Rookie Corner – 322 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Rookie Corner – 322

A Puzzle by Hodd

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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.

Welcome back to Hodd.  The good new is that the comments on the crossword were nit picking ones.  With the possible exception of 13a, the basics were all in place and there was lots to enjoy, particularly the definition for 7a.  Unfortunately there were a lot of repeated errors such as definition on wordplay where on does not work as a link word and the use of repeated indicators.  Therefore the commentometer reads as 4/30 or 13.3%


7 Stand up carelessly and brush partner? (7)
DUSTPAN – An anagram (carelessly) of STAND UP.

8 Characteristic old king after Judas (7)
TRAITOR – A five letter word for a characteristic followed by the abbreviation for old and the chess notation for a King.

9 Bark of yew and elm’s first on record (4)
YELP – The first letters of Yew and Elm followed by a two letter abbreviation for a record.  I agree that first on its own here does not indicate the first letters of both letters but it is marginal.

10 Gemstones found in sack, said to be guarded by idiots (9)
SAPPHIRES – A homophone (said) of FIRE (sack) inside (guarded by) a four letter word for idiots.

12 Rise from the ground and ring love, for love’s ending (5)
KNOLL – A five letter word for the ring of a bell an O (love) replacing the E (love’s ending).  Unlike some of the commentators, I am comfortable with the solution being a rise from the ground as a nounal phrase to describe the solution.

13 Protection offered by old man’s cartel (8)
COVERING – An old slang  four letter word for a man followed by a four letter word for a cartel.

15 Some book cabs to return from retreat (4)
BACK – The answer is hidden (some) and reversed (to return) in the second and third words of the clue.  The structure of the clue wordplay from definition does not work.  The definition is obtained from the wordplay.

16 Illness brought on by mother’s appendix (5)
MUMPS – A three letter word for a mother and the abbreviation for postscript (appendix).

17 Special Brew on offer (4)
SALE – The abbreviation for special followed by a three letter word for beer (brew).  The structure wordplay on definition does not work.

18 Cambridge University withdrawing, but active around UK city (8)
TIMBUKTU – The name of the university based in Cambridge, Massachusetts reversed (withdrawing) followed by and anagram (active) of BUT around the UK from the clue.

20 New generation’s not half naive! (5)
GREEN – An anagram (new) of GENER (half of the word generation).

21 Impatiently solves a new Times/Independent cryptic – lousy! (9)
ANXIOUSLY – The A from the clue followed by the abbreviation for new, the letter used to indicate multiplication (times), the abbreviation for independent and an anagram (cryptic) of LOUSY.  I think solves is acceptable.  The solution solves / is an answer to the problem posed by the wordplay.

22 Place on tee, we hear, then hit ball in the hole? (4)
PUTT – A three letter word meaning place on followed by the letter that is a homophone (we hear) of TEE.

24 Sunday’s dabble with tricky crossword, perhaps? (7)
STINKER – The abbreviation for sabbath or Sunday followed by a six letter word meaning to dabble.

25 Looking green on blue? (7)
SEASICK – Cryptic definition of a type of motion sickness some sailors suffer from.


1 Sweet ecstasy beneath cleavage (4)
CUTE – The abbreviation for ecstasy under a three letter word for an incision of cleavage.

2 Pause, then lean and tap on pipe (8)
STOPCOCK – A four letter word meaning pause followed by a four letter word meaning to lean, as you might your hat.

3 Ornamental trimming around edging of shirts, a sort of teal (6)
TASSEL – The outer letters (edging) of shirts has an anagram (a sort) of TEAL around them.

4 Research I’ve selected to store here (8)
ARCHIVES – The answer is hidden (to store) in the first three words of the clue.

5 Imitate setter’s upright bishop, full of love (6)
MIRROR – An two letter word meaning the setter is reversed (up – from the upright) and the abbreviation for right (from the upright) followed by the abbreviation of right reverent (bishop) with an O in it full of love.  Take care about repeating wordplay indicators.  Love for O has already been used in 12a.  Not all editors would accept the lift and separate required to get from upright to up right without the split being indicated.

6 Put up largely shoplifted goods for auction (4)
LOTS – A five letter word meaning shoplifted has the final letter removed and the remaining letters are reversed (put up).  Another repetition of up for a reversal indicator.

11 Trucks full of Hodd’s energy drinks (4-2-3)
PICK-ME-UPS – A phrase 4-3 includes (full of) a two letter word for setter (Hodd).

12 Colour worn by sheikh, a kind of beige (5)
KHAKI – The answer is hidden (worn by) the fourth to sixth words of the clue.  If A is worn by B, this implies that A is on the outside of B.  Here the solution is inside the words, not on the outside of them.  The structure of the clue itself is clumsy and has wordplay of definition that some editors would not allow.

14 Bearing only woven fabric (5)
NYLON – The abbreviation for north (bearing) followed by an anagram (woven) of ONLY.

16 Model’s settled for complete transformation (8)
MAKEOVER – A four letter word meaning to model or create followed by a four letter word meaning settled or completed.

17 Member of congregation is hot and uncomfortable (8)
SHEEPISH – A five letter word for a member of a congregation followed by the iS from the clue and the abbreviation for hot.

19 Sport on telly is not principally golf (6)
BOXING – A three letter for for a television followed by the first letters (principally) of is and not followed by the letter represented by Golf  in the NATO Phonetic alphabet.  Another clue where definition on wordplay does not work.

20 Guernsey’s sunless, stormy spring (6)
GEYSER – An anagram (stormy) of GUERNSEYS after removing the letter in SUN.  The convention is that where the letters to be removed are not in the order given by the clue, a secondary anagram indicator should be provided.

21 Bet on volcano going up (4)
ANTE – Reverse (going up) the name of an Italian volcano.  Another clue where definition on wordplay does not work and up has been repeated as a a wordplay indicator.

23 Food store (4)
TUCK – Double definition.

51 comments on “Rookie Corner – 322

  1. An enjoyable solve and a good level of difficulty for this slot.
    Plenty of clues have ticks beside them but we’ll give special mention to 21a and 24a.
    Thanks Hodd.

  2. Well done, Hodd
    This is the kind of rookie puzzle I like to see. A good technical effort, paying attention to surface readings, and not getting carried away with difficulty or over-elaborate clueing. Well done. My favourite clues are 7a, 13a and 24a.

    The grid could potentially make the puzzle hard (not the case here) with its unchecked first letters and some entries with more unchecked than checked letters, certainly not wrong just something to bear in mind.

    not too many niggles, just little things, all in all i think this is a good effort.
    for example I think 9a needs ‘firsts’
    I don’t think ‘on’ works as a link (19d,17a,21d) – or as part of the def in the last two. 12d I like “kind of beige”, but unfortunately it compromises the link directionality (wordplay of definition vs definition of wordplay)
    21a is interesting, definition solves wordplay, maybe that works, I’ll be interested to see what Prolixic says.
    12a i think the answer is a noun, but adding ‘from the ground’ seems to turn your def into a verb so may be best to omit that bit. I like the rest of that clue

    Thanks for sharing and hope you enjoy all the rest of your feedback

    1. “some entries with more unchecked than checked letters”

      To be fair, there are only four lights with more than 50% unches. That’s pretty common in grids. I agree that grids with unches on edges are more setter-friendly than solver-friendly …. but that doesn’t bother me when solving.

    2. No one seems to have picked up on ‘worn by’ in 12d, which implies ‘exterior’, when ‘interior’ is what is needed for a hidden.

    3. Thanks Dutch, very kind words, and what you describe is what I’m aiming at.

      9a – Yep, don’t know why I thought it’d do

      19d/17a/21d – I’ve argued that ‘on’ could be doing work as part of definition or fodder, but I can’t argue it for 19d.

      12a – ‘from the ground’ was a later addition to the clue. It’s meant to help push people towards physical rises. I think it works as a noun phrase.

  3. Well done, Hodd. You have made good progress since your previous Rookie puzzle. I really enjoyed this one, and I think you have got the level of difficulty just right for Rookie Corner. Your cluing is brief and generally accurate with some minor exceptions, and most of your surface readings make sense.

    A few specific comments:
    9a – I don’t think that “first” used in this way covers the first letter of “yew” as well as “elm”.
    13a – “Old” is unnecessary.
    16a – The “ ‘s “ is surface padding which makes the wordplay misleading.
    5d – As far as I can see, you are only cluing two of the three Rs needed for the answer, but perhaps I am missing something.
    12d – The definition is either “colour” or “beige”, not both. You could omit “colour” but then the cryptic grammar would be “wordplay” of “definition” which isn’t acceptable. You’ve had a nice idea for this clue which doesn’t quite work. When you find yourself struggling to get accurate wordplay with a good surface, you are probably better off scrapping your original clue entirely and trying a new approach.
    20d – as the letters SUN to be removed appear in a different order in the source word, you need two anagram indicators in order for the wordplay to tell the solver to remove an anagram of “sun” from “Guernsey’s” and then make an anagram of what’s left over.

    Many thanks, Hodd, and please keep puzzles like this coming.

    1. Hello RD, and thanks for the positive feedback. I plan to keep them coming until BD stops answering my emails.

      13a – Chambers has it as old.
      16a- …by mother’s (mother has) appendix? = MUM+PS. Is that ok, grammatically?
      12d- In my head, ‘kind of beige’ was part of the fodder, although ‘of beige’ doesn’t supply any letters. I’m not sure if this is allowed.
      20d- Yep, a mistake I’ve made before. It *definitely* won’t happen again!

  4. Well done, Hodd – I thought that this was pitched at just the right level and it was a pleasure to solve.
    The wordplay for 5d doesn’t seem to account for one R.
    I liked 2d, 11d and 16d but my favourite was 7a.

      1. Ah, thanks. I should have had more faith that Hodd wouldn’t make a silly mistake.

  5. Hello Hodd! Very good – well done! I liked 7a a lot – it’s a great definition. 5d’s liberal use of ‘upright’ isn’t to my taste and some editors wouldn’t accept it … but others would be fine with it. I also liked 24a and 18a, amongst others. You are probably aware that The Times, for example, allows a maximum of one ‘hidden’ per puzzle, so that is something to look out for, depending on who your editor is. Great stuff!

    1. Many thanks for the encouragement, Encota. I hope one day I have an editor to worry about :)

  6. Just the right level for me, over a coffee plus a bit! Enjoyed it very much. Can you do Fridays for us?!!! **/****

    1. Thanks for the kind words, John. I’m really pleased to read you enjoyed this one, that means a lot.

  7. Welcome back, Hodd.

    I regret to say that I didn’t enjoy this one as much as your last, and some of the surfaces were less convincing too in my opinion. “Love” was repeated to clue “O” and “up” used three times as a reversal indicator in the Down clues.15a represents “wordplay from definition”. I also agree with the majority of RD’s points, indeed in 9a I’m surprised you didn’t clue “YE” as “yew mostly” or something similar.

    After the progress shown in your previous puzzles I was left rather disappointed I’m afraid, as this one didn’t show a continuation of the signs of improvement I was expecting, but it was still not a bad puzzle by any means although I didn’t have any specific ticks on my printed page.

    Many thanks, Hodd.

    1. Thanks for the detailed feedback Silvanus. I’m frustrated with the many small errors that continue to be picked up in my grids, despite everyone’s best efforts! I hope that you find my next grid an improvement. Personally, I was happier with the surfaces in this grid than my last efforts, so I’ll have a look back and compare them, see if I can get a handle on the difference.

  8. Enjoyable puzzle, plenty to like here
    It’s a real shame about the niggles Dutch/RD have mentioned, which stood out in an otherwise very good puzzle
    If CS is correct about he missing R in 5d (which I suspect she is), the required lift and separate is probably best avoided
    Well done and thanks for the challenge Hodd

    1. Thanks Roy. The niggles are a shame indeed. Very frustrating, and only myself to blame. Really glad you found plenty to like.

  9. An enjoyable solve although, like Silvanus, I’m not sure that I’d count it as a step up from the setter’s previous one. I had the same query as others over the ‘R’ in 5d and – assuming that CS is correct – I can’t say that I’m keen on the construction.
    Nevertheless, there was much to enjoy and I gave ticks to 24&25a along with 11&17d.

    Thanks to Hodd for braving the corner yet again!

  10. Well done, Hodd. To be honest I have hardly any complaints about this one – other than it being a tad too easy! But that’s me and my penchant for snorters, I suppose… My favourite is perhaps 18a – nice bit of wordplay and clever misdirection at both ends – took a while before I twigged ‘Cambridge’! Also liked 7a for the clever definition.

    I found it hardest in the SE corner. I’m a bit dubious about 23d but I suppose it works for others. And 25a – I’m hopeless at CDs but once I got the first three letters…

    Keep ’em coming, Hodd. If you decide on something tougher next time, I’m game!

  11. I really, really, enjoyed this crossword.

    At best, I am good for 2.5 stars, and usually struggle a bit, having to resort to Big Dave’s help.

    I managed this one unaided, and a lot of the wordplay made me smile.

    A little of the parsing made me think “does that quite work?” …. but that only added to my pleasure.

    So thank you, Hodd.


  12. A pleasant, if brief solve. RD and dutch covered most of my niggles, but the man in 13a is surely ‘old’ – don’t think I’ve heard him this century. I’m also not happy with more than one ‘hidden’ clue – I thought that used to be a Telegraph rule back in the day, but that was when they used to include ‘missing word in famous quote’ clues as well. Any veteran DT solvers remember other crossword features that have lapsed? Liked 21a & 14d and clever country-shifting in 18a. But 7a was excellent, one that can make you proud. Thanks for your good work and hope to see more.

    1. For ‘cove’ Chambers has ‘old Brit sl’, and it helped me be confident in putting in the answer.

        1. This late in the day, and this far down the blog…I think spoilers are a given. People can always aver their eyes ;)

            1. We are invited to comment for the benefit of the setter – this is not a hints-only post.
              If I don’t want spoilers, I don’t read the comments.

  13. Thanks Hodd, I worked this out eventually. Comments absent reading others’:
    Ticks against 7,13,24,2,4,6,21dn.
    18 I liked when I got it, but never would have without the crossers.
    20dn I liked, not being worried about the subtraction having a second anagram indicator.
    5 I can’t see an indication for the third R. RR for bishop, O for love, I’M for setter’s…
    17dn ‘congregation’ is either vague or a stretch imo.
    12ac ‘from the ground’ seems odd – the answer isn’t a verb I believe.
    Overall not as smooth as your first, rather a lot of stretching the wordplay and extraneous words, but entertaining all the same :)

    1. Thanks Gonzo, I’m still figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and what will be well received. I can iron out the black and white syntax errors, but predicting how a clue will land is a darker art indeed.

  14. An enjoyable solve with some most ingenious clues – such as 21ac which avoids the clichés of ‘eleven’, ‘team’, etc for XI. I thought the use of ‘congregation’ in 17dn was a little indirect but ‘flock’ for ‘congregation’ is accepted usage in certain circles. As an Indy/Graun solver I’ve no objection to ‘lift and separate’ cluing as in 5dn, though others may object – and I have to confess that I didn’t spot it at first. A couple of niggles, though; in 12dn I don’t think ‘worn by’ is really a suitable indicator for a hidden word, and in 20dn there should be some indication that the letters of ‘sun’ have to be removed from different parts of ‘Guernsey’ – something like “no intermittent sun in Guernsey’s stormy spring” maybe?
    Good stuff, though – don’t give up.

  15. Well done Hodd, almost as good as Saturday’s NTSPP.
    Some really inventive cluing on offer here, though a couple (probably already pointed out by other bloggers) didn’t quite work for me, though the solutions jumped out from the checkers, which seemed to be a feature of the puzzle. These were 19d and 20d, which I think would have been better clued as ‘Without sun, Guernseys’s stormy spring’.
    The clues I particularly liked were 7a (excellent clue) 21& 24a plus 16d.

    1. Thanks for the very kind words, Stephen. Helpful to see which clues worked well as well as which posed problems.

  16. Thanks Prolixic for the review. I don’t think ‘member of congregation’ clues ‘sheep’ though, unless ‘congregation’ is used in the loosest of senses, in which case it could clue pretty much anything.
    Perhaps ‘on’ in 21d is part of the definition? Similarly in 17ac ‘on offer’ might be ‘sale’ as an adjective, and in 19 ‘on’ might be indicating concatenation.
    But I don’t have the setter’s notes, so I could be talking through my hat!

    1. I think you have to make the connection ‘congregation’ -> ‘flock’ (as a vicar would refer to them), and then ‘flock’ -> ‘sheep’. I agree that makes a definition harder to suss. Is it permissible?

    2. I have to say that ‘member of congregation’ immediately brings to mind ‘sheep’ for me – perhaps it’s an age thing?

  17. Thanks as always to Prolixic for the analysis.

    In 20d, I concede that it contravenes strict Ximenism, but I liked it! Reminds me of my one-and-only trip to Guernsey – 30 years ago. It was midwinter, snow was blanketing the island (unusual in the CI), the sun was certainly not in evidence, and it was indeed a ‘stormy’ trip in a metaphorical sense (it was a business trip, and to say ‘things didn’t go well’ would be putting it mildly)!

    Ah well – after so many years I can look back on that unfortunate experience with some amusement….

    1. Have you read ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’? The heroine also went on a ‘business trip’ to the island with some disastrous results!

  18. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. It looks as though Hodd has a few recurring problems that he needs to rid himself of – I do hope that he can manage it.

  19. I found this very enjoyable. The clues I liked most were 10a, 12a, 18a, 4d, 17d, and 20d. My favourite by a long chalk was 7a. I did wonder if you were aiming for a pangram Hodd, but no.
    Very many thanks for the entertainment, Hodd, and well done.
    Much appreciate the review, Prolixic. It’s always most interesting to note why a clue is successful or why one is not quite right. Hopefully Hodd will be able to iron out his problems, given your expert guidance.

  20. Thanks to everyone who gave this a go and took the time to comment, and as always to Prolixic for the detailed breakdown. I’ll respond to individual comments in their threads.

    The comments have been mixed, and I’m left feeling a bit lost, and frustrated to still be making fundamental syntax errors. Some have said ‘good improvement’, others ‘no improvement/decline’, some enjoyed, some didn’t. I was pleased with this grid and felt that all surfaces held some interest, although now I see there are repeated indicators, and instances of using ‘on’ as a link word that I’m including for surfaces but that is not part of the wordplay.

    I’ll be back with another grid soon, and I vow not to repeat any of the mistakes I’ve made so far (although I’m liable to commit some new ones).

    Best wishes,


    Some responses to Prolixic’s review:

    12a) Originally the clue did not have ‘from the ground’, but I wasn’t sure ‘rise’ was fair on its own. Maybe I made it more confusing.

    15a) Yes, ‘from’ doesn’t work in this clue. I thought it did when I wrote it, but don’t know why.

    17a) ‘On’ as part of the definition? ‘On offer’ = sale? Maybe not.

    12d) Again, ‘worn’ seemed to make sense when I wrote it, but I see now it doesn’t suggest what it needs to. To avoid ‘wordplay from definition’, can I not argue that ‘sheikh, a kind of beige’ is all the fodder (even though ‘of beige’ contains none of the letters)?

    21d) ‘Bet on’ = ante

    1. Hi Hodd – it’s a tricky thing to see the strengths, foibles and peccadillos in one’s own clues
      Have you read this?
      A succinct insight into problems we very often see

Comments are closed.