Rookie Corner – 301 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 301

A Puzzle by Gonzo

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This puzzle was received back in November, but slipped through the net until I was nudged  by the setter. 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 Gonzo.  Overall, a very good crossword.  There were a few unusual wordplay elements but I don’t think that they were too strained.  The wordiness of the clues did not worry me.  Different setts have different styles.  What I would say is that wordier clues often reveal the intended wordplay more easily than a concise clue.  Overall, wordiness can make a crossword easier to solve.  I counted seven anagrams which is about the top end for a crossword though you do see published crosswords with many more.  The commentometer reads as 2/28 or 7.1%


8 Force through edict before 12, with a number defecting (8)
BULLDOZER – The four letter word for a papal edict followed by a word describing a group of twelve with the abbreviation of an unspecified number removed (defecting).

9 Padre disrupted hanging… (5)
DRAPE – An anagram (disrupted) of PADRE.

10 … monster therefore returned… (4)
OGRE – Reverse (returned) the Latin word meaning therefore.

11 … in cruel play I redrafted especially (10)
PECULIARLY – An anagram (redrafted) of CRUEL PLAY I.

12 Not just somewhere to give back prizes? (6)
UNFAIR – Definition and a cryptic definition – If you get prizes at a fair, where might you give them back.  The cryptic element of this clue does not really work for me.

14 Store announced stock merger with lucrative concerns (4,4)
CASH COWS – A homophone (announced) of CACHE (store) followed by animals that might form part of the stock on a farm.

15 In Asia, those running with packs regularly pay heed to limitations of GPS (3,4)
PYE DOGS – The odd letters (regularly) in pay heed to followed by the outer letters (limitations) of GPS.

17 Naval officer‘s splendid parts to be removed (7)
ADMIRAL – A nine letter word meaning splendid without (removed) the letters (parts to) in be.

20 Two Persians, perhaps, the first looking back in very detached sort of play (8)
STACCATO – The animal of which Persians are an example with the first reversed (looking back) inside a two letter word meaning very.

22 A head of a Greek god (6)
APOLLO – The A from the clue followed by a four letter word for head and the single letter abbreviation for of (as in Man O’ War).

23 Plant has religious community taking in work (10)
FRITILLARY – A six letter word for a religious community includes (taking in) a four letter word meaning to work the soil.

24 Divisive construction taken by constitutional lawyer rejected (4)
WALL – The answer is hidden (taken by) and reversed (rejected) in the fifth and sixth words of the clue.

25 Describing argument, on reflection take notice of former PM (5)
BROWN – Around (describing) a three letter word for argument put a reversal (rejected) of the abbreviation for take note.

26 The how and why of reversing in the highroad? (8)
CAUSEWAY – Reversed the order of (reversing) a three letter word meaning “The how of” and a five letter word meaning “the why of”


1 Diamonds inlaid into fancy gun, ruby red (8)
BURGUNDY – The abbreviation for diamonds inside (inlaid into) an anagram (fancy) of GUN RUBY.

2 Down By Law – uncut edition premiers (4)
BLUE – The initial letters (premiers) of the second to fifth words of the clue.  The word premier as an adjective meaning first or prime.  In the plural as a noun, it means a person of pre-eminent rank.  It would need to be premieres to work correctly.

3 Company with royal insigne accepts tuppence for old boiler (6)
COPPER – The abbreviation for company and the regnal cipher for the current queen includes two letters P (tuppence).

4 With a quick kiss on the cheeks, one takes care of flashy bird (7)
PEACOCK – A four letter word for a quick kiss around (on the cheeks or sides) a single letter representing one and the abbreviation for care of.

5 Rear end missing from sculpture of soldier I’d put on a pedestal (8)
IDOLISED – An anagram (sculpture) of SOLDIER with the final letter removed (rear end missing) inside (put on) the ID from the clue.  In a down clue, put on really means A on B not A around B.

6 Liqueur has chairman so drunk… (10)
MARASCHINO – An anagram (drunk) of CHAIRMAN SO.

7 … the old fellow, anaemic and looking jaundiced (6)
YELLOW – The two letter old form of the followed by the fellow form the clue without the FE (anaemic meaning a lack of iron)

13 Dereliction of sailor’s accepted, in a manner of speaking … (10)
ABDICATION – A two letter word meaning sailor followed by the single letter abbreviation for accepted inside a seven letter word meaning a manner of speaking.

16 … fish in gallons chucked over the bulwark, so they say? (8)
GRAYLING – The abbreviation for gallons followed by a homophone (so they say) of RAILING (bulwark).  Chucked over is perhaps too misleading as to the intended wordplay.  Going over might have been better.

18 Respite from danger of summons about to end with real upheaval (3-5)
ALL CLEAR – A four letter word meaning summons with the letter being the abbreviation for about moved to the end followed by an anagram (upheaval) of REAL.

19 A month (round about) to see Queen? (7)
MONARCH – A five letter month of the year around a two letter word meaning about.

21 Beats brothers without hesitation when stirred up (6)
THROBS – An anagram (when stirred up) of BROTHERS without the two letter word used when expressing a hesitation.

22 Refuge from abuse saves youth initially found atop chimney in Scotland (6)
ASYLUM – The initial letters (initially) of the third to fifth words off the clue followed by a three letter Scottish word for a chimney.

24 Troglodytes twice specifically acclaimed architect (4)
WREN – Double definition, the first being the bird whose Latin name is Troglodytes Troglodytes and the second a notes architect who designed St Paul’s Cathedral.  Perhaps the specifically could have been omitted from the clue.

25 comments on “Rookie Corner – 301

  1. A pleasant solve that all went together smoothly although I haven’t yet understood the wordplay for 24d and suspect there might be some GK involved that is not in my ken.
    A couple of mild points where a bit more work could help. 1) The clues tend to be quite wordy. 2) In many cases the definitions are a bit too obvious. I found that I was getting many of the answers as one would with a ‘quick’ crossword and then started looking for the wordplay.
    20a was my favourite.
    Thanks Gonzo

  2. I enjoyed this a lot even though many of the clues were a bit wordy for my taste. There were lots of good ideas and the surfaces were mostly smooth despite a few being a bit clunky. The use of ellipses was overdone and, apart from 6d/7d, seemed irrelevant.

    Like KC, I needed Google’s help to understand the parsing for 24d. I don’t understand the wordplay for 12a. 15a was a new one on me and I also think that “limits” would have been better than “limitations”. 7d was very clever; it was however a pity that the answer was only one letter different from one of the words in the clue.

    On my podium were 17a, 7d & 24d.

    Well done, Gonzo, and thank you. Please take on board Prolixic’s comments tomorrow and keep them coming.

  3. Thanks Gonzo
    Very good. Quite a lot of impressive complicated clues, which for the most part worked very well. 23a made me think ‘plant? Isn’t that a *********?’ but then I saw your game, nicely done. I found it hardish, probably because there were a lot of words. Occasionally I thought you’d tripped yourself up (eg in 4d (can’t get parts to do what you need) 17a (a bit random for wordplay) 26a (nice idea, the ‘of’ spoils it for me), 12a (I think you’re suggesting the solution is a whimsical word for the opposite of an event at which you win prizes but doesn’t that prefix only go with verbs?)
    Ones I liked: 19 20 16 14 5 6 7(the anaemic bit).
    I don’t understand how to get the first three letters of 18d and also had to look up 24d, but it rang a bell once I’d done it.

    1. Mucky,
      – 18d take a four letter word meaning summons and move the abbreviation for “about” to the end.
      – 4d put a word meaning kiss around A (one) and CO (care of)
      – 17a read “parts to” as “parts of”

      1. 18/17, I see, thanks.
        4, still can’t get the A inside the kiss. The only containing word I can see is takes, and that’s only taking ‘care of’. If the one was omitted (so that the clue read ‘With a quick kiss on the cheeks takes care of flashy bird’) then kiss could be taking ‘care of .. with a’, but as it stands it’s the ‘one’ that’s doing the taking, and I suppose the ‘one’ is also supposed to be the A in the solution.

        1. I took “a quick kiss” to be “on the cheeks” of A (“one”) followed by (“takes”) CO (“care of”). A bit cheeky :wink: but good!

  4. Hi Gonzo,

    I enjoyed this one – many thanks!

    My notes made as I solved, in solving order, are appended. Feel free to ignore if too wordy & Prolixic will provide something more authoritative tomorrow. All errors are my own, etc!

    The number of anagrams was slightly high but, more importantly, they were rather grouped together in the puzzle. When I review my puzzles I always try and check how far apart they are, both in Clue order and in Grid position. You may wish to do the same?

    Hope this helps,


    9a ok
    10a good, albeit a well-known clue
    11a crikey, is that 3 anagrams in a row?
    3d what is ‘insigne’? Is this a typo, or simply the rare word in use?
    1d ok, tho the surface doesn’t appear to make much sense
    5d surface is good; another anagram
    6d ok; another anagram
    7d I thought the anaemic bit was inventive!
    14a good
    17d good. inventive split
    24a ok but a bit wordy
    24d good use of the binomial tho some may feel it is too much General Knowledge required. I like it.
    4d does the Container&Contents_indicator work?
    18d good. ‘about to end’ is neat
    21d good incl good surface
    20a wordplay is good
    22a good
    22d ok
    23a ok. surface?
    15a haven’t heard of this one but clue works fine
    13d I couldn’t quite get the wordplay to work. Most likely me missing something
    12a inventive
    16d I’m assuming I’ve parsed this one correctly …
    25a ok
    2d premiers v premieres in wordplay vs surface? Hmm
    8a good
    26a I think I have this but can’t quite justify the ‘of’.
    19d ok. LOI

  5. Welcome back, Gonzo.

    I had “nearly, but not quite” written against quite a few clues, the ideas were often good, but perhaps the wordplay was a little too ambitious in places. Like others, I had never heard of 15a before (I’m pretty sure it was a gridfiller?), but both Chambers and Collins suggest it’s hyphenated rather than two words. “Premiers” (not a verb) in 2d and “Insigne” (Chambers gives it is “rare”) also jarred for me. I would echo RD’s comment about the ellipses, and one of his favourite clues was also on my list, i.e. 24d. I’m not sure it needs the “specifically” though.

    I think that the level of difficulty was about right, some easier clues to get one started like 9a, 2d and 3d, plus some with more complex constructions. Personally, I enjoyed your previous puzzle more than this one, and this time I certainly had more question marks scribbled beside the clues. I’m sure you’ll find Prolixic’s review essential reading before your next puzzle.

    Many thanks, Gonzo.

  6. I enjoyed the solve although I will agree about the wordiness of some of the clues.

    My favourite was 24d – such a big name for such a tiny bird

    Thanks to Gonzo and in advance to Prolixic

  7. Thanks Gonzo. Good fun. I particularly liked the troglodytes, flashy bird (great container!), Persians and Scottish chimney. It was good to get the obscure Asian runners from the wordplay easily, and the admiral’s bits were nicely dealt with too. Didn’t like 21’s hesitation (‘…no sign of…’ or similar?), I don’t understand what ‘merger’ is doing in 14, I can’t get 26 to add up, and 2’s ‘premiers’ looks lazy.
    I’m quite fond of wordy (although that’s not necessarily a useful commendation!), especially when no superfluous stuff slips in: gives me more to think about solving, and you more space to tell a decent story.

    1. Thanks Porcia, the ‘merger’ is mainly there to make the surface work, but can be taken as a charade indicator.

  8. I made hard work of this. The longish clues, all those ellipses and anagrams plus several clunks all added up to a bit of a lumpy ride for me
    Having said that there were lots of good ideas and it was interesting enough to persevere with, so well done and thanks for the challenge Gonzo

  9. I found this one relatively solver friendly but had a fair number of ‘umms’ on my sheet where the wordplay hadn’t been completely nailed – perhaps one of the most difficult areas for a setter to address?
    I liked both 4&21d and would have added 14&26a to the list had they been tweaked a little more.

    Thank you, Gonzo, I think you’re heading in the right direction.

    1. In my limited experience finding wordplay is not difficult, all words break down into something or other
      Matching the definition with the instructions for wordplay with a credible surface is the hard, creative bit
      It’s easy to see ‘notable’ as ‘no table’, ‘not able’ for wordplay, but how do you phrase the clue?
      Virgilius, Jay and Silvanus are all excellent in this aspect
      … as was Rufus :smile:

  10. I would echo Jane’s comment above as I found it quite solvable. One of the reasons is perhaps something KC referred to in that some of the definitions rather jumped out from some slightly clunky wordplay. Having said that an enjoyable puzzle, I liked in particular 20a, the clever and concise 25a and 21d, along with the amusing 17a.
    I shall await Prolixics explanations for the ones I can’t quite parse, and thank him in advance along with Gonzo for the entertainment.

  11. The main problem I had with this one was that some of the cryptic wordplay + oblique definitions were, though not actually wrong, forced and stretched. In 12a, the oblique def is strained, to say the least. In 15a, ‘limitations’ seems a very inexact word to use when specifying the dropping all but the end letters – ‘limits’ would be better. In 17a, ‘parts TO be’ is a clumsy way of specifying removal of separate letters, since ‘parts of…’ is the accepted phraseology. In 26a, shouldn’t the order be ‘why and how’? In 4a, ‘on the cheeks’, is a rather loose sandwich indicator, I think. In 5d, the anagrind separates the anagram fodder from an instruction that a letter is to be removed from that fodder – this seems wrong, as parsing requires that the string of letters to be rearranged is first finalised, as a unified cryptic element, and only then sorted by the anagrind.
    My favourite clue was 22a – nice and succinct with a coherent surface reading. I liked 6d too, which was smooth + had an entertaining surface reading.

  12. Hi Prolixic, Great review as always. In 5d, I had ‘put on a pedestal’ as the definition (past tense), which seems to remove your concern. Though I may well be missing something …


    1. I had your reading of 5d too, but then the sculpturing would need to be done on SOLDIERI[d] rather than SOLDIE[r]ID for the cryptic grammar strictly to work, as Brunel indicates above.

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic and the explanation of the ‘O’ at the end of 22a. I thought Encota’s justification of 5d was quite acceptable which leaves Gonzo with very few issues to address in this one. Good to see that he is progressing so well.

  14. Thanks Prolixic for the review, and to everyone else for playing. 5d is a subtractive anagram, [rea]R from (SOLDIER ID)*, ‘put on’ being part of the definition.
    In 2d I convinced myself that ‘premier’ being ‘head [of state]’ was close enough – premiere not being close at all, AFAICT.
    24 Started off without the ‘specifically’, but I thought the clue needed a hint – ‘of a species’.

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