Rookie Corner – 326 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Rookie Corner – 326

A Puzzle by Laccaria

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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.

A very good crossword from Laccaria today with very little to comment on other than a couple of minor points.

The long clue 37 letters crossing six grid entries will not to be everyone’s taste.  When you have.a few checkers, you can tease it out but then you have six completed entries in the grid (close on a quarter of the grid).  I doubt anyone actually works out the anagram.  With more on-line solving, these types of clue are much more difficult to solve as the software does not indicate the word breaks within an entry and it is harder to work out which part of the solution goes where.

The commentometer reads as 1/27 or 3.7%


1 Puzzle creator reportedly partially undressed, with red face (8)
RUBICUND – A homophone (reportedly) of the surname of the inventor of the puzzle cube followed by three of the letters (partially) of undressed.  Editors would not usually be happy with using partially to indicate an unknown number of letters to be used from the word.

5 “Hats off!”: mother’s complaint (6)
ASTHMA – An anagram (off) of HATS followed by a two letter word for mother.

9 French painter guillotined and entombed in island, for sexual act (8)
CONGRESS – The name of a French painter without the initial letter (guillotined) inside a three letter Greek island.

10 See 21

12 Reason to avoid washing powder: no good, extra rinse at first needed (9)
DETERRENT – A nine letter word for washing powder without the abbreviation for good and with an extra R (rinse at first) added.  Perhaps double rinse at first needed would give a better indication of the position of the repeated letter.

13 One who has passed ‘GO’ – not earning rent initially (5)
GONER – The GO from the clue followed by the initial letters of not earning rent.

14 Isaac possibly not concerned with pond life (4)
NEWT – The name of the famous physicist whose first name was Isaac without a two letter word meaning concerned with.

16 Casually cuffs the German pinching runny Brie (7)
DARBIES – The German neuter form of this includes (pinching) an anagram (runny) of BRIE.

19 See 21

21/19/10/28/2/27 Newly detained suspect might utter this terribly grave prognosis for tough guy: “A ‘Titanic’ tomb!” (3,1,4,3,6,3,3,2,4,2,6)

24 End of game: out after duck (5)
MEGA – An anagram (out) of GAME after the letter representing nothing or a duck.

25 Setter is left a set of books – weighty! (9)
IMPORTANT – A two letter contract for the setter is followed by a four letter word for left, the A from the clue and the abbreviation for New Testament (set of books).

27 See 21

28 See 21

29 Make certain alterations to English runes (6)
ENSURE – An anagram (alterations to) E (English) RUNES

30 Taking undue interest in two “American”s drinking superior port (8)
USURIOUS – Two lots of the abbreviation for United States include (drinking) the letter representing superior and a three letter Brazilian port.


1 About to give back (6)
RECEDE – A two letter word meaning about followed by a four letter word meaning to give.

2 See 21 Across

3 Nurse is run all over the place, forgetting one drug (5)
CARER – A six letter word meaning run all over the place omitting one of the letters E (forgetting one drug).

4 Just starting most difficult climb of the Eiger? (7)
NASCENT – The North face of the Eiger is the most difficult route for climbing so the climb would be a 1, 6.

6 Idlers punch soldiers out of uniform (9)
SLUGGARDS – A four letter word meaning punch followed by a six letter word for soldiers without the letter U (out of uniform).

7 Short climb without pain?  Not I: irritation on foot! (8)
HANGNAIL – A four letter word for something you might climb with the last letter (short) around (without) a six letter word for heart pain without the letter I.

8 From photo, exclude king, assuming a disguised hubris (8)
AIRBRUSH – A single letter abbreviation for King inside the A from the clue and an anagram (disguised) of HUBRIS.

11 Press may be on to this, Sire! (4)
STUD – Double definition, part cryptic, the first being a type fo fastener – a press ???? and the second being a father of a horse.

15 Maybe Harry Potter in dilapidated hospital canteen, accompanied by Ron to begin with (9)
ENCHANTER – An anagram (dilapidated) of H (hospital) CANTEEN followed by the initial letter (to begin with) of Ron.

17 Certainly missing target, with only one outbreak of firing (2,6)
OF COURSE – A phrase 3,6 meaning missing target with only one of the letters F (with only one outbreak of firing).

18 Head off from releasing unreliable pedigrees (8)
LINEAGES  – An anagram (unreliable) of RELEASING after removing the first letters (head off).

20 Old hawker, filthy person, holding hand (4)
PRIG – A three letter word for a filthy person includes (holding) the abbreviation for right (hand).

21 Devil promises, showing no respect (7)
IMPIOUS – A three letter word for a devil followed by a four letter word for monetary promises.

22 Drums in concert at toolshed (6)
TATTOO – The answer is hidden (in) the final three words of the clue.

23 Emphasise teacher is not on motorway?  On the contrary! (6)
STRESS – Remove the abbreviation for a motorway from an eight letter word for a female school teacher.

26 Boy I got it! (5)
ROGER – Double definition, the first being a boy’s name and the second being a word meaning understood in radio communications.

53 comments on “Rookie Corner – 326

  1. For those who look and shudder if there are no overnight comments from the 2Kiwis and others, do not be concerned. It is solvable and enjoyable. Don’t be deterred by the very long multiple entry solution.

  2. I’d second Prolixic’s thoughts on this one and add that you shouldn’t be put off by the words ‘sexual act’ in 9a either.

    Once you have 5a, then I’d suggest that this is a ‘start towards the bottom’ crossword as the SE corner goes in first and helps with the middle bit of the very long solution, which is then gettable from the extended definition and checking letters . I liked the simpler clues, my particular favourite being 14a. I’d suggest that several of the clues are a bit too long but I know some people don’t mind that. I’ve got a few question marks by clues but I’m off now for what promises to be a very miserable visit to the dentist, so will have to see how I feel when I get back as to whether I return to work out the parsings.

    Thanks to Laccaria and, in advance, to Prolixic

    1. As an aside re. 9a, I wonder how many clues along the lines of:

      Le nouveau chef du gouvernement seen in bizarre sex act (6)

      … we’ll be seeing over the coming months and years? I suspect it’ll have appeared already somewhere!

      1. And now I apparently have a way of remembering the name of the PM of France. Thanks (I think).

        1. I had to look up the name too – came as a surprise to me! You’re welcome to have that clue, Encota, I deny all knowledge of it! :-) Thanks to CS and Smylers too!

  3. We were very late getting on to this as we had visitors today and that is why our comment was not at the usual time.
    Not finding it easy and still a few to go at this stage.

    1. Now have a completed grid although a few still need a bit of work on the parsing. Agree it is certainly very clever.
      We really struggled for the first word in 2d. Is the long phrase a quote from somewhere?
      Thanks Laccaria.

      1. Thanks Kiwis. Yes it is: try googling it. It has a comical touch to it of course – sort of Victorian melodrama-pantomimey feel to it.

  4. Morning folks! I certainly wasn’t expecting this one to see daylight so soon – BD has told me it was a late substitution for someone else’s – and I had thoughts of a few last-minute revisions – but no matter! Have fun! The ‘long’un’ (as well as another related word) is definitely there for fun, although you’ll probably need a few crossers before you get there!

    Will keenly await the usual analysis!

    1. Still a few to go but absolutely loved the anagram & am enjoying the rest of it.

  5. I was somewhat concerned at the lack of overnight comments when I logged on but I needn’t have worried – this was very enjoyable.
    I always shudder at the thought of very long anagrams (and 37 letters is very long!) so I waited until I had sufficient checkers and then got the answer from the definition. I wonder if anyone ever solves such long anagrams any other way.
    My initial thought on 3d was that it was an anagram (all over the place) of [i]S RUN followed by E (drug) but that gives the same word as the definition so I had to think again.
    I had a lot of ‘likes’ including 14a, 16a (nice to see a German article other than ‘der’), 7d and 26d.
    Thanks to Laccaria for the entertainment.

    1. Thanks Gazza. FYI (well for everyone’s), there are a lot of German articles which can be extremely useful in wordplay! The full list is der/die/das; den/die/das; dem/der/dem; des/der/des – and in the plural (all genders): die; die; den; der. Worth committing those to memory – you never know when you’ll need one!

      1. and those are just the definite ones – wordplay are the only thing they are useful in! They seem impossible to use correctly unless you cheat by being German. One of the many ways to tell a dutch person trying to speak german is they keep mixing up their articles (dutch only has two definite articles: ‘de’ gendered and ‘het’ neutral – sadly they haven’t graduated to crosswordland)

        1. Probably because very few English-speakers speak Dutch! In fact I speak no Dutch and only a few words of German, though I can read German text and understand quite a lot of it – before I resort to Google Translate!

          My son is fairly conversant in Russian – but that’s not a lot of use in Crosswordland either! Although I do vaguely recall, for my sins, using “DA” once in wordplay (clued as ‘agreement in Kremlin’ or something of the sort!).

          1. Try Welsh sometime. The definite article can be y, yr or ‘r but there’s no indefinite article.

  6. Thanks Laccaria and congratulations,

    I wasn’t familiar with the long entry so it was my last one in and had to google to check – so yes, i guess it fits with another entry – which I also had to check!
    I went through the same process with 3d as Gazza, not a hard clue but a very strong mislead!

    The grid is not your friend here, with single connectivity between quadrants, so best to avoid these – please look out for my next Independent puzzle (soon to be submitted) to see just how much of a hypocrite I am!

    Like CS, I also had an impression of lengthy clues though it’s probably only a few clues that are responsible, e.g. adding the last letter in 15d might have alerted you that the Harry Potter surface was beginning to cost you – and, obviously and unavoidably, the long entry adds to this impression. The corollary is that shortening only by a word or two here and there can make a big difference to the puzzle, so it is worth spending some time thinking “how can i make this more concise”

    I particularly liked 14a, 24a, 29a, & 4d (very nice – took me a while – north face? northern wall?)

    I wasn’t that keen on “partially undressed” and in 12d I found the instructions for where to place the last insertion a bit vague, better to go for a substitution of some kind, i imagine.

    Well done and thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Dutch. Regarding 3d, forget not that my middle name could well be “deceiver”! (Try googling “Laccaria”). Yes it did occur to me that “all over the place” is a popular anagrind. Sort of thing the typical Grauniad setter might inflict on you.

      Sorry, I should have said “Guardian” but everyone in UK knows the anagram!

      Regarding ‘partially undressed’, I originally had ‘one third undressed’ but one of the testers said that amounts to gobbledygook. Not the most elegant, I agree: I could have resorted to my scanty German once more but ….. no way!!!

      1. One third undressed gets my vote (my initial thought on this clue was an outrageous homophone on ‘I’m bare arsed’).

  7. Thanks Laccaria. Clues 13, 21d, 26 & 4 were some of the best, I thought. I had to reveal 12a and 11d – a PICNIC* problem though.
    * Problem In Chair Not In Crossword (that old chestnut that I haven’t used here for years!)

  8. Very well done, Laccaria, this proved to be an enjoyable challenge.

    In the end I was only beaten by the parsing of my answer to 7d. I did need to check my BRB for the obsolete meaning for 20d (correctly qualified in the clue by “old”!) and for 16a. I actually think the latter is rather unfair as you are cluing a very obscure answer using a German word unlikely to be known by many solvers.

    There was much to like here, and my podium comprises 14a, 4d & 21d.

    Many thanks to you, Laccaria, and in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Thanks RD. But I think the German definite articles (especially in the nominative singular, “der, die, das” – where they’re most often seen) must surely be known to most cruciverbalists. Just as “le, la, les” from French, and “el, la, los, las” from Spanish, crop up often enough. I admit that the word for ‘handcuffs’ is rather obscure – but it goes with the long one, also a bit arcane to some, probably.

      20d occurs in Dickens, and probably elsewhere in 19th century stuff.

  9. Welcome back, Laccaria.

    Not really my cup of tea, I’m afraid. Admittedly some clever constructions but there seemed to be too many instances of deleting or adding single letters or changing initial ones, I gave up counting them in the end. Full marks on doing your best to avoid repeating indicators though.

    I wasn’t terribly happy with a few of the surfaces, 5a probably jarred most for me. I hadn’t encountered 16a before.

    I’m pleased to see that others enjoyed the solve.

    Many thanks.

    1. No problem Silvanus, it’s hard to please everyone as I’ve noticed before now! Maybe I should be looking out some of yours – on NTSPP or the Indy. Get some idea of what’s your ‘cup of tea’……

        1. Ahem …. thanks but I think that’s paywalled. Can anyone point me to a free-to-view copy?

          1. Here’s a challenge I do regularly
            Open up CC with a blank grid
            Read the clues (but not the hints) from the blog and get the first across and the first down
            Work out how they must fit together in the grid, filling in blocks in your CC grid as you go
            Repeat until completed – It’s not as difficult as it sounds as the blocks will fill themselves after a few answers
            Incidentally Laccaria, I have found my notes on this one so I’ll be interested to see how they compare with those of Prolixic
            All I will say is that I thought 23d was back to front, logically

            1. Thanks Roy. You’re welcome to still send your feedback (belatedly) if you like.

              Thanks for the idea, but that sounds too much like hard work. I’ll stick with the puzzles I can get at! Incidentally, doesn’t Azed (and Ximenes before him) sometimes offer something called ‘carte blanche’? A barred grid minus its bars, and clues without letter counts. Work it out for yourself! Never tried one, but then I don’t attempt Azeds anyway.

              23d may be a bit cheeky – ‘on the contrary!’ might be an excuse for all sorts of sins. We’ll see….

              1. It’s not as difficult as it sounds and very good practice for solving stand-alone clues in that you have to be sure your understanding of the parsing is 100%

              2. Emphasise teacher is not on motorway? On the contrary! (6)
                Emphasise – def
                teacher – MISTRESS
                is not on motorway – remove MI – leaving STRESS
                On the contrary – don’t remove the MI = MISTRESS
                Am I missing something?

                  1. Got it, thanks Gazza – I was thinking the contrary was ‘is’ for ‘is not’, confused myself with double negative-type thinking

                1. I could have worded it better as “Emphasise teacher has left the motorway? On the contrary!” One always sees a better wording, with hindsight!

                  What I didn’t want to exploit, was that hoary old chestnut STRESSED (-) DESSERTS. Far too hackneyed! Almost as bad as CARTHORSE*.

          2. You’re in luck: the Telegraph’s random puzzle picker has selected the Toughie as today’s free-for-everybody crossword on the Telegraph Puzzles website. (You still need to create a free account.)

            Also useful for those who have the kind of digital subscription that gives them the articles and the backpager but not the Toughie.

            1. Well the free account lets me view but not print (and I’m not paying money to the Torygraph thanks! – I already subscribe to both the Guardian and the Independent) … so it needed a few screen-grabs and some photoshopping to get a useable printout – but I got there eventually. I’ll see what ‘toughie’ means in their vocabulary!

  10. Thanks Laccaria, good fun. I got the long anagram from the enumeration and haven’t checked it, so on your honour…
    Liked 4 as I just clued this myself, not as well.

    1. And thanks Gonzo! Re 4d: brings back memories from my childhood! We were on a camping holiday near Interlaken, and I remember us stopping at a viewpoint and my father pointing out the Eiger, with its notorious North Face. That was in the days when the climb claimed many lives. Needless to say, climbing is not my scene – though we have done a fair bit of hill-walking and bagged a few of the easier Munros…

      1. I’ve done quite a bit of skiing in Grindelwald, with spectacular views of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. Climbing has never appealed to me since an attempt in my early twenties, when i rapidly realised it meant my life depended on others not me.

  11. Thanks for the analysis and comments, Prolixic.

    It’s ironic, isn’t it? Both your italicised observations could be said to be down to feedback from my test-solvers (though I’m very far from blaming them for this – they were a great help overall). In 1a I originally had “one third undressed” but was told the surface was clumsy. And in 12a I started off with “too many rinses”. I should have read a bit more closely the inscriptions detailing our washing machine’s multitudinous (and mostly unused!) programmes: I’m sure ‘double rinse’ figures there somehwere!

    I have to admit (and I hope Dave will forgive me for saying this), having had eight visits to this place now, I don’t feel that much of a “rookie”. I’ve learnt a lot….

  12. I enjoyed the crossword enormously. Started yesterday & got within 5 of a finish then returned to it late last night but couldn’t crack 7 down. I thought there were some super clues – 12&30a plus 4&6d would be my picks along with the anagram. Well done.
    Thanks Prolixic for explaining 7d

  13. A last word then.

    Thanks to all those who’ve commented – especially those with encouraging and complimentary stuff! As to the review – fair enough – but my thoughts could perhaps be expressed thus:

    Chimps might enjoy this gathering, after food container returned (10)

    Cheers all! :-) L.

    1. That’s a rather mean-minded response to someone who gives his time freely to help aspiring setters.

      1. I’ve had my doubts about this setter in the past and can’t say that I enjoyed this latest puzzle. However, in the interests of being fair-minded, I refrained from adding any negative comment and left him to enjoy the positive remarks that came in. Having now seen his ‘last word’ I’m rather sorry that I held back.
        Why submit your compilations to Rookie Corner if you are only prepared to accept praise, Laccaria?

        Apologies to all but this sort of attitude makes me wonder why Prolixic bothers to invest his free time into offering free help and advice.

        1. I have test solved for for Laccaria, including this puzzle, so it’s a little disparaging to see that’s what he thinks of feedback

          1. Although I did enjoy parts of this puzzle, I held back on some negative points so as not to be discouraging. The setter’s attitude is very disappointing.

            1. I didn’t send any feedback for this particular puzzle and declined to comment above
              No, his comment doesn’t come across very well

    2. Wouldn’t it have been interesting to see what comments would have been made about this crossword if our blogger hadn’t his remarks last week about people doing the review for him, thus leading to great restraint from commenters this week?

  14. I expect Laccaria shooting himself in the foot again is a result of disappointment and frustration. I’d put this down to not getting a clean sheet for this puzzle, and so (as he believes) not getting himself out of rookie corner.
    When the commentometer started, this was Prolixic’s explanation:
    ‘As a little experiment, I am testing an informal commentometer to look at the crossword review. Where there are major comments I will award one point. Minor comments such as ‘padding’ or practices where views differ will not be counted towards the score. The results will be subjective but give an indication of the overall quality of the crossword. [section omitted]’
    So, results are subjective. That is inevitable, but worth a reminder because awarding marks gives the appearance of objectivity.
    What has never been explained is what the criteria are for passing one’s rookie qualification and so making it into the NTSPP. There is obviously subjective judgement, with which I have no problem, but again, there is the misleading appearance of objectivity. More particularly, the impression is given that one needs to score 0% to get promoted.
    One of the first puzzles to be given a score was Dill’s, no. 202. She scored 1.5/32 or 4.7% which was deemed excellent and she was duly moved up to NTSPP. Puzzle 190, a few weeks before the commentometer started, was by Italicus, and also good enough to get him moved up. Prolixic’s comment on that puzzle was ‘a few niggling points but these are all things that editors will pick up on’.
    There were also far more ‘niggles’ in Saturday’s NTSPP than in Laccaria’s puzzle. The two comments that were given points were of the ‘maybe you could have done this better’ type, rather than actual errors. I wonder if they were really worth points.
    Anyone who’s written a puzzle knows how much is invested in it. It’s very personal. The review offers valuable advice, but also seems to judge. Dissent is a natural reaction to being judged.

  15. A few words of explanation.

    I shall not send any more puzzles to Big Dave. Nothing wrong with the site, on the contrary, it’s an excellent facility, but I don’t think I fit in. Something always seems to elude me and I’m stuck. I know my earliest efforts were rubbish, but I like to hope that some people have found bits of my later offerings entertaining. I now have a few puzzles on the hard drive, complete or almost complete, which aren’t going anywhere. That’s life.

    I should not have used a word like ‘nitpicking’, certainly not embodied in a cryptic clue (done on the spur of the moment, unwisely), and I apologise for that. However I see no reason why one should not, politely, challenge the feedback one receives – even from Prolixic. Is that fair? To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a good reception from this one. It has many flaws, and I know many people don’t like long linked clues, especially with a very colloquial solution.

    So I was duped by the mostly encouraging feedback on Monday, into thinking that this time it would be a clean sheet. Not so. And I understand, now, why the feedback was more positive than I expected. But I’m afraid, on Tuesday I slipped into a bout of anger and frustration – and depression. Not the first time this has happened, and not always to do with crosswords.

    If I give up compiling crosswords, there’s little else I can do to occupy my mind. I’ve given up most of the activities I was enjoying in my retirement. Partly due to the lockdown. Maybe another one to add to the list.


    1. A gracious apology, I understand your frustration and I hope you will keep compiling. Have you tried

    2. Thank you for the explanation and the apology. It’s appreciated over just disappearing.

      Please don’t feel ‘duped’ by the positive feedback: Prolixic’s review was “very little to comment on other than a couple of minor points”, with an excellent low score of just 1 on the commentometer. I read that review as high praise!

      Nitpicking is kind of the point of Rookie Corner reviews, though. I’ve learnt so much from Prolixic’s detailed explanations, some of which are quite nuanced. Treat it as a mark of success and respect: if a puzzle had fundamental problems or significant flaws, then obviously those need addressing and there’s less focus on minor points. That somebody has reached the stage of the minor points being all there is left to discuss is actually a mark of honour, even if it feels disappointing at the time!

      I’ve never tried to write any full cryptic crosswords (and while schools and childcare remain closed I’m not going to have the time even to try); but if I ever do, I’d be delighted if I ever reach the stage of getting a review such as this one.

Comments are closed.