that we had to use Google to check, the 1a sportswoman for one, but once we had the ball rolling it flowed smoothly until we got really stuck with the wrong clues at the bottom.
    Suspect we have picked up a Nina. Maybe Bardwig comes from somewhere not too far from us.
    Thanks Bardwig.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, 2Kiwis, though in terms of geographical location I’m more Manchester Thunder territory than NSW Swifts.

  2. My comment on the last Bardwig Rookie was that it was like a typical Monday back pager. However, this one isn’t! Some head scratching required and a few Reveals to confirm parts of answers and one or two parsings elude me.
    I am not sure that 13a is a figure creator, I would have thought that is the person wearing two of them.
    Favourite – 25a.
    Thanks Bardwig and thanks to Jane for identifying the 24a/25a mix-up.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Senf. In fact, I took your comment on my previous puzzle as a compliment but now I’m not so sure … The main thing, though, is if I appear to be heading in the right direction.
      Regarding the definition in 13a, jane @8 below has neatly summed up my own line of thinking.

  3. I was away on holiday so didn’t get to see your previous Rookie offering, Bardwig, but I remember a couple of promising ones prior to that for which the main concern was your over reliance on General Knowledge which you appear to have addressed.

    Apart from the unfortunate mix-up with 24a & 25a and the dodgy definition for 13a, this was a nicely challenging, very enjoyable puzzle with accurate cluing and mostly smooth surfaces plus a Nina referring to the wonderful Helen Housby who now plays for Swifts in NSW.

    Although D means dollar as part of, for example, the currency code USD, I don’t think you can use it on its own, nor G for force. I’ll be interested to learn Prolixic’s take on those.

    I have a lot of clues ticked but will just mention 9a, 25a (!), 4d & 12d with 18d my favourite.

    Many thanks, Bardwig, and very well done. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Rabbit Dave. G for ‘force’ was commonplace in the Guardian when I first started solving cryptic crosswords, so I just assumed it must be okay.
      Collins does include D for ‘dollar(s)’, though I take your point it would usually be found in conjunction with, say, AU, CA or US. Using it in isolation doesn’t seem to me quite so absurd as to claim, for example, that B can mean ‘before’ based on BC and lbw, but, like you, I’m also looking forward to Prolixic’s view on this.

      1. I’d imagined that G = “force” was a contraction of G-force, which Collins does define as the force of gravity. If that’s acceptable in the Guardian, I wonder if they’d also be OK with clueing G as “string” or “spot”?

        1. Not sure about “spot”, Marg, but I’m pretty sure I have seen “string” used to clue G on more than one occasion.

      2. One all then regarding Prolixic’s comments on your abbreviations, Bardwig!

        However I stick by my opinion that D is not an acceptable abbreviation on its own for dollar as it is not in Chambers. I believe this is the Telegraph’s requirement for their setters and hitherto has always been used for BD’s Rookie puzzles too. Perish the thought of B = “before” too.

        1. I don’t know what the house rules for Telegraph setters are but for the Rookie corner, I think that an abbreviation that is listed in one or more of Chambers, Collins or the OED is acceptable. I don’t think I have ruled out an abbreviation because it was not in Chambers but was in one of the other standard dictionaries. However, B for before would certainly nudge the commentometer up a little!

  4. I can’t remember Bardwig’s last puzzle but I enjoyed this one a great deal. There are some excellent clues and I think it’s pitched at just about the right level with smooth surfaces throughout. Thanks Bardwig.
    Alerted by 2Kiwis’ comment I looked for a Nina. It seems to involve an English 1a named 21d + column 15 who plays for 26a + column 1 (there may be further references that have escaped me). How clever is that!
    Among my numerous ticks were 10a, 22a, 24a and 21d.

  5. I agree this was a good puzzle, well clued and enjoyable. As RD notes, a couple of dodgy abbreviations and for me the jury is out on the 13a definition. We have seen dodgier definitions from Paul/Dada for example. The Nina/references don’t mean anything to me I’m afraid

    Well done and thanks Bardwig

    1. Thanks for your comments, LetterboxRoy. In my early solving days I recall being bamboozled when river and match were disguised as banker and striker respectively. From this perspective, I wouldn’t consider the definition at 13a too outlandish.

  6. Thanks Bardwig, super puzzle.
    Some complicated clues, all very well managed.
    Faves were 8 10 18 & 26, but all very enjoyable.
    Only tut was for tyro, maybe a step too far.
    Happy Christmas, BD & everyone else.

    1. Thanks for your complimentary remarks, mucky. Regarding 25a, I just thought the clue was already looking a bit long and tyro offered a briefer alternative to beginner, learner or starter.

  7. Yeah! It must be almost Christmas, we’ve got the site snow falling gently – thank you, BD.

    As others have said, this was a most enjoyable solve albeit that a couple of abbreviations may not pass muster. I didn’t have a problem with 13a – the person wearing it may have control over its movements but it is the 13a that actually creates the figure on the surface of the ice.
    I’m afraid the Nina passed me by – I was thinking of birds, having spotted column 1 – but that didn’t detract from the solve. How nice to see one of our Rookie compilers coming on so well.

    Thank you, Bardwig, keep up the good work.

      1. P.S. It’s OK now on the Home Page but not the other pages.
        P.P.S. It’s panto time: “oh no, it’s not”.

        I’ll shut up now …

  8. Welcome back, Bardwig.

    Contrary to RD’s comment, I’m not convinced that you have really reined in the GK content, by my calculation more than ten clues included a proper noun as part of the wordplay or in the solution itself, I thought that was much too many for an unthemed puzzle. I’m also impressed that RD’s knowledge of 1As is so extensive, like Gazza and probably most others, the Nina seems very obscure to this solver.

    Aside from the unsupported abbreviations, I thought it was disappointing to see “hold” used three times as a containment indicator (twice in crossing clues too), and “up” repeated as a reversal indicator in successive Down clues. Chambers suggests 7d may only exist as a verb, although it’s clued as a noun (“Sappers prepared to start afresh” would be better), and “Lords” in 18d should have an apostrophe. Having cleared away the negatives, there were plenty of positives, I gave ticks to 9a, 26a, 12d and 23d and thought several of the surfaces were first rate.

    More progress made, for sure, but I’d really like to see a Bardwig puzzle much less reliant on proper nouns next time.

    Many thanks, Bardwig.

    1. I became a big fan of the England Ladies netball team this summer when they won the bronze medal in the World Cup.

      1. I’m not sure if I’m more surprised by that information or the fact that you didn’t mention the missing apostrophe in Lord’s ;-)

      2. That was my case too, Rabbit Dave – especially as I happened to be in Liverpool when the tournament was taking place. I decided to find out more about the sport, which led me to the 2018 Commonwealth Games final with its dramatic finish.

    2. Many thanks for the detailed feedback, silvanus. I don’t quite understand what the problem is with proper nouns, especially if solving the given clue requires no GK at all (e.g. 8a or 9a, to take just two examples). My own personal view is that proper nouns can often make clues more interesting, so I have no plans to stop using them. The Nina is no big deal: these things make filling in the grid more interesting for the setter but I’ve noticed from various crossword discussion groups that a lot of solvers would never see them at all if they weren’t pointed out.

      I must admit I didn’t spot the repetition of “holding” but I agree it’s sloppy style – and all the more so when, as you point out, it occurs here in crossing clues. I did consider ‘maintaining’ in 20a but rejected it because I wasn’t 100% sure this was okay as a containment indicator.

      I also confess I didn’t check 7d in the dictionary, nor am I an IT expert, but I have often heard colleagues at work say “Maybe it just needs a [7d].”

      The repetition of “up” in successive down clues didn’t worry me in itself: granted, the cryptic reading is the same but at surface level there are two different phrasal verbs involved. I was initially more concerned about offering the same style of clue back-to-back; however, recalling Prolixic’s advice from a couple of weeks back about preferably avoiding any such threefold repetition, I decided twofold would still be acceptable.

      The missing apostrophe in 18d is unpardonable and I should hang my head in shame – especially as I must have seen the name in print literally thousands of times. I’ll certainly remember it for next time … or maybe I’ll just switch the venue to Edgbaston.

      1. Hi Bardwig,

        There isn’t a problem with using proper nouns per se, it’s more my personal preference not to see too many in a puzzle, but I would say that as a solver I’d prefer to check or look up words that exist in a dictionary than search for proper nouns via the Internet.

      2. If you have a lot of clues with proper nouns and you mix them up, as you have done, so that sometimes they’re just fodder and sometimes you need to know something (as well as learning the odd thing) it adds an extra layer to the puzzle.
        As for repetition, it was only coming here and starting to write puzzles after donkey’s years solving that I discovered repetition is ‘a bad thing’. I still find it the most arbitrary rule. There was a Times puzzle not long ago in which there were three separate uses of ‘pen/penning’ as a container. It’s no reflection on your ability to write clues that you didn’t notice you’d used the same word twice – it’s just an administrative hiccup.

        1. I agree that repetition in wordplay devices doesn’t necessarily detract from whether a clue is a good one or not, but it does suggest to me a certain sloppiness on the part of the setter for including (or, more usually, not noticing) a construction that they have already used at least once. In virtually every case I can think of, such repetitions are always avoidable, especially in the case of anagram indicators where thousands of alternative options exist, so if they are avoidable, isn’t it preferable to use something different?

          1. Yes, it is preferable. It’s not a rule I reject, it’s just not one that I would have come up with myself, and I sometimes think it’s a bit harsh on rookie puzzles to be marked down for a clue when the clue itself is ok.
            I noticed (and thought it a bit sloppy) in last Thursday’s Guardian puzzle by Philistine:
            2d/10d Wild encore drowns second encore (8)
            Once more (MO in (ENCORE)*
            Wild hen parties are missing courage to play this (4,3,6)
            Spin the bottle ((HENPARTIES – ARE)* + BOTTLE)

            1. I have no problem with repetitions … but I was surprised that the pedants failed to notice 7d & 21d in last Wednesday’s Jay cryptic.

              DT 29237

  9. I thought this was pretty good. Nice definitions in particular, and the surfaces are interesting and smooth. Collins has 7d as a noun.
    Many thanks Bardwig, and well done!

  10. Many thanks to Prolixic both for this and again for the previous reviews which are helping me to make progress.

    Seasonal greetings to everyone and all the best for 2020.

  11. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, pleased to see that you gave the OK to 13a!
    I do hope that Bardwig returns soon with another of his rapidly improving puzzles.

    All the best for the festive season to both of you and particular thanks to Prolixic for keeping Rookie Corner up and running.

  12. Thanks for this review Prolixic, and for all the others throughout the year

    I’d like to echo Prolixic’s sentiment and extend warmest wishes to all the Rookies who have provided our doses of Monday fun and to all my fellow commenters for their interesting thoughts and opinions every week too, and of course BD for making it all happen

  13. Thanks to Bardwig and B D
    1A slowed me as I understand that blokes play it down under ( not here in Manchester of course)
    I enjoyed the puzzle only needind help on 4 No.
    Best clue for me was 25 A
    Thanks again
    All the best
    D. D

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