Rookie Corner – 324 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 324

A Puzzle by Rex Bassett

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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.

A review by Prolixic follows.

Welcome back to Rex.  Overall, there were fewer niggles with this crossword and the cluing is improving but still with rough edges that need to be smoothed out.  With the notable exception of 27a (a bit of a car crash) the basic cluing structure was there and there were some enjoyable clues such as 2d and my favourite for the penny drop moment in 21 / 18.

The commentometer reads as 4.5 / 30 or 15%.


1 Goes too far and fires a warning? (10)
OVERSHOOTS – Definition and cryptic definition, the second part being warning shots fired above the heads of people perhaps.

6 Interminable conflict in betting exchange (4)
SWAP – A three letter word for conflict with the last letter removed (interminable) inside the abbreviation for starting price (betting).

10 Thanks to a warning trainee put in knives, forks and plates etc (9)
TABLEWARE – A two letter word meaning thanks followed by a six letter word for a warning that includes (put in) the abbreviation for a learner.

11 Before noon not quite time for love! (5)
AMOUR – The abbreviation for morning (before noon) followed by a period of time with the first letter removed (not quite).  Usually “not quite” means the removal of the last letter.  Perhaps “In the morning start off time for love.

12/13 What a dozen vowels has? (6,7)
TWELVE LETTERS – Cryptically “a dozen vowels” has this number of letters 

15 Reporting that tin leads to irritation (9)
SNITCHING – The chemical symbol for tin before (leads to) a seven letter word for an irritation.

18 See 21

19 Used to be the mornings you get the papers (5)
EXAMS – A two letter word meaning use to be followed by the abbreviation for mornings.  I know it was clued previously as before noon but there is an element of repetition here of AM for morning.

21/18 The deer’s running, it’s all happening (3,4,2,5)
THE GAMES AFOOT – Cryptic definition of a description of running deer.

23 Attack and capture (7)
SEIZURE – Double definition, the first being a medical attack and the second meaning the capture of something.

24 Brought up in front of the meeting a scale model finally (6)
PHLEGM – Before (in front of) the abbreviation for extraordinary general meeting put the scale for measuring acidity and the last letter (finally) of model.  I don’t think that the verbal phrase is a good definition for the noun that it indicates.  It is not specific enough.

27 Car’s running without disc brake and is smashed, so cycled (5)
BIKED – An anagram (and is smashed) of DISC BRAKE without the letters (rearranged – running – ) in cars.  As several commentators have pointed out, the use of without as the deletion indicator does not work here.

28 Initiated vote in a new Democratic amendment (9)
INNOVATED – An anagram (amendment) of VOTE IN A N (new) D (Democratic).  Some editors would not allow a noun such as amendment to be used as an anagram indicator.

29 Ideal place for online study? (4)
EDEN – The single letter abbreviation meaning on-line followed by a three letter word for a study.

30 Channel has problem getting reception initially on tall building (10)
SKYSCRAPER – The name of a TV channel followed by a six letter word for a problem and the first letter (initially) of reception.  Being pedantic, the first three letters of the clue are the name of the broadcaster.  The channels are ??? One, ??? Atlantic, ??? Movies, etc.  More importantly, the link word “on” does not work as you then have wordplay on definition in the cryptic reading of the clue.


1 Chooses towpaths occasionally (4)
OPTS – The even letters (occasionally) of the second word of the clue.

2 Crook is below ground (5)
ELBOW – An anagram (ground) of BELOW.

3 Defeat Japan? (7)
SHELLAC – Double definition of the North American slang word for a defeat and the type of polish used to “japan” a piece of furniture.  As you are using a North American slang word, this should have been indicated.  Maybe “Trump’s defeat of Japan”.

4 Pontificate about description of traitor accepted by a dictionary (5)
ORATE – A three letter word for the description of a traitor inside the first two letters of the abbreviation for the Oxford English Dictionary.  You cannot simply use part of the abbreviation in this way.

5 Design English Unionist logo with the minister (9)
THEOLOGUE – An anagram (design) of E (English) U (unionist) LOGO THE.

7 World Health leaders get praise in Spanish circles, a number are good (9)
WHOLESOME – The initial letters (leaders) of the first two words of the clue followed by a three letter Spanish word indicating praise and a four letter word meaning a number.  The are as the link word does not work as you have wordplay are definition in the cryptic reading which does not make grammatical sense.

8 To live on building site as pair (10)
PARASITISE – An anagram (building) of SITE AS PAIR.

9 Slogan taken from Pitman translation (6)
MANTRA – The answer is hidden in (taken from) the final two words of the clue.

14 So-called huge units, not half horrible! (10)
OSTENSIBLE – The abbreviation for oversized (huge) followed by the units used in the decimal system of counting and the last half of the letters in horrible.

16 Having difficulty knowing where to find the onions? (2,1,6)
IN A PICKLE – Definition and cryptic definition.  I don’t think that the “knowing” quite works here.

17 Healthy but extraordinarily thin and start eventually to rattle (2,3,4)
IN THE PINK – An anagram (extraordinarily) of THIN followed by the first letter (start) of eventually and a four letter word meaning to rattle.  Some editors would require “start of” to indicate the initial letter.

20 Read about right animal disease (6)
STURDY – A five letter word meaning to read around the abbreviation for right.

22 Complete beginner taken on by a partner (3,4)
ALL OVER – The A from the clue and a five letter word for a sexual partner include (taken on) the abbreviation for beginner. Rather like the two clues that lead to morning earlier in the crossword, we have the same use for getting to learner.

24 Appendix written about objective passages in Scots (5)
PENDS – The abbreviation for postscript (abbreviation) around a three letter word for an objective.

25 Rig put, for example, in reverse (3,2)
GET UP – The put fro the clue and the abbreviation for “for example” all reversed.

26 Reed bursts into flower in Germany (4)
EDER – An anagram (bursts) of REED.

48 comments on “Rookie Corner – 324

  1. Struck biggest hold-up in the SE with 24a the last one to get sorted. 24d needed checking in BRB but we did have the right answer from the wordplay.
    An enjoyable solve for us
    Thanks Rex.

  2. Sorry, this was not a lot of fun for me. Quite a bit of head scratching and several reveals to confirm answers. A few parsings have eluded me and I will have to wait for Prolixic to explain them.
    I did like 1a, 10a, 15a, and 3d.
    Thanks Rex.

    1. Sorry there was so much scratching but glad there were at least some likes. Thanks for taking time to comment.

  3. Hello again, Rex. I wish I could be more positive but my overall feeling is that Prolixic’s comment from last time is still relevant when he said you “continue to delight and frustrate in equal measure – there are still too many rough edges in the clues”. For me, your puzzles epitomise the curate’s egg.

    Once again my page is full of scribbles but I’ll leave most of the nitty-gritty in Prolixic’s capable hands. I will just mention a couple of things.

    Take care with abbreviations. You have two clues (28a & 5d) each of which has two abbreviations as part of the anagram fodder. This is not necessarily wrong but I would have thought that one abbreviation in one anagram would be enough in a single puzzle. Also, although OED is an accepted abbreviation for a specific dictionary that doesn’t validate the use of OE without the D.

    You do need to polish up some of your surfaces.

    Interestingly Senf and I must enjoy different parts of the curate’s egg! I wasn’t enamoured by any of clues he mentions, but I did like 12a/13a, 23a, 29a, & 1d (and even 28a despite my comment above about abbreviations).

    Thanks Rex, and in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Thanks for taking time. My wife says the same thing re delight and frustrate, must just be me! Glad there were bits to like.

  4. A good puzzle, though with some items needing sorting, as others have already said. I liked 1d, 15a, 2d and 12/13a for example. There were a few tricky (i.e. imprecise) definitions e.g. 24a, my Last One In.
    For 27a I can see what you are trying to do. ‘Without’ feels the wrong way round? There must be a cleaner way to express this, though I can’t quite find it! Maybe: “Cycled from crashed cars, leaving damaged disc brake”. it’s not quite right but something like that is needed to get your linkword(s) and subtractor more precise!
    With my other solving comments, rather than ‘spoil’ here, I’ll email them to you, as before. As usual, they aren’t necessarily right, just what I felt as I solved. Feel free to use or ignore, as you wish!!
    Cheers all,

  5. There are some good clues here – thanks Rex. I particularly liked 15a, 23a and 2d.
    I think a few of the clues are too verbose and I’m not sure why you’d use an obscure Scottish word for 24d when the letter pattern would allow for many more common words.

    1. Thanks Gazza glad you liked bits.
      Re 24d…..I’m a Scotsman! I resist the temptation of using more believe me!
      Lang may yet lum reel!

  6. I thought this was quite good with just a few queries – like others I had to guess on 24a (shouldn’t it be “This is brought up…..”?) and am still mystified by the wordplay – will have to await Prolixic I suppose. And I had to look up the obscure meaning for 24d.

    27a: nice idea and good surface, but the wordplay is just a tad too convoluted; and I don’t think [stuff to delete] “without” [fodder] is correct. Also “and is” is superfluous. Sorry, this one just doesn’t work for me.

    Rest is fine. Liked 29a, 7d and 8d. Thanks to RB!

    1. Thanks for the help. 24a has already been altered in a similar way.
      Re 24d…did you get the answer from the wordplay? If so I don’t see the odd obscure word as being a problem. I’ve learned many a word from crosswords and I am a Scot after all.
      27a is not my finest hour, correct!

      1. Re 24d – yes. I then looked up the word. Because the wordplay is straightforward I’m not really complaining about that one. Many an obscurity crops up often enough, especially in the Grauniad!

      2. Now sussed out 24a – finally! I think you’re out-Enigmatisting Enigmatist, here! :) Perhaps inserting the word “Extraordinary” before “meeting” would give solvers a helping hand?

  7. My overall impression is that many constructions were somewhat Heath Robinson
    There are some good clues, but for me they were drowned out by the uncomfortable ones
    I kind of liked 12/13 for example, but to me there is a bit of a tangle with ‘plural has’ – that should be ‘plural have’ ie ‘he has’ ‘they have’
    2d probably my pick – simple but effective and a smooth surface, which is the aim of a setter
    Thanks for the challenge RB

    1. Good of you to take time again, I need all the help I can get I think. Glad you liked a wee bit.

      1. Do you use a test solver, RexB? I’m quite willing to volunteer (I’ve done it for others – often resulting in them leaping ahead of me!!!!!)

        1. I do. I have a good friend who, while he does not compile himself, has a great mind for clues.
          I’ll bear your kind offer in mind, thanks.

  8. Hi Rex,

    I’ve thought for some time that you have an eye for a good clue, but the execution often lets you down unfortunately. Once again this was a mixed bag of the good (like 23a and 2d) and the not so good. I didn’t think many of the surfaces were that bad, but several could certainly have been smoother. I hope that Prolixic’s review will point you towards an even better product next time.

    Many thanks.

    1. This seems a common theme, Curates egg, the good the bad and the ugly etc
      (there must be a clue for that) perhaps a film themed crossword, with consistently good clues!

  9. I enjoyed this despite having some trouble with the parsing of a few clues. For example, I could not see what 20d had to do with animal disease. Also, I have always thought that 9d was a repetitive chant rather than a slogan but I am prepared to be corrected. Anyway, a good puzzle and I admire anyone who compiles a cryptic crossword. I have been trying but not managed to finish one yet!

    Many thanks, RB.

    Just found out what 20d has to do with animal disease! A new word for me. :grin:

    1. Thanks Steve
      I have a def. of mantra as “a statement or slogan repeated frequently” so…..
      …and I’m glad to see a smile at a new word rather than a complaint.

  10. Hi again Rex. My first impression was that this was rather more solver-friendly than some of your previous ones have been although I still struggled with a few of them – 24a for example. I’m not keen on the inclusion of ‘not-so-general’ knowledge where it’s unnecessary; I can see that the lesser known first definition of 3d makes the clue read well but I didn’t feel the same way about the specialised bit of knowledge in 20d – plenty of alternative ways to clue that word, nor the obscure Scottish word to define 24d. I don’t think that being a Scot yourself is sufficient justification for the latter unless you’re setting for a purely Scottish publication!
    I have a couple of queries that await the review from Prolixic but my ‘ticked’ list includes 23a plus 1,2 and 8d. The latter made me giggle and conjured up all manner of scenarios – especially those concerning the time when my husband and I bought a ‘renovation project’ and couldn’t afford to live elsewhere whilst work was in progress!

    1. Good to hear from you again Jane. I understand what you are saying but I’m going to TRY to defend myself re the “not so general knowledge” and the “obscure Scottish word”. It’s my feeling that if the clueing is clear and it leads you to a word that’s fair enough even if you have to look it up to check and as long as it’s not done too often. Glad you got a giggle.

      1. 20d is interesting because you have a free choice between an obscurity and a common word. I would be tempted to avoid the obscurity always, though granted it is a matter of taste. Importantly i think, i would let the possible surface readings play a big role in the decision. It would have to be a great surface to push me towards the obscurity

        1. Thanks Dutch for taking time and effort to comment.
          If find it hard to accept many people’s reluctance to the obscure word, as I’ve said before, so long as clueing is clear and straightforward. The ability to clue clearly is my guide as to whether to use or not.

  11. Thanks Rex Bassett, an entertaining solve. Comments absent reading others’:
    Ticks against 10,19,29,2,5,24d and particularly 8.
    15 better without the ‘that’ imo.
    24 ‘What’s brought up…’ works, with a bit of extra punctuation. The meeting is not the first to come to mind, but I got there.
    14 can ‘tens’ be ‘units’ when we label columns units, tens, hundreds etc. ?
    16 ‘On the spot where you can find the onions?’
    22 ‘taken in’ or swap order I think.
    24d I was just looking at that word for a clue of mine yesterday :)
    Ta Rex.

    1. Having read the rest, I want to stand up for new words (and meanings) in crosswords. It’s never too late to learn something.

    2. For 22 I prefer the clue as it stands: “taken on”. As a bridge-player I can well understand the surface!

  12. Thanks, Rex.

    I particularly enjoyed 16d (… onions) and 29a (Ideal place for online study).

  13. *** These comments are made without having read any of the previous comments so may well duplicate what others have said. ***
    I found this a bit of an odd mixture. There are some good clues but also several clues that don’t work.
    1dn and 2dn I liked – simple but clear and the surface of 2 was good.
    But 6ac and 24ac don’t really work. In 6 it’s a bit of a stretch to equate initial odds with betting (although I suppose “what are the odds?” and “what’s the betting?” are roughly equivalent); more seriously in 24 simply ‘brought up’ doesn’t define the answer.
    I liked 15ac with its use of the chemical symbol but I wonder if ‘that’ could be left out – perhaps not without affecting the surface.
    Another good touch was making use of unusual meanings of words or rare homonyms of common words, as in 3dn, 20dn and 24dn – something to keep solvers on their toes, but don’t overdo it.
    And I’m not sure that 14dn really means ‘so-called’.
    I could make further comments but no doubt others will have covered the same points.
    Do take note of Prolixic’s review, though – and I’ll look forward to your next puzzle.

  14. Thanks Exit for your detailed analysis. 6a and 24a I agree, especially with 24a, it’s been changed already. 15a, yes “that” could indeed come out. I’m glad someone does not disagree with these of more obscure words, so long as they’re clearly clued. In 14d I have a synonym being “so-called”, also apparent, presumed and alleged, all pretty similar.
    Stay safe

  15. Hi Rex,

    I really like 12/13, 29 & 2d. I think my main comments have been mentioned already. I would suggest watching out for extra words you don’t need. ‘That’ was mentioned, ‘knowing’ serves no purpose in 16d, ‘description of’ is not needed in 4d, nor is the article ‘a’
    Interminable is interesting, to me this word means going on and on rather than having a last piece removed, so is it an accurate indicator? I guess deer is an example of game, so this ought to have a definition-by-example indicator.

    I hope you get a lot from these comments and from prolixic’s review

    Many thanks for sharing

  16. 16d….agree, been changed. 4d ..not so sure. “Pontificate about traitor accepted by dictionary” makes less sense. Interminable…. neverending, endless, unending? Re 21/18…I see what you’re saying.
    Thanks for your valuable feedback

    1. With rat being a common synonym for traitor, it just feels verbose to me. I was trained to keep clues as short as possible, though i often fail – “scour your clues for shortening opportunities, and ruthlessly eliminate padding” is the advice I got. “Pontificate about entry of traitor in dictionary” would work, but for the abbreviation.

  17. Thanks Prolixic.
    I think in 30 the ‘on’ is being used for ‘B getting C on’ gives BC.

  18. Thanks as always to Prolixic for incisive review.

    Re your ‘car crash’ comment, I thought I’d mention that my first car (an old banger) didn’t have any disc brakes, it had drum brakes all round. Disc brakes were quite rare in those days except on high-performance cars. And it was a bit dicey going down long steep descents: even with engine braking, the brakes used to overheat and ‘fade’. Anyone else remember that experience?
    At least I didn’t have a ‘car crash’!

    1. Those were the days! Cars with disc brakes very often displayed a sticker with the word ‘discs’ – partly a status symbol but mainly to warn you, if you were following them, that they might stop more quickly than you thus precipitating a ‘car crash’.

  19. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, which I certainly needed to sort out the parsing of 24&27a. I hadn’t sorted out the specific type of meeting in 24a and didn’t have a clue where to start with 27a!
    Hope that Rex takes careful note of all the advice that’s been offered.

  20. Thanks for the detailed review as ever Prolixic – cleared up a couple of points for me, too

  21. PLEASE, no more references to my car crash!
    I’ll “insure” I don’t have another one!
    Thanks Prolixic for your usual “comprehensive” review, I’ll always make it my “policy” to use correct abbreviations and only one reference to “Learners” per puzzle.
    Enough already!

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