Rookie Corner – 317 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 317

64 to 225 by JT

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is no longer available.

This week we have another new setter (and there are four more waiting in the wings!). 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.

There were some good ideas on display here but overall it was overambitious.  I don’t think that this clues translated at all well from an Australian audience to a UK audience.  I have indicated where the main issues occurred.  Some greater variety in the clue would be helpful too.  There were 13 full or partial anagrams which is about double the amount that is the ideal.  There were also too many clues that required two to three steps to get from the wordplay to the definition such as in 1a or 21a.

The commentometer reads as 8 / 30 or 26.7%.


1 12-across listened to Eminem product? (7)
MILLION – A homophone (listened to) of Eminem might give M ’n M which expands the close to “M and M product”, replace the M as Roman numeral and solve the equation for the solution.  As a general observation, clues work best when there are not too many intermediate steps.  Here you have to get from the homophone, expand it, substitute the Roman numeral and then solve the clue.

5 See 31

10 Feathers the ball, adopting casual, slow rhythm (9)
DOWNTEMPO – A four letter word for feathers and the letter that looks like a ball includes (adopting) a four letter word for a casual worker.  A minor point, but “the ball” would be better as “ball” as the “the” implies a definite article not a general description.

11 Gets to swig whisky with top model? (5)
TWIGS – An anagram (whisky) of SWIG after (with top) of the model of car sold by Henry Ford.  A few minor points, “with top” to indicate the letter comes first works best with down clues.  The anagram only requires one letter to be moved.  Anagrams work best with longer words where more rearrangement is required.  The anagram indicator “whisky” is a noun and does not mean to be whisked.  Finally, the cryptic reading of the clue has definition to wordplay.  To as a link word should be used in the sense of wordplay to definition.

12 Agree with conservative (6)
SQUARE – Double definition, the first meaning to reach a deal and the second meaning conservative in the sense of dated or old-fashioned.

15 Book another resort (7)
REORDER – Double definition of making a second booking and to rearrange (re-sort) something.

17 Clearly net return was constrained by TL pay deal (8)
PATENTLY – Reverse (return) the NET in clue inside and anagram (deal) of TL PAY.  I assume that TL has some meaning in Australia.  It is not a recognised abbreviation in the UK so the clue does not have a convincing surface reading.  Try to keep to the present tense in wordplay “net return is constrained by…” works better. 

18 12-acrosses‘ odor repels female, perhaps? (5)
BOXES – The abbreviation for body odour followed by a three letter word of which female is an example.  When producing a crossword for a foreign audience, try to observe the spelling conventions of your solvers.  Odour, not odor.

20 Ditched “101 Corgies”, went dotty giants? (5)
OGRES – Remove (ditched) the Roman numerals for 101 from the Corgies in the clue and make an anagram (went dotty) of the remaining letters.  Another point on spelling, but the UK plural of “corgi” is corgis”.

21 TripAdvisor lift Djibouti’s capital for improved air quality? (8)
ODORISED – A three letter contraction of odometer (trip advisor) followed by a four letter word meaning lift and the first letter (capital) of Djibouti.  The contraction of odometer is not given in UK dictionaries and requires too many steps from the solver to split trip advisor from the single word, get the synonym odometer (where trip advisor is not a UK synonym) and then contract it.  The solution is not a term used in the UK and uses the foreign spelling.

22/16 Oversees organisation of strike over hospital hazards… (4,3,4)
RUNS THE RISK – A four letter word meaning oversees or manages followed by an anagram (organisation of) of STRIKE around (over) the abbreviation for hospital

24 … vegetable said to be languishing in wings of RMH (6)
RADISH – An anagram (to be languishing) of SAID in the outer letters (wings) of RMH.  Another Australian abbreviation that would mean nothing to a UK solver.

26 Chick got towel-whipped (5)
OWLET – An anagram (whipped) of TOWEL.  The clue structure definition got wordplay does not work.  Chick’s towel-whipped would be better.  

27 Three strikes and you’re… a winner?! (3,3,3)
TIC TAC TOE – The symbol that appears when you get a strike in ten-pin bowling written three times would give a winning line in this pencil and paper game.  Although usually known as noughts and crosses in the UK, I think the alternative name is well known enough to be fair.  Something went wrong with the type setting of the clue with the odd characters appearing.

30 Announced opening for Rodman? (6)
FISHER – A homophone (announced) of fissure (opening).  Some editors would not allow definitions that have to be split (here rod man).  

31/5 Exclusive news coverage of Holden written off by Echo with adults-only TV 12-across (7,6)
SHELDON COOPER – A five letter word for a news exclusive around (coverage) an anagram (to be written off) of HOLDEN followed by the letter represented by Echo in the phonetic alphabet and the letter used to indicate adults only.  The solution is the name of a nerd (square) in the series the Big Bang Theory.  R-Rated is another term that does not translate for a UK audience.  The cryptic grammar would read better with “Exclusive news covering Holden written off by…”


1/26 Ponzi scheme crook heard to have absconded (4,3)
MADE OFF – A homophone (heard) of [Bernie] Madoff (Ponzi scheme crook).  I am not sure that the homophone works here as his surname is pronounced MAD OFF with no E sound

2/8 Service slower and of inferior quality (3-3)
LOW-RES – An anagram (service) of SLOWER.

3 Ran into uncoordinated aliens tossing frisbee on work sites? (9)
INTRANETS – An anagram (uncoordinated) of RAN INTO after removing the O (tossing frisbee – the frisbee is O shaped) followed by the abbreviation for extra-terrestrials.

4 Soldier returns to war (‘3) (3)
NAM – Reverse (returns) a three letter word for a soldier.  A minor point, but try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators such as returns for a reversal – used in 17a.

6 Healthcare worker who massages and soothes, hands-free (5)
OSTEO – An anagram massages of AND SOOTHES after removing (free) the letters in HANDS.  Some editors would be require a secondary anagram indicator to show that the letters in HANDS are removed in a different order.  I would omit the “who” from the clue.

7 Post office list their regulars as ultimate 12-acrosses (11)
POINDEXTERS – The abbreviation for post office followed by a five letter word for a list, the odd letters (regulars) in THEIR and the final letter (ultimate) of AS.  Some editors would require as “ultimately” to indicate the final letter.  The solution is an American usage that editors would require to be indicated in the clue.  It does not appear in Chamber or Collins but is the Oxford Dictionary of English.

8 See 2

9 12-across goes off-road? (4,2,4)
FOUR BY FOUR – A type of off-road vehicle.

13 Team dumped leader; controlled leg spin with little sandpaper 12-acrosses (11)
QUADRANGLES – A five letter word for a team without (dumped) the initial letter followed by a three letter word meaning controlled, an anagram (spin) of LEG and the first letter (little) of sandpaper.

14 Lovers of connection foolishly revert to sex without the pill (10)
EXTROVERTS – An anagram (foolishly) of REVERT TO SEX without the letter E (ecstasy pill).

16 See 22 Across

18 Risky setup… Can’t see it bearing fruit? (5,4)
BLIND DATE – A five letter word meaning can’t it followed by a four letter word for a type of fruit from a palm tree.  The bearing here seems out of place.  A bearing B in a down clue would mean A under B or, in an across clue, B inside A.  I don’t think it works as a charade indicator for A followed by B.

19 Spoke in favour of 12-across (4)
FOUR – A homophone (spoke) of FOR (in favour of).  A minor point but with the solution already appearing in 9d, it looks rather clumsy to have the same word in 19d.

23 Heading is the 12-across-type tile distribution! (5)
TITLE – A type of the solution to 12a used in technical drawing followed by an anagram (distribution) of TILE.  Some editors will not allow a noun (distribution) to function as an anagram indicator.

25 Hit British comic character? (4)
BEAN – Double definition, the first being an informal term meaning to hit on the head and the second a Rowan Atkinson comic character.

26 See 1

28 Sin offset by salad? (3)
COS – A mathematical function that is an 90 degree offset of the sine function and a salad item.

29 A little rough today? Didn’t take your uppers? (3)
TAD – An anagram (rough) of TODAY after removing the upper letters in your.

49 comments on “Rookie Corner – 317

  1. Welcome to Rookie Corner, JT. I am sorry to report that I found this very tough and ended up with scribbled comments against most of the clues. I will just make some general comments and leave the detailed review to Prolixic, who I fear is going to be kept rather busy.

    Starting out with a themed puzzle has added a layer of complexity which I think is best avoided whilst you are learning the trade. I recommend that you try to place solver accessibility high on your list of necessary attributes.

    I may be wrong but I suspect you are not British. This puzzle, presented primarily to a UK audience, contained a lot of examples of Americanisms (including the US spelling of “odor”) and, I think, some Australianisms too. In many of the clues there were references which I found obscure and/or meaningless: e.g.: TL, odo, RMH, Rodman, Holden, Echo. In addition, some of your surface readings were incoherent, not helped by the constraint of the theme which required the inclusion of “12-across” in many clues.

    In 31/5, you have produced a clue which I found utterly incomprehensible and has completely defeated me. I can find neither definition nor logical wordplay and cannot think of any sensible words for the answer which fit the checking letters.

    Your simpler clues were your best ones and, fortunately, 12a was one of these. I also liked 15a and 9d, with the very clever 1d/26d my runaway favourite.

    Well done, JT. Setting a cryptic puzzle is an exceedingly difficult challenge and you have clearly put in a lot of effort. Do take on board the various comments you will receive from this blog, particularly Prolixic’s invaluable advice. If you haven’t already got one, you should consider using a test solver, if possible someone experienced in solving cryptic crosswords, to help you iron out the wrinkles before your next submission.

    1. Hi RD,

      31/5 is a US sitcom character, the definition is “TV 12-across”, but the full wordplay escapes me too!

      1. This one I understood (after revealing the solution): (holden)* in exclusive news coverage, plus echo, + abb. for adults only.

      2. He is the most ’12a’ of all the characters in that sitcom – I have to confess that I got him by revealing some letters and then going back to work out what the really complicated clue was on about.

    2. – I am Australian! So yes, there are some Australianisms. When I publish these to my own audience I put a disclaimer for international solvers, pointing out affected clues. I also usually take care to use Australianisms mostly as fodder rather than synonyms, so that a lack of knowledge of their meaning shouldn’t make a clue impossible. In this crossword:
      —- Holden and Echo are both cars (Common cars here. Used here as anagram fodder and the universal abbreviation E)
      —- RMH is the Royal Melbourne Hospital, hence topical to the clue surface (used as first/last fodder).
      —- Odo is an Australianism, short for Odometer, aka “TripAdvisor”. This one does break my own rule (although I think when I wrote this I wasn’t sure if this was AU only), and was always going to be hard for a foreign solver – even for a local, given the oblique synonym. I remember struggling with this clue since the final answer didn’t leave a huge amount of room to massage a good definition element.
      —- TL is actually a team leader, not at all uniquely Australian, it was used all the time when I worked in the UK.

      – Odorised is an interesting case. In fact there is no ODOURISED/ZED, only ODORISED/ZED. But perhaps I was wrong using S instead of Z? Weirdly, looking it up now I can’t actually find any version of it on Chambers online at all, present, past or -e”…! I guess at the time I must have just google def’d it and seen that odorised was ok. Not sure how the UK is supposed to refer

      – Rodman, as read, is probably one of the 3 best known modern Chicago Bulls basketballers. (but is used here as a definition with elision – that is, Rod Man.) I understand some setters will avoid using the names of living people, which is a fair enough point, though I’m not entirely on board.

      Re: 31/5. yep this is one of my least favourite clues, structure-wise. It has many moving parts, and if you don’t know the def reference then it’s super hard. Parsing is as per Mucky’s comment. My biggest issue with the wordplay, technically, is coverage as an inclusion indicator, especially with the misdirection that a scoop could also be said to be “exclusive news coverage.”

      I’ll respond further below to some of the more general things raised. Thanks Rabbit!

    3. Oh! I see now that I did indeed include the word ODOR in the BOXES clue! That’s just a mistake on my behalf. Don’t know where that one came from!

  2. I am in complete agreement with RD above. This puzzle is like no other I have ever seen. Sorry but not for me.

    1. Sorry I was remiss in not thanking you JT. You obviously put a lot of effort into this. So thanks for your time and effort

  3. Sorry JT, but this crossword is one of those rare beasts where I’ve given it my three separate goes, with the aid of an anagram solver and revealing letters and I’ve only solved 12 clues so I’m going to stop now. The majority of clues I solved were in the SW corner and the wordplay does work, even though some of the surfaces could do with polishing. Helped by the title of the crossword, it is possible to work out what the theme is but even that doesn’t help much with solving some of the 12a referenced clues

    I see that RD mentioned using a test solver – as a test solver of many years experience (both solving and testing!) if I’d been sent this one to test, I’d have said exactly the same as my opening paragraph. Can I suggest your next crossword is a non-themed one, and work on your surface readings to give the solver a bit of a chance to finish it.

    Thank you for providing a crossword for Rookie Corner and thanks, in advance, to Prolixic for the much needed explanations

  4. I think a US audience might appreciate this puzzle more than this predominantly UK one, but I’d be very surprised if anyone anywhere was able to finish this unaided for the reasons RD has outlined above. Many of the clues could have been made a little less clunky by making 12-across just 12, after all there is no 12 down.

    I decided quite quickly that it was best to abandon any hopes of completion without electronic assistance and to “reverse engineer” how the clues were constructed. The anagram count was well into double figures, and there are still a few clues where the parsing is obscure to me at least.

    I can see many clever ideas behind the various constructions, but perhaps they were too clever most of the time. Although I’ve seen the 1d/26d homophone used before, it still raised a smile.

    Thank you, JT, it’s always interesting to see something different, but I hope future puzzles will contain fewer Americanisms and be more solver-friendly.

    1. Thanks for the comment silvanus!

      OK so just to clarify, I’m Australian, not American. So there are no Americanisms, only Australianisms! As noted previously, when I publish these myself I warn international solvers about any references to Australianisms that are required for solving – but mostly I use them as fodder, not synonyms, so they’re understanding the terms is technically not required for solving. It is, still, of course, a barrier, as you may well wonder whether a given reference is something you do need to know – but I have to write for my primary audience, which is local, in the same way that the British crosswords depend heavily on local rivers, counties, etc.

      Just on the question of solvability, which there is obviously a lot of consensus on here! Being that this was my first crossword a couple of years back I would expect there to be issues like this. At the same time, I have actually had this solved both by solvers and setters, locally, to favourable reviews, including Stephen Knight who’s a very well regarded professional setter here. I literally sat and watched a team of 5 or 6 beginner solvers complete it unaided! So, although I fully accept clueing could be much stronger, I feel like the combination of unknown setter, from an unknown country, submitting their First crossword, put a lot of impediments in the way of settling into a state of confidence that the crossword would be solvable. On top of which, I lean towards perhaps a little too much trickery and obscure defs etc. :)

      1. Hi Jordan,

        Thank you for the clarifications and feedback, they explain a lot. I would say that, even if such expressions are used in Australia, 7d and 27a are most certainly Americanisms, for the latter we use “Noughts and Crosses” over here, don’t most Australians?

        I would suggest “too much trickery and obscure definitions” are likely to alienate solvers rather than attract them to attempt your puzzles. I’m not saying you should change your style, but you should try to make the challenge more even or weighted in favour of the solver, otherwise the potential audience will be very small.

        1. Hey again Silvanus

          I suppose it depends on how we define Americanism!

          I suppose in both cases these seem to be just natural synonyms that most people would form part of most people’s vocabulary. They’re not variant spellings, or ultra-niche local knowledge. Actually I hadn’t even realised poindexters was US English! So hmm, I don’t know, I suppose maybe best to steer away, but I don’t fully see why a solver should be constrained to their local vocab?

          Agreed on the trickery etc. I think in a way it arises from general limitations in my creative clue writing skills, which forces me into corners. Need to work on some fundamentals, which I’m trying to start doing (though I don’t spend much time setting.) Definitely want to work on a straight cryptic to this end.

  5. Thanks JT
    I’m afraid I revealed about half after giving it a good go. I understand most of the clues in retrospect, and there are lots of good ideas but the way you’ve indicated how the wordplay works is very difficult to decipher and often baffling.
    I liked 1a 1d and 30a: all very good of their type.
    I also wondered if you are American and are used to NYT-type puzzles; the sort of allusive indications you use reminded me of those.

    1. Thanks Mucky :)
      Australian here. But yes, the allusiveness is perhaps a by-product of growing up solving DA cryptics! (david astle)

  6. I did manage to finish this after checking 7d and 31/5a. I thought it was a very ambitious undertaking with some excellent clues but with a couple that I still can’t fully understand.
    Some of the surfaces (e.g. 20a and 13d) don’t make a great deal of sense.
    The clues I liked best were 1a, 15a, 30a and 1/26d.
    Thanks JT – I look forward to your next puzzle.

  7. Glad you got through it Gazza! Consensus seems to be, Rough!
    13d Team dumped leader; controlled leg spin with little sandpaper 12-acrosses (11)
    This surface exactly describes the Australian cricket team’s 2018 ball tampering scandal, wherein players were filmed rubbing the ball with small piecess of sandpaper.
    My only grievance with this clue is the semi-colon. I had used “leader who controlled”, but in the end couldn’t justify who as a legitimate joiner word.

  8. Thanks everyone (so far) for the feedback! I appreciate your having taking the effort. Solving unknown setters, from unknown lands, and beginners no less, is not easy or fun!

    For the record, I write to you from Melbourne, Australia :)

    This was my first crossword that I made a couple of years back. I avoided submitting a more recent one since they are more reliant on themes (eg, some clues require the application of an additional overarching play, rather than just splicing in something like “Square” etc) – and Dave had advised that themers aren’t as well received here. I think (hope!) my quality has improved since!)

    My own biggest gripes with this crossword were WHISKY as anagrind; word order in 20a; 6d’s use of “hands-free” fo removing those letters out of order… But definitely there’s some generalised awkwardness, and a tendency towards obliqueness – I blame my years of wrestling with David Astle’s works of cruelty!

    My own personal favourites included 1a, 27a, 13d (this won’t be readily appreciated to a UK audience, but the surface reading describes the Australian cricket team’s 2018 ball tampering scandal), and 23d (with its reveal of the link between the puzzle title, grid and theme – not sure if anyone gleaned the Easter Egg?)

    Thank you again :)

  9. I’m curious is anyone can resolve this conundrum…
    Rabbit mentioned the Americanism ODOR. I responded:
    Odorised is an interesting case. In fact there is no ODOURISED/ZED, only ODORISED/ZED. But perhaps I was wrong using S instead of Z? Weirdly, looking it up now I can’t actually find any version of it on Chambers online at all, present, past or -er”…! I guess at the time I must have just google def’d it and seen that odorised was ok. Not sure how the UK is supposed to refer

    Can anyone clarify this? Is Odoriser just not a word in UK English?

      1. Aha! that makes sense. I suppose maybe that’s true here too, I’m not really sure.

      2. Oh also I see now that Rabbit was referring to ODOR in the BOXES clue. which was just a mistake on my behalf.

  10. Revealed quite a few and was frequently none the wiser, not really understanding some of the references. Something about a sitcom character? No idea
    I think it might be better to keep the wordplay ‘on the page’ and focus on the surface reading
    Well done for putting the puzzle together and thanks for sharing JT, I look forward to your next

      1. 21a for example – we have to get from TripAvisor to odometer to ‘odo’ which is a bit of a push, and then the definition is something that gives a smell
        To freshen the air, we’d think of a deodorant, no?
        How can TripAdvisor lift Djibouti’s capital – for fresh air? Doesn’t make sense
        Again, 20a Makes no grammatical nor literal sense, (and plural of corgi is corgis, not corgies); ‘One hundred and one missing corgies bamboozled giants’ is at least an albeit wrong sentence
        By on the page I mean definition cleverly hidden in plain sight so the solver gets an ‘Aha!’ moment, rather than ‘What? I think that’s what he’s getting at, but I’m not sure’

        1. Awesome thanks Roy! I agree those two clues are dubious.

          I think TripAdvisor to odo doesn’t require the middle step of odometer for someone in the habit of using the term odo, but even then it’s an oblique synonym and a pretty obscure abbrev, so definitely too much of a stretch.
          (The surface meaning idea was that TripAdvisor had lifted their rating for the capital of Djibouti on account of their improved air quality. I assume you’re not concerned with the shift in part of speech – from improved as adjective to improved as verb – but rather that the surfaces is grammatically wonky. I totally agree.

          I’d never realised that error with spelling of corgies. And yes on the rest. The idea I was playing on was that 101 Dalmatians was originally going to be corgies, hence the used of dotty to serve as anagrind. But yep, pushing too hard for an idea that wasn’t coming together.

          Cool got it re: on the page! I know the feeling of solving crosswords where even knowing the answer it’s hard to make sense of. I’ll keep working at streamlining (and proofing!)

    1. Also I’d love some clarification. On reading back over the clues, I’m struggling to find more than maybe 5 clues where the surface is particularly non-sensical. A lot of comments have suggested that surface reading needs work, but I wonder if you could give some examples? I mean, I definitely agree that even 5 poor surfaces justifies me putting more work in. But the vibe I’m getting in the comments section is that most clues make no surface sense, which I’m not understanding!

  11. I came here to see if I could find any explanation for the … in the clue to 27ac – is it a typo or what?. But having seen the comments so far I guess I would find the whole puzzle almost impenetrable so I’m going to give it a miss. Sorry about that, but you do deserve to be commended for your efforts, and I look forward to your next offering, hopefully more accessible.

    1. Oh, the … must have been a glitch in entering the clues into the software. It’s just not supposed to be there at all..

      Three strikes and you’re…. a winner?! (3,3,3)
      Cryptic definition – Tic Tac Toe.

      1. This happened to me with my first puzzle here because I had ‘smart punctuation’ turned on on my device, resulting in non-ASCII characters in the file. There’s probably a Unicode glyph for an ellipsis, in this case.

    2. But thanks for the commendation! I fear a future puzzle might be a ways off, since my catalog to date are themers that are inherently more challenging than this, albeit that clueing generally would be better quality since this one here was the first one I ever published to an audience.

  12. Welcome to the corner, JT. I’ve given this several of my best shots but all I achieved was filling the SW corner and one or two elsewhere. I did then reveal the remainder and tried to work the puzzle in reverse but I’m still relying on Prolixic to make sense of much of it.
    Of the ones that I solved, I think 9d was my favourite.
    Apologies for sounding so negative, I do appreciate the work that must have gone into producing this.

    1. Ha thanks Jane! No need for apologies.
      I’m finding it quite surreal that so many people are struggling to reverse from the solutions… This was solved locally with broadly favourable reviews by experienced solvers and setters. Not to say it’s easy or perfect clueing, but I’m a bit flummoxed that it’s leaving everyone so stumped. Perhaps the Aussie influence, and my predisposition towards oblique defs, I don’t know. Can you send me an example of a clue where the wordplay that isn’t make any sense? Just so I have a solid example of what is considered impenetrable? Thanks!

  13. Another thanks to everyone that’s commented. I’m sorry the crossword proved so challenging. I think I’ve improved somewhat since, but definitely need to work on streamlining my clues and not getting obsessed about achieving a particular angle if it’s just not working.

    Also annoyed at vocab issues with odor, odorised and corgies…! I think my proofing has definitely improved on more recent crosswords.

  14. Hello JT and welcome to Big Dave! As a first submission, there are some good points here, but like the others say, I’m afraid there are too many awkward places for me to describe it as really enjoyable.

    Don’t be discouraged! New entries often get a rough ride.

    First thing to say is, I guessed very early on that you’re American – or at the very least that you use American spellings. The spelling of “odor” in 18a gave an early hint! And it’s rather a pity that you use exactly the same spelling in 21a. But by then I was wise to it! Other hints are the abbreviation in 4d: much used on your side of the Atlantic but maybe less so over here!

    In consequence, quite a lot of the clues I completely failed to parse, and I had to cheat with the ‘check’ button rather a lot! And I needed Wiki several times, too.

    But there are some gems. Once I saw what the little 3-letter 28d was, I was quite impressed – and even sussed it before I had the crossers (of course, with the crossers, it’s a write-in)! Come up with more like that and you’re well away! And 1a is very clever too – if people forgive the slightly dubious homophone.

    Note that there is no need to add the words ‘across’ or ‘down’ when cross-referencing clues where there is no ambiguity.

    Looking forward to more from your direction JT. If you can make it British English, a 29 easier for me!

    1. Apologies for locating you in America rather than Australia (having just read more of the above comments)! But it’s consistent – I believe most Aussie spelling follows Noah Webster, rather than Samuel Johnson.

      1. How nice to hear from someone who knows about Noah Webster and understands why our spellings differ.

      2. Thanks Laccaria! yes, Australian. The inclusion of “odor” was a pure typo which I’m rather dismayed about! Odorised is a different issue – this is the only correct spelling of this word, it just turns out the word is not used at all in UK English, which I hadn’t known. I think deodorised would be the appropriate word.

        A couple of people here have mentioned terms like poindexter, tic tac toe, and nam being American. I suppose as an Australian setter I’m in the habit of being less concerned about what words belong to my language and what to the Americans. I almost never solve American crosswords, but I do a lot of UK crosswords and so am constantly having to work with loads of references that are meaningless to an Australian. As for the particular terms I’ve used, I see them as fair game – you don’t need to be American to understand these terms. I’m interested in English language, not UK English. As a solver I’m quite happy having my cultural knowledge stretched beyond my own borders. Of course, being from Au, I have little choice :)

        There are obvious limitations to this logic – I wouldn’t have an answer like removalist, a purely Australian word, despite its commonness here, if I anticipated any foreign solvers. But Nam or tic tac toe? I’d be alarmed if anyone solving this crossword didn’t know those terms meant!

        Thanks for all the feedback and encouragement.

  15. I have a baker’s dozen of clues to yet solve…and reading the comments gave me two missing answers. Yeah! Can’t say I understand them all though. I have family in WA so I’m familiar with the sometimes weird abbreviations, arvo for afternoon, for example. 1D (my favorite clue) 27A and 30A led me to think the setter was an American also so I completely missed the Holden reference. Anyway, I’m soldiering on in the hope of unraveling a couple more before tomorrow’s review. Don’t be disheartened JT. Several of the reviewers on here are or were Rookies themselves at one time so they give good, experience-based advice.

  16. Welcome JT.
    I felt I was not destined to succeed in the struggle with this puzzle, and Prolixic’s review (to whom thanks) has confirmed that. Perhaps it is a difference in the cruciverbal cultures we operate in.
    An example of where the wordplay is unusual and perhaps impenetrable, in 3d we have a subtractive anagram, but the instruction for what to remove (‘tossing frisbee’) is separated from the anagram fodder by the ‘aliens’, which is not part of the anagram.
    (And ‘frisbee’ for O is new to me – ‘ball’, ‘hoop’ are familiar, will anything round do? ‘Ferris Wheel’?)
    On the subject of themed puzzles, I personally welcome them as long as knowledge of the theme is not required to solve – ‘ghost’ themes.
    I will certainly try your next puzzle…thanks.

    1. Thanks Gonzo. Unfortunately I think all of my other themes are not “ghost”, and in fact are more involved than this crossword. Eg, a crossword with a bunch of corrupt double definitions of the kind “Nibbled the worm (3)” = BIT / BAIT, final answer BIT, where the preamble explains that a letter is missing from the puzzle but has weaselled its way into a bunch of double defs in this manner. There are no A’s at all anywhere in the grid or the clues. “Stick-in-the-mud” is another neat one :)

      Oh actually there’s one you can try here:×11/
      It’s much easier and tighter clueing. And 11×11 so a quicker affair. The only theme thing going on is that all the across answers share a definition, and hence contain no definition elements themselves. This is explained, and probably makes the crossword easier in the end.
      The only clue of concern is 4d which makes reference to a local setter, so ultra-local, but you’ll get it from cross letters and def.

      Thanks for the example dodgy clue. I agree with your assessment. You’re right that it’s somewhat a product of the culture – this kind of separation would not be common but definitely crops up from time to time from respected local setters like DA etc. But agreed, I think when I wrote this I was more prone to accepting half awkward plays rather than pursue a different route. Clue writing took so long I ultimately wound up giving in too early!

      Frisbee for O is was definitely an invention from me, I don’t think I’ve ever see it before. I think the word order issue with this clue is the overriding concern. If it weren’t for that, I think using frisbee as a “visual” synonym is valid. If there’s a very clear Fodder + anagrind + removal indicator + Frisbee, where it’s clear that only a single letter needs removing, then it’s reasonable for the solver to stretch to figure out what frisbee could represent.

      Thanks again pal!

      1. The frisbees i grew up with were a disc, but these days you also get annuli – the latter look more like an O, i’m wondering if they are popular in Australia. I’ve never seen frisbee to indicate O before.

        I’m surprised at the defence of surfaces, for example the Corgi story seems to be quite a vivid albeit involved image in the setter’s mind. It certainly wasn’t in mine, and I’d be surprised if many people were on Jordan’s wavelength – I just want to say that I recognise this syndrome rather clearly. For me, it often happens with clues that I’ve fiddled with a bit. I have a story in my head, and it develops quite nicely – it takes on a rather splendid life of it’s own, a bit of character development, a plot, and often an implied ending (or maybe several left to the solver’s imagination). All I can say, is thank god for test solvers (you need the right ones) who politely ask me what planet I’m on today.

        I will add that some surface readings in daily newspaper crosswords seem to suffer from this syndrome, which is not to suggest it ought to be normalised.

        The other thing I thought I’d mention is the degree to which we hold a particular dictionary as standard. For this crowd (I thought it was crosswords in general) Chambers has always been seen as a bit of an icon. I would not use an abbreviation that is not in chambers, for example. Or grid entries that are meant to be normal words.

        It’s been quite fun looking at a closely related but different cultural approach. Many thanks Jordan, hope to see you here again soon

  17. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, which I certainly needed to sort out this one.
    It will be interesting to see whether JT can adapt his compiling to suit UK solvers.

  18. Thanks for the crossword, the review, and the comments — I’ve enjoyed reading it all, and have learnt some things too.

    I liked the 1d/26d clue, and the homophone works for me: I apparently pronounce the ponzi-schemer’s surname differently from how Prolixic does. I’m not sure where I picked that up from, but whoever wrote his Wikipedia page seems to do likewise, giving the pronunciation as /ˈmeɪdɔːf/, with the eɪ being glossed as the sound of ‘a’ in ‘face’.

    1. You’re right Smylers. I checked this at the time of compiling. And the AID pronunciation is definitely the one I grew up hearing.
      First hit on YouTube gives this doco where the narrator pronounces it this way.

  19. This has not been a successful debut. Having just received a long email telling me what I should do, I have sent a very short reply advising Jordan to look elsewhere in future.

    We have had several Australian setters in the past – Jollyswagman immediately comes to mind – and none of them have produced a puzzle as inpenetrable as this one.

    There are still four brand new setters in the queue, and I will be publishing these at fortnightly intervals.

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