Rookie Corner – 325 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 325

A Puzzle by Bungo

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today Bungo is in the debut slot. 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.

Thanks to everyone who has already done the review of the crossword.  I won’t waste time repeating the comments.


1 Nellie’s nose-ring? (5-4)
TRUNK-CALL – Cryptically the sound of an elephant could be described as this.

6 In China, limousines heading back for city (5)
MILAN – The answer is hidden and reversed (heading back) in the second and third words of the clue.

9 What folders do wise men from the East or I possess? (7)
ORIGAMI – Reverse (from the east) a four-letter word for wise men inside (possess) the OR I from the clue.

10 Lightly strike seabird to get herring-bone, say (7)
PATTERN – A three-letter word meaning lightly strike followed by a four-letter seabird.

11 Pushes part of dinghy pessimistically (5)
HYPES – The answer is hidden (part of) in the final two words of the clue.

13 New career where one may not develop (5,4)
GREEN BELT – A five-letter word meaning new followed by a four-letter word meaning career in the sense of run with haste.

14 Dressed down, showing new style of bare heads (9)
EARBASHED – An anagram (new style) of BARE HEADS.

16 Alsatian I record in vehicle (4)
JEEP – The French (Alsatian) for I followed by a two-letter abbreviation for a record.

18 Leads to limitation in speech, perhaps? (4)
LISP – The initial letters (leads to) of the final four words of the clue.

19 Soaks crew, going about at far end of harbour (9)
MARINATES – Reverse a three-letter word for a crew after a six letter word for a marina.

22 Training Ada, girl about to act in circus (9)
GLADIATOR – An anagram (training) of ADA GIRL around the TO from the clue.

24 Admitting Queen caught spies roughly (5)
CIRCA – The three letter abbreviation for American spies includes (admitting) the single letter abbreviation for queen and the abbreviation for caught.

25 Group who trip over Cinderella? (7)
BOLSHOI – Cryptic definition of a ballet company who might dance (trip) Cinderella.

26 Tail off dead snake’s regularly blue (7)
DWINDLE – The abbreviation for dead followed by a four-letter word meaning snake and the even letters (regularly) in blue.

28 For example, enemy’s close beside borders of pacifist country (5)
EGYPT – The abbreviation for “for example” followed by the final letter (close) of enemy and the outer letters (borders) of pacifist.

29 Jealous old journalist penning biting introduction is dismissed (5-4)
GREEN-EYED – A four-letter word for the colour associated with age and the abbreviation for editor (journalist) includes (penning) a four-letter word meaning biting or eager without the initial K (introduction is dismissed.


1 Foot or part of foot revolutionary breaks crossing river (7)
TROCHEE – The name of a three-letter Cuban revolutionary in (breaks) a three-letter part of the foot around (crossing) the abbreviation for river.

2 Where one goes up to part with last being banished (3)
UNI – A four letter word for a part or module of something without the final letter (with last being banished).

3 Bigot, possibly kilted one, reported. (8)
KLANSMAN – A homophone (reported) of CLANSMAN (possibly kilted one).

4 A warning sound perceived in taking off (5)
APING – The A from the clue followed by a four-letter warning sound.

5 Odds of impure monarch framing one who learns about insolence? (3-6)
LIP-READER – The odd letters in impure with a six letter word describing a monarch around them (framing).

6 Petty Greek character’s first to revolt (6)
MUTINY – A four-letter word meaning small or petty preceded by a two-letter Greek character.

7 Airs Schubertian octet, badly disrupting one marking fiction (3-8)
LIE-DETECTOR – A six-letter word describing Schubert’s songs around an anagram (badly) of OCTET.

8 Continuously purse lips in sullen objection when upset (3-4)
NON-STOP – A three-letter word for a purse or prize fund followed by the outer letters (lips in) of sullen and objection all reversed (when upset).

12 Capital answer to “What are we drinking, Livingstone”? (4,7)
PORT STANLEY – How Dr Livingstone might have answered the question raised by the person who found him in Africa.

15 Thread supporting actor pulled? It might be (9)
HAMSTRING – A six-letter word for a thread under (supporting) a three-letter word for an actor.

17 Passivity from popular area of London one enters (8)
INACTION – A two-letter word meaning popular followed by an area in West London with the letter  representing one included.

18 Contrived bilge the French readily understood (7)
LEGIBLE – An anagram (contrived) of BILGE followed by the French masculine form of the.

20 Wonder if sow consumes plant, in the main (7)
SEAWEED – A three letter word for wonder inside (consumes) a four letter word meaning sow.

21 Can cry, given what’s behind pot noodle lid (3,3)
TIN HAT – A three-letter word for a can followed by a two letter word for a cry or exclamation and the last letter of pot.

23 Take food cooler, lose head and gorge?  The opposite (5)
RIDGE – Remove the first letter from the kitchen item that keeps food cold.

27 Plain crisp (3)
DRY – Double definition or plain or boring and not moist.

68 comments on “Rookie Corner – 325

  1. We have got a filled grid and are pretty sure we have got the answers that Bungo intended but there are still quite a few where we have not yet worked out all the wordplay. Will try and get back to it later.
    Thanks Bungo.

    1. Many thanks for attempting. The wordplay is all justifiable in my head, but will await verdict from Prolixic with interest! Thanks for feedback.

  2. Well, I finished with some head scratching, electronic assistance, and reveals. This was definitely a bit of a struggle.
    However, I did like 10a and 12d – the latter was quite brilliant.
    I may be suffering from ‘word blindness’ but I am not sure that 5d has an appropriate definition. So, I look forward to Prolixic’s review to resolve that and a few other parsings for me.
    Thanks Bungo on a good first effort.

    1. Many thanks, Senf. Hope it was at least an enjoyable struggle. I await Prolixic’s view on 5d as well – I wasn’t definitely sure it was wrong but I wasn’t totally sure it was acceptable.

  3. Welcome, Bungo. I’m glad you didn’t choose Bungin as your alias. :wink:

    I thought this was a promising first Rookie puzzle. Your cluing is mostly accurate and you have some very interesting ideas on show although some of your surfaces are rather meaningless which is something you should be able to improve with practice and the help of a good test solver.

    Overall I found this a tough puzzle although there were a few easy clues scattered about to provide entry points for the solver. Some of the parsing took a bit of head scratching to unravel and I still can’t fully justify my answer to 8d. I was surprised when I looked up 14a in Chambers to find that the verbal form is described as an informal Australian term.

    My favourite was the brilliant 12d.

    Prolixic will have some wise words of wisdom on points of detail but I will just mention that the answer to 29a is synonymous with “envious” not “jealous”.

    Many thanks and well done, Bungo. I look forward to your next offering.

    1. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (the only reference book by my side as I type this! says 29a means jealous or envious

      1. My O-Level English teacher will be turning in his grave at what he considered was a cardinal sin – one of many!

    2. Many thanks Rabbit Dave for the detailed feedback. Were there any surfaces in particular you felt were meaningless, or was it more a general feel?

      I do try and distinguish between jealous and envious, but if I remember my Othello 29a is a description of the former. But point taken I should have double-checked.

      1. Thanks for responding Bungo and sorry for the delay in getting back to you but, unusually, I have been out for a lot of the day including a weird trip to the dentist, who was dressed more like an astronaut and whom I couldn’t understand because his voice behind a mask and visor was muffled and echoey!

        On reflection, “meaningless” is over-harsh. There were however quite a few clues which would fail the acid test, i.e.: would the phrase or sentence sound out of place if you overheard it in a bar (chance would be a fine thing at the moment!)?

        I am sure you will have convinced yourself that all your clues read logically but try to look your surfaces through the mind of the solver. It’s fine for a solver to have to grapple with the wordplay but smooth surfaces add to the enjoyment. There will undoubtedly be some shades of grey in this but from my point of view, concentrating on the across clues, some examples in your puzzle are 10a, 11a, 14a, 16a, 19a, 25a & 26a. On the other hand, the surfaces of 6a, 13a, 18a, 22a, 28a & 29a are excellent.

        As something to aspire to, Campbell’s surfaces in today’s Telegraph back-pager are very good, but, don’t be disheartened, he has been at this setting lark for years, and you have made a very encouraging start.

        Hope this helps.

        1. Many thanks for the response. It certainly does help, and I hope the dentist was not for anything too serious.

  4. Welcome to the Corner, Bungo

    Quite a tricky crossword to solve over breakfast. The more straight-forward clues work best as quite a few of the surface readings are tending towards the ‘trying too hard to be cryptic’. My particular favourite was 12d and I did like 1a too.

    Thank you for the crossword – take on board what Prolixic has to say in his review and then come back with another puzzle in due course. Thanks in advance to Prolixic too

    1. Thanks Crypticsue. Surfaces are genuinely my best effort to make some sort of plausible sentence, but will do my best to improve this aspect. 1a was clue I was most pleased with, so delighted you enjoyed it as well.

  5. Welcome, Bungo. I thought that this was a very accomplished and enjoyable puzzle with some great clues. It’s quite tricky in places and I’d have been happy to see it as a Wednesday Toughie.
    My ticks went to 13a, 5d, 7d and 8d but favourite has to be 12d.
    More like this, please.

  6. Welcome from me too, Bungo.

    I think you can justifiably feel very proud of your debut, I would be surprised if this was your first-ever puzzle though. Technically there is very little to fault I’d suggest, but the cryptic grammar in 9a did jar and a few of the surfaces, especially 2d, could have benefited from a little more polish. Personally I found the disparity in difficulty level between the clues rather unusual, some were very straightforward, some quite convoluted, it almost seemed as though two different setters were involved.

    My ticks went to 13a, 28a, 12d and 18d.

    Congratulations on a very professional effort, I hope you’ll return with something even better. Many thanks.

    1. Good point Silvanus re. the clue difficulty level – I hadn’t quite worked out how to put that into words. Several went in fairly easily but then 26, 15 and 19 appeared which I didn’t solve on my first time through the clues and they were all in the last third of my solve!

      1. Silvanus has summed it up nicely – definitely two different levels of clue in one crossword

        1. I did wonder whether the setter had been on one of Boatman’s ‘masterclasses’ and brushed up an old puzzle with a suggestion or two from him?

          1. As it happens I haven’t – I’m just clearly not very good at medium difficulty clues!

    2. Many thanks Silvanus for your detailed feedback. I’ve inflicted a couple of puzzles on friends on holiday, some of the better clues of which reappeared in this one, but was keen to get the considered opinion of solvers here. I personally like solving crosswords with a few easy entry points to get the confidence up, but clearly didn’t judge the ramp up in difficulty very well.

  7. Thanks Bungo and welcome! I particularly liked 12d, 18d, 23d, 1a, 13a, 29a (great surface!), 26a (lovely misdirection) and 15d (assuming the surface alludes to a social networking feed or similar). There are a few where the surface is clunky at best. And the award for the most complex cryptic wordplay must surely go to 1d (A in B around C)!

    I always make brief notes on each clue as I solve, which are too detailed to share here but which I am more than happy to share with you by email. If you’d like it then ask BD to put us in touch. As I always say, though, I won’t be offended if not.

    I look forward to your next! As one or two others have said, do make the most of Prolixic’s feedback tomorrow – it is always valuable.

    Cheers all!


    1. Many thanks Encota. Confess I thought 23d was one of my more workmanlike efforts so delighted it had a fan!

      Would love to have your more detailed feedback, and will ask BD to provide you with my details. Many thanks.

  8. Almost a toughie, completed but unable to parse some clues. I look forward to Prolixic’s feedback to enlighten me.

    1. Thank you Joehorn. Apologies the parsing was a bit unwieldy in places, but hope it was enjoyable nonetheless.

  9. Welcome to RC Bungo
    I thought this puzzle was generally well put together but three or four clues seemed strangely out of place or the parsing was rather Guardian-esque
    5d is really two cryptic clues with no definition; whilst I liked 12d, I think you could have phrased it more succinctly; there are two or three where the parsing eludes me
    I will be interested to see what Prolixic makes of this; I don’t think there are many blatant errors as such, but I have no doubt there will be a fair few ‘advisories’
    Well done for putting the puzzle together and thanks for the entertainment
    Thanks in advance to Prolixic

    1. Many thanks LetterboxRoy. I attempt to make my clues more Ximenean than not, so hopefully not too Guardian like clues slipped in there. Thank you for the feedback.

  10. A lot of head scratching with this puzzle and I did not understand how “cry” worked in 22d. I did have to reveal one or two letters in order to finish but I managed 90% without help. There were some good clues and’ like others. I thought 12d was a cracker.

    Many thanks, Bungo. It was a great first effort and I look forward to more from you.

    1. Thank you Steve for your feedback and vote of confidence. Cry does serve a purpose in 22d – at least in my parsing!

  11. Hi Bungo
    Quite a polished and impressive puzzle, tricky in places but not overly so. I like clues in which the boundary between definition and wordplay is disguised and you’ve obviously put some effort into achieving that. I liked 10 13 16 and of the downs, 1 12 27. 1a was quite cute too if a little unorthodox.
    I agree with LBR that 5d is deficient.
    There are many clues in which your wordplay comes in reverse order, some being more successful than others. Too much of it becomes a bit tiring. Some examples:
    In 1d & 17d you have ‘X Y enters’ for ‘put Y inside X’. This isn’t to everyone’s taste, but I like it; it reads all in one without chopping up and the solver doesn’t need to add anything.
    In 5d and 7d you have ‘X Y surrounding’ and ‘X Y entering’. This doesn’t read as fluently. The solver has to provide a ‘with’: ‘X with Y surrounding’. Alternatively one reads it with a break: ‘X, Y surrounding’.
    In 6d you go a step further: ‘X Y is first’. This is very difficult to read as natural English.
    In 29a you have ‘X surrounding Y introduction is dismissed’. You want to say ‘X surrounding (Y with no introduction)’ but your wording doesn’t do that naturally. Compare 2d in which ‘part with last being banished’ does read naturally.
    9a is of the same type as 1d and 17d but you run into a different problem: you need ‘possesses’ for the cryptic grammar to work but have possess because the surface is ‘what …do … I possess?’ This is a difficulty that always arises when you turn the clue into a question of the type ‘What does/do/can …?’ because you need the infinitive form to go with the does/do/can but nearly always need a third person form of the verb for the cryptic grammar. One way to solve the problem is by using a verb whose past participle is the same as the infinitive. The most useful are let, put, set. Then you can say, for example ‘What folders do wise men from the East or I put outside?’, when it’s ‘do … put’ in the surface but ‘or I put outside men’ cryptically.

    1. Many thanks indeed for the really detailed feedback, Mucky, and sorry not to respond sooner.

      Point taken about an abundance of Yoda-like cryptic instructions. It wasn’t intentional as such, insofar as I didn’t make a deliberate choice to include several clues with that feature; more it happened naturally as a result of me trying to wrestle the wordplay into a half-plausible surface reading (and given some of the other comments, clearly only half-plausible in some cases!).

      9a I havered over for a long time. “A inside B” where B is one word would clearly require “possesses” in the cryptic reading, but I wasn’t sure whether you could make an argument that where B is two words (as in 9a) you could use “possess” – as in “these two words, they possess A”. My suspicion was it was more likely than not that you couldn’t make such an argument, but I wasn’t absolutely certain, hence why I submitted it to get the view of this community. Certainly I wouldn’t exactly be surprised if Prolixic’s review declared “possess” to be an error.

  12. Hi Bungo,

    Mucky beat me to it. I was going to say that i was impressed with your definitions, merging them into the surface so as to disguise the boundaries. That is good setting. Keep doing that and you’ll make the dailies in no time.

    I also thought this was technically fairly sound. Watch out for things like possess, these are classic errors. And keep it simple.

    There were some synonyms i thought were a bit distant (crew, monarch) but i didn’t think twice about jealous, which i see is at the top of the synonym list for envious & vice versa in my chambers app.

    “Airs Schubertian” works but I think stuff like that can make your clue harder to read (vs just German songs), I know you were combining with octet – question of taste though, Schubert fans my love it!

    Not sure about the “if” in 20a, I don’t think it does anything.

    1a seems popular, and it’s definitely cute, but is there a definition?

    Well done Bungo, I’m well impressed

    1. 1a is one that doesn’t really work for me – suggestive rather than definitive

    2. Many thanks indeed Dutch for the feedback and vote of confidence.

      “if” in 20a is intended as part of the cryptic instruction, although from some of the other feedback I’ve received you may need to give the setter a bit of leeway on that one!

      I hope I’m avoiding spoilers if I say that in 1a my thought was the definition was cryptic.

  13. A fairly tough but enjoyable solve. Comments absent reading others’:
    Particular ticks against 9,13,22,1d,12,15.
    6ac ‘to’ as the link word would give a better surface imo.
    8 a ‘fill and parse much later’! Clever use of purse.
    Technically excellent I thought.
    Construction backwards a bit too much of my liking for.
    Some definitions you have gone for defining a whimsical or literal interpretation of the answer – this fails the ‘you must say what you mean’ test imo. Double definitions where one is whimsical or literal are OK however.
    Overall a good debut, thanks Bungo.

    1. Many thanks Gonzo for your feedback.

      6a I did consider “to” but I have a totally and utterly irrational dislike for using it as a link word hence why I avoided it and plumped for “for”.

      Point taken about the construction being too often backwards.

      1. Actually, with ‘in’ as the sole hidden indicator you need ‘is’ or the like (or nothing) as the link word at the end, I think.
        ‘In China, limousines going around city’?

  14. Welcome to the corner, Bungo. I’m in the same camp as CS in that I thought your more straightforward clues worked best, the more convoluted ones left me somewhat cold.
    My favourite was 1a and I also picked out 10&13a plus 12d for special mention. More along those lines would be very welcome.
    Well done on your debut – pay close attention to the review from Prolixic and I hope to see you back again ‘ere long.

    1. Many thanks indeed Jane. I’m not a fan of solving overly convoluted clues either. Unfortunately (and I think like many rookies), I’m also not a very good judge of how convoluted my clues are!

  15. Good debut and welcome, Bungo! Fairly challenging and one or two write-ins where I haven’t sussed the parsing yet – and there may be some which don’t properly parse – but Prolixic will suss those out!

    Your wordplay is certainly ingenious in places – 1d and 24a get especial marks from me for that: both tricky parsings! But, as so often is the case with debuts, the surfaces need a bit of attention. 1d for example doesn’t make much sense – I wonder if you could find a better word than ‘revolutionary’ (I thought of “….that, in Rome….” but that’s just an idea and may not work for some). I too am rather poor at surfaces – I’ve been advised to get a non-cruciverbalist (Mrs L, in this case) to look over my attempts at clues, before submitting….

    More pluses? I liked 13a – I only wish it were true of where we live! 19a and 26a also good. And 7d – although I think the word ‘Schubertian’ is superfluous.

    25a I’ve so far failed to parse – or is it just a cryptic def.? If so it doesn’t work for me. And 5d I don’t get the definition – are we looking at some obscure meaning of ‘insolence’ or are we thinking of a former (and late) President’s catchphrase?

    Anyway, I look forward to your next!

    1. Many thanks indeed Laccaria for your feedback.

      Some of the surfaces I agree were a bit on the weak side (although I confess I didn’t have 1d as one of them!).

      7d – Schubertian is intended as a pretty big hint as to the type of piece required, Schubert being one of the most noted composers of them.

      You have understood all I wished to convey in 25a.

      5d consists of wordplay and a very whimsical cryptic definition, which has been much commented on!

  16. Well done Bungo! I enjoyed this a lot.
    I did manage a full grid without any help, though I do have a couple of question marks on my page. Favorites for me are 1A and 12D.

    1. Many thanks indeed Expat Chris. The two clues you cited were my favourites as well, so glad you enjoyed them.

  17. With all the detailed comments already there’s not much to add. So I’ll just echo what Expat Chris has said and add that 21dn was my last one in; although I was fairly certain of the answer from early on it was only when I twigged 25ac (a nice one there!) that I was certain of it and how to parse it. And as well as Expat Chris’s favourites I liked 7dn.

  18. It’s a well done from me too Bungo. Found it quite tough in places & it took a couple of sittings to complete. Avoided the use of a letter reveal but used the check button more than once & I’m unsure on a couple of the parsings.
    You’ve had expert feedback above so I’ll just say I really liked the across clues at 1,9,14&29 and the downs at 3,7,12&17. Agree with LBR’s comment about some of the parsing a bit Guardian-esque. COTD for me the super 12d

  19. Is The Guardian now become the ‘Marmite’ to crossword-solvers? No prizes for guessing in which camp I belong!

    Yes this was a toughie. Sorry not to be able to read Prolix’s view.

  20. Oh dear, I always look forward to reading Prolixic’s detailed analysis of Rookie puzzles and have learnt so much from them about clue construction.
    He did make it clear a while ago that there was little point in him continuing to provide detailed reviews if others persisted in doing the job for him and I think many of us – and those new setters in particular, feel far better served by his totally impartial words of wisdom.
    I do hope that BD can sort this out, with a bit of stick-wielding if necessary!

    1. Me too – I was also hoping for some sort of translation of Mucky’s detailed comments into ‘Plain English’

    2. I’m disappointed too – but as you rightly say, he has made his point clear before (eg Encota just offers to email his notes these days)
      As far as I’m concerned we can waffle on all we like but there’s only one umpire
      Apologies to Prolixic from all concerned

    3. Answer perhaps: not opening up the blog to us hoi polloi until the Tuesday – i.e. after Prolixic has put up his analysis? If it were my puzzle, I’d have no problem waiting.

      1. I think it’s simpler than that – perhaps we should observe an unwritten rule – to leave a comment on how you found the puzzle generally and maybe mention a clue or two, just don’t get technical on every clue; perhaps treat it like a prize puzzle blog? Or does that defeat the object?
        I’m sure BD will step in if need be

        1. I think that we could restrict ourselves to general comments and then the ‘armchair experts’ could add further comments on the Tuesday when they’ve read Prolixic’s review and want to discuss his comments or add some extra points to what has already been said.

          When you look at how enthusiastically all the Rookies reply to comments, I think it would be very disappointing for them if they couldn’t get a fairly instant feel of how well their crossword has gone down with us solvers. Personally I always like to see whether there are overnight comments from our overseas correspondents – I don’t actually read them but it gives me an idea of whether the crossword will be too tough to complete over a bowl of muesli and a cup of tea!

          1. The instant feedback is fun to receive and useful; for example, I hadn’t appreciated how tough people would find some of the crossword (I thought I’d avoided the trap whereby rookie setters set out to make their crossword at the trickier end of the spectrum and overdo it, and clearly instead blundered into the trap of not judging the difficulty of one’s own clues very well).

            I’ve learned a lot from Prolixic’s comments on other rookie puzzles, and whilst it’s a shame not to have their views I can still learn from the fact they think everything that needs to be said has already been said.

  21. Leaving aside my own ramble, this is a summary of the above comments on individual clues (ignoring simple likes, dislikes, and general opinions on surfaces):
    1a: does it have a definition?
    6a: possibly use ‘to’ as linkword
    20a: Why ‘if’?
    29a: does jealousy = envy?
    5d: does it have a definition?
    7d: is Schubertian needed?

    I commented on more clues, but only in so far as they all related to one point of clue construction which I found striking in this puzzle. I don’t think this type of comparison usually features in the review, but I’m sorry if by going into detail on a few clues I’ve trodden on toes.

  22. I thought this a most interesting and entertaining crossword. As others have already mentioned, there is a big discrepancy in the levels of difficulty between some of the clues. Nevertheless, I managed to solve all of them without having to resort to Google. A handful of clues took ages to unravel, but it was really worth the effort.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. 1a was brilliant, and I also particularly liked 1d. 12d gave me a big chuckle when I recalled ‘Dr Livingstone I presume’. Others on my select list include 25a, 29a, and 15d.

    Congratulations on your debut here Bungo. Do hope to see more of you — but please, a little less convoluted.

    Many thanks to Prolixic for the review — ‘a song without words’, perhaps? — elucidating the word play. Much appreciated as there were one or two I wasn’t at all sure of. Really missed your expert comments, though. Nothing else quite measures up to them.

    1. Many thanks indeed, Catnap, for your kind words. I’m delighted you enjoyed it.

      Feedback has been very useful in establishing which clues people found overly convoluted, so will do my best to tone down those aspects.

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