Rookie Corner – 307 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 307

A Puzzle by Bardwig

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Prologue. 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 very creditable performance from Bardwig today.  The only major issue was with 5d.  The commentometer reads as 2/28 or 7.1%. The rugby theme when straight over my head.  Congratulations to Bufo for spotting it.


1 Amateur clubs almost completely free (6)
ACQUIT – The abbreviations for amateur and clubs followed by a five letter word meaning completely with the final letter removed (almost).

5 Pack members of ’55 accepting misfortunes? On the contrary (6)
WOLVES – A four letter word meaning misfortunes includes the Roman numerals for 55.

8 European boxer I beat outside (7)
ITALIAN – The I from the clue and a three letter word meaning to beat around the three letter name of a heavyweight boxer.

9 Bunter’s form master finally gets rid of stains (7)
REMOVER – The six letter word for the name of the form in which Billy Bunter was a student followed by the final letter of master.  Whilst verbal phrases can be used to define nouns, they work best when they identify a specific noun.  Here the solution is a generic noun for anything that removes. 

11 An Eisenhower alternative replacing Western obsession: act honourably (2,3,5,5)
DO THE RIGHT THING – A five letter word meaning alternative replaced the W in the first name of of Eisenhower with the resulting letters followed by a five letter word for an obsession.

12 Listener beginning to lose count (4)
EARL – A thee letter word for the organ by which we listen followed by the first letter (beginning to) of lose.

13 Unpleasant character stymied in a broadcast (10)
DISAMENITY – An anagram (broadcast) of STYMIED IN A.

17 Struggling to name a town in Cheshire (10)
WARRINGTON – A seven letter word meaning struggling followed by the TO from the clue and the abbreviation for name.

18 Partner adopts recipe for strong line (4)
WIRE – A four letter word for.a female partner with the F (strong) replaced by the abbreviation for recipe.

20 Tea addict’s advice: bad beer initially gives hidden danger alert (3,2,3,7)
TIP OF THE ICEBERG Split 3, 2, 5 the first part of the solution would meaning advice from a tea addict which is then followed by an anagram (bad) of beer and the first letter (initially) of gives.

23 Swindling Conservative wiped out bird colony (7)
ROOKERY – An eight letter word meaning swindling with the abbreviation for conservative removed from the beginning.

24 Fire a friend from the Six Counties (7)
ANIMATE – Split 1,2,4 this would indicate a friend from the part of Great Britain that has six counties.

25 Judge’s command not including one Arab country (6)
JORDAN – The abbreviation for judge followed by a six letter word meaning command without the letter indicating one.

26 Substitute some of Liszt as recorded retrospectively (6)
ERSATZ – The answer is hidden (some of) and reversed (retrospectively) in fourth to sixth words of the clue.


2 Gossip’s indecent retreat after church (9)
CHATTERER – The abbreviation for church followed by an anagram (indecent) of RETREAT.  Indecent is listed as an anagram indicator in Chambers but I think it is rather indirect as it relies on indecent meaning corrupting and corrupting meaning spoiling.

3 In France one is old and gender neutral (6)
UNISEX – The French word for one followed by the IS from the clue and a two letter preface meaning old.

4 Model sporting short skirt no good for metal extraction (3,6)
TIN MINING – The model of the original Ford car followed by a two letter word meaning wearing or sporting, a four letter word for a short skirt and the abbreviation for no good.

5 King Tut in house with rising value (5)
WORTH – An imaginary regnal cipher for King Tut inside the abbreviation for house and the abbreviation fro with all reversed (rising).  Making up regnal ciphers to give an abbreviation is not advisable.  

6 Third man about to break hearts of Unter den Linden (4,4)
LIME TREE – The surname of the Third Man in the film of that name followed by a two letter word meaning about inside (to break) the middle letters (hearts) of Unter den.

7 Concluding remarks from forgotten voices (5)
ENVOI – The answer is hidden (from) in the final two words of the clue.

8 A wet end: pier collapsed, leaving one thus? (2,4,5)
IN DEEP WATER – An anagram (collapsed) of A WET END PIER.

10 Margaux regularly wears blue grey when playing game (5,6)
RUGBY LEAGUE – The even letters (regularly) of Margaux inside (wearing) an anagram (when playing) of BLUE GREY.

14 Despise a topsy turvy crowd: that’s natural, so to speak (9)
ABOMINATE – The A from the clue followed by a reversal (topsy turvy) of a three letter word for a crowd and a homophone (so to speak) of innate (natural).

15 Peripatetic charm worker accommodates Home Ruler (9)
ITINERANT – A two letter word for charm or sex appeal and a three letter worker insect around (accommodates) a two letter word meaning home and the abbreviation for the current queen (ruler).

16 Slip by cover, say (8)
MISFIELD – Cryptic definition by reference to a mistake made by someone playing cricket.

19 Run scripture classes in Ely and Exeter perhaps (6)
SERIES – The abbreviation for religious instruction (scripture classes) inside the ecclesiastical areas of which Ely and Exeter are examples.

21 Snap consists of Vietnamese soup, one third tomato (5)
PHOTO – A three letter word for Vietnamese soup followed by one third of the letters in tomato.

22 Heard high note finale of Austrian composer (5)
HAYDN – A homophone (heard) of high D (note) followed by the last letter (finale of) Austrian.

59 comments on “Rookie Corner – 307

  1. Hi Bardwig,
    This was good, ticks against 1,17,26,8d.
    Special mention for 12 for useful nobility knowledge and for 6 which is really very good – you could have used ‘in’ for ‘of’ legitimately imo.
    9 perhaps you were avoiding the obvious def., but really you have a def. by example there.
    5 has a first-letter indicator been deleted, or are you extending Latin nomenclature back in time? ;)
    10 maybe hyphenate blue-grey?
    15 two rather loose definitions for particles – needed most crossers, then took a while to convince myself.
    16 struggling to see an alternative reading to the surface – alternative to the answer.
    Thanks for the entertainment.

    1. G, 16d. I think the setter is using surface misdirection to lure you into thinking about ben linen. But I could be wrong – it has been known!

        1. You’re spot on, Jose. The intended image involves an item of underwear and a bedspread; however, if the solver’s first thought is cricket, then there’s nothing cryptic about the clue at all. I have to admit I’m never very confident about using such cryptic definition clues; on the other hand, I don’t want to shy away from them completely.

          1. B, 16d. Thanks for the clarification. I imagined a pillow-slip and a bed cover, giving the misdirection an integrated bed linen theme.

  2. Another enjoyable Rookie from Bardwig with some head scratching that needed some letter reveals to confirm answers, and I am still scratching my head over the 13a definition.
    Best clues, for me, 6d and 15d.
    Thanks Bardwig.

    1. Senf, 13a is defined in both Collins online and in the BRB as “disadvantage”, which I agree with you is too much of a stretch for the clue definition. However it does appear as “unpleasantness” in Merriam-Webster online, which might mean it is an American usage?

  3. Hello again, Bardwig. I enjoyed this pangram. There are a lot of good clues and you have a some interesting ideas on show. However, I’d like to see you polishing up some of your surface readings in order to make the next step forward.

    I learnt some new words: the “tea addict” in 20a (which gives me a new name to describe Mrs RD), the “unpleasant character” in 13a, the expression “Six Counties” in 24a, and the “Vietnamese soup” – a somewhat eclectic selection, which is good.

    I can’t fully parse 5d unless you are applying a regnal cipher to Tutankhamun, and I have a couple of other queries. Is charm is really synonymous with “it”; and, is it OK to use “indecent” as an anagram indicator?

    I’ve picked my top three for the podium: 12a, 17a & 3d.

    Well done, Bardwig, and many thanks. Please keep them coming.

      1. I probably need to go to Specsavers, but I can’t find an anagram indicators’ list in my BRB (13th edition, 2016 revision). What page is it on?

        1. I think that CS is referring to the Chambers Crossword Dictionary where you’ll find the anagram indicators (on pages xli to xlv in the 4th edition).

          1. The 12th edition of Chambers Dictionary (2011) has a red edged section in the middle of the dictionary “The Word Lover’s Miscellany” which includes a number of useful lists including the aforementioned anagram indicator list

                1. The 13th edition has “The Word Lover’s Ramble” as its last section, including a page on Americanisms but no list of anagram indicators.

                  Even though “indecent” is included in the BRB 12th edition list, I still don’t think it is a decent anagram indicator. :wink:

    1. Hello Rabbit Dave,

      Thanks for the feedback. Down the years I’ve seen “it” in crosswords referred to as sex appeal, allure, glamour … so I’d argue “charm” belongs to the same semantic field.

      It would be good if you could let me know which surface readings in particular you think don’t cut the mustard.

      1. Hi Bardwig. Thanks very much for responding.

        I take your point on “charm”. I was wrongly thinking that “it” only referred to “sex appeal” which is not necessarily the same thing as “charm” but, in fact, “it” covers both of these attributes and more.

        In terms of your surfaces, some, like 5a & 25a for example, are only slightly lumpy, but I struggled to work out sensible interpretations for 11a, 20a, 4d, 6d,15d & 21d. Once you mastered the technical side of clue writing, which you are clearly well on the way to achieving, improving the surfaces without losing accuracy of wordplay is tough to do but is the icing on the cake.

        1. Re ‘it’ if the semantic field is so large that you can’t see one side from the other, it’s fairer in my view to restrict yourself to a smaller part of it. Cf. Some of the usages of ‘do’.

  4. Very good Bardwig – the crickety one stumped me for a while (D/S) and I have no idea what the third man thing is about. Like Gonzo/RD, I’m not at all sure about 5d
    A good challenge so well done and thanks

  5. An enjoyable puzzle pitched at just the right level, I thought, with a mixture of straightforward clues and some requiring a bit of a ponder.
    6d is a neat idea but I don’t think it quite works because Linden is a plural word. Like RD I wasn’t convinced that ‘King Tut’ is valid.
    My ticks went to 1a, 24a, 26a and 8d.
    Thanks Bardwig. More like this would be very welcome.

    1. 5d. Is ‘King Tut’ supposed to be abbreviations of King (R) and Tut (T)? Not sure the second one would be valid in the DT.

  6. A nice pangram

    I am of the right age to remember Bunter, but it did take me a while to remember his ‘form’. Even with the (eventually) helpful checking letters, I’m not sure an anagram is the best way to clue a word most people won’t have heard of (13a)

    Thanks to Bardwig (as others have said, keep going while polishing those surfaces) and in advance to Prolixic

    1. I forgot to mention; the Bunter reference is also a mystery to me. Is there a gaping hole in my GK?

      1. LbR, the “Remove” is a public school designation for one of the school years. At my school it was the year below the sixth form, and it is the year in which all the Bunter stories are set.

        1. I see, thanks RD. My school was a ‘just enough education to push a wheelbarrow’ institution

        2. Indeed, Bunter was known as “The Owl of The Remove”. Memories of Harry Wharton, Bob Cherry, Hurree Jamset Ram Singh et al are still very evocative after all these years. I loved the books in my youth!

        3. At Rutlish we had a “Remove” which was between the fourth and fifth forms – our first year was the second form, with first form being reserved for a non-existent prep year.

    2. Thanks for this and your previous comments, crypticsue. I tend to agree with you about 13a and the anagram was more of a last resort than a first choice. I can’t describe my other thought processes here without revealing the answer, except to say that none of them seemed to lead to a satisfactory surface reading.

    3. I should probably be grateful that the GK here was of the ancient variety. Similarly, there was a clue in yesterday’s Azed starting ‘Plum creation…’. There’ll be some headscratching amongst the youngsters.

  7. Bravo Bardwig!

    I thought this was your best puzzle to date by some distance. You’ve successfully reined in the General Knowledge from when you started, the surfaces have improved, and my printed page is littered with ticks. Well done indeed on the progress you’ve made.

    I raised my eyebrows at 5d too, but my only principal reservation relates to 9a, where the solution is a noun but it is clued as a verb. “One getting rid” would get round that.

    Congratulations and thanks for a very enjoyable puzzle.

    1. High praise indeed – many thanks, silvanus!

      I know what you mean about 9a and I can’t say I’m a great fan of this type of clue. Here, though, I thought the omission of “one” led to a smoother surface reading. My justification would be that Ximenes himself was quite happy using verbal phrases to clue nouns, e.g. “Puts hat on back to front – often clicks (9)”.

  8. Thanks to everybody for the feedback and encouragement. I was a bit surprised that the definition to 13a should be a source of controversy as it’s taken directly from the version of the OED I consulted: “unpleasant quality or character”.

    Regarding 5d, “Kinder than cold-hearted King Neptune (5)” is a clue I recall from a national daily many years ago and I just assumed similarly invented royal cyphers would be fair game.

    1. Re 13a – the OED – the only one that didn’t show up in my on-line search after consulting the BRB!

  9. Is Bardwig a Wire fan? I’ve followed them since the days of Brian Bevan and so was quite surprised to see them crop up in a puzzle.

  10. I am a Wire fan now, Bufo, but it wasn’t always that way: back in the 1960s my dad would take me to watch Liverpool City, so they were my favourite team and I continued to support them after they were forced to move away from Knotty Ash Stadium and became Huyton instead.

    1. The only time I went to Knotty Ash was for the last ever game there (against Whitehaven I think). I was somewhat full of beer because I got there early and some Scousers in the pub outside the ground took pity on a destitute student and kept buying me pints. I also saw the opening game at Alt Park. I’ve probably still got the programmes for both these games.

    2. My goodness, Bardwig, not just a pangram but a Warrington Rugby League ghost theme to boot, which only the eagle-eyed Bufo spotted. Very well done to incorporate those extras without resorting to anything too obscure.

      In addition to 10d, Warrington Wolves, Wire, Earl (Brian Earl Bevan), Jordan (Burke), are there any others? It’s amazing what you can find on Google!

  11. I share Prolixic’s reservations about 9ac and 5dn. I wasn’t too happy with 18ac, either since to me the F for ‘strong’ is indirect – f indicating ‘loud’ in music derives from Italian ‘forte’ (= strong). And in 23ac the eight letter word meaning swindling doesn’t appear in Chambers although I suppose ‘-ery’ is a fairly common suffix that can be attached to many words.
    And in 17ac I certainly was struggling to name a town in Cheshire – even though it’s nearly 50 years since local government reorganisation shifted the Cheshire border northwards to take in part of Lancashire!
    A good workout, though. Thanks, Bardwig.

    1. I wasn’t sure about ‘crookery’ myself, but it’s in the online Collins.
      I do see ‘strong’ as often as ‘loud’ for F in the daily puzzle.

      1. Fortissimo is closer to strong than it is to loud in my book
        PS enjoyed your latest Alberich offering

        1. [OT Thanks, though it’s been there since September. I’ve been trying to get work on the strength of it.]

  12. Thanks to Prolixic for the review. The puzzle I’m currently working on was to have contained the clue “Accepted King Billy, consumed by his vanity (6)” but I can see that’s one that will need some revision.

  13. Very late getting on to this as we have been away. Solved now and thoroughly enjoyed.
    Thanks Bardwig.

  14. Looking forward to doing this one – Bardwig if you want to tune in we’re going to try solving it on Twitch later today (12noon UK time) at

    1. ^^ Done it!

      I especially liked 11 and was delighted to learn THEIC which is a new word on me!

      1. Thanks, Matt.

        I enjoyed listening to the commentary while you and your friend solved the puzzle.

        ps. A very nice puzzle from Bardwig.

        pps. Did someone say “Eccles”.

      2. Belated thanks for this, Matt. I enjoyed following your thought processes while you were solving and am glad you liked the puzzle.

  15. Enjoyed this impressive pangram though totally missed the rugby theme! I thought the surfaces for 8d and 6d were particularly good. A lot to test my knowledge if I hadn’t been with the clever team on Twitch, but nothing that was unfair.

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