Rookie Corner – 315 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 315

A Puzzle by Montyfred

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Montyfred is the first of several setters making their debut over the next few weeks. 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.

A warm welcome to MontyFred with a debut Rookie puzzle.  There was a lot of potential shown in the cluing of the crossword but, as you would expect from a debut crossword, areas for improvement.  The big area to watch is the use of indirect anagrams where the letters to be rearranged are not given clearly in the clue.  The simple clues worked the best list 11a or 14a.

With so many indirect anagrams, the commentometer has a high reading today of 10/30 or 33.3%


1 It’s bad form if it’s just not used before this game (7)
CRICKET – The name of the game that goes after the words “It’s just not” to indicate something that is bad form.

5 Gives rise to Asian river drowning engineer (7)
INDUCES – The name of an Asian river around (drowning) the abbreviation for civil engineer.

9 Smoked but no longer suffering from it (5)
CURED – Double definition, the first describing fish that has been smoked and the second meaning have been treated for and recovered from an illness.

10 Protected from shock that made the sultan die (9)
INSULATED – An anagram (that made) of SULTAN DIE.  As the “the” does not form part of the letters required to be rearranged, it should have been omitted.

11 Single person’s holiday? Don’t touch it! (5,5)
LEAVE ALONE – The solution, read in a different way might suggest being on holiday without anyone else.

12 It may be used, or heard by players at The Crucible (3)
CUE – A verbal prompt given to actors who may be performing at The Crucible or used by snooker players at the championships also held there.

14 Overly mean, but better than most (5,7)
ABOVE AVERAGE – A five-letter word meaning overly followed by a seven letter word meaning mean in the mathematical sense of the word.

18 Limitations put on men given time to re-use dog-ends (12)
CURTAILMENTS – The men from the clue and the abbreviation for time inside a three-letter word for a mongrel dog and a five-letter word meaning ends.  I don’t think that re-use indicates the required element of insertion.  It is more of an anagram indicator.  If it was, then it would be an indirect anagram as you have to find words for dog and tail and then rearrange them.  However, as there is no rearrangement required, I doubt this was the intention.  Perhaps “Limitations put on men given time surrounded by dog-ends.

21 Ritter gets a shortened message (3)
TEX – Remove the last letter (shortened) from a four-letter word meaning a message.  As Ritter, the Singing Cowboy, is a definition by example for solution, this should be indicated.  This could be “Shortened message for Ritter?”.

22 Not in favour of reaching the top – what a let down! (10)
ANTICLIMAX – A four-letter word meaning not in favour of followed by a six letter word meaning reaching the top.  Reaching the top would indicate the word ending in ING.  Perhaps “Not in favour of summit that’s a let-down”

25 Light covering has made record recovery (9)
LAMPSHADE – an anagram (recovery) of HAS MADE LP (record).  This is an indirect anagram as you need to find the correct abbreviation for record before making the anagram.  You can use direct abbreviations (as in the next clue where Old becomes O as there is a direct correspondence between the word and the abbreviation.  That is not the case here.

26 Battered old sort of body (5)
TORSO – An anagram (battered) of O (old) SORT.  Some editors will not allow wordplay of definition where “of” is used as the link word.

27 Skill you outwardly use when behaving morosely (7)
SULKILY – An anagram (use) of SKILL YU (the outer letters of you).  To maintain the cryptic reading of the clue, use should be used here – These letters are used to make the solution.  When a link word between the wordplay and the definition does not work.  “Skill you outwardly used behaving morosely” would be fine.

28 Burdened as a horse may be (7)
SADDLED – Double definition meaning burdened and a description of a horse with its tack on ready to receive a rider.  The two meaning are perhaps closely related as the burdened meaning comes from the description of a horse carrying too much.


1 She puts many in charge of this city (6)
CICELY – The Roman numeral for 100 (many) followed by the abbreviation meaning in charge followed by a three letter city in the Fens.  Puts as a link word (definition puts wordplay) does not work.  Also, the abbreviation is “in charge” not “in charge of”.  Whilst not wrong, simply referring to a name as “she” is frowned upon by some.  Perhaps “Maybe Dame Saunders has many in charge over city”.

2 Raid on raid perhaps (6)
INROAD – An anagram (perhaps) of ON RAID.

3 Band played in key note to get the pulse (6,4)
KIDNEY BEAN – An anagram (played) of BAND IN KEY E (note).  Another anagram that is indirect as you do not have a direct correspondence between the letter to be included in the letters to be rearranged and the wordplay “note”.  Note could be any of the seven musical notes or the letter N.

4 Hearing test? (5)
TRIAL – Double definition of a court case and a test.

5 Suggest that, in error say, you took food (9)
INSINUATE – The IN from the clue followed by a three-letter word meaning error, a homophone (say) of you and a three-letter word meaning took food.

6 Many followed Derek down to the valley (4)
DELL – The Roman numeral for fifty (many) after (followed) a shortened form of name Derek.  The “down to” seems to be padding.  Followed would be better as following.  Perhaps “Many following Derek into valley”.  Also, watch out for repeated wordplay indicators.  Many has already been used to clue C.

7 A deep sea diver who doesn’t often come up for air (8)
CETACEAN – Cryptic definition of a mammal that dives to the depths in the sea.

8 Depressed by an utterly tearful conclusion (8)
SADDENED – A homophone (utterly) of a three-letter word meaning tearful and an three-letter meaning conclusion.

13 Discussed being respired (10)
VENTILATED – Double definition meaning discussed or aired an opinion and let out a breath.

15 Discretionary solo instrumental piece (9)
VOLUNTARY – Double definition, the first meaning not compulsory and the second being a solo musical piece as in a trumpet …

16 Small cutlets cooked by the fireside (8)
SCUTTLES – The abbreviation for small followed by an anagram (cooked) of CUTLETS.  Try to avoid definitions such as “by the fireside” that define something by its position.  Here “Small cutlets cooked in buckets” would have been better.

17 Primal ox showed early development (8)
PROXIMAL – An anagram (showed) of PRIMAL OX.  I don’t think that the definition is correct.  Chambers, Collins and the OED all give the solution as meaning nearer the centre rather than early development.  Also I don’t think that showed words as an anagram indicator.

19 A good way to behave? Not like this! (6)
AMORAL – The A from the clue and a word meaning a good way to behave.

20 Neat way to cross the river when on foot (6)
OXFORD – A two letter word for a cow (neat) followed by a four-letter word indicating a way to cross a river.  The structure wordplay WHEN definition does not work.  Also, there is another positional definition.  

23 Thoughts inspired by stage whisper (5)
IDEAS – An anagram (inspired by) of ASIDE.  Another indirect anagram as your have to fist think of a word for a stage whisper and then rearrange the letters from the word you have found.  Inspired by does not suggest rearranging the letters.

24 Alcohol that’s served up containing two units a glass (4)
ASTI – The answer is hidden and reversed (served up containing) in the seventh and eights words of the clue.  A few points here.  The “two” and the “glass” are padding words and should be omitted.  Containing would be better as “in” and where you have a hidden word clue, it is much better to ensure that the hidden word does not have a boundary with one of the words.  Perhaps “Alcohol served up in fruit salad”.

24 comments on “Rookie Corner – 315

  1. Several clues that don’t quite seem to work for us including the indirect anagram in 25a but overall there is plenty to enjoy here. The one that impressed us the most was 3d with its clever misdirection. Bet we’re not the only ones to be taken in by this.
    Thanks Montyfred. It shows a lot of promise so keep them coming.

  2. Like the 2 Kiwis, several times, I found myself looking at an answer then back to the clue and then deciding that I will have to wait for Prolixic to explain it.
    As well as the indirect anagram at 25a, I thought that 23d ‘fell’ into the same category.
    But there were some very good clues including 11a, 14a, 28a, 3d, 5d, and 19d.
    Thank you and well done Montyfred and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Montyfred. This was a very promising debut with a lot of good clues. Most of your surface readings are particularly good for a first Rookie puzzle and this is one of the areas which many new setters find hard to achieve. The clues I liked best were 9a, 11a, 12a, 19d & 20d.

    My main concern is with anagrams. I lost count how many you had included but it is well into double figures. You should probably try at least to halve this number. In addition, two of these (25a & 23d) are indirect anagrams and in 3d the anagram indicator is in the middle of the fodder.

    18a is what I call an Eric Morecambe clue. All the elements are there (“men”, “T”[ime], synonyms of “dog” and “ends”) but not necessarily in the right order. I’m not sure, but are you intending “re-use” to be an indicator to combine all those elements?

    I think you could improve a couple of the clues simply by omitting one word: 1a (“it’s”) and 1d (“this”), and you have used effectively the same device (“many”) twice: in 1d, leading to “C”; and in 6d, leading to “L”. In any event I don’t really like using “many” in this way.

    Is your definition in 17d correct?

    “Containing” in 24d is not a containment indicator. You need “contained by” for the wordplay but of course that would ruin the surface.

    Well done and thank you, Montyfred. As I mentioned above this was a great start, and if you take on board Prolixic’s comments I am sure you will go from strength to strength.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement and extensive feedback, which comprehensively covers the earlier comments from those in different time zones. A major howler on my part for 17d – when checking definitions, I inadvertently put in the definition for Primal rather than Proximal and neither I, nor my proof solver, picked it up.

        1. I must confess I’m a little surprised by the many comments about indirect anagrams, as I have solved lots of cryptic crossword clues that contain them. To me, they just take the lateral thinking one step further.

          1. indirect anagrams are seriously frowned upon, you won’t find any in the dailies. It doesn’t take much to make finding the anagram of a synonym massively unfair on the solver

  4. Well done on sticking your head above the parapet, Montyfred. I thought this was a very promising debut with some good ideas.
    As others have said 23d is an indirect anagram and as RD pointed out many of your clues could have been improved by pruning redundant words (e.g. ‘the’ in 10a) – this is an area where having a test solver can be a great help.
    You’ll get a great deal of good advice from Prolixic’s review and I look forward to seeing your next puzzle.
    The clues I liked best were 11a, 14a and 8d.

  5. Well done Montyfred on putting together this puzzle. I liked 9a, 8d, and 3d for the misdirection (I’d even filled in BEAT before fully parsing), though personally I would add 3d to the indirect anagram list because of NOTE, which to me doesn’t count as an abbreviation where the first letter is clearly visible in the anagram fodder

    Things you might want to watch out for
    (1) Every word must have a function in the cryptic reading. The in 10a, down in 6d, two & units in 24d are questionable
    (2) Anagram indicators must clearly mean that letters are to be rearranged. showed (17d), made (10a), recovery (25a) are questionable, 27a “use when behaving” too many words, needs replacement by a clear anagram indicator
    (3) Definitions must be accurate 17d?, 10a (this appears to refer to the person rather than the wire or appliance), 16d (wrong part of speech), 20d (wrong part of speech)
    (4) beware of splitting wordplay into prefix/rest (22a, 19d), you run the risk of the wordplay getting very close to a definition
    (5) beware of directionality of definition from wordplay (21a, 26a)

    I wasn’t quite sure about 7d, is it really cryptic? I guess the mislead is that you think of a person not an animal, but that is not a very strong pun on diver.

    No doubt there will be lots in these comments and in prolixic’s review that will be of use in your next puzzle, which i hope to see soon!

    Many thanks again for the fun

    1. Prolixic’s clever suggestion for 16d solves another aspect of the definition that was inaccurate, the plural

  6. Welcome, Montyfred.

    A very promising debut overall, credible surfaces for the most part and constructions that were not too ambitious or wordy. I’m sure that future puzzles will see many of the technical flaws that others have identified being eliminated. My favourite clue was 14a.

    Well done and thanks for an enjoyable puzzle.

  7. Thanks Montyfred
    Very solvable, with some nice clues of which I liked 11a best.
    The clues generally read very well, but I thought that was achieved at the expense of accuracy and conciseness. There are many words that have no function, there are definitions that don’t match solutions, word order is occasionally bent for convenience (eg 3d) and there are a few clues where there’s little difference between your wordplay and definitions (22, 28, 4, 8, 19). It is possible to solve cryptic crosswords just by getting the drift of what the setter intends, but as a setter you’ll need to be more analytical.

  8. Welcome to the lion’s den, Montyfred! There were, as mentioned by others, several clues that didn’t work for one reason or another but I liked the fact that you had obviously put some thought into surface reads and also managed to inject some humour into the puzzle.
    My smiles went to 9,11,14&28a plus 19d.

    Take careful note of the comments from Prolixic and I look forward to seeing another offering from you ‘ere long.

  9. Not sure why, but the review seems to have appeared earlier than usual. No problem, but I may have overrode the timing code in the template when I posted the review to appear tomorrow!

    1. It’s hard enough keeping track of the days of the week at the moment without having the RC review popping up on a Monday morning!
      Not to worry, excellent dissection as always, Prolixic, many thanks for same.

  10. I thought this was close to a very good puzzle so a real shame about the easily rectified Rookie flaws
    Hopefully you’ll take on board the feedback and pointers from Prolixic and return with another soon
    Many thanks for the entertainment Montyfred

  11. Welcome to BD, MontyFred; hope you’ll stay with us. A very good debut, with some highlights – plus a fair number of blemishes as Prolix has pointed out – don’t be discouraged!

    Likes: 5d I though especially good. 5a not bad either. 9a fairly simple but nice bit of misdirection – something that solvers admire when they get that aha! moment. Also 4d (though I think that clue has been used before). 15d has a rather obscure second meaning of the word – I wonder how many missed that? (I knew it – the most famous example is a well-known piece called the “Trumpet 15d” by Jeremiah Clarke – often wrongly attributed to Purcell ).

    Good work! I’m sure your next will get a better review!

  12. Thanks Montyfred, a promising debut. Ticks against 11,12,26,4,5.
    Good surfaces, but as others have said in effect ‘you must say what you mean’, which amounts to using the correct parts of speech in wordplay and definitions, and not adding words which must be ignored for the cryptic reading. I hope as you develop you will get away from the weak double definitions.
    27 definition has to be ‘morosely’, so still unclear which part of ‘use when behaving’ serves which function.
    21 needed the crossers as I’d forgotten him, and ‘ritter’ has another meaning.
    3 you have the anagram indicator in the middle of the fodder without ‘and’ or ‘with’, which doesn’t work.
    17 putting the anagram indicator after the definition away from the fodder is a tricky construction.
    Thanks for the entertainment, I look forward to your next.
    [Big Dave please delete the duplicate if it made it through]

  13. Interesting, btw, that BD says there will be several debut puzzles over the next few weeks. Most welcome! – I find that first efforts are worthy of being applauded – even if they contain more than the average number of errors. I appreciate that, as an ‘old hand’ now, my next offering in the pipeline won’t appear for a while. That’s OK by me.

    Probably the current crisis and lockdown means that many more people are turning to crossword-setting – and solving – than before. Am I right?

    And I suspect that one or two words in MontyFred’s puzzle are not entirely accidental! Possibly part, if not all, of the crossword was compiled after the pandemic erupted. When I got to 13d, I couldn’t help thinking, I hope no-one in this community has to endure – or has a friend or relative having to endure – that dreadful procedure! And my profound sympathies to all who are suffering from being 13d!

    1. I try to alternate debut puzzles with existing rookie setters – the two new ones (JT and Zorro) should appear in two and four weeks’ time while your latest one is scheduled for the week after that. It seems that one way of occupying time during the lockdown is to set a crossword, which is great for me/us.

      1. Thanks for the update Dave.
        I’m glad that this site is being kept going. Yes, after taking numerous breaks over the past year or so, I’m well back into the ‘setting’ regime – and so are others it seems. :-) Even COVID has a silver lining!

        Sadly, I’ve noticed that Alberich’s site isn’t accepting contributions for the time being. I got an automated reply saying, “currently unable to deal with crossword submissions, or respond in a timely manner, due to being stuck away from home”. I hope he can get back to home soon! Does anyone have an update on his situation?

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