Rookie Corner – 305 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 305

A Puzzle by Sundance

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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.

Sundance is progressing.  There are fewer technical issues but still a need to hone and polish the clues.  The commentometer reads as 5/32 or 15.6%.


1 Good manner?- mostly (quite close) (6)
BESIDE – The type of good manner that a doctor should have with his patients without the first letter D.   An inauspicious start.  You should not use mostly to indicate a random letter.  Mostly signifies removing the last letter.

4 Placing on a type of green (7)
PUTTING – Double definition of placing something down and a type of green on a golf course.

9 Could they be Jerry’s dogs? (9)
SPRINGERS – The solution indicates belonging to the confrontational TV host Jerry …

10 Understand compiler will be be between the seats (5)
AISLE – A homophone of I’ll (compiler will).  Be between the seats does not clue a noun.  Perhaps somewhere between the seats would be better.  Watch out for typos such as “be be”.

11 Two under headless dog (5)
EAGLE – Remove the first letter (headless) of a breed of dog.

12 What fat bakers cook up (9)
BREAKFAST – An anagram (cook up) of FAT BAKERS.  I think that letter cooked up would be better.

13 Fool heard to be given help (7)
SUCCOUR – An homophone (heard) of sucker (fool).

15 Ice cream can have an effect (6)
RIPPLE – Double definition of a type of ice cream and an effect such as that caused when a stone is thrown in still water.  Chambers gives the solution on its own as a type of ice cream.

17 Unaccustomed to something new (6)
UNUSED – Double definition where the two definition are the same word but pronounced slightly differently.

19 Marked and reared around (7)
BRANDED – A four letter word meaning reared around the and from the clue.

22 24 somehow in a dip may result in damage (9)
DETRIMENT – An anagram (somehow) of the solution to 24a inside a four letter word meaning a dip.  As the letters to be rearranged are all present in the solution to 24a, it is not an indirect anagram.

24 Send money back – handy for an egg (5)
TIMER – A word meaning send money is reversed (back).

26 We’re in Lincoln for bad treatment (5)
ABUSE – A two letter word meaning we are inside the three letter abbreviation for the first name of the US President Mr Lincoln.

27 Cora and Keith may get together after Jerusalem (9)
ARTICHOKE – An anagram (may get together) of CORA KEITH.  I don’t like clues where a compound noun is clued by one part to get the second part.

28 If uncertain don’t get a tradesman to include the initial repair (7)
DITHERY – The abbreviation for do it yourself (don’t get a tradesman) includes the the from the clue and the first letter (initial) of repair.  Initial repair does not signify the first letter.  Repair initially or at first would be better.

29 Leaflets for 11s perhaps (6)
FLYERS – Double definition, the second being a word exemplified by the answer to 11a.


1 Presidents holding fifty measures (7)
BUSHELS – The surname in the plural of the father and son presidents of the USA includes the Roman numeral for 50.

2 Awkwardly grips a small stem (5)
SPRIG – An anagram (awkwardly) of GRIPS.

3 Proficient at Karate, kind without measure but quite unsafe (9)
DANGEROUS – The name given to a karate expert followed by a word meaning kind without a two letter printer’s measure.

4 Gone with sound of hesitance to the chemist (7)
PASTEUR – A four letter word meaning gone followed by a homophone (sound of) of ER (hesitance).  

5 Pursue model stretcher (5)
TRACK – The type of model car offered by Mr Ford and a four letter word for a device used to torture people by stretching them.

6 Not out, stopped running and put in place (9)
INSTALLED – A two letter word being the opposite of not out followed by a seven letter word meaning stopped running.

7 Arrive at destination that contains hard poor  neighourhood (6)
GHETTO – A phrase 3,2 meaning arrive at destination includes (contains) the abbreviation for had.  Watch the spelling of neighbourhood.  A vey minor point – the two spaces between hard and neighbourhood look odd.

8 A part of the body belongs (6)
MEMBER – Double definition for a part of the body and someone who belongs to a club or association.  I am not sure that belongs in the plural quite gives the solution required.

14 Build a theoretical entity (9)
CONSTRUCT – Double definition.  Perhaps the two meaning are too similar here.

16 Useful television broadcasting system holds motoring organisation with a twitch (9)
PRACTICAL – A type of TV broadcasting system includes (holds) a three letter motoring organisation and a three letter word for a twitch.  As holding has been used an a containment indicator in 1d, a different indicator would be better here.  Watch surface readings.  Whilst I am less concerned with surface readings this one make no sense whatsoever.  A similar point could be made in respect of 20d.

18 Alien in journal is interested in food (7)
DIETARY – The two letter friendly alien inside a personal journal.  I am not sure that interest in food is correct.  Relating to food is the correct definition.

19 Express annoyance in public transport and change for a Gambian (6)
BUTUTS – A three letter word meaning to express annoyances inside a three letter public transport vehicle.

20 Removes light from royal ship in places where opium can be found (7)
DARKENS – The name of the aircraft carrier ??? `royal inside the places where opium can be found.  

21 Example of King Lear, possibly (6)
EDWARD – Double definition.

23 Anger of neon goddess (5)
IRENE – A thee letter word meaning anger followed by the chemical symbol for Neon.  The “of” is superfluous, misleading and should be omitted. 

25 A stooge enclosing large deer (5)
MOOSE – The name of one of the Three Stooges includes (enclosing) the abbreviation for over-sized (large).  Technically correct but a little more thought would give you a better containment indicator – perhaps A stooge trapping large deer.  It maintains the wordplay but tells much more of a story in the surface reading.

43 comments on “Rookie Corner – 305

  1. There was a bit of GK we had to check in the SE corner, 19d and 25d , and we were not sure which way round 24a went until we had the checkers in place. A competently put together puzzle that we thoroughly enjoyed with quite a few penny drop moments. Lots of ticks.
    Thanks Sundance.

    1. Dear 2Kiwis

      Thank you for your kind comments. Quite a lot of Brits will have been to Gambia – it’s just about the nearest place we can go for guaranteed winter sun but I guess a bit of a trek for you. My wife and I wouldn’t mind being there right now.

  2. Thanks Sundance,
    Lots of ‘almost’ moments here. Ticks against 26,2,7,21,15,19a,1d.
    28 would perhaps be better with a slightly backwards construction – [definition] ‘about’ A B.
    3 “One proficient” I think.
    8 “That belongs” perhaps.
    Some surfaces could have been improved by a different choice of wordplay indicator. If you don’t already, I recommend filling a notebook with indicators by type as you come across them as you solve the pro’s puzzles – containment indicators in particular are legion.
    Keep trying :)

    1. Dear Gonzo

      Thank you for your observations and burning the midnight oil.

      I assume that an ‘almost’ moment = ‘almost a good clue’ which I reckon is an improvement on previous efforts so thank you again.

  3. Took me a while to get started – I think the Downs ‘work’ better than some of the Acrosses. I marked several things including those mentioned by Gonzo and mention a few of them below:

    1a ‘mostly’ to me indicates the need to remove a letter from the end of a word not the middle
    10a Not sure ‘understand’ is quite enough of an indicator
    15a needs something more than ‘ice cream’
    22a Is surely using an indirect anagram?

    Thanks to Sundance – I’d echo Gonzo’s ‘keep trying’ and in advance to Prolixic

    1. Some interesting points there CS, but with 10a try replacing ‘understand’ with hear, gather or pick up.

    2. Dear crypticsue

      Thank you for your (as always) constructive comments. I don’t quite understand your thoughts about 22a – it seemed o.k. to me but I do want to keep improving.

      1. If you are taking a word that isn’t in the clue, and then making an anagram of it, that’s surely indirect?

  4. Thanks Sundance for an enjoyable puzzle. Like the 2Ks I had to confirm some GK in the SE corner.
    I thought some of the surfaces didn’t make a great deal of sense (e.g. 11a, 16d, 19d).
    My ticks went to 9a, 12a, 24a and 21d.
    I look forward to your next puzzle.

  5. Welcome back, Sundance.

    I must admit that, after the setter’s last puzzle, I was expecting to see a much more polished product this time, but I was left rather disappointed. Again I have far more question marks and crosses on my printed page than I have ticks, unfortunately. Like last time, there were still instances of verbal phrases to clue nouns, and I identified the same three clues as Gazza for surfaces that particularly grated (a few others ran them close). “Hold” was repeated as a containment indicator, and some of my other quibbles have already been raised by CS. I think the basics are all there, but there are two many instances of clues not quite working. My favourite clue was 2d.

    Thanks, Sundance.

      1. :smile:
        Luckily for you, I have been looking after my four-year-old granddaughter since 7.30 am so I am rather behind with today’s crossword activities.

    1. Dear silvanus

      Thank you for your input. I had hoped that I was improving but realize that there are some truly excellent compilers and the bar is set very high. Will I ever come close to the bar? – I will keep trying.

  6. I agree completely with Silvanus’ analysis (now that he has corrected his typo!)

    Some other points of detail, which I hope are not replicating anything mentioned by previous commentators:

    9a – the answer doesn’t sit comfortably with me as the dogs are actually “springer spaniels” and I wouldn’t refer to them as just “springers”
    22a – “damage” seems to me to be a slightly imprecise definition
    27a – I can’t quite decide whether or not the definition “after Jerusalem” quite works
    28a – The definition needs to be “uncertain”, not “if uncertain”
    3d – “Proficient” should be replaced by “level of proficiency”
    5d – Is “T” really defined by “model”?
    18d – “Interested in food” is not a precise definition of the answer
    20d – Do you need “royal”?
    23a – “Of” is surface padding
    25a – It would be better to omit the A, particularly as the S should really be capitalised.

    My joint favourites were 12a, 26a & 2d.

    Thanks, Sundance. You have some promising ideas and, with more attention to surfaces and points of detail, you will end up with a good product.

    1. Dear Rabbit Dave

      Thank you for taking the time and trouble of compiling such a detailed list.

      20d I was thinking of Ark Royal but I reckon it could easily have been Ark (as in Noah’s).

      22a One of the definitions in my dictionary of Detriment is Damage (but it is not the primary definition).

      It is appreciated that your review finishes on an encouraging note.

  7. Overall I enjoyed the challenge, but as has been noted there are just too many little niggles, most of which I’m rather surprised you (and your test solver?) overlooked
    Surfaces such as 16d – A TV broadcasting system holding an organisation that has a twitch? You should have recognised that you were clutching at straws here, for example

    Thanks Sundance and best of luck with your next – I’m always happy to test solve, BD can put us in touch if you wish

  8. The comments from Silvanus and the clue-by-clue analysis from RD leave me with little to say – I completely agree with both of them except for the fact that I often hear the 9a dogs being referred to simply as ‘Springers’.
    Technical matters aside, it is invariably surface reads that a solver notices first and I think our setter still has a lot to work on where those are concerned.
    Top places in this puzzle went to 4&12a plus 2d, with a mention for 15a which, regardless of the valid point from CS, made me laugh.

    Thank you, Sundance, hope to see you again ‘ere long.

    1. Dear jane

      Thank you for your input. If I can only improve those surface readings…

      I am pleased that every reviewer has found at least something positive to say.

  9. Thank you sundance

    at first glance quite a smooth puzzle with some lovely ideas and lovely smiles – i liked the stooge, and actually i quite liked 14d although technically there is too much overlap in the two definitions – they are etymologically related, as we say

    but yes, all these small niggles – hope it helps you to highlight a few:
    10a the answer is a noun and “between the seats” is not. Assume be be is a typo – be be careful, people get annoyed at typsos.
    12a an imperative anagram indicator works beautifully before the fodder, not after. As much as i dislike past tense, just “cooked” would have worked fine here.
    8a confusing. not sure how “belongs” fits into the clue construct. Omitting it gives an interesting double-meaning clue (i.e., a cd) – but again, etymologically related. member of human body, member of organisation, same word.
    28a we were all trained never to use things like first lieutenant for L. It doesn’t mean that. It would have to be first of lieutenant. Similarly, initial of repair, or if you prefer, repair initially.

    There’s more, but you are getting nice samples from different people and no doubt prolixic will be very useful to you.

    Best of luck

    1. Agree with you re CONSTRUCT, but I think it is a bit strict to expect double definitions to have distinct roots – we’d have hardly any! It’s always going to be a judgement call, but since we don’t use ‘dismember’ to mean ‘throw out of the club’ I think 8 is fine in that respect.

      1. Yeah, I know. Almost every attempt at a constructive comment i ever make could no doubt be nullified by examples in the daily newspapers. But something inside me wants to suggest to “rookies” that they should start with good practice, and let the bad practice creep in with experience or old age, whichever comes first. Strictly, double definitions should not have any overlap in meaning: in the extreme, you wouldn’t define a grid entry with two synonyms, it’s just not satisfying. I confess, when i see a truly good double definition (must have surface and ideally no links), i am in awe.

        1. Dear dutch

          That sounds like what happens to a lot of people after they have passed their driving test…

          …but first you have to pass. (Will I ever pass the rookie test?)

    2. Dear dutch

      Thank you for your valued comments. I checked twice twice for typos – I should have checked again.

      Once again I am pleased that at least some of the feedback is positive.

  10. I’m going to give you some more positive feedback before I go back to RD’s comment to shake my ‘ you can’t have more than one favourite stick’!
    I enjoyed this – it’s kept me occupied for longer than I’d like to admit and I still have three that I can’t do and another couple which I don’t quite ‘get’ – I think I’ve probably got something wrong.
    Anyway today’s cryptic didn’t keep me quiet for long enough to occupy a day like today with rain, high winds and low temperatures so thank you Sundance.
    There were lots of clues that I enjoyed – 12 and 13a and 4 and 5d. I think my favourite, my one and only favourite was probably 21d.
    Thanks again to Sundance and, in advance, to Prolixic for the review tomorrow.

      1. I should jolly well think so too! Smack your legs! :negative:
        As everyone here knows I think that you can only have one favourite because ‘favourite’ is a superlative but I’ve pretty much given up the unequal struggle on that one and so the big stick has been put away.
        I think you can just about get away with having a ‘joint favourite’ but that, to me anyway, implies two – three is pushing it a bit too far . . . .
        Right – that’s it from me – I’ve probably pushed my luck a bit too far . . .

        1. Kath. You’re right about “favourite”, of course – I’m often guilty of picking multiple favourites on here. You’ve heard the saying: “A fool will always find a bigger fool to admire them”. Well. your chiding of RD prompts: “A pedant will always find a bigger pedant to gainsay them”.

  11. Dear everyone who is kind enough to still be reading

    Thank you so much to everyone for such useful feedback. Thanks to Prolixic for believing that I might be progressing and for the usual detailed comments. Thanks again to Big Dave for providing such a valuable facility – I have found that it has really helped me focus. 2 typos unfortunately but I’m amazed that no-one appeared to spot the 2nd one prior to Prolixic.

    1. sundance
      despite some of the comments from my betters i thought this puzzle more than satisfactory & would welcome more at any time. in fact i enjoyed this much more than the ntspp or last friday’s back pager. thank you for the entertainment while the wind was hurtling down the park followed by 2 inches of snow!

  12. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I’m sure that your opening remarks will spur Sundance on to greater things!

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