Rookie Corner – 328 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Rookie Corner – 328

A Puzzle by Sundance

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This is the puzzle that I had scheduled for two weeks ago.  Unfortunately when I went to set it up a couple of clues had gone missing.  Now, fully restored, you can have a go. 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 Sundance.  Overall, this crossword was enjoyable and not too difficult but, as with previous appearances, there are still rough edges.  With the notable exception of 10d, the clues themselves do not have major problems.  I have indicated where there are areas that need to be improved.  These are often points that a test solver would spot before the crossword is submitted or that the editor would require to be changed.

The commentometer reads as 5.5/28 or 19.6%


1 Living with something to bear – promise this should be easy (5,9)
QUICK CROSSWORD – A five letter word meaning living (used in the creeds in the book of common prayer as the “????? and the dead”) followed by a five letter word for something to bear (from the New Testament) and a four letter word for a promise.

8 Type of squash not ideal on foot (5)
ACORN – A type of American gourd or squash split 1,4 would something painful on your foot.  I am not sure that this type of squash is particularly well known in the UK.

9 Chairman and prophet heard something growing (5-3)
MOUSE-EAR – A homophone (heard) of MAO (chairman) SEER (prophet).

11 Put on another coat and relax on the road from London to Edinburgh (7)
RESTAIN – A four-letter word meaning to relax followed by the name of the Great North road from London to Edinburgh with (by implication) an N for going northwards.  I think that a clearer indication that you need to add the N to the name of the road (which is just known as the A1) is required here,.

12 Pancake including a measure for an artist (7)
BELLINI – A five letter word for a type of pancake includes as two letter word for a measurement.  I have not been able to find a reference to “el” as being a unit of measurement in Chamber, Collins or the OED.  Ell is given as a measure of cloth but not the shortened “el”.  Try to avoid using indefinite articles as the clue suggests that the A from the clue is included in the solution.

13 In Nicaragua nothing is waste (5)
GUANO – The answer his hidden in the second and third words of the clue.

15 New town is not odd in a period (9)
STEVENAGE – A four letter word meaning the opposite of odd in a five letter word for a period.  Again the presence of the A in the clue implies it is part of the solution.

17 Opts out and interprets traffic notices (4,5)
STOP SIGNS – An anagram (out) of OPTS followed by a word meaning interprets for people with no or limited hearing.

20 Some are natives of Wembley, perhaps (5)
ARENA – The answer is the second word and part of the third word.  Where you have a hidden word clue, try to avoid having the solution form the whole of one of the words.  Perhaps “Some self-aware natives in Wembley, perhaps”.  Some editors will not allow clues where you have the structure wordplay of definition.

21 Missionaries are first in the planet (7)
MARISTS – The abbreviation for first inside the name of the red planet.  The are here does not work as you have definition are wordplay, which does not make grammatical sense.  You could omit the “are” to leave “Missionaries, first in the planet.”

23 Hat Spooner found in the door (3,4)
CAT FLAP – A Spoonerism of FLAT CAP.  I think that to indicate a Spoonerism you would need “Spooner’s …” or “… for Spooner”.  Here “Spooner’s hat found in the door” would have been better.  I am not a fan of definition such as “found in door” to describe part of a door.

25 Contrary river flows both ways to the location (8)
OPPOSITE – The two letter name of an Italian river written forwards the backwards followed by a four letter word meaning a location.

26 Most of King’s work is not giving (5)
MISER – A six letter book title by Stephen King without the final letter (most of).  Not giving would imply miserly as the solution, not the noun.

27 Top team enact chemistry test (10,4)
MANCHESTER CITY – An anagram (test) of ENACT CHEMISTRY.  Test does not work as an anagram indicator in the position you have used it.  Although test can mean to assay or refine, it is a transitive verb and therefore would need to be before the letters to be rearranged.


1 One of four angers French friend up before Easter (12)
QUADRAGESIMA – A four letter word meaning one of four followed by a five letter word meaning angers and a reversal (up) of the three letter French word for a friend.  Describing the first Sunday of Lent as “before Easter” is a tad imprecise.

2 Presses on in the clutches of the American taxman (5)
IRONS – The ON from the clue inside (in) the three letter abbreviation for the American tax service.

3 Rage and regrets apparently after a thousand jumpers (9)
KANGAROOS – The abbreviation for 1000 followed by an homophone (apparently) of ANGER (rage) RUES (regrets).  It is a shame that the clue and the clue for 1 down use the same synonyms of anger / rage.

4 Detains mother in tears (7)
REMANDS – A two letter word for a mother inside a five letter word meaning tears.  Watch out for repeated wordplay indicators – there are several clues where “in” is used to indicate A inside B.

5 Perform acrobatics after small fall (7)
STUMBLE – A six letter word meaning perform acrobatics after the abbreviation for small.

6 Expression of delight for large follower of Catherine (5)
WHEEL – A four letter word for an expression of delight followed by the abbreviation for large.  The “for” in the clue does not work.

7 Bring round tea a miner stirred (9)
REANIMATE – An anagram (stirred) of TEA A MINER.

10 I leave African country with record that is pretentious but far from totalitarian (7,5)
LIBERAL PARTY – Remove the I from the seven letter name of an African Country and follow with the abbreviation for a long playing record and a four letter word meaning pretentious.  The “that is” does not works “that’s” would have been better as the clue, cryptically, would then read “that has”.  I don’t think that “Far from totalitarian” works as a definition of the noun that is the solution.  There is also an issue with “I leave”.  As you are indicating the removal of a letter, “leave” on its own does not work (you would not say “A leave, B leave”.  The trick here is to use “I may leave…”

14 New approach has your first fake news (9)
APOCRYPHA – An anagram (new) of APPROACH includes the first letter of your.  Has as a containment indicator does not work particularly well.

16 A molester fiddled with rubber, possibly (9)
ELASTOMER – An anagram (fiddled with) of A MOLESTER.

18 Talk loudly – anger will warm you up (3,4)
GAS FIRE – A three letter word meaning talk followed by the musical abbreviation for loudly and a three letter word meaning anger.

19 So…a return journey for an artist (7)
SICKERT – A three letter Latin term meaning so or thus followed by a reversal (return) of a four letter word for a journey.

22 At first some teenagers occasionally invite criticism yet are uncomplaining (5)
STOIC – The initial letters (at first) of the third to seventh words of the clue.  As first has already been used as an initial letter indicator, perhaps Originally some teenagers… would have been better.  The link word “are” again does not work as you have wordplay are definition.

24 Girl’s not finishing drink (5)
LASSI – Remove the E (not finishing) for a generic term for a girl.

39 comments on “Rookie Corner – 328

  1. A well put together puzzle that we thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated. A few words that we needed to check but all clued in a way that we could work it out correctly from the wordplay before checking. 1a set the tone for the puzzle but not sure it is an accurate description. Not for us anyway.
    Thanks and well done Sundance.

    1. Dear 2Kiwis

      Thank you so much for your kind comments.

      I have been reading about your upcoming election and am interested to learn that Judith Collins could seriously challenge Jacinda. If they are both so good perhaps you could loan one of them to the USA…

  2. Well I have to say that this is a Curate’s Egg for me and I had to use some reveals to confirm/complete some answers. Nevertheless, it was a good cranial workout.
    There are also a number of parsings that elude me and I will wait for Prolixic’s review to see what they are.
    However, I did learn that 15a was designated the first New Town in 1946. I would have guessed that the first New Town was one in Essex; although I don’t think it was far behind 15a.
    I am not convinced that the definition for 10d is complete.
    The homophone in 9a gets a Hmm from me.
    I don’t know when you started compiling this puzzle but there are probably residents of a city about 35 miles West of the city in 27a who would disagree over ‘Top Team.’
    Thanks Sundance.

    1. Dear Senf

      Thank you for your constructive comments. I was going to say that you can’t please all of the people all of the time but I know that there are a few elite compilers who do seem to manage that. I will keep trying to improve.

      I hope that 27a won’t cause too much controversy.

  3. A very pleasant puzzle – thanks Sundance.
    I have quite a few quibbles and I’m sure that you’ll get loads of good advice from Prolixic.
    The clues I liked best were 1a, 2d and 4d.

    1. Dear Gazza

      Thank you so much. I do hope that your quibbles are not too many or too awful.

  4. I really enjoyed solving this over breakfast and for me it was a fairly 1a. The LH side is a lot easier than the RH. My Across favourite was 1a and my Down favourite 14a. The only one I don’t quite get is 26a, all the rest have ticks by them which, as I explained to Mr CS, means that for me they ‘work’. I also had to explain to him what a curate’s egg was – and that I didn’t think this crossword wasn’t representative of the description

    Thanks to Sundance – more please – and in advance to Prolixic

    1. Dear crypticsue

      Wow! I appreciate feedback from all of the bloggers but your comments are always extra special.

      I know that you often finish puzzles whilst breakfasting so hope that one day I might submit something that takes you a litte longer.

  5. Enjoyable solve, if a little lumpy in places – only two quibbles here
    Well done Sundance and thanks for the challenge

    1. Dear LetterboxRoy

      Thank you most kindly. It sounds like you have less quibbles than Gazza so that is pleasing.

      I have been trying to make the clues less lumpy but I will keep trying.

  6. Welcome back, Sundance. As was apparently the case for the 2Ks, there were a few somewhat obscure answers that I needed to check, I often wonder how many times a setter includes those intentionally and how many come about as a result of having to find something that will fit!
    I think Prolixic may well point out a handful of clues that needed more attention and I felt some wouldn’t pass the ‘could I stand in the pub and say that as a sentence’ test, but there were certainly several that I enjoyed, including 1&25a plus 2d.
    Thank you, Sundance.

    1. Dear Jane

      Thank you for your input.

      I have learned from this site that obscure words are not popular with a lot of people so I have resolved not to intentionally include any…but, as you suggest, some words are ‘grid fillers’. I guess that part of learning will be trying to avoid those situations.

    2. I expect one of your obscure words was 21a – no problem here as the 21a Brothers used to run a school in a large house in the next village to us.

    3. Crossword Compiler auto-fill often throws up some unseemly entries if you don’t tinker with the ‘word score’
      Lowering the value gives more root words which are easier to define and therefore clue; ie ‘appellatory’ is difficult to define without using ‘relating to legal appeal’ but ‘appellation’ is much easier. Editing the grid is half of the battle as far as I’m concerned

      1. Dear LetterboxRoy

        I’m not sure if you think that I used auto-fill but I did actually compose the grid myself. Honest!

        I am still thinking about the usage of obscure words – I note that a few of the top compilers often use them (and receive criticism from some quarters).

  7. Welcome back, Sundance.

    Although I enjoyed this one more than your last, there will still more than a few annoying niggles in evidence, unfortunately. I’m sure that it must really frustrate you after several appearances now in Rookie Corner.

    One particularly jarring aspect of the puzzle for me was the unnecessary use of articles in the clues, such as “a” and “an” in 12a, “a” in 15a, “the” in 25a, “the” in 2d, “a” in 3d, both “a” and “an” in 19d. It’s worth remembering that, unless the clues absolutely need them, such articles are invariably superfluous and can mislead solvers in many cases. Hidden clues should be concealed in the middle of one or more words, not commence from the start of a word ( as in 20a). The repeated use of “first”, ” wordplay of definition” and faulty cryptic grammar also featured, I’m sorry to say. 4d and 5d were vying for my favourite clue, but I suspect that 21a and 24d were grid fillers because nothing else would fit the available squares. The surface in 16d conjured up a fairly unpleasant image.

    A mixed bag for me, but there was plenty to like. Many thanks, Sundance.

    1. Dear silvanus

      Thank you for your constructive input. You are certainly one of the more demanding bloggers and it is helpful to receive such detailed criticism – I have to say that I agree with all of your comments and wonder why I allowed so many niggles to slip through the net. Having said that, I am pleased that you saw the puzzle as an improvement.

      1. Hi Malcolm,

        I always endeavour to offer a fair and constructive analysis of how I found the puzzle, and have tried to help every occupant of Rookie Corner over the last five and a half years. I make no apology if I appear a hard person to satisfy, but I don’t see the point of leaving a comment without pointing out its shortcomings (in my view), and I won’t “sugar coat the pill” if I can help it. Prolixic will, of course, provide you with a far more detailed and invaluable critique than my few observations.

        Having been in the same situation as you, not that long ago in reality, I know that I appreciated frankness and detail from those who commented after the solving the puzzle. Whilst it’s always comforting to hear that one’s crossword was well received and enjoyed, to leave it at that doesn’t really help someone desperate for more feedback.

        1. Dear silvanus

          Having now retired from work I look back to my young days and recall that I learned a lot from my mentors who were particularly demanding. I know that you and others have graduated with honors from Rookie Corner and I will redouble my efforts to see if I can one day reach a similar high standard.

          Thank you again.

  8. Returning after lunch to read the comments, I realise that I approach solving the Rookie in a whole different way to others. I work on the principle that all I have to do is solve it, I haven’t got to go through it with a fine-toothed comb to report back as a test solver, or prepare a review as a blogger. Probably then I’d have noticed all the things others have reported on, but I solved it, it flowed, there was only one clue I didn’t know how I got the solution, and I did know all the unknowns which probably helped. I then finish drinking my cup of tea and get on with the rest of my day including so far seven other crosswords and then look forward to reading Prolixic’s thoughts in the morning.

    1. Dear crypticsue

      Thanks for the update. For a moment I thought you were going to say…”I’ve just found my list of criticisms”.

      Thank you again for your positive feedback.

  9. Welcome back, Sundance. I agree with those who feel that this puzzle was an improvement on your last one, although there are still some rough edges.

    As Silvanus has mentioned, overuse of definite and indefinite articles is something to be avoided and some of your surface readings don’t make much sense although many others are fine. There were also too many examples of what were to me obscure GK for my taste. I have made notes of some other points of detail, which I am sure will be covered by Prolixic in his review.

    The clues which I really liked were 1a (always nice to be able to start with a good hook), 25a, 4d & 5d. I’ll make the last of these my favourite as it reminds me of this wonderful piece of guitar playing by one of the all-time greats.

    Well done and thank you, Sundance. Take note of Prolixic’s wise words and keep them coming.

    1. Sorry, Sundance, I’ve just noticed that I omitted an important word – “overuse of unnecessary definite and indefinite articles …”

    2. Dear Rabbit Dave

      Thank you very much for your kind words – I am at least pleased to know that I appear to be moving in the right direction.

      To comment further on obscure words: as I said earlier I have tried to avoid such words where possible but I can’t help but think that it would be a shame if there was never anything obscure in any puzzle. We have such a rich language and it would be a pity to totally ignore a significant amount of it.

      1. Sundance, thank you for replying. I fully agree with your last sentence, but my concern is not a sprinkling of obscure words (which is fine by me as long as the wordplay leads clearly to the answer) but relatively obscure GK, such as 9a, 12a & 21a. I accept that other solvers may well feel differently.

        1. I suppose it’s yet another case of us all having different bits of GK in our possession – I had no trouble with 9 or 12a but was flummoxed by 1,16& 19d.

  10. Thanks Sundance, an entertaining puzzle. Comments absent reading others’:
    Favourites 9,25,2,4,7,18.
    8 I imagine someone has mentioned it isn’t in the usual dictionaries.
    11 is it a coat?
    15 when will it stop being new?
    21 fairly clued for an obscure word imo.
    Quite a few niggles which I will leave for Prolixic.

    1. Dear Gonzo

      Thank you for your input and constructive comments.

      I THINK that 11 works but will be interested in Prolixic’s opinion.

      As I have said earlier I can see and accept niggles that have been mentioned – I hope that Prolixic won’t find too many.

  11. Crikey Sundance – this Rookie Corner is a tough gig. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge you set even though it took me 3 visits to finally complete unaided. There were a number of answers that I eventually worked out from the wordplay that required Google confirmation as new to me (1d, 9a, 21a,16d & 24d) but that tells me that the wordplay isn’t impenetrable for a relatively inexpert solver. Agree that some surfaces could be smoother but no complaints from me overall. Favourite clue was 14d & 26a (now Gazza has explained it) & the 9a homophone must have worked ok as never heard of the plant.

  12. Dear All

    Thank you so much for taking an interest in my far from perfect puzzle. Once again I have received some very helpful feedback and I can only hope that it will help me improve – although I would have thought that I might have already achieved a better standard having been through this process a number of times now.

    I will submit another puzzle and hope that Big Dave will take pity on me.

    Thanks to Prolixic for the customary incisive review. Why is it that his points are so obvious yet when I review a puzzle prior to its submission that I don’t notice the points at that stage?

    Thanks again to Big Dave for this wonderful opportunity.

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I should think that Sundance is feeling somewhat annoyed with himself about the ‘silly’ errors but it’s all part of the learning curve! Maybe he needs to write himself a list of 10 commandments and use them to check his future puzzles.

    1. Dear jane

      Maybe I need 20 commandments at present!

      I think that I am rising up the learning curve and then find that I slip down again.

      Thanks for the encouragement.

  14. I enjoyed this and was able to follow the wordplay in all but 26a. Had I used Mr G perhaps all might have been clear. But thank you very much Prolixic for explaining this and for the most informative review. Thank you very much Sundance. The clues I liked the most were 1a, 25a,1d, 19d, and 24d. Well done and I hope we will see you again soon.

Comments are closed.