Rookie Corner – 332 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 332

A Puzzle by Jabberwock

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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 Jabberwock.  This second Rookie crossword was much more accessible and polished than the first although some of the wordplay required, as it should, teasing out.  There were fewer issues with the clues although the anagram in 16d have too many letters.  On the subject of anagrams, nine of the was possibly on the high side.  There was other wise a good variety of clue types and the surface readings were better.  The commentometer registers 3/32 or 9.4%.


1 Practised escape from sack, before boring bit (4,5)
FIRE DRILL  A four-letter word meaning to sack or dismiss followed by a device that bores holes.

6 Writer is enemy of French initially (5)
DEFOE – A three-letter word for an enemy preceded by (initially) of the French for of.

9 A maize seed? (5)
ACORN – The A from the clue followed by the type of food of which maize is a variety

10 I’m male, but surprisingly resistant to change (9)
IMMUTABLE – An anagram (surprisingly) if IM MALE BUT.

11 Renaissance entertainment? (10)
RECREATION – Double definition.

12 Everyone boxes dreadfully (4)
VERY – The answer is hidden (boxes) in the first word of the clue.

14 Incite rioting after king reveals motive (7)
KINETIC – An anagram (rioting) of INCITE after the chess abbreviation for king.

15 Party with nowhere to go? Not possible! (2,3,2)
NO CAN DO – The solution suggests party with a toilet with a slang word for a toilet in the solution.

17 They support journalists’ opinions (7)
COLUMNS – Double definition.

19 Editors busy rearranging composer (7)
DEBUSSY – An anagram (rearranging) of EDS BUSY.  Direct abbreviations used in anagrams are often seen.  The issue usually arises where the abbreviation is indirect – for example port meaning left to clue an L.

20 Polish enthusiast? (4)
BUFF – Double definition.

22 No more thinking in Bath: rained off! (5,5)
BRAIN DEATH – An anagram (off) of BATH RAINED.

25 End rant after language gives way to force (9)
CULMINATE – A nine-letter word word rant with the initial F (force) replaced by C (computer programming language).  I don’t have an issue with C being clued by language.  However, the clue implies that it is the C that is removed (gives way to) and replaced by the F.

26 Poet has no right staying awake all night (5)
VIGIL – The name of an ancient Roman poet without the abbreviation for right.

27 Not as crazy as flipping new queen! (5)
SANER – Reverse (flipping) the AS from the clue and follow with the abbreviation for new and the regnal cipher for the current queen.

28 Tears erupting after obscure abuses (9)
MISTREATS – An anagram (erupting) of TEARS after a four-letter word meaning to obscure.


1 Special talent is close to legal, just about (5)
FLAIR – The last letter (close to) of legal with a four-letter word meaning just or equitable around it.

2 Smear coal tar on dental cavity (4,5)
ROOT CANAL – An anagram (smear) of COAL TAR ON.

3 Internal clock died before midday or evening (10)
DINNERTIME – A five-letter word meaning internal and a four-letter word meaning to clock with the abbreviation for died before them.

4 Stupid habit appearing after I had one round (7)
IDIOTIC – A three-letter word for a nervous habit after the abbreviated form of “iI had”, the letter representing one and the letter that is round.  

5 Nothing on after light skewering (7)
LAMPOON – The letter representing nothing and the ON from the clue after a four-letter word for a type of light.  Whilst skewer can be used informally as a synonym, here skewering would require the solution to end ing.

6 Lonely heart overheard numbers (4)
DATA – A homophone of “dater” (lonely heart).

7 Muscle appearing in revolutionary fairy tale (5)
FABLE – A two letter word for a muscle in a three-letter word for a fairy that has been reversed (revolutionary).

8 You all note awful corpse (9)
EVERYONE – A single letter musical note followed by a four-letter word for awful and a four-letter word for a corpse.  Watch out for clues that are two similar.  The overlap in this clue and 12 across is unfortunate.

13 Tanked-up gal developing absurd vice (5,5)
SCUBA DIVER – An anagram (developing) of ABSURD VICE.

14 Perhaps instruction to come down hard on Defense corruption? (9)
KICKBACKS – Split 4,5 this might be an instruction to foul football players who are defenders.  Watch the differences between American and UK spellings.

16 Longing for home, Latinos go crazy, finishing off tequila (9)
NOSTALGIA – An anagram (crazy) of LATINOS GO followed by the last letter (finishing off) of tequila.  As the setter has discovered, there is an extra O in the letters to be rearranged.  Perhaps  “Latinos briefly go crazy” or “Latinos go half crazy”

18 It’s ironic, a woman acquiring fancy cars (7)
SARCASM – The diminutive form of Samantha includes an anagram (fancy) of CARS.

19 They’re not for putting people behind wheels (7)
DRIVERS – Double definition.

21 Criminal felt incomplete with no backing (5)
FELON – The felt from the clue without the final letter (incomplete) followed by a reversal of the On from the clue.

23 Heavenly arcs looping over saints’ heads (5)
HALOS – The initial letters (heads) of the first five words of the clue.

24 Storyteller held up by minor ailment (4)
LIAR – The answer is hidden and reversed (held up by) in the final two words of the clue.

24 comments on “Rookie Corner – 332

  1. Well, this was a pleasant surprise and, no doubt, CS will be happy to see a foreign correspondent’s comment. Having found Jabberwock’s first puzzle impenetrable, this one, with a small amount of electronic assistance, was penetrable.
    Two minor comments:
    19a is probably an indirect anagram – an abbreviated form of editors has to be ‘generated’ to be part of the anagram material.
    14d – in the UK, and in Canada, defenSe is defenCe.
    I did like 1a, 17a, and 14d.
    Thanks Jabberwock for an enjoyable conclusion to my Sunday evening solving of three puzzles.

  2. Hi Jabberwock, congratulations on producing a very fine puzzle. There was nothing too tricky, although I’ve yet to parse a couple. I thought there was a good level of variety in the clues, generally smooth surfaces and some lovely misdirection.
    My only criticism is that the clues for 12a and 8d seem to clash a bit.
    Aside from that, a very enjoyable solve, with 1d and 14a my favourites. Thanks for the entertainment.

  3. Welcome back, Jabberwock. I was delighted to find this much more solver friendly than your first Rookie Corner puzzle.

    I agree with Senf about 19a & 14d. In addition I can’t find any justification for L as an abbreviation for language in 25a nor do I understand how “skewering” leads to the answer to 5d.

    I do have a few other minor issues and there are two answers which I can’t parse, but I’ll wait for Prolixic’s review and then comment further if necessary.

    19d was my favourite.

    Well done, Jabberwock, and thank you for an enjoyable puzzle.

  4. This is an entertaining puzzle set at a perfect level for Rookie Corner – thanks Jabberwock.
    I had a couple of queries (the 16d anagram and the abbreviations used in 25a) and, like RD, I couldn’t see how skewering works in 5d.
    Top clues for me were 1a, 15a (which provided a good laugh) and 13d.
    More like this would be very welcome.

  5. Many thanks for comments, brief responses, in order of severity of issue:

    16d: Glaring howler, big apologies: anagram of “Latinos go” + A, but that’s clearly WRONG, there’s an extra O in the fodder.

    14d: Yes, my bad, UK spelling should be “defenCe”

    19a: This is strictly an indirect anagram, but I felt that such an obvious abbreviation (Eds from Editors) would be okay as direct input to fodder, and I think (???) the use of “obvious abbreviations” in fodder is accepted by the conventions?

    25a: “language” is not intended to indicate L, it’s intended to indicate C, as in the programming language C, which I think (???) is fair general knowledge.

    5d: “skewering” is intended as the definition, as noun, seemed fair to me, but noted that several of you query it. For example, Merriam-Webster skewer = “to […] ridicule sharply and effectively”, e.g. from The Times “Celeste Barber, the Instagram star who lampoons iconic images… there is no celebrity too fabulous to escape a skewering from the comedian…”

    Many thanks again, feedback really very much appreciated. And embarrassed apologies for 16d blush, should have got this test-solved!

    1. Thanks for popping in to comment, Jabberwock.

      My apologies too for my comment about L = Language. My excuse is that, having realised 25a involved a single letter substitution of Language to replace Force, I jumped to the wrong conclusion that it was the first letter of each word without checking the logic of what I was writing. I’ll be interested in Prolixic’s take on C = language. I’ve never heard of it and it doesn’t appear in either Chambers or Collins, or even using Google unless you search for “C language”, which is a bit of a leap. Similar “skewer” in the context of 5d doesn’t appear in either Chambers or Collins.

      1. Hi Dave: No apologies required, this clue (25a) certainly has rather difficult parsing, and if you don’t know the programming language C then that suggests it may not be a fair general knowledge expectation. In fact C does appear (“a high-level computer programming language”) in the full edition of Chambers, though not the slimmed-down online edition. But re 5d you’re absolutely right that this sense of “skewer”‘/”skewering” doesn’t appear in either Chambers or Collins, though it does appear in M-W and Oxford: I guess it’s one of those word-senses that appears an obvious common usage to me, but isn’t… I should have checked. Thanks again!

    2. Like RD, thanks for popping in.
      On 19a, I take the pedantic view that indirect is indirect but I suspect that Prolixic may take the view that ‘some editors will allow’ on your approach.
      On 5d, I had no problem with lampoon/skewer. I know I have come across it somewhere before, it must have been during my several years living and working South of the 49th Parallel (before I saw the light and returned North). This, of course, suggests that you should have used an indicator of regional (i.e. US) usage.

  6. I meant to post a reply to Jabberwock @6, so I have copied it there and removed it from this comment.

  7. Thought this puzzle showed distinct improvement, Jabberwock, well done for taking note of comments made regarding your debut.
    Half a dozen that didn’t quite work for me, most of which have been mentioned by either yourself or others, but I certainly enjoyed many of your clues – 17a in particular.
    Not sure that the computer language counts as ‘general’ knowledge?
    Looking forward to the review from Prolixic and also your next offering – don’t forget about getting that test-solver on board!

    1. As computer languages go, C is one of the better-known ones, being widely used and having been around for decades. It doesn’t seem any more obscure to me than many of the other abbreviations which get used (and accepted) in crosswords.

      Solvers without an interest in computers may just have to add ‘language = C’ [or Java, or Python] to their mental list of seemingly arbitrary substitutions to remember — but that’s no different to terms like ‘sailor = OR’ or ‘artist = RA’ which I’ve never encountered anywhere outside of crosswords and have just had to memorize to be able to solve them.

  8. Welcome back, Jabberwock.

    I was rather lukewarm about your debut puzzle, but I heartily agree with Jane on this one, it had many excellent surfaces and was vastly improved. I thoroughly enjoyed solving it and my printed page shows numerous ticks and very few quibbles, most of which have already been covered. Having “very” already as part of 8d, I wouldn’t have recommended using it again in 12a, with a similar definition and in a clue that intersects as well, especially when there are several other options available for -E-Y.

    More like this one and a very bright future beckons as a setter I’d suggest.

    Many thanks, Jabberwock.

  9. Always impressed by the detailed critiques provided by our expert solvers. Can’t really add anything Jabberwock other than to say it was a very pleasant solve – nothing too taxing, some nice surfaces, a bit of wit & spot on for this slot. Favourites were 1a,15a,26a &13d. Many thanks.
    Ps – skewering works for me in 5d as does eds in 19a but what do I know – didn’t notice the extra O in 16d anagram fodder.

  10. Pretty good I thought, albeit with a couple of bloopers and minor niggles
    I had no problem with skewering but the 8/12 did stand out like a sore thumb – how did that get through?
    Language for C is not a sufficient a definition on it’s own
    Well done for producing an enjoyable puzzle Jabberwock and thanks for the entertainment

  11. We weren’t ignoring the puzzle. Just could not access this site all day yesterday so will slot it in to today’s schedule.

    1. The parsing of 25a was the one that tripped us up but it all becomes clear when we read the above comments. We’d never heard of C for language before.
      Lots of clever clues and good fun to solve.
      Thanks Jabberwock.

  12. I found that quite a fun puzzle. I am not good enough to offer criticism but others have already mentioned several minor problems. Ifailed to notice the surplus O in 16d. I am having trouble parsing 6d and 18d I can’t quite see the woman. I see Sam (who may be female I suppose) and A “MS” without a reversal indicator. but I did like the solve and it was entertaining.

  13. Enjoyed this, thanks Jabberwock. Comments absent reading others’:
    Some very nice definitions I thought. Particular favourites
    25 the replacement is backwards, and I don’t think the language will be considered fair by a general audience.
    26 perhaps a definition by example.
    18 ‘woman’ too loose imo.
    Nice work :)

  14. Many thanks to Prolixic, and to others who commented after my initial response: I appreciate this enormously, it’s a remarkable service you provide to those of us trying to learn this arcane skill. Special thanks to Silvanus for very encouraging remarks, much appreciated. And Big Thanks to Big Dave, of course!

    I’ve written detailed clue-by-clue responses to help my own analysis, but I won’t bore people by posting that: just want to say that all the feedback was very very useful… even in those few cases where I disagree with a critique on logic grounds, eg parsing of 25a, it’s extremely useful to understand where my logic wasn’t clear to solvers.

    Again recognising sloppy blooper in 16d, ugly similarity of 12a and 8d, and silly spelling error in 14d: rats!

    Many many thanks once again to Prolixic and everybody who commented!

    Warm regards – Jabberwock = Guy

  15. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, and I have to admit to making an error with 6d – my lonely heart was a ‘date’ which is certainly comprised of numbers but obviously isn’t a homophone.
    Hope that we’ll see more of Jabberwock in the future.

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