Rookie Corner – 336 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 336

A Puzzle by Bardwig

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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 good solid puzzle from Bardwig this week with an actress and many of her films as a ghost theme.  Nothing much wrong with the clues though a few more definition by example indicators would be appropriate.   The commentometer reads as 2/28 or 7.1%.


1 Bury keeping ball: endless chaos for Arsenal at the Emirates (4,4)
HOME SIDE – A four-letter word meaning to bury or conceal includes the letter resembling a ball and a four-letter word meaning chaos with the final letter removed (endless).  Perhaps this clue requires a definition by example indicator as the definition is an example of the solution.

5 On the way back maybe Myrna’s carrying black male icon (6)
SYMBOL – Include the abbreviations for black and male inside (carrying) the surname of the minor star mid-19th Century actress Myrna and reverse (on the way back) the resulting letters with the ‘s included.  There have been a lot of comments on the use of general knowledge in the crossword.  Where the solution is an item of general knowledge, such as the name of a battle in 25a or the university in 27a, the wordplay cam get you to the solution.  Where the general knowledge forms part of the wordplay, you have to be a little more careful.  The surname of an actress whose heyday was over 60 years ago and who does not have the iconic status of other more well known personalities is a little bit of a stretch.

9 Wild women not included in order to limit the damage? (8)
RECKLESS – Remove the initial W (women not included) from a phrase 5,4 meaning do not create so much damage.

10 Quick to supply some missing words (6)
PROMPT – Double definition, the second being to provide a performer with words if they forget their lines.

12 Don’t rush to defend sleazy Soho and Surrey (4,4,6)
HOLD YOUR HORSES – A four-letter word meaning to defend or keep followed by an anagram (sleazy) of SOHO SURREY.

14 Split bill altercation ultimately did for hired mob (4-1-5)
RENT-A-CROWD – A four-letter word meaning split or torn followed by the abbreviation for a bill, a three-letter word for an altercation and the final letter (ultimately) of did.

16 River in Mountain City (4)
BERN – The abbreviation for river in a three-letter word for a Scottish mountain.

18 Change of polarity in old Irish flyer (4)
ERNE – Take the old four-letter word for Ireland and change the S to N (change of polarity).

19 Maybe Hackman picked up Warhol’s remarkable actress (4,6)
JEAN HARLOW – A homophone (picked up) of Gene (Hackman maybe) followed by an anagram (remarkable) of WARHOL.

21 Old man in pub let off fair-haired girl (8,6)

24 Partly rejected internecine rivalry, aiming at peace (6)
IRENIC – The answer is hidden (partly) and reversed (rejected) in the third and fourth words of the clue.

25 Battle involving a snake circle in South Georgia (8)
SARATOGA – The A from the clue and three-letter word for someone betrays (snake) in the abbreviation for South and the two letter abbreviation for Georgia.

26 Hawn’s porridge taster losing hair but gaining energy (6)
GOLDIE – Remove five-letter word for hair from the girl who ate porridge in the fairy tale and add and E (gaining energy).  As the definition is an example of the solution, a definition by example indicator would be appropriate here.

27 University creep greeting two students (4,4)
EDGE HILL – A four-letter word meaning creep followed by a two-letter word for a greeting and the abbreviation for learner twice (two students).


1 Present in another era (4)
HERE – The answer is hidden in the final two words of the clue.

2 Tough Chinese leader imprisons 40% of his country (5)
MACHO – The three letter name of a Chinese leader famous for his little red book includes (imprisons) 40% of the letters in the country he governed.

3 A poetic Salopian undergraduate entering senior’s food outlet (5,3)
SALAD BAR – The A from the clue, the three-letter word that follows Shropshire in the poem and the abbreviation a graduate all in the two letter abbreviation for senior.  Undergraduate is incorrect, they do not get their degree until they have graduated.

4 Oddball is outsourced – like Greensleeves? (12)
DISCOURTEOUS – An anagram (oddball) of IS OUTSOURCED.

6 Plant machinery’s rear direction indicator (6)
YARROW – The last letter (rear) of machinery followed by a five-letter word for something that indicates a direction.

7 Doctor’s nightmare follows second round knockout (9)
BOMBSHELL – The abbreviation for second and the letter that is round followed by a two-letter abbreviation for a Bachelor of Medicine (doctor) and a four-letter word meaning nightmare.

8 Updates from trial on Tyneside breaking rules (6,4)
LATEST NEWS – A four-letter word for a trial and the abbreviation for NorthEast (Tyneside) all inside (breaking) a four-letter word for rules.

11 Stand for planners receiving sustenance (7,5)
DRAWING BOARD – A seven-letter word meaning receiving (as in a payment taken from an account) an a five-letter word for substance often used with the words … and lodging.

13 Lodger contains bad temper at home, getting retaliation in first? (10)
PRE-EMPTING – The abbreviation for paying guest (lodger) includes (contains) an anagram (bad) of TEMPER and a two letter word meaning at home.  As the abbreviation is an unusual one, it might have been fairer to use “Paying guest” rather than require the solver to make the connection from lodger to paying guest to the abbreviation.

15 Unique start to November: one half of Parliament replaced (9)
NONPAREIL – An anagram (replaced) of N (start to November) ONE PARLI (half of Parliament).

17 It’s automaton time: act like a Luddite! (8)
SABOTAGE – The abbreviation for sex appeal (it) has a three-letter word for an automaton and a three-letter word for time.  An automaton is a physical machine but the word used in the solution is used for an automatic program, so the two are not quite synonymous.

20 Swinging both ways, family needs single item of beachwear (6)
BIKINI – A two letter word meaning of dual sexuality followed by a three-letter word for family and the letter representing one (single).

22 Washerman’s detergent helping others build immunity initially (5)
DHOBI – The initial letters of the second to sixth words of the clue.

23 Simon Peter may be fleeced on his behalf (4)
PAUL – The word that completes the phrase robbing Peter to pay ….  Again, as the definition is by example, this should be indicated.

20 comments on “Rookie Corner – 336

  1. A top quality clever puzzle that we really enjoyed. We’re old enough that the GK needed was not a problem.
    Thanks Bardwig.

  2. It looks like I must be close to being as old as the 2Kiwis because I also had no problems with the GK.
    Very enjoyable and a very pleasant end to my Sunday evening solving.
    I really liked – 9a, 8d, 11d, and 20d.
    Thanks Bardwig – some might say that you should be destined for greater things.

  3. Many thanks Bardwig, I enjoyed that. My edited notes (with spoilers hopefully all removed) that I made as I solved (in solving order) are below. I have also just looked back through most of your previous puzzles – (Is this Puzzle no. 7?). You’ve made great progress whilst keeping in a certain quantity of General Knowledge (which I think acts as your very good personal ‘trademark’!) – well done!
    As ever with my notes, feel free to ignore, they were just my thoughts as I solved. Prolixic’s feedback tomorrow is FAR more authoritative!!

    14a ok. Surface slightly surreal
    19a good
    24a ok
    25a ok
    1d ok
    2d good. clever surface
    11d ok
    15d good
    20d ok
    22d ok
    12a ok
    18a ok. Surface?
    21a good
    27a ok
    17d ok
    26a ok. Surface surreal
    13d Some may see it as unfair to make the solver jump from ‘…’ to … in one leap for one part of the wordplay.
    4d WP suggests but I haven’t sussed the definition as yet! [‘Like greensleeves?’] Ah, just Googled it. This will be seen by some as stretching required General Knowledge for a cryptic crossword a bit far though seems fair to me.
    1a good. Good surface
    3d good – I like it. Some may not like the General Knowledge (GK) angle (i.e. needing to know of the existence of ‘…’) but I love that sort of clue
    9a good
    8d good
    16a good
    5a ok. I didn’t know who Myrna was but wholly guessable from the clue. See comment above
    6d ok. It feels like the surface could be improved but it does the job
    10a ok.
    7d good
    23d good use of ‘Simon Peter’ … . LOI.

    1. I’m very grateful for your comments, Encota, and it was interesting to note the order in which you solved the clues.
      As regards 26a, since there’s a reference to a fairy tale here, I thought a smattering of surrealism might not matter too much.

  4. I thought this was a well clued puzzle despite some of the references/names which mean nothing to me – just not my thing
    Thanks for the entertainment and well done on an accomplished puzzle Bardwig
    Thanks in advance to Prolixic and to BD as ever for keeping us up and running

    1. I didn’t do anything this time – it was a disk problem that the hosting company noticed 10 minutes before I reported it, by which time they were already sorting it out.

  5. Because of the blog access problem earlier, I didn’t solve the Rookie over breakfast but instead took advantage of the glorious sunshine and solved it later than usual sitting in the garden

    An excellent puzzle with a theme that even I noticed fairly early on – just wondering if knowing who Myrna was is a reflection of my age

    Thanks to Bardwig – more like this please – and, in advance, to Prolixic

  6. As I said following this setter’s previous puzzle, I do worry somewhat about his use of strange surface reads and the inclusion of rather a lot of GK. I think more than half of the clues in this one utilised the latter which is probably only enjoyable if one happens to have the particular knowledge that is required.
    Fortunately, I knew most of today’s GK although it was only thanks to the comment from Modica that I nailed the theme and I was quite surprised to see that the abbreviation used in 13d is listed in the BRB.
    Thank you, Bardwig, the jury’s still out here but I appreciate that your style will hold more appeal for others.

  7. I found this pretty challenging but very rewarding & completed with the help of 1 letter reveal (23d/25a checker). No issues with most of the GK & the theme is pretty obvious even to me. Don’t know much about ML but remembered her in The Best Years of Our Lives. Will need the review to fully understand the wordplay of a few. My podium picks would be 2d, 9a & 21a with notable mentions for 1a & 8d.
    Many thanks Bardwig

  8. Welcome back, Bardwig.

    I certainly share Jane’s concern at a few of the surface reads, but overall I enjoyed the solving process. I thought the anagrams in particular were very cleverly constructed. My top clues were 21a and 15d.

    I’m sure that most setters were disappointed when Bury ceased to be a professional football club last year, but their name still seems to live on for the time being in Crosswordland at least. The answer to 22d electronically seems to be set up to accept the Indian loincloth (with a T) rather than the Indian washerman (with a B) as the correct answer, but I’m sure BD will amend this.

    Many thanks, Bardwig.

  9. This was clearly a very well constructed puzzle incorporating some clever clues although I do share Jane’s reservations about some of the surface readings and the amount of GK required.

    For 3d to work, “undergraduate” needs to replaced by “graduate”. I can’t parse 23d but I suspect this is due to my lack of biblical knowledge. In 17d the ‘S looks to me like surface padding but perhaps I am not parsing that one correctly.

    I had plenty of ticks on my page with 15d my favourite.

    Many thanks, Bardwig, and well done.

  10. Thanks Bardwig, I finished this with minimal electronic assistance and learned some things. Comments absent reading others’:
    Quite general-knowledge heavy, especially 4 and maybe the reason why I don’t understand 23.
    Needed definition-by-example indicators in places.
    Ticks against 14,21,27,2,7,15.
    9 a ‘solve from crossers then parse’ and I wonder if anyone got it without crossers.
    13 rather an obscure abbreviation, a puzzle of mine uses ‘contract Rheumatoid Arthritis’ because I don’t expect people to know the abbreviation RA without prompting.
    Very entertaining.

  11. Many thanks to everyone who has commented so far. The puzzle is intended to be solvable without any prior knowledge of the theme and for that reason I deliberately avoided any cross-referencing in the clues. The GK issue seems to be a matter of taste and surely almost all cryptic puzzles require some such awareness – if only at the level of abbreviations. Personally I’ve always enjoyed solving puzzles which also incorporate some cultural elements as occasionally they stimulate my curiosity to find out more about a particular person, place or event. I suppose I could manage without them if I had to but I don’t think I’d enjoy writing clues nearly as much.

  12. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, particularly for the explanation of 17d. I’d got myself hooked into the old tale of mill workers throwing their shoes (sabots) into the new machinery to ‘clog up the works’.

  13. My thanks to Prolixic for the review. In a different puzzle I wouldn’t have clued 5a the way I did; here, though, it just seemed like a good idea, given the theme. Not sure I can agree about ‘undergraduate’: if the test of equivalence is interchangeability in a sentence, then a ‘BA course’ is an ‘undergraduate course’ (ditto ‘programme’, ‘student’, etc.)

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