Rookie Corner – 340 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 340

A Puzzle by Hodd

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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.

An enjoyable and accessible crossword from Hodd this week.  There were some good ideas on display here particularly in 18a and many smooth clues and surface readings.  The commentometer reads as 3.5/28 or 12.5%


1 Clue‘s initial letters (8)
SIGNPOST – Split 4,4 the solution could mean to append your name to letters being sent to someone.

5 Man has answer to ‘name a country‘ (6)
GUYANA – A three-letter word meaning a man followed by the abbreviations for answer and name and the A from the clue.

9 True map managed to take us finally closer to the source (8)
UPSTREAM – An anagram (managed) of TRUE MAP includes (to take) the final letter (finally) of us.

10 Brave French king caught after retreating, eh? (6)
HEROIC – The French word for king and the abbreviation for caught after a reversal (after retreating) of the HE from the clue.

12 Animal burying money in small ditch (5)
HYENA – The name of the currency of Japan (money) is included (burying) in half (small) of a word for a ditch.  I don’t think that small works as an instruction to use only half of the word.

13 Is this how they choose Donald’s suit? (5,4)
TRUMP CARD – Cryptic definition by reference to the current US president of how the prevailing suit is picked in some games.  I am not sure that the cryptic definition quite gets you to the solution.

14 Great artist missing brilliant and astute investment opportunity? (3-4-5)
GET RICH QUICK – Remove the abbreviation for artist from the first word from the clue and follow with a four-letter word meaning brilliant and a five-letter word meaning astute.  I am not sure about the link between brilliant and the second word of the solution.

18 Terrible toenail trail, for example? (12)
ALLITERATION – An anagram (terrible) of TOENAIL TRAIL gives a word that describes the first three words of the clue.

21 An operator – that’s it (5,4)
MINUS SIGN – The hyphen in the clue is also called this mathematical operator.

23 Make up middle-class accent (5)
ATONE – The middle letter of class followed by a four-letter word meaning accent.  Some editors wold not allow middle-X to indicate the central letter as in the cryptic grammar you need middle of X.

24 Defender started entertaining league (6)
SHIELD – A five-letter word meaning started or jumped includes (entertaining) the abbreviation for league.

25 Convinced setter’s after advance (8)
POSITIVE – A three-letter contraction of I have (setter’s) after a five-letter word meaning advance.

26 Hunk‘s catch after weapon, in retrospect (6)
NUGGET – A three-letter word meaning catch after a reversal (in retrospect) of a three-letter word for a weapon.  Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators.  Having A after B in 25a and again in 26a jars.

27 Waves of destruction from giant sun – am I safe?! (8)
TSUNAMIS – The answer is hidden in (from) the final five words of the clue.


1 Snow lingers upon sunny hilltops; by day’s end is half melted (6)
SLUSHY – The initial letters of the first five words of the clue followed by the last letter (end) of day.  The initial letter indicator is found by splitting the hilltops into hill tops and using tops as the initial letter indicator.  Not all editors will accept this form of clue.  In addition, a superficial reading of the clue means that solvers may initially think there is a mistake in the clue as there is no initial letter indicator.  A clue that looks as thought it has a mistake even where it does not is probably best avoided.

2 Try and stretch endlessly for the truth (6)
GOSPEL – A two-letter word meaning try followed by a five-letter word for a stretch of time with the final letter removed (endlessly).

3 Every hospital department is filled with people not going anywhere (9)
PERMANENT – A three-letter word meaning every and a three-letter abbreviation for a hospital department includes (is filled with) a three-letter word meaning to people or staff.  I think that the three letter word meaning every means “for every” or each rather than every on its own.

4 Brian can be a disorganised person! (12)
SCATTERBRAIN – Split 7, 5 this would be a reverse anagram clue where the first seven letters are an anagram letter and the final five letters when rearranged would give Brian.  Perhaps a stronger indication that this is a reverse anagram clue would be helpful.  “To my mind, Brian is a disorganised person!”

6 Finish writing down “Heart of Jesus”? (3,2)
USE-UP – An expression that describes how you might write a description of the central letters (heart of) in Jesus.  Perhaps “Finish how you might describe the heart of Jesus”  would give a better indication of you need to reverse engineer the clue.

7 Redolent of an actor lacking direction, I’m all over the place (8)
AROMATIC – An anagram (all over the place) of AN ACTOR IM after removing (lacking) a compass direction.

8 Old prince‘s bow outstanding, admitted king (8)
ARCHDUKE – A four-letter word for a bow or curve followed by a three-letter word meaning outstanding or owing that includes the abbreviation for king.

11 Idly snubs autocue, getting under the skin (12)
SUBCUTANEOUS – An anagram (idly) of SNUBS AUTOCUE.

15 Tender words (9)
QUOTATION – Double definition of a tender or price offered and a notable group of words attributed to someone.

16 Usual table bearing cheese (8)
PARMESAN – A three-letter word meaning usual or normal followed by a four-letter word for.a table top mountain in the US and a compass bearing.  I think that abridging the name of the mountain to just table is a little too oblique.

17 Flashing ostentatious jewellery, concealing tattoo (8)
BLINKING – A five-letter word for ostentatious jewellery includes (concealing) a three-letter word for tattoo.

19 Stand by Pence’s condemnation (6)
PODIUM – The abbreviation for pence followed by a five-letter word meaning condemnation.

20 Non-dominant gene I’ve deleted for depression (6)
RECESS – A nine-letter word for a non-dominant gene without the IVE from the clue.

22 Loves rearranging the letters to get the answer (5)
SOLVE – An anagram (rearranging the letters) of LOVES.

42 comments on “Rookie Corner – 340

  1. I’m burning the midnight oil tonight so have been able to tackle this much earlier than usual.

    Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Hodd. I did enjoy the solve and it’s good to see some of the interesting ideas included.

    I started badly by putting “starters” in straight away as my answer to 1a. That held me up considerably in the NW corner until I realised the error of my ways.

    I have scribbled a few notes by 5a, 12a, 1d, 3d, 6d & 17d. These are mostly minor, but rather than potentially duplicate Prolixic’s comments, I won’t go into those in detail before he has published his review. In addition, I am guessing that 13a is meant to be a cryptic definition, but I can’t make much sense of it.

    I also awarded a lot of ticks. These went to 1a (once I had worked out the correct answer!), 10a, 21a, 25a, 15d, 16d & 19d. The synonym for table in 16d was a new word for me and needed a quick check in my BRB.

    Well done, Hodd, and many thanks for the fun.

    1. Very odd to see anyone other than 2Kiwis in the first comment slot! Also very ominous, as radio silence from 2Kiwis indicates a problematic grid.

      Your prediction of the clues Prolixic would comment on was nearly perfect.

      I’m less certain about ‘table’ = ‘mesa’ now than when I wrote this a few months ago. It was a BRB thesaurus stretch rather than a solid dictionary definition.

      Glad you enjoyed it on the whole.

  2. I’m laughing now – can definitely just put ‘ditto’ to all of RD’s comments, right from burning the midnight oil through to looking up the synonym and all the notes and ticks in between. The only difference here being that I didn’t fall into the potential trap at 1a – left it alone until I had enough checkers to make it obvious.

    Thank you, Hodd, it was well worth the very late night.

  3. Well, just to be different, we were later than usual getting on to this one. A very clever puzzle that had us working hard in places. A real pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Hodd.

  4. As usual, I solved this with my breakfast and found it to be a very good crossword, only the NE corner holding me up after the other three corners had ‘flowed’ very nicely

    Thanks to Hodd and, in advance, to Prolixic

  5. I enjoyed this – thanks Hodd.
    I’m not sure that ‘small’ is valid for ‘half’ in 12a.
    The clues I liked best were 1a, 10a, 21a and 1d.
    More like this please.

  6. Thanks Hodd – I enjoyed much of this. My favourite clues included 1a, 18a, 6d (though it take me an age to get!), and 22d for its pleasing surface. My favourite clue was 21 across. A recent Guardian clue (by Picaroon, I think) was similar to 4d here.

    1. Thanks for tackling the crossword, and for the kind comments. I did suppose that 4d may have been clued similarly many times before, but I’d never seen it so it was fair game for me!

  7. Welcome back, Hodd.

    I have to admit thinking initially to myself that 21a isn’t very cryptic until I twigged its subtlety, very clever! Like others, I had minor reservations about certain constructions and I share Gazza’s view on 12a. My picks were 9a, 25a, 15d and 17d. Overall a very entertaining and well-crafted puzzle that was a pleasure to 22d.

    Many thanks, Hodd.

    1. Silvanus, thanks for the positive feedback. I will take note that ‘small’ to indicate ‘short’/’half’ may not be acceptable.

      On an unrelated note, it was pure coincidence that the first across and last down clue were thematically similar, but I’m pleased to see it.

  8. I found this slightly harder than run of the mill, but very enjoyable and satisfying to solve
    Both 12a & 13a warranted a little nose-wrinkle, but nothing more than that
    A well clued and competently put together puzzle Hodd, well done and thanks for the entertainment

    1. Thanks, Roy. I’ll take two nose-wrinklers any day. I could never work out if 13a really worked, but the first word comes so easily that I thought it would be quick to solve, if not fair. Thanks for the kind feedback!

  9. An enjoyable puzzle over breakfast and lunch for us! Completed but we still need Prolixic to explain one or two answers such as the tattoo in 17d. We can’t parse 25a and 24a despite having answers. Loved 21a once we twigged. Many thanks Hodd and to Prolixic in advance.

  10. Can’t claim to have solved this over breakfast but solve it I did, a couple of bung ins not withstanding. It wouldn’t have been out of place on the Tuesday Toughie page in my opinion.
    I liked 18& 21a plus 2, 15, 17 and 22d but top of my 19d is probably 19d.
    Many thanks Hodd, very enjoyable.

    1. That’s great to hear, S.L. This crossword has been better received than my last, so I’m glad to be heading in the right direction.

  11. By the time I get round to solving Rookie Corner it’s often Wednesday or Thursday and far too late to add any useful comment. But today I had a bit of spare time and was able to savour this ‘hot off the press’ as it were.
    A very enjoyable crossword, not without a few headscratching moments – which is as it should be.
    I particularly liked 2, 18, 20, 21 (a very neat touch there) and 25. On the other hand I wasn’t quite sure about ‘people’ in 3, thought 4 was a bit of a chestnut and found 13 a bit clunky.
    But all in all a very nice puzzle; I don’t think it’ll be too long before we see you in the NTSPP slot. Thjanks, Hodd.

    1. Hi Exit. I was using ‘people’ as a verb, as Prolixic explains. Approaching a bit of a stretch, but I was enjoying the surface. 13 definitely isn’t easy to digest. I’d like to make the NTSPP slot, so I hope to see you there.

  12. Thanks Hodd, lots to like.
    Particular ticks against 24,25,1dn and another four short ones stood out.
    For various reasons I don’t think 1ac,12,13,6,16 work.
    Cheers for the entertainment.

    1. Hi Gonzo, thanks for the feedback.

      Can you expand on why you didn’t think those clues worked?

      1a – ‘sign’ does not equal ‘initial’, perhaps?
      12 – ‘small’ does not mean ‘short’ or ‘half’
      13 – yep, fair enough.
      6d – not a great surface, and not a watertight clue.
      16 – I swear I found a reliable source that told me ‘mesa’ = ‘table’.


  13. Many thanks for your review, Prolixic, which covers most of my scribbles. I have one comment and one question:
    – Ink = tattoo in 17d seems a bit of stretch to me and I can’t find any reference source which suggests they are synonymous.
    – Is “to” in 5a an acceptable link word or is it just surface padding?

      1. I’ve heard expressions such as “I’m having more ink next week” a few times RD. You’re obviously not “down with the kids” on this one 😉

      2. Thanks, Smylers and SL. I obviously don’t move in the right circles.

        I had looked up both “ink” and “tattoo” in various dictionaries and Googled both with no correlation showing up. However, following your comment, I have just Googled “ink slang” and bingo! “tattoo” pops up. As it’s not in the BRB it wouldn’t be acceptable in a Telegraph crossword but it’s not a problem for Rookie Corner.

    1. Regards your second question; I hope ‘to’ is acceptable, because I sure do lean on it often

  14. Still 10 answers short & finding this hard going but will persevere. Have enjoyed the ones that I have managed though.
    Is there an issue with the site as can’t see any comments on today’s back page review & unable to make one ?

  15. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, it cleared up my queries. Must admit, I was somewhat thrown by the apparent lack of an indicator in 1d – didn’t think it was acceptable to split ‘hilltops’.

    1. I don’t object to this at all. Punctuation can be ignored in clues so isn’t ‘lack of a space’ just punctuation? I don’t see much difference between having to split hilltops into hill & tops and having to split sweetheart into sweet and heart for the letter E.

      1. Lack of punctuation isn’t a form of punctuation, no.
        That said, if I spot this trick I like it, otherwise I don’t ;)

      2. That’s just hitting below the belt, Gazza! Funny that you should pick on that example…………….

  16. Finally made it to a finish albeit with the aid of 2 letter reveals. 1a took me an age to twig & only then did 2d become apparent. Couldn’t parse 16d other than the first bit & 23a also gave me problems. Really enjoyed it & like Stephen thought it more than worthy of a Toughie.
    Many thanks Hodd & to Prolixic for the review – am sure I’m being think but don’t really understand your comment about 23a

    1. Prolixic is saying that phrases such as centre-stage for A are not universally accepted because the letter A is centre ‘of’ stage grammatically
      Job Centre is not O, Job’s Centre is O; First Class is not C, first ‘of’ class is C
      Compare Beethoven’s fifth – which is H

    2. Thanks for persevering to the end, Hunstman. It’s really encouraging to know that it was an enjoyable solve.

  17. Thanks for taking the time to comment everyone. I’ll reply to individual comments separately.

    And thanks one again to Prolixic for the indispensable in-depth analysis. My thoughts on one of your comments:

    6d: I felt that I needed to emphasise “writing *down*” to contrast with “use *up*”. Your surface is much more elegant, but doesn’t explain why it would be “use up” rather than “use back” or “use left”.

    1. Apologies for being late to reply to many commenters. It’s been a busy week.

      Another comment on Prolixic’s comments: I think ‘per’ can be fairly translated as just ‘every’, but I might be alone in this.

Comments are closed.