Rookie Corner – 323 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 323

A Puzzle by Acnestis

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Another new setter, Acnestis, makes his debut. 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.

Welcome to Acnestis.  As has been commented, an impressive debut.  Most of the comments are minor ones where small mistakes could be polished.  There were lots of very good clues and I look forward to the next one before too long.  The commentometer reads as 4/28 or 14.3%


1 Island nation imports small savoury pastry (6)
SAMOSA – The name of an Oceanic island includes (imports) the abbreviation for small.

5 I was wrong to turn up with a camel (3,5)
MEA CULPA – An anagram (to turn) of UP A CAMEL.

9 Sent back puddings under pressure (8)
STRESSED – A reversal (sent back) of an eight-letter word for puddings.

10 Director’s dog turned away, as it were (6)
GODARD – A reversal (turned) of DOG followed by the A from AWAY and the abbreviation for road (away).  Some editors would allow away to be split without indication.  However, the setter here has provided an indication that the split is required.

11 Buffoons oddly dismissing Foo Fighters (4)
UFOS – The even letters (oddly dismissing) of the first word of the clue.  Looking the cryptic reading of the clue “oddly dismissed” would be better.

12 Dividing agricultural Scottish region but not Soho, oddly (10)
TRISECTING – An anagram (agricultural) of SCOTTISH REGION without the letters in SOHO with the oddly being a secondary anagram indicator to indicate that the letters are removed in a different order.  I don’t think that agricultural works as the anagram indicator.  The intended meaning of clumsy is not given in the dictionaries.  

13 Computer is regressing — English artist’s still taken by it (6)
CAMERA – A reversal (is regressing) of a three-letter make of Apple computer followed by the abbreviation for English and the abbreviation for an artist.

14 Kind of well-worn satire in article (8)
ARTESIAN – An anagram (worn) of SATIRE inside the two-letter indefinite article.  Most editors will not accept joining the definition to the wordplay with a hyphen.

16 Main lover almost hasn’t got inside (5,3)
BLACK SEA – A four-letter word for a lover with the final letter removed (almost) with  a five letter word meaning hasn’t go inside.

19 Aim low when one’s old (6)
OBJECT – A six-letter word meaning low has the initial A (one) replace by the abbreviation for old.

21 Become fluent in a language to get it at your fingertips (4,6)
NAIL POLISH – A four letter word meaning to succeed at something followed by a six-letter Eastern European language.

23 See a shape (4)
CONE – The letter that that can spelled see as the phonetic equivalent followed be a three-letter word meaning a.

24 Opulent Parisian couple tour Luxembourg and Spain (2,4)
DE LUXE – The French word for two (Parisian couple) around the IVR code for Luxembourg all followed by the IVR code for Spain.  The cryptic reading resolves to A tour B.  Touring would give a better cryptic reading.

25 Not so resilient Englishman doubles back before the French Revolution (8)
BRITTLER – A four letter word for an Englishman with the final letter doubled (doubles back) followed by the French masculine singular form of the and an R for revolution.  R on its own is not a recognised abbreviation.  Although used in other abbreviations such as RPM, you should not use part abbreviations where the single letter is not recognised in its own right.

26 Poet’s always wearing apron where the poor stay on board (8)
STEERAGE – A three-letter word used by poets to refer to always inside (wearing) a five-letter word for part of a theatre of which an apron is an example.  As the wordplay involves a definition by example, this perhaps should be indicated.

27 Head to Kenya with a respect for combat sport (6)
KARATE – The initial letter (head to) of Karate followed by the A from the clue and a four-letter word meaning respect.


2 Bill passed dashing policeman at art fair’s opening (3,2,10)
ACT OF PARLIAMENT – An anagram (dashing) of POLICEMAN AT ART F (fair’s opening).

3 Supervise poetry written in Old English (7)
OVERSEE – A five-letter word for poetry inside the abbreviation for Old English.

4 McKellen entertains Pacino for some French people (9)
ALSATIANS – Split 2’1, 2, 4, the solution would indicate that Al Pacino is being entertained by Ian McKellen.

5 Skirting tax collectors, produced a sort of wine (7)
MADEIRA – A four-letter word meaning produced around (skirting) the abbreviation for the former tax collecting authority in the UK.  Perhaps old tax collectors would be better as tax collection is undertaken by HMRC.

6 Guardian drops European slant (5)
ANGLE – A five letter word for a guardian has the E (European) moved to the bottom.

7 Modernises happy times (7)
UPDATES – A two-letter word meaning happy followed by a five-letter word for times.

8 M6 to Lancaster? Penny nearly gets her mum’s approval (8,7)
PARENTAL CONSENT – An anagram (mangle – M + the answer to 6d) of TO LANCASTER PENN (penny nearly).  A nice idea to have M + the answer to 6d but I think to be fair to the solver it would have been better to have had a simple anagram indicator such as Travelling to Lancaster.  Again, the definition is a definition by example so a ? to indicate this would be appropriate.

15 Small wooden tool‘s not fine enough, Papa’a gathered (9)
TOOTHPICK – A phrase 3, 5 meaning not fine enough includes the letter represented by Papa in the Nato phonetic alphabet.  Watch out for spelling errors in the clues.

17 Conspire with student halfway through playing Cluedo (7)
COLLUDE – The abbreviation for a learner or student in the middle of an anagram (playing) of CLUEDO.

18 Can I be friendly? (7)
AMIABLE – Split 2,1,4 the solution is another way of saying “Can I be”.

20 Sailor finds what Spooner keeps his nails in (4-3)
JACK-TAR – A Spoonerism of Tack Jar (what Spooner keeps his nails in).  Finds as a link word here give definition finds wordplay.  As the solution is found from the wordplay, this is the wrong way around.

22 Cycling, gastronome conceals letter (5)
OMEGA – Move the GAS in gastronome to the end of the clue and the answer is hidden in the letters that remain.  Cycling means moving one letter to the end or beginning.  Here you have to move two or more letters for the clue to work.

66 comments on “Rookie Corner – 323

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed with lots of really good clues.
    Think there is an abbreviation in 25a which is not in BRB.
    A typo in 8d clue where it has an A that should be an S.
    Still a few where we’re not sure of all the parsing, eg 8d,10a, 19a and 23a.
    Will work on these later in our day.
    Thanks Acnestis. We Googled your name too as it was new to us.

    1. Thank you for your kind comments! I’m very pleased you enjoyed it. Sorry about the typo – I should have spotted that one.
      I honestly don’t have a very good reason for my pseudonym. AC are my initials, and acne is a bit of a dig at my age. Besides that, I just think it’s a neat word.

      1. You’ve got us intrigued now that we find you are in NZ as we have grandsons the same age as you. Would love to know if you are a born and bred Kiwi and whereabouts in the country you are? Feel free not to answer if you think this is being too intrusive.

        1. Not intrusive at all :) I am a born and bred Kiwi, having lived my whole life in West Auckland. As a matter of fact, I’ve never left the country before.

          1. Thanks for that. We actually lived in Henderson for a few years in the 1970s. A bit before your time.
            The more we look at your puzzle the more impressed we are. A really polished effort of which you can justifiably feel very proud.

  2. Excellent. High-quality stuff. Possibly the best rookie I’ve seen – good clues, good surfaces, good level, good variety, novelty – some tricky bits and overall entertaining and engaging. This would be at home in any of the daily papers, though not all would accept word splits.

    I wasn’t sure about the abbreviation R in 25a, didn’t see it in Chambers or Collins, or maybe I’ve misparsed. Some might argue about the translation for Englishman. And since you used mum, you might want a definition-by-example question mark after 8d.

    I particularly liked ‘Guardian drops European slant’ for its clever surface, turning up with a camel, the small wooden tool, and M6 (when I finally got it) – but pretty much every clue was special

    Many thanks Acnestis, congratulations!

    1. Thanks for the very generous comments, Dutch! I’m very pleased you enjoyed it.
      Good point about 8d needing another question mark – I hadn’t noticed it before but now you mention it I agree it does need one. Re the Englishman, I admit that as a case of cluing by example it doesn’t work, which again I hadn’t really thought about until I read your comment. Perhaps if it was the other way round it might work? Like using ‘pet’ to clue ‘dog’ as opposed to the other way round, if that makes sense.
      Thanks again for the very helpful feedback.

      1. well yes, strictly a definition-by-example, as in dog to clue pet, but i don’t think fairness has been compromised since it is readily solvable – the answer occurs before Londoner, Yorkshireman, etc. I was more worried about Scots taking offence! Mum was more misleading, there I think you do need a dbe indicator to get away from the gender. Well that’s my thinking, anyway! Let’s see what prolixic says

  3. Quite a few Hmms leaving uncertainty on a few parsings which I will wait for Prolixic to resolve.
    I took the R at the end of 25a to be like the R in RPM, although that is normally plural.
    Same comment as the 2Ks on the A in 15d.
    I did like 24a, 7d, and 18d.
    Thanks Acnestis a very pleasant end to my Sunday evening of cruciverbalism.

  4. Greetings from NZ!
    Thank you for the lovely comments so far, the feedback is really helpful. Thanks also to Prolixic in advance for the review, and of course to Big Dave for publishing my puzzle.
    I foolishly left one of my uni essays to the last minute so I’m afraid I won’t have much time today to respond to everyone, but I promise to do so as soon as I can. Also, apologies for the typo in 15d which I somehow overlooked – I must be more vigilant in my proofreading next time.

    1. Welcome to the blog

      I’m just printing off the crossword and will report back later

  5. A very warm welcome to Rookie Corner, Acnestis. This was such a good debut in this slot that I very much doubt it is your first cryptic puzzle with its smooth surfaces and accurate cluing.

    I have only minor comments to make:
    – Try to avoid repetition. You have used “a” = “one” in both 19a & 23a. Also in 23a, I assume you are using “see” to indicate the letter C whereas this should be “cee”.
    – 10a. Commendably you have tried to indicate the separation needed for “away”, but I think that “so to speak” would have been clearer than “as it were”.
    – 25a. “R”= “revolution” as an abbreviation is in neither Chambers nor Collins.
    – 4d. This is the only clue which I can’t unravel although I can see some elements of the parsing.
    – 5d. The Inland Revenue disappeared in 2005 when it became part of HMRC!
    – 8d. I’ll be interested in Prolixic’s view on M6. I liked this clue very much but M6 might be construed as an indirect anagram indicator (although, of course, not a forbidden indirect anagram!)
    15d. Contains a typo.

    Many thanks, Acnestis, and very well done. This was great fun and I look forward to seeing more from you.

    1. Aha! Acnestis, I see your comment left in the middle of the UK night in has just been released from moderation by CS revealing that you come from the Covid-19-free paradise on the other side of the world. That makes it all the more impressive that you knew that you need to take the M6 to get to Lancaster, and perhaps explains why you might not have known about the the change from IR to HMRC!

      You also mention being a university student. Would I be right to think you are more towards the younger end of the setters’ spectrum? If so, it’s always good to see new blood arriving on the scene.

      1. Hi Dave, thanks so much for the comments!
        You are quite right about this not being my first puzzle. I’ve been writing my own since the start of last year, though only recently have I felt confident enough to try setting for others besides my parents. You are also right about my being a younger setter – I’m 19, though no doubt by the time my next puzzle appears I’ll be 20.
        For the R in 25a I had RPM in mind, but now I’m not sure if this works. I suppose I could have gone for the French Resistance instead. Good point about IR – I must remember not to use that one again. I can’t claim to have known that the M6 goes to Lancaster without the aid of Google. Regarding clue to 8d itself, I wasn’t sure if an indirect anagram indicator would be allowed (I’ve not personally seen one used before) but I thought this would be a good place to try one out, and I’m happy most people like it so far.
        All this feedback is really helpful so thanks again!

      1. So it is. I should have gone to Specsavers. I looked, noticed meanings 1 & 2 but didn’t SEE number 3. :wacko:

        As an aside, I have never understood why we need words for letters of the alphabet. When would you ever use them except in crosswords? Wouldn’t you always write, “there is no F in cod” and not, “there is no ef in cod” to use the punchline of an old joke as an example.

        1. When learning the language so as to know how to pronounce the names for spelling in conversation?
          Or if using a typeface where you can’t tell your lower-case el from your upper-case … i.

    2. And IR is in Chambers, unqualified. As is EMI for the record company, though it says EMI for European Monetary Institute is replaced by ECB. Until Chambers updates these things, it’s arguably fair game.

      1. And I thought ECB was the abbreviation for the England and Wales Cricket Board … :unsure:

      2. The ‘if it’s in Chambers’ thing irks me, since language develops much faster than dictionaries are updated – a bit like newspapers, they’re always reporting yesterday’s news

        1. yes, I complained about the news to my newsagent – could be much better, i suggested

  6. An excellent debut, thank you Acnestis – typo or not, I did like 15d and 14a with its misleading ‘hyphen’

    I see others have mentioned quite a few things, some of which I’d marked, but I’ll leave the ‘reviewing’ to Prolixic,

  7. An extremely impressive debut – thanks Acnestis. Like Dutch I can’t remember a better Rookie puzzle.
    I particularly liked 10a, 14a, 8d and 15d.

  8. Thanks Acnestis
    Excellent clues, very enjoyable.
    Apparently, while indirect anagrams are a no-no, indirect anagram indicators are not. So much going on in that clue; the M6 trick is great, although it does muddle the Penny Lancaster joke somewhat.
    Favourites were the camel and the dog ones, also 15d & 4d
    I’m not going to rank it top rookie puzzle. For one, there have been plenty of top quality puzzles here before (it wasn’t that long ago that Prolixic awarded Chameleon the best rookie puzzle ever award, deservedly so, imo). Also, while surfaces all made sense, some of them are a little crosswordy.

    1. Hi Mucky, thanks for commenting!
      I’m pleased you enjoyed my puzzle. Honestly, the Penny Lancaster joke wasn’t intentional, and I had to Google her after reading your post.
      I had a look at the Chameleon puzzle you mentioned and I have to agree, it was a real tour-de-force.
      Fair point about some of the surfaces. Hopefully I’ll get better at finessing them with a bit more practice.

  9. Welcome, Acnestis.

    I didn’t know the meaning of your name until I Googled it. but I’m delighted to discover a word had been coined for such a thing, a bit like Petrichor, one of my all-time favourites.

    As others have said, this was a puzzle of high quality indeed, and exceptionally well constructed. Even if 9a, 3d and 18d were old chestnuts to some extent, they were more than offset by some great originality and cleverness. I would echo Mucky’s concluding paragraph, whilst mostly excellent some of the surfaces did seem slightly contrived.

    I have too many ticks on my printed page to pick out an overall favourite clue, but this was a pleasure to solve and I’m convinced a bright future beckons should you wish to pursue this setting malarkey. I hope you’ll let us know something more about your background and how you became interested in crosswords etc., it would be very interesting to hear.

    Many thanks and congratulations, Acnestis.

    1. Thank you for the kind comments, Silvanus!
      I confess those three clues you mention did rather clue themselves; perhaps I should’ve taken that as a warning that they might have been done before.
      If you’re interested I’ll gladly tell you a bit about my background in crosswords. My dad taught me the basics when I was about 11, introducing me to the cryptic in the NZ Listener, which in hindsight pales when compared with most British crosswords. When I was 16 I stumbled upon the Guardian cryptic online, where I found I couldn’t solve a single puzzle. I was already hooked on crosswords by then so I didn’t have trouble persevering. Only in the last year or two have I been able to finish puzzles more often than not. I’m not sure exactly when I started trying to set, but I know it took a couple of years before I managed to finish one. Since then I’ve found setting just as addictive as solving. Aside from crosswords I love music, reading and gardening.

      1. Thanks a lot for the additional information, Acnestis. Very interesting. Well done to your dad for getting you hooked originally and for taking the plunge to set your own puzzles, your debut in Rookie Corner suggests you definitely have an eye for a good clue.

        Perhaps it’s slightly different in NZ, but in the UK there seem to be fewer and fewer people of your age group interested in cryptic puzzles, so it’s always very refreshing to hear of notable exceptions to that trend.

        You’ve chosen very well indeed to use Big Dave’s Rookie Corner to demonstrate your talents. In my opinion, there is no better place anywhere for would-be setters, and there are many of us who have trodden your same path and can testify as to how vital this brainchild of Big Dave has been to our progression.

        I shall certainly look out for your future puzzles, very well done again.

      2. Further to that – you could do worse, Acnestis, than make yourself known to Hugh Stevenson at the Guardian. He’s on the lookout for young enthusiastic setters displaying ingenuity (whereas oldies like me haven’t a prayer!): remember Enigmatist started when he was only 16!

        1. Oops! It’s “Stephenson”. Sorry! :(
          His contact is crossword[dot]editor[at]theguardian[dot]com – with the usual substitutions.
          He doesn’t recruit very often!

  10. Welcome to Rookie Corner Acnestis, with a fine debut to boot
    I enjoyed the solve and only noticed the repetitions at the time (eg ‘oddly’ in consecutive clues)
    Looking back over the completed puzzle, I think there are one or two minor issues, but that’s all
    I’ll be interested to see what Prolixic makes of M6, I’m not convinced the implied is acceptable
    Well done and thanks for the entertainment

    1. Hi LbR,

      The two examples of “oddly” nearly triggered my repetition radar too, but in 11a it’s used as an alternate letter indicator and in 12a it’s used as an anagram indicator, so not a repetition of constructions. Personally I would have changed the second instance to read “strangely” or something similar, as the two uses do jar somewhat.

    2. Would M9 have been any better for you? Of course it wouldn’t have worked as well from a motoring viewpoint.

      1. I’m just not convinced it works as a construct, so I’m looking forward to the review – I’m quite happy to be put straight
        Incidentally, this puzzle gets a mention in the Graun blog today which is nice to see

      2. it’s just a straight substitution. some editors might see it as an “advanced” trick though i don’t doubt this would be acceptable in Guardian, independent

        Presumably the puzzle was constructed around this, very clever

  11. Agreed – Not strictly wrong but a bit of a clash which is easily avoided, as you suggest

  12. The one slightly clumsy bit of surface that I noticed was “to get it” in 21a. I think (ah, I see Chambers does too) the expression is ‘have at your fingertips’. “It” works better in the surface than in the cryptic reading. “Gain fluency in a language to have this at your fingertips”, perhaps

    ok, i wondered about soho being in scotland – maybe it is?

    Surface-wise, btw, I really enjoyed 19a. It just sounds nice. I enjoy little philosophical maxims as clues.

  13. Hi Acnestic and welcome to the Corner. As others have commented, this was an excellent first foray with much to commend it although I did feel that there were some rather odd surface reads, particularly where your ambitious anagrams were concerned.
    My personal preferences were for 14&21a plus 15d – with perhaps a slight change in wording needed for 21a.
    Many thanks for submitting this one and I hope we have more to look forward to from you.

    By the way – I think Baloo has the perfect answer for your little ‘problem’!

  14. Thank you, Acnestic for a great puzzle. I did find a couple of clues that didn’t quite gel with me. For example in 27a I could not equate the last part of the clue with “respect” but then that could be a generational thing. I always look upon it as how fast things are.

    I really enjoyed your offering, Acnestic (great nom de plume)and look forward to more from you.

  15. Thanks Acnestis for an interesting solve. Comments absent reading others’ (there may be spoilers):
    Particular ticks against 10,13,14,2,4,18.
    11 very tricky definition, and the ‘dismissing foo’ looks like that has to be removed from buffoons first.
    12 ‘agricultural’ seems extraneous unless I’m mistaken.
    16 to be picky, ‘main’ implies the high seas imo.
    19 tough, wouldn’t have got it without crossers as that synonym for low probably wouldn’t have come to mind. The double-step substitution makes it harder too.
    8 M6 ??

    Thanks again for the entertainment. There are some technical issues that Prolixic will point out I’m sure.

      1. Aha, not sure what to think about that. Once the above comments had confirmed it was the anagram indicator, I was thinking along the lines of the M6 starting out as the Preston BYPASS.

  16. Very good debut Acnestis!

    I puzzled over M6 as well, until LBR’s revelation just above. It’ll be a guess, what Prolixic’s view will be, but certainly ingenious! To me, “M6” can have lots of meanings: a size of screw thread (6mm), a (rather obscure) star cluster in the constellation Scorpius, various pieces of military hardware, plus quite a few I had to look up (the most curious being an abbreviation for King Mohammed VI of Morocco). I did spot something called “M6 cipher”, apparently a cryptology standard of some sort, but thought that was a bit tenuous….. Any more?

    My main problem with M6 was that 6d was my LOI. Only just got the wordplay. Good one!

    Other ‘minus’ comments: In 12a I’m not sure what ‘agricultural’ is doing: no doubt will be explained. And I haven’t parsed 10a, 23a, 4d yet. 9a is OK but a very well-known one to cruciverbalists! Almost as well known as (CARTHORSE)* 16a the surface could be seen as a bit risqué! And others have pointed out the typo in 15d. Crosswords have this in common with software writing: you can’t get away with a typo!

    But the goodies far outnumber the not-so-good (and once some of the above are explained, I’m sure they’ll be promoted!). Hard to pick a favourite. You seem to be a master of clever wordplay: especially liked 19a, 21a, 25a, 6d (once I got it), 22d.

    3d: nothing special in the wordplay, but the surface’s brilliant! Why does it make me think of “Hwæt. We Gardena in geardagum, þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon….”*?

    Look forward to your next: I’ll be watching out for it!

    *yes I had to google that!

    1. agricultural is an anagram indicator. It was a new one for me until recently on this site, apparently it means clumsy in a british sporting context. This is a subtractive anagram where the subtracted letters are not in the correct order, so rightly there are two anagram indicators.

      1. Not a fair indicator imo – that meaning isn’t in Collins or Chambers.
        As I’ve previously said, I’m fine without a second anagram indicator though.

      2. Thanks. Well that’s a new one for me too! Don’t think I’ve ever heard the word on TMS (if that’s the connection you’re referring to) – and I’ve been listening in now and again ever since the 1960s! I am familiar with the word ‘gardening’ – when the batsman walks down the pitch and tamps it down with his bat (allegedly to waste time…).

        I still think the employment as an anagrind is rather dubious. Let’s see what Prolix says.

        1. I’d be very surprised if agricultural hasn’t cropped up many times on TMS, e.g.: “that’s an agricultural swipe to cow corner”; “he is an agricultural batsman”.

  17. Great puzzle – welcome Acnestis!

    Lots of very good clues here. My summary list of particularly good ones reads:

    17d nice!
    6d good
    16 lover almost?? Ah yes, BEA(u)
    18 good; an old friend!
    24a very good
    5a good
    9a good. Another old favourite
    3d good. An old friend
    1a good
    13a good use of ‘still’
    14a good. Sneaky hyphen!
    23a good
    4d it took me a while to get this one. Clever!
    8d M6 – very clever!



  18. My first thought on solving this was it had a very nice contemporary feel to it (always a plus point in my book) and that the setter was relatively young. I then read the comments and see that he is! All the more impressive.
    I have to confess to two or three bung ins so can’t comment on them.
    Wasn’t too keen on 26a where I thought the surface wasn’t convincing and the definition a bit detached and obvious. However I have ticks all over the place, including 13a, 14a (very clever)21a (loved “nail”) 24a, 27a plus 7d and my favourite, 18d. Even the normally loathed (by me) Spoonerism made me smile too.
    Well done and congratulations Acnestis.

  19. What a debut! Some really clever and original techniques on display which raised many a smile here. No doubt there will be a few comments from Prolixic, all of which have been covered above, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    I’m still not sure I understand 4d or 22d, but the answers seem obvious.
    Very well done, Acnestis. No pressure, but we are expecting great things from you in future!!

  20. Thanks Prolixic.
    Re ‘cycling’, I suppose if you thought of it as ‘gastronome’ written in a circle, the answer would be visible.
    [the clue reminded of Fat Man on a Bicycle of many years ago.]

  21. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, which cleared up most of my queries. However, I’m still struggling with 11a. As far as I can discover, UFOS are simply ‘unidentified flying objects’ and Foo Fighters is the name of a group – what am I missing?

    1. Hi Jane,
      ‘Foo Fighter’ is WWII USAF slang for a UFO. The band name comes from that (which took a while to surface from memory).

  22. Thank you very much for the review Prolixic, your feedback is invaluable! I can definitely see where I went wrong and what bits need modifying.
    As Gonzo has pointed out, I intended ‘cycling’ in 22d to indicate that ‘gastronome’ should be written in a circle, which I thought was how the device usually works, but maybe I’m wrong?
    Also, a very big thank you to everyone else for the wonderful comments. (I realise now that responding to every comment is too big a task, but I assure everyone I’ve enjoyed reading them all and really appreciate the time you’ve taken to welcome me.)

    1. What cycling means has been raised here before. This is the only place where I’ve seen it asserted that it can only be moving one letter. I think it’s generally accepted elsewhere that it means what you think it means. That is its natural, or mathematical, meaning. There are plenty of examples. One is a recent Listener puzzle in which instructions state ‘answers must be cycled before entering’ without further comment. The solution is entered starting on any letter, keeping the order thereafter and starting from the beginning when you reach the end.

      1. Yes, I’m rather surprised by Prolixic’s view that cycling can only involve one letter. We’ve had numerous examples of more than one letter being cycled in Telegraph crosswords, including this clue from a Shamus Toughie:
        Cycling Russian politician in supply of data? (5) giving Input.

    2. Thanks Acnestis. If you have the time to look at a Kiwi crossword I compiled a while back, get Big Dave to pass on your email.

  23. Thanks to Prolixic for the analysis and the ‘missing’ parsings. I totally missed ALSATIANS although right under my nose! I also didn’t get CONE although I now understand C=see without a homophone indicator is OK. But I’m relieved that my misgivings about ‘agricultural’ are shared by P and others. When I’m searching for an anagrind (or indeed any sort of indicator) to fit the surface, I first browse The Clue Clinic and similar resources. But not always!

    However I don’t think I’d ever have thought of ‘agricultural’ even if I’d known its meaning!

  24. Excellent for a debut puzzle – I’m impressed. I didn’t get 10ac as the director’s name didn’t occur to me, but apart from that it all came together without help. I really liked the M6 to Lancaster clue – probably more Guardian/Indy than Telegraph but that’s fine by me! Hope to see more of your puzzles soon.

  25. Although an impressive debut Rookie, I have to say that sometimes as a setter you have to put the rules ahead of your own wish to make for good surface reading. Too wordy and too confusing at times.

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