Rookie Corner – 335 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 335

A Puzzle by Modica

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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 to Modica who returns with a solid accessible and enjoyable crossword.  There were a couple of weaker clues but much fewer overall niggles.  The commentomter reads as 2/28 or 7.1%


1 Gave fruit back to every diner for starters (6)
GIFTED -A three-letter word for a type of fruit is reversed (back) and followed by the initial letters (for starters) of “to every diner”.

4 Television channels found on line? (8)
STATIONS – Double definition of TV channels and when trains stop (found on line).  Verbal phrases used to define nouns are sometimes seen.  Personally, I don’t like them as they can become too imprecise.  Here you could have had “Stops on-line televisions channels”.

9 Old north east manner that’s not reciprocated (3-3)
ONE-WAY – The abbreviations for old and Northeast followed a three-letter word meaning manner.

10 Flat missing the key? (8)
TUNELESS – Cryptic definition of how music would be if flat or off-key.

11 Force very sweet thing to lead gang (4,5)
VICE SQUAD – The abbreviation for very followed by a cold sweet confectionary before (to lead) a five-letter word for a gang.

13 Choked by garden nuisances? It makes you yawn (5)
ENNUI – The answer is hidden (chocked by) the third and fourth words of the clue.

14 The main difference between Italy and Tunisia (13)
MEDITERRANEAN – Cryptic definition of sea that separates Italy and Tunisia.

17 Passer-by who might buy double glazing (6-7)
WINDOW-SHOPPER – Cryptic definition of someone who looks at goods on display but does not buy.

21 After expression of disapproval turn it round for all (5)
TUTTI – A three-letter word for an expression of disapproval followed by a reversal (turn … round) of the it from the clue.

23 Restrict the supply of beer? There’s an explanation (9)
RATIONALE – Split 6,3 this would mean to restrict the supply of a three-letter word for beer.

24 Stolen rubbish just about covers the bare essentials (3,5)
HOT PANTS – A three-letter word meaning stolen followed by a five-letter word meaning rubbish.  Another verbal phrase to define a noun.  Something to cover the bare essentials of stolen rubbish.

25 Animal with two names (6)
JACKAL – A four-letter boys name followed by a two-letter boys name.

26 Right about English Defence League. It does stop progress (3,5)
RED LIGHT – The right from the clue around the abbreviations for English, Defence and League.  It would have been better to use a synonym for right in this clue.  The three main dictionaries do not support the use of the three abbreviation.  However, Chambers gives E and L for English and League and Collins supports D for Defence as an Australian abbreviation.

27 Transport caught by unarmed national heading west (6)
TANDEM – The answer is hidden (caught by) and reversed (heading west) in the fourth and fifth words of the clue.


1 Record score? (6)
GROOVE – Cryptic definition of the track scored in a record.

2 Father knocking the head off sidekick. Well he is a chap from Bordeaux (9)
FRENCHMAN – The two-letter abbreviation for French followed by a an eight-letter word for a sidekick with the first letter removed (head off).  Perhaps a question mark at the end would better indicate that the definition is an example of the solution.

3 Slipped away not exactly pleased (7)
ELAPSED – An anagram (not exactly) of PLEASED.

5 Power of Zeus and Thor revealed when both trundle around (11)
THUNDERBOLT – An anagram (around) of BOTH TRUNDLE.

6 The first of May? (7)
THERESA – The first name of an ex-Prime Minister.

7 Canoe rebuilt by Indian perhaps (5)
OCEAN – An anagram (rebuilt) of CANOE.  Whilst you can have definition by wordplay, wordplay bf definition does not work so well.

8 Nights out on the ale with my psychiatrist (8)
SESSIONS – Double definition for nights out drinking and time spent with a psychiatrist.  Not sure that the second part of the definition works exactly except elliptically with the first part of the definition.

12 Satisfactory result of sleeping on a dirty bed? (2,2,7)
UP TO SCRATCH – Double definition of satisfactory and what you might need to do if sleeping in a dirty bed.  Again, the second part of the definition does not quite work.

15 Reserved listener ticked the boxes (9)
EARMARKED – The organ of hearing followed by a six-letter word meaning ticked the boxes.

16 Hobbyist who might be looking for another hobby (8)
TWITCHER – Cryptic definition of someone who looks for hobbies and other types of bird.

18 Regularly coercing barmaid to display the art of folding sheets (7)
ORIGAMI – The even letters (regularly) of the second and third words of the clue.

19 A fair way of rewarding all involved in training a parrot (3,4)
PRO RATA – An anagram (training) of A PARROT.

20 Wrongly blamed for right old racket (6)
BEDLAM – An anagram (wrongly) of BLAMED.

22 Carried child every day at first (5)
TOTED – A three-letter word for a small child followed by the initial letters (at first) of every day.

21 comments on “Rookie Corner – 335
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  1. A couple of clues in the NE, 10a and 8d had us scratching our heads for a while but the rest all flowed smoothly.
    A competently put together puzzle that was a pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Modica.

  2. Very similar your previous puzzles – a perfect conclusion to Sunday evening solving.
    I really liked 17a, 23a, 12d, and 16d.
    Thanks Modica

  3. I enjoyed this, Modica. It was fun to solve, your wordplay is mostly accurate, and your surfaces generally read well.

    There are a couple of clues that didn’t quite work for me: 10a & 8d; and 26a could perhaps have been improved by replacing “right” with a synonym, e.g. “correct”.

    You have included one of my bugbears in 25a – the use of unqualified names as part of the wordplay – and compounded it by using two of them in one clue! It’s not wrong but it strongly divides opinion among both setters and solvers so possibly best avoided.

    I particularly liked 14a, 17a, 23a, 1d & 6d.

    Well done and thank you, Modica. I doubt that Prolixic will have too many comments to make in his review, and I look forward to your next puzzle.

  4. Thanks Modica – that was fun.
    I’m not sure that 12d quite works but it gave me a good laugh.
    My podium features 24a, 16d and 20d.
    More like this would be very welcome.

  5. Agree with CS. Thanks to Modica. 24a and 12d made us smile, especially putting both together! This is a great site. Thank you to BD and in advance to Prolixic.

  6. A very pleasant solve late last night with some smooth surfaces & witty clueing. 12d the standout clue even though it brought back memories of a hotel we stayed in overnight in Ashdown Forest a few years back. 10a & 8d were my last 2 in & like the 2Ks they caused a good deal of pondering but they both work fine for me anyhow.
    Thanks Modica

  7. Like your previous puzzle, this was enjoyable to solve, Modica, although I was a little unconvinced by 8&12d and thought RD’s idea for 26a would have resulted in a rather better clue.
    Top three for me were 23&24a plus 5d.

    Many thanks, hope you’ll be back soon.

  8. Welcome back, Modica.

    I was delighted to see that you have obviously worked hard to eliminate the niggles that bedevilled your last puzzle, and this one definitely has a more polished feel about it. Like others, I wasn’t totally convinced by a couple of clues that were perhaps a little too ambitious, but otherwise this was a very well-crafted product. My favourite clue was 16d. Keep it up!!

    Many thanks for an enjoyable solve.

  9. Hi Modica

    very enjoyable with some lovely clues.

    I’ll share some personal taste, you can decide if there is anything you agree with

    4a/24 strictly are verbal definitions for a nounal answer – you sometimes see this, but it is always avoidable. e.g. “Stolen rubbish that just about covers the bare essentials” satisfies all camps

    11a I don’t think you need “thing”. I’m not keen on words like thing, something, somewhere in clues, they are always replaceable by something more accurate (or can be omitted as here, since a sweet = a sweet thing
    5d links are interesting. does “definition when wordplay” really make sense? here i think “as” does the job beautifully. So the suggestion is to think carefully about your links. similarly 7d “by”. If you can, avoiding a link altogether often gives a more succinct clue. Indian perhaps rebuilt canoe

    20d careful of overqualifying your definitions, here “right old” isn’t really needed

    2d well, he might be from Bordeaux

    like i said, question of taste, hope it’s useful

    well done

    1. Many thanks for your comments which are very useful and provide lots of food for thought. Your suggestions for 24a, 7d and 5d are certainly ones I will take on board as well as your points about links in general.

      With 11a I used ‘thing’ in the clue quite deliberately. The clue, for me, conjured up an image of a young innocent being put into a position where he or she did not want to be. As for 20d – I just like the phrase ‘right old racket’. It reminds me of how my mother used to describe the music coming from my bedroom when I hit my teens. She was a big fan of Mario Lanza – The Free Story (played as loud as I dared) did not meet with her approval.

  10. Very many thanks to all who have commented – as always your feedback is invaluable. The general consensus seems to be that it was an enjoyable puzzle and that is very satisfying. I’ll crack on with the next one!

  11. Thanks Modica for a fun puzzle with good surfaces,
    Faves 1dn,18,19.
    I liked 10 though it gave me difficulty.
    12 perhaps ‘infested’ rather than ‘dirty’.
    8 doesn’t quite work for me, though I can see the attraction of the surface.

  12. Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle Modica. Much appreciated.
    There was plenty to like here, particularly 10a, 25a, and 1d. It is difficult to select a fave but I am opting for 10a.
    8d was my last in and I don’t think the clue quite works for me, although once solved all is clear. As for 12d ! That did raise a chuckle and a ‘yerch’ at the same time! Spare a thought for our poor ancestors!!!
    Most appreciative thanks to Prolixic for the analysis. I always find them invaluable.

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. Have to say that I didn’t have a problem with the two instances of verbal phrases being used to describe nouns as the surfaces read quite well although I appreciate that this device can be taken too far at times.

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