Rookie Corner – 342 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 342

A Puzzle by Bungo

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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 Bungo.  Overall this was a good second outing.  On the whole the shorter clues worked best.  Some (I’m looking at you 6d) became too contrived for their own good.  Whilst the length of a clue is a matter of style for the setter, if the clue is long because the wordplay has become too complicated, it is probably a good idea to scrap the clue and start again.

There were some places where the part of speech indicated by the definition were not matched in the solution.

Some good ideas were on display in clues like 13a.  The commentometer reads as 3.5/28 or 12.5%


1 Green head of toad, an amphibian (4)
NEWT – A three-letter word meaning green followed by the first letter (head) of toad.

3 Invalid’s account following tumble given notably short shrift at first (10)
FALLACIOUS – The abbreviation for account after a four-letter word meaning tumble followed by a note given to acknowledge a debt and the first letter of shrift.  Like others, I am not convinced that “notably short” really indicates the three letters required.

9 One going on tour taking in look around African city (7)
TRIPOLI – The letter representing one after (going on) a four-letter word for a tour include a reversal (around) of a two-letter word meaning look.

11 Maybe Doris is behind drama being broadcast at this time? (7)
NOONDAY – The three-letter surname of the actress Doris after (is behind) a two-letter-word for a form of Japanese drama and a two-letter word meaning being broadcast.  Not sure about the at as a link word with the resulting structure of wordplay at definition.

12 When developing pub lot or housing I left planning committee (9)
POLITBURO – An anagram (when developing) of PUB LOT OR includes (housing) the I from the clue.  I cannot see how the left works in this clue.  It cannot be an abbreviation as the anagram already includes a letter L.  It is awkward as link word and you would have wordplay left solution when, grammatically, it should be wordplay leaves solution.

13 Left extremes of killer heat, and kept in shade (5)
KHAKI – The leftmost letters of the fourth to eighth words of the clue.

14 Feast, having cooked Red Sea tuna with cored yams (6,6)
EASTER SUNDAY – An anagram of RED SEA TUNA YS (cored yams).

18 Before start of exam, former pupil backed staff with abandon in obsequious display (3,3,6)
BOW AND SCRAPE – Before the first letter (start of) of exam reverse (backed) the abbreviation for old boy (former pupil) with a four-letter word for a staff or rod and a five-letter word meaning to abandon.  I am not sure that the part of speech required by obsequious display is matching by the solution which would require …ing and …ing 

21 Rejoice as Catholic’s first to leave former sect (5)
EXULT – Take a phrase 2-4 meaning a former sect and remove (to leave) the first letter of Catholic.  First has already been used as an initial letter indicator.  Here as C is a recognised for Catholic this would enable the clue to be rewritten “Rejoice as Catholic leaves former sect”.

22 Previously admitting plot, that is, in submission to authority (9)
OBEDIENCE – A four-letter word meaning previously includes (admitting) a three-letter word meaning garden plot and the abbreviation for that is.

24 Nice one – a don made out in the dark (7)
UNAWARE – The French (Nice) masculine singular for one followed by the A from the clue and a homophone (made out) of wear (don).

25 Captain Bligh saw guppy caught heading west (7)
PUGWASH – The answer is hidden (caught) and reversed (heading west) in the third to fifth words of the clue.

26 Impresario’s loopy cast, as described by Spooner (5,5)
DOYLY CARTE – A Spoonerism of COILY (loopy) DART (cast).

27 Prime Minister’s key study (4)
EDEN – A musical key followed by a three-letter word for a study.


1 Silent, unlike a shepherdess? (3,1,4)
NOT A PEEP – Definition by reference to being unlike a nursery rhyme shepherdess.

2 Sponge – absorbing lake with it first is a pain in the neck (8)
WHIPLASH – A four-letter word meaning to sponge or clean includes the abbreviation for lake and (before the abbreviation) a three-letter word meaning with it.

4 All the best depart wearing gold (5)
ADIEU – A three-letter word meaning depart this life has the chemical symbol for gold around it (wearing).

5 Alight from bow next to 27 (4,2,3)
LAND OF NOD – A four-letter word meaning alight followed by a two-letter word meaning from and a three-letter word meaning bow.

6 Roughly whack on clothing, flapping about on leaving, and missing hotel’s checking out time repeatedly (5-8)
CLOCK WATCHING – My best guess a single letter meaning roughly followed by an anagram (flapping about) of WHACK ON CLOTHING after removing (leaving) the ON and the abbreviation for hotel!  There is a technical term for clues that become too contrived for their own good.  They are called otters (don’t ask me why).  This one is a otter on steroids!

7 Extraordinarily hot lad behind The Times? (3,3)
OLD HAT – An anagram (extraordinarily) of HOT LAD.

8 Check swelling muscle in elbow to begin with (6)
STYMIE – A three letter word or a swelling followed by the initial letters (to begin with) of the third to fifth words of the clue.

10 Suffering tenth coronary? Not at all (2,3,8)
ON THE CONTRARY – An anagram (suffering) of TENTH CORONARY.

15 Neighbours, say, mostly rise and go off on time (4-5)
SOAP-OPERA – A four-letter word meaning rise with the final letter removed (mostly) followed by a three letter word meaning go off or explode and a three-letter word for a period of time.

16 Lacking energy, Fred’s friend’s unsympathetic when heading off for area of US farm (8)
BARNYARD – Fred’s friend in the Flintstones without (lacking) the abbreviation for energy followed by a four-letter word meaning unsympathetic without the first letter (heading off).

17 Broadcast fundraiser from hotel, somehow breaking number of green bottles (8)
TELETHON – An anagram (somehow) of HOTEL inside the number of green bottles hanging on the wall at the start of the children’s song.

19 Rich capital city bores (6)
FECUND – A four letter word for capital (in monetary terms) includes (bores) the postcode for the City of London.

20 Peculiar in technique as youngster (6)
QUEASY – The answer is hidden (in) the final three words of the clue.

23 Living abroad, seeing postman who’s late? (5)
EXPAT – Split 2,3 this might implies the children’s postman character in the cartoon series is dead.  The answer here is a noun or adjective but has been clued as a verb.

57 comments on “Rookie Corner – 342

  1. Some clues here that took quite a lot of head scratching, 26a for example, but it did eventually all come together.
    Lots of ticks on our pages and satisfying to solve.
    Thanks Bungo.

  2. An enjoyable solve – I do have a couple of queries (5, 11, 24) but also some ticks, so definitely a step in the right direction
    The simple but effective 19d is probably my favourite
    Well done Bungo and thanks for the entertainment

    1. Many thanks LetterboxRoy; I am glad you think I am heading the right direction. Funnily enough, 19d was probably the last clue to come together, as I wasn’t happy with my initial effort, which just goes to show that it’s sometimes worth having second thoughts!

  3. Thanks Bungo. I don’t think this caused me as many problems as your first Rookie but I did need some electronic assistance to finish.
    I am not certain, but I think the definition of 18a is a noun and the answer is a verb; and I had a bit of a Hmm on what I think is your homophone indicator in 24a.
    I did like 22a, 25a, 1d, 5d, and 23d – especially the reverse lurker in 25a.
    Thanks again and well done.

    1. Many thanks Senf. I did wonder about 18a in that respect; I managed to justify it to myself enough to submit it, but will await verdict from Prolixic and others with interest.

      The other feedback is duly noted, and gratefully received.

    2. I didn’t have 24a as a homophone – is the wordplay not un (Nice one) + a + an anagram of wear (don)

      1. No, that would be an indirect anagram because you’d have to think of the correct synonym of ‘don’ = ‘wear’, then anagram the result – hence ‘indirect anagram’
        The ‘made out’ is equivalent to discerned, picked up or heard, so it’s a homophone of ‘wear’ rather than an anagram
        I’m interested to see what Prolixic makes of this puzzle and the points of discussion

  4. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Bungo. This was a challenging but very enjoyable solve, and it’s nice to see a good improvement since your debut submission.

    You cluing continues to show a lot of creativity and you have clearly made a lot of effort on your surfaces – although I’m not sure I can make much sense of the reading of 2d.

    I agree with Senf about 18a, and I was going to protest that had used an unindicated American spelling for the swelling in 8d, but, although Collins on-line agrees with me, the BRB gives you a “Get Out of Jail Free” card on that one! I’ll be interested to see Prolixic’s view on the use of “extremes” in 13a to indicate the first letters of the subsequent words.

    Although I think I have correctly identified Spooner’s words in 26a, I can’t see how the first of these is can be a synonym of “loopy”. I’m also not clear how the first syllable of 11a is clued.

    However these are minor points and I have a lot of ticks on my page, notably 1a, 12a, 14a, 25a & 19d with 1d & 23d battling it out for my top spot.

    Very well done, Bungo, and many thanks both to you and in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Ah! I’ve just read CS’s comment about 13a and I see it’s not “extremes” but “left extremes”, which is of course absolutely fine.

    2. 11a – yes, that’s my query too, and I also checked the solution exists as it’s such a clunky dictionary-only word
      I think 26a is getting at ‘coily (loopy) dart’ homophone/Spooner

        1. I see, yes, that checks out – would have been useful if ‘Japanese’ was indicated
          I assume 5d is also a GK/literary reference?
          Thanks for the pointer

          1. We’ve had the drama many times before – I like it because it reminds me of a very nice lady I used to know who was an expert on the subject

            As for 5d, it is Biblical, being situated next to 27a

            1. The bible is not my forte but I thought that 5d is described therein as “East of 27”, not “next to” it, but I won’t be at all surprised if I am wrong about that.

              1. At least some translations of the Bible give 5d as being “on the east of 27” which I felt indicated proximity.

        2. Thanks very much, Gazza. I know we’ve had the Japanese drama a few times before but I had forgotten it (and probably will next time too).

      1. Thanks LbR. Stupidly I spent ages trying to work out how “coyly” could relate to “loopy”.

    3. Many thanks Rabbit Dave; I did my best to improve my surfaces after feedback from my debut puzzle, and I’m delighted it seems to have paid off (2d possibly excepting!).

      Will do my best to continue the upward trajectory.

  5. That was enjoyable – thanks Bungo.
    If I’ve understood it correctly 24a is an indirect anagram.
    The clues I liked best were 9a, 1d and 19d with my favourite being 25a.

    1. Many thanks Gazza. Rabbit Dave’s earlier reply is how I intended 24a to be interpreted, although since others have commented on the homophone indicator it may well be I was seduced by its convenience to the surface reading rather than its fairness to the solver.

  6. An enjoyable solve, it took a bit longer than my breakfast to solve

    I did like 13a as I thought ‘left extremes’ made a nicely different indicator to the usual ones we see; 25a because he always makes me smile, 1d and 5d (because I actually remembered what was ‘next to 27’). I wasn’t quite so keen on the painted-yourself-into-a-corner 26a and feel that fifteen words is probably too many for one clue (6d)

    A good second Rookie – thank you – and thanks in advance to Prolixic who will, as usual, provide some useful advice

    1. Many thanks indeed, crypticsue.

      Just so I’m clear, was it the clue you weren’t keen on for 26a, or did you feel the answer was a bit obscure?

      Other feedback noted, and I’m delighted you enjoyed it.

  7. Welcome back, Bungo.

    Lots to like here, as with the setter’s debut puzzle, but again there were a few clues that were a little too over-engineered in my opinion. By incorporating two separate deletion devices in a single clue (like 6d and 16d), it inevitably results in a wordy surface, and I would always recommend aiming for something less convoluted. “First” was repeated as an initial letter indicator but, apart from 2d, all the other surface readings made some sense. I thought “Fred’s friend” in 16d was not particularly solver-friendly, I thought of Ginger (Rogers) first, then Shaggy, Daphne and Velma (Scooby Doo) before realising who the Fred in question was.

    Overall the puzzle was very enjoyable to solve, with some superb creativity in evidence for the second week running. My ticks went to 1a, 13a, 25a (although it would be better to have the containment indicator in the present tense), 1d, 4d and 10d.

    Many thanks and congratulations on an excellent puzzle, Bungo.

    1. For what it’s worth, I liked “Fred’s friend”. Yes, there are a few Freds to try, but probably not as many as, say, rivers or girls’ names or various other terms that crop up in clues.

      Thank you for the crossword, Bungo, and the review, Prolixic.

  8. Welcome back, Bungo. As with your debut puzzle, there were some good ideas on show here but I thought you fell into the same trap as before by making some clues far too complicated and not always producing believable surface reads. Perhaps you should try setting yourself an approximate word limit and re-work any clues that don’t fall within it?
    1a made me smile, put me in mind of Macbeth’s witches, and 1d was amusing albeit not necessarily true. The Spoonerism didn’t really work for me but they’re tricky things for any setter to use.
    Not having CS’s encyclopaedic knowledge, I did have to check on 5d and I also felt inclined to investigate 25a – learned all sorts of information that I really didn’t want to know!

    Many thanks for an enjoyable solve, hope we see more from you in the future.

    1. Many thanks, jane – although now I’m intrigued what information came up in your investigation of 25a!

      I do generally agree with the view that a good short clue is better than a good long clue – and certainly in this puzzle I did try and ensure that the longer clues were offset by some shorter ones, although I leave it to others to determine how successful I was in this. If only it weren’t so difficult to write good short clues!

      1. Good work Bungo – first tick goes to 3a I think.

        I’m surprised that anyone’s unfamiliar with 25a – or is it just me showing my age perhaps? :( Anyway, any research on the name should certainly steer clear of the sordid, and totally fallacious, innuendos on this subject, which are completely dispelled here (caution: this link leads to spoilers). Even the poor old Grauniad got clobbered in the ensuing libel action!

        Keep ’em coming, Bungo!

        1. I’d hope it isn’t you showing your age, since I’m only in my early-ish 30s (he says, possibly a little too defensively!).

  9. Good puzzle, some lovely surfaces though occasionally forcing dodgy grammar. Comments absent reading others’:
    Top marks to 9,12,13,22,2,19.
    I have niggles with 7 clues but will see what Prolixic says, except to say that I can’t quite link ‘given notably short’ in 3 with the letters required.
    Thanks Bungo.

    1. Gonzo, re 3a. If you are short of money to pay for something, what is the note called that you might write to confirm how much you owe?

    2. Many thanks Gonzo. I did wonder whether “notably short” was a bit of a stretch for the letters required – like you, I will be interested to see what Prolixic says!

  10. I’ve still got a long way to go with this one but, in case there isn’t time later, I just popped in to say that I really liked 1 and 23d – they both made me laugh.
    Thanks and well done to Bungo for the crossword and thanks, in advance, to Prolixic.

    1. Many thanks Kath; I enjoy solving clues that make me laugh, so delighted some of mine had that effect.

  11. Not all straightforward for us but we enjoyed 3a, 14a, 25a, 1d, 6d, 7d and 10d.
    13a was a bung in but having now read the comments can appreciate the answer. Liked it!
    We look forward to your next one, Bungo. Thank you. Thank you also to Prolixic in advance.

    1. Many thanks for the feedback, Hilton. Your solving skills are clearly several times greater than mine if you could bung in 13a!

  12. Thanks Bungo! There are some nice clues here – I particularly enjoyed 1a, 13a, 22a and 25a. Similar to other commenters, I found some of the clues over-wrought, notably 6d.

  13. Thanks Bungo. Really enjoyed this & much to my surprise completed unaided & without any letter reveals. Wasn’t familiar with the biblical 5d & couldn’t parse 11a but otherwise all good, 19d my favourite as it’s such an evocative word & 25a brought back happy memories of the captain.
    Look forward to the review

  14. Thanks Prolixic. In 12, the ‘left’ is part of the definition – took me a while to twig.
    My other thoughts were, fwiw,
    11 definition a bit too vague – ‘lunchtime’?
    24 ‘made out’ doesn’t suggest hearing to me as much as, say, ‘caught’ (which is in Chambers).
    26 rather a bizarre Spoonerism.
    1dn ‘Be silent’ to better fit the part of speech (a command)?
    6 verging on indirect anagram (maybe ‘otter’ because OTT?)

  15. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, I hope Bungo puts your words of wisdom to good use, particularly where the ‘otters’ are concerned!

    1. My understanding is that it gives a broad indication of the “fairness” of a crossword; if, for example, a clue contained an indirect anagram, then Prolixic would make a comment noting this is pretty much universally considered unfair on the solvers. Number of clues requiring a comment divided by total clues in the crossword gives the percentage for the commentometer.

      Certainly so far as I’m concerned having set the crossword, the lower the figure the better.

    2. It is a kind of scoring system Prolixic devised as an indicator
      Points and half-points are deducted for errors, inaccuracies, repetitions etc which he then turns that into a %

  16. As fas as pure entertainment is concerned, I gave this ****, Bungo. 25a made me laugh and 16d brought back memories that old series. And that’s just to mention two!
    Although there are imperfections in some of the clues, I was able to parse everything satisfactorily and without too much difficulty — that is, except 6d! Prolixic’s description of it as an ‘otter on steroids’ is brilliant!
    Very well done Bungo! If you follow Prolixic’s excellent guidance, you should go from strenth to strength. I do hope we shall see more of your puzzles soon.
    Much appreciation for the crossword and for Prolixic’s analysis.

  17. Just to say a huge thank you to Prolixic for his review, to Big Dave for the existence of the Rookie Corner, and to everyone who left feedback, all of which is greatly appreciated.

    Will try and keep an image of a steroid-abusing otter in mind in future when devising clues!

    Just a couple of quick clarifications: 12a “left” is intended as part of the definition, as Gonzo mentioned earlier, in the sense of a planning committee of the left, and 23d my thinking was that the definition in the clue was in the form of a present participle, which functions as an adjective (although granted trying to use it in an actual sentence would produce a rather clumsy result).


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