Rookie Corner – 304 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 304

A Puzzle by Fringilla

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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.

Fringilla has improved considerably with his latest crossword.  Whilst there are some minor points, they are largely to polish rather than to correct obvious errors.  Four hidden words is possibly too many.  The commentometer reads as 3 / 32 or 9.4%


1 Rushes, lets off behind vehicle (7)
BUSTLES – A three letter public transport vehicle followed by an anagram (off) of LETS.

5 Fixed total includes present (7)
ADHERED – A three letter word meaning total (as a verb) includes a four letter word meaning present.

9 Place in organic heap (5)
NICHE – The answer is hidden (in) in the last two words of the clue.

10 Fit powerful convertible (9)
ADAPTABLE – A five letter word meaning fit or change followed by a four letter word meaning powerful or capable.  Perhaps there is too much of a similarity between the first part of the wordplay and the solution.

11 Outwardly foul Yankee squeezing dimple (9)
EVIDENTLY – A four letter word meaning foul or nasty and the letter represented by Yankee in the NATO phonetic alphabet include (squeezing) a four letter word for a dimple or depression.

12 Smeared old revolutionary food shop (5)
OILED – The abbreviation for old followed by a reversal (revolutionary) of four letter word for a specialty food shop.

13 Fresh immersion gives sparkle (7)
SHIMMER – The answer is hidden in the first two words of the clue.  I am not convinced by gives as a hidden word indicator.  

15 Man, taking blame quietly, was ambushed (7)
TRAPPED – A three letter man’s name (shortened form of Edward) includes (taking) a three letter word for blame and the abbreviation for quiet.  The link word was does not work.  Wordplay was definition does not make sense.  Is ambushed would suffice.

17 Slim despatcher included money (7)
SLENDER – A six letter word meaning slim includes the abbreviation for pounds (money).  Try not to repeat wordplay indicators.  Includes has been used in 5a and the present tense is to be preferred over the past tense.  I think that the “despactcher” would be better as dispatcher.  Whilst despatch is a variant for the noun, the verbal form requires the more usual spelling according to Chambers.  An interesting point on the use of the abbreviation.  You have to get from money to pounds sterling to the abbreviation L.  The use of two steps to get from the wordplay to the definition has been commented on.  However, setters often use pressman or journalist to go via editor to ed so the rule is not absolute.

19 Purveyors of Roger’s cold bananas (7)
GROCERS – An anagram (bananas) of ROGERS C (cold).

21 Partisan German concealed bug (5)
ANGER – The answer is hidden (concealed) in the first two words of the clue.  The present tense would be better for the hidden word indicator.  The first two words of the clue continue to conceal the answer.

23 Story behind fanciful romance (5,4)
FAIRY TALE – A five letter word meaning fanciful followed by a four letter word for a story.  There is too much overlap between the wordplay and the definition here.

25 Sunday teacher in call for notice (9)
DISMISSAL – The abbreviation for sabbath (Sunday) and a four letter word for a female teacher inside a four letter word meaning call or ring.

26 Escape English enemy leaders holding Lord (5)
ELUDE – The initial letters (leaders) of English and Enemy include (holding) a three letter word for Lord.

27 Go in favour of Church Journalist (7)
PROCEED – A three letter word meaning in favour of followed by a two letter abbreviation for the Church of England and the abbreviation for Editor (Journalist).

28 Constant, except after tip (7)
ENDLESS – A four letter word meaning except after a three letter word for the tip of something.


1 Crazy Ken robs at random (7)
BONKERS – An anagram (at random) of KEN ROBS.

2 Abandon bag, right, in case of freeze (9)
SACRIFICE – A three letter word for a bag (in biological terms) followed by the abbreviation for right, a two letter word meaning in case of and a three letter word meaning freeze.

3 Lean on Government energy Chief (5)
LIEGE – A three letter word meaning lean followed by the abbreviations for Government and Energy.

4 First course for race official (7)
STARTER – Double definition of a course of a meal that comes first and a race official who begins the race.

5 Tanya left Sweden to become researcher (7)
ANALYST – An anagram (to become) of TANYA L (left) S (Sweden).

6 Fiery Duke of York, e.g. leads to awkward situation (3,6)
HOT POTATO – A three letter word for fiery and a vegetable of which Duke of York is a variety.

7 Run riot among immature Belgians (5)
REBEL – The answer is hidden (among) the last two words of the clue.

8 Fearsome Director studied on bed without book (7)
DREADED – The abbreviation for director followed by a four letter word meaning studied and the bed from the clue without the abbreviation for book.

14 Scruffy denim = zero progress! (9)
MODERNIZE – An anagram (scruffy) of DENIM ZERO.  You should use the English rather than American spellings where you are able to do so.  If you need (because of cross-checking letters) to use an American spelling, you should indicate this in the clue.  Here, you could (to maintain the anagram) have has progress for Trump.  I think that the = here does not work as it needs to convey with for an anagram of A with B.

16 Jumping the gun before ready (9)
PREMATURE – A three letter prefix meaning before followed by a six letter word meaning ready or ripe.

17 Fail to meet comedian (5,2)
STAND UP – Double definition, the first meaning to jilt and the second a comedian who performs solo in front of a mike.

18 Turned down Judge, experienced (7)
REFUSED – A three letter word for a judge or match official followed by a four letter word meaning experienced.

19 Graciously, I enquired initially about pike, for attendant (7)
GHILLIE – The first letters (initially) of the first three words of the clue around (about) another word for a geographical feature that can be referred to as a pike.  The initial letter of a single letter word does not seem very elegant.  Whilst not incorrect, perhaps using a name such as Irene would have improved the clue.

20 Prods kebabs (7)
SKEWERS – Double definition but the crossover between the two is very close.  Try to keep a degree of separation in the two meanings of a double definition.

22 Run round you and me, ending that pleasure (5)
GUSTO – A two letter word meaning run around the word that describes “you and me” and the last letter (ending) of that.  Some editors would required “ending of that”

24 Give up earnings (5)
YIELDS – Double definition, the first meaning cedes and the second representing the earnings from a given investment.

40 comments on “Rookie Corner – 304

  1. An enjoyable solve that all went together smoothly for us. Nice level of difficulty.
    Thanks Fringilla.

  2. Thanks Fringilla, that felt quite accomplished nicely succinct clues.
    Should not 14d be spelt with a “Z”?

        1. This is one of the problems of filling a grid on Crossword Compiler, which offered the …ise version! I have already tackled this with the setter, so it shouldn’t happen again.

  3. Thanks Fringilla
    Sensible straightforward clues made for a quick solve. I didn’t notice any major problems with any of the clues; my only comment is that in a few cases both sides of the clue are very similar eg in 4d 16d 10a 23a 20d.

  4. A nice solve-over-breakfast crossword – and I learnt something new too – just one ?

    Thanks to Fringilla and, in advance, to Prolixic

  5. My goodness, Fringilla. I do believe you have arrived!

    Your improvement from your first Rookie puzzle to your second, and now further improvement to this one is remarkable. Very well done indeed.

    You have eliminated obscurities, your cluing is brief and accurate, and your surfaces are generally smooth. This was a pleasure to solve.

    Just a couple of observations:
    – Be careful with abbreviations. Neither L = Money nor S = Sunday are given in Chambers. You could easily get round this for these two clues by using Lire instead of money in 17a and Special instead of Sunday in 25a.
    – Is it OK to apply “initially” to “I” as you have done in 19d? Again easy to resolve by replacing I with, say, “Ian”. I’ll be interested in Prolixic’s opinion of this.

    I’ve got lots of ticks on my page, and my favourite was 17d.

    Many thanks, Fringilla, and in advance to Prolixic.

  6. Very straightforward, partly due to Mucky’s comment plus some obvious definitions and anagrams – nothing wrong with that though

    My only thought (other than 14d) is 13a lurker indicator – keeps, contains, holds, bags, trousers etc but I don’t think ‘gives’ quite works

    Pretty smooth throughout so well done and thanks for the entertainment Fringilla

    1. Thanks Roy. I think most of the lurkers sound OK but – apart from being obvious – don’t always fit. I was probably being lazy.

  7. Solved this during the wee small hours and immediately afterwards wrote on my sheet – ‘so much better’.
    I did have to check on the required Duke of York and winced a little over the spelling of 14d but it was only the abbreviations mentioned by RD that were a cause for concern.

    The surface read of 19a raised a smile and my top three were 23a plus 16 & 17d.

    Well done indeed, Fringilla, as nicely balanced as Goldilocks’ preferred bowl of porridge!

    1. Thanks Jane, nice analogy, although I’m sure there are some greedy ones on here…
      As Big Dave explains above, the ‘s’ in 14d was the work of Crossword Compiler, not my submission.

  8. Welcome back, Fringilla.

    Definitely your best puzzle to date, well done on reining in the number of anagrams and eliminating the obscurities this time. Four “lurkers” (hiddens) was probably slightly overusing that particular device.

    I shared Mucky’s concern about certain clues where the wordplay and definitions were too similar, particularly 10a and 23a, and also agree with RD about checking to see if abbreviations are supported by the major dictionaries or not. “Gives” in 13a also raised my eyebrows (as well as LbR’s), and it is always good practice to keep wordplay verbs in the present tense wherever possible, so “included” in 17a and “concealed” in 21a both jarred somewhat. Like RD, my favourite clue was 17d.

    It’s great to see such good progress being made, congratulations and thanks, Fringilla.

  9. well done Fringilla, very good technically, though i concur with “gives” as a hidden indicator, and I prefer “end of that” (or “beginning of that” or “start of the pleasure”) to “ending that” in 22d.

    I also agree with some of the similar word play and definitions. E.g. story means the same in the word play as in the answer (23a), and in 16d the word play almost works as a definition. In general, it is useful to look for non-standard splits when clueing, e.g. instead of splitting PREMATURE into PRE + MATURE, try something different like “topless virgin follows band in beat” (pURE after REM in PAT) to move you away from the prefix+suffix trap.

    Some of the surfaces were a little surreal i thought: I wasn’t sure what to make of the “outwardly foul Yankee squeezing dimple”, for example, whereas the exact same construct could also give “Clearly bad year filled with depression” as a starting point for a plausible surface. A good question to ask yourself is “can I make this surface more interesting?” – that might lead little improvements throughout

    looking forward to the next one!

    1. Thanks Dutch,
      Good points, which I will note, although 23a and 16d were mentioned as favourites elsewhere. You certainly cannot please all the people …

  10. Thanks Fringilla. Comments absent reading others’:
    Good generally apart from the use of past tense in places where it misleads the solver into thinking they’re looking for an obsolete word. Perhaps a tendency when looking for non-obvious synonyms to veer into not-quite-synonyms – it’s a fine line.
    Ticks against 5a,26,1d and 4d
    6 well done avoiding King Edward
    19 nice use of ‘pike’ – I now know that the place name isn’t necessarily after the toll road
    14 I think this goes beyond ‘punctuation can be ignored’ ;)
    Very few actual errors, Prolixic I am sure will pick up those.
    Thanks again for the entertainment.

    1. Thanks Gonzo,
      The tense was mentioned above and should be obvious really; can’t think why I did it.

  11. Thank you, Fringilla. A most enjoyable puzzle. Like others I was thrown slightly by the American spelling of 14d but there were a lot of enjoyable solves such as 6d – very topical given recent news. 17d made me smile.

    Thank again. It was a lot of fun.

    1. Thanks Steve,
      You will see above that the ‘s’ instead of a ‘z’ was a quirk of the software.

        1. You’ve probably already been there, but just in case – have you seen this page?
          Also, it is possible to run Crossword Compiler on a Mac

          1. Yes, I actually paid for the programme and downloaded it to my MacBook but it wouldn’t run. I contacted Crossword Compiler who were not at all helpful.

  12. Hi Fringilla,
    Well constructed – well done! Rabbit Dave, LBRoy and Silvanus have covered all my minor improvement suggestions. I always love to see speedy improvement made by some setters here such as yourself – fantastic!

  13. Thanks Prolific, for your wise words of wisdom. I shall endeavour to eradicate errors entirely.

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. So nice to see one of our Rookies progressing so well – keep it up Fringilla.

  15. I found this enjoyable and of the right level of difficulty. I wondered if it might be a pangram, but it’s not quite. Very well done Fringilla for a really good effort.
    Many thanks to Prolixic for the constructive review. Very much appreciated.

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