Rookie Corner – 343 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 343

A Puzzle by Sundance

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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 Sundance.  This was perhaps over ambitious with an unfortunate grid structure with four loosely linked quarters and some awful words to clue and to solve.  The simpler clues worked best.  The commentometer reads as 4.5 / 28 or 16%.


1 Type with strong pattern on the front (8)
BOLDFACE – A four letter word meaning strong followed by a four letter word meaning front.  I think that pattern is padding here and has been added to try and indicate the type of type being referred to.  As the clue is not all in one clue as defining the solution, this means that the clue does not work as well as it might.  Perhaps, Distinctive type with strong look.

5 Special coffee from algae and lichen (6)
GAELIC – The answer is hidden in the fourth and sixth words of the clue.  It is acceptable to include an “and” between the two words in which the hidden word is found.  

9 Not out twice in residence with human characteristics (8)
HOMININE – A two-letter word meaning not it is included twice inside a four-letter word meaning a residence.

10 Intimidate the French shortly (4,2)
LEAN ON – The French masculine singular for “the” followed by a four-letter word meaning shortly.

11 Contents of canned beer initially damage toughened glass (8)
ANNEALED – The inner letters (contents) of canned followed by a three-letter word for beer and the initial letter for damage.

12 Reveal penguin in charade and lies (6)
ADELIE – The answer is hidden in the fourth a sixth words of the clue.

14 Dessert from top chef with skin disease (10)
BLANCMANGE – The five-letter surname of top chef Raymond followed by a five-letter word for an itchy skin disease.

18 Sexless county with good reputation can offer aid to identity (6,4)
MIDDLE NAME – A nine-letter word for a former county without the SEX at the end followed a four-letter word for a good reputation.

22 Getting on with some sausage ingredients (6)
AGEING – The answer is hidden (some) in the final two words of the clue.

23 Fling off first treaty (8)
ALLIANCE – a nine-letter word for a fling without the first letter (off first).

24 Half a cocktail for karate expert at Indian parade ground (6)
MAIDAN – The first half of a cocktail name followed by a three-letter word for a karate expert.  The construction wordplay AT definition with at as the link word does not work.

25 Stayed back after French well but not too often (8)
BIENNIAL – A four-letter word meaning stayed reversed (back) after a four-letter word French word meaning well.  Not sure that stayed in a valid synonym for the word required in the solution.

26 Tomb for chaps who evidently like Barbie and Ken (6)
DOLMEN – A homophone (evidently) of DOLL (like Barbie and Ken).  I am not sure that evidently works particularly well as a homophone indicator.  Whilst you can have wordplay for the definition with for as the link word, having definition for wordplay does not work.

27 Wanted fashionable challenge (2,6)
IN DEMAND – A two-letter word meaning fashionable followed by a six-letter word meaning challenge.


1 Execute as consequence of having the top job (6)
BEHEAD – Split 2,4 the solution might imply you have the top job.

2 Hit in a thin layer (6)
LAMINA – A three-letter word meaning hit followed by the IN A from the clue.

3 Compiler’s in last ornament (6)
FINIAL – A single letter word for the compiler in a five-letter word meaning last.

4 Stopping retailing apparently after American prison (10)
CANCELLING – A homophone (apparently) of a word meaning retailing after a three-letter word for an American prison.

6 Top fifty barrier for a potter’s field (8)
ACELDAMA – A three-letter word meaning top followed by the Roman numeral for fifty, a three letter word for a dam and the A from the clue.  The “for” in the clue changes the meaning of the wordplay as it indicates that the barrier replaces the A.  It is misleading and should not have been used.

7 Succeed in obtaining queue that is not mobile (8)
LANDLINE – A four-letter word meaning succeed in followed by a four letter word meaning a queue.  I don’t like obtaining a charade indicator.  Perhaps a question mark at the end would better indicate that mobile is being used in a different sense.

8 Prisoner allegedly expected to do well at sporting contest yet gave up (8)
CONCEDED – A three-letter word for a prisoner followed by homophone (allegedly) of seeded (expected to do well at a sporting event).

13 Measure I will find located in vegetable is Twain’s bank note (3,7)
ONE MILLION – A two-letter printer’s measure and the contraction of “I will” inside a five-letter word for a pungent vegetable.

15 Preserved ointment in the sea around Cyprus (8)
EMBALMED – A four-letter word for an ointment inside the abbreviation for East Mediterranean (sea around Cyprus).  Try to avoid having too many repeated wordplay indicators such as A in B.

16 Move furtively with racing driver into battle (8)
EDGEHILL – A four-letter word meaning move furtively followed by a four-letter surname of a racing driver.

17 Not seeing silver note under protective screen (8)
BLINDAGE – The chemical symbol for silver and a musical note underneath a five letter word for a window covering.

19 One promised credit without new beginning (6)
FIANCE – A seven-letter word meaning credit without the first N (new beginning).

20 Heart condition was small change for Indian embracing soldier (6)
ANGINA – A four-letter word for a small Indian coin around (embracing) the abbreviation for an American soldier.

21 Backward limb went forward and worked well (6)
GELLED – A reversal (backward) of a three-letter word for a limb followed by a three-letter word meaning went forward.

34 comments on “Rookie Corner – 343

  1. A few bits of GK and obscure vocabulary that had us reaching for our references but all satisfactorily sorted. We were wondering what the response to the ‘almost a lurker’ in 5a is going to be. An enjoyable solve for us.
    Thanks Sundance.

  2. A bit of a head scratcher that, like the 2Kiwis, needed reference support. I would agree with the 2Kiwis that the ‘almost a lurker’ at 5a, and its companion at 12a, might raise some eyebrows. They certainly got Hmms from me.
    Thanks Sundance.

        1. Or perhaps a “splurker”.

          * Apparently, according to the review above, this device is OK but I can’t recall seeing it before. As they say: you live and learn.

  3. I’m struggling a bit with what to write about this, Sundance. I enjoyed parts of it and I can tell the huge amount of effort you have put in, but I am sorry to say I don’t feel you have made much progress since your previous Rookie Corner submission.

    A lot of your surface readings verge on the nonsensical and several give the impression of simply being words fitted together to provide the wordplay for the answer, e.g.: 12a, 25a, 6d, 13d, 20d and some others.

    Full marks for trying some unusual ideas, but personally I don’t think any of your three homophone indicators are valid. Also, as Senf and the 2Ks have indicated, you have used the same split lurker device in 5a & 12a, which might work if you explicitly say, for example, “A when combined with B”, but not just “A and B”. Prolixic’s take on this will be interesting.

    I also had some scribbles by 11a, 24a, 1d & 15d, but I’ll leave commenting on these until after Prolixic has published his review.

    On the plus side, 10a, 14a (very good surface, albeit painting a revolting image!), 18a, 3d, 16d & 21d earned ticks.

    Thanks, Sundance. Please pay heed to Prolixic’s wise words.

  4. Enjoying the challenge, needed reference support and still struggling with 9a, 3d and 19d. Will give the brain time to reconsider! Enjoyed 18a, 21d and 8d. Thank you Sundance.

  5. Welcome back, Sundance.

    Not for the first time, I’m on the same page as RD’s opening two paragraphs, 13d was probably the weakest of quite a few unconvincing surfaces.

    I noticed “in” used no fewer than four times as an insertion indicator (9a, 3d, 13d and 15d) and the use of “for” to link elements of wordplay as in 24a and 6d also jarred for me. Others have already raised my additional quibbles.

    I thought 14a was the best clue in the puzzle, despite the mental image it creates, I wish I had been able to tick other ones.

    Many thanks, Sundance.

  6. Thanks to Sundance for creating this crossword, which I’ve just completed. I would echo many of the comments made already, which I expect Proloxic to elaborate on. I’d also add that, for me, there were too many obscure words in here, both as full answers and parts thereof. I don’t mind a few obscurities but it felt like over half of this was/contained something I wasn’t sure about. Focussing on the positives though, here are the clues I think worked OK…10, 14, 22, 27, 7, 16, 19.

    Regarding the homophone issue, in case you’re not aware of it, you could visit the ‘clinical data’ section of – there are lots of ideas for different cryptic indicators there, including homophones. It’s obviously not exhaustive, but might help you to avoid some of the questionable indicators you’ve used here.

  7. Welcome back, Sundance. Sorry to say that I didn’t find this to be a step up from your previous Rookie Corner submission, I think you would be well advised to leave the obscurities alone and concentrate more on producing reasonable surface reads.
    Wish I could be more positive as you’ve doubtless spent a lot of time putting this together. Wonder whether you’re using a test solver – if not, that could be a good way forward. Also, it might benefit you to look at what other Rookies have produced and how the various submissions from them have been received.

  8. My lasting impression of this puzzle is that the grid is terrible and some of the entries do not belong in a Rookie puzzle – keep it simple and concentrate on accuracy and surfaces at this stage would be my suggestion, as combined with some rough edges and several repetitions, the enjoyment takes a bit of a hammering
    I did appreciate a handful of clues so thanks for the challenge Sundance

  9. Thanks Sundance! I managed to solve it! I’ve made clue-by-clue notes on my solve that you are very welcome to, if you’d like Big Dave to put us in email contact then just ask him.
    The simpler ones were probably the best, eg 1d, 14a, 7d, 10a, 22a, 16d. Several of the others don’t quite pass the “Is the clue wordplay accurate enough”+”Is the definition precise enough”+”Does the whole make a sentence that makes sense” 3-legged stool of tests. You really do need all 3 legs in place for a stool to work: in most cases you have 2 legs in place.
    Hope that makes sense. Enjoyable to solve, nonetheless, so thank you.

  10. Thanks Sundance, I preferred your previous puzzle. Too many surfaces here gave me a headache, and of your homophone indicators only ‘allegedly’ sort of works. In 6 I had to pattern search, then look up the definition *and* the answer to understand it.
    There were some good clues, of which 10 and 3 stand out.

  11. Chuffed to have completed this with no letter reveals though Mr G was oft employed to confirm answers gleaned from the wordplay. 11,24&26a together with 6d were all new to me & not embarrassed enough to refrain from admitting that with the latter the thought occurred that Beatrix was involved.
    Have to agree with RD’s very detailed critique though I’d add 1d & the excellent 19d to his ticks. My podium would be 14&18a plus the witty 4d (dodgy indicator notwithstanding)
    Despite the reservations I really enjoyed the solve so thanks Sundance.

  12. Dear Puzzlers
    Thank you so much to everyone who has taken the time to comment. I do apologize for being so late in responding but I went out very early, was horribly delayed and have only just returned.
    I tried to be too clever with the puzzle and ‘hid’ something that no-one has even noticed. It seemed like a good idea at the time but as I was trying to fit in some of the solutions I was left with increasingly obscure words. It seems that most solvers accept and even welcome one or two obscurities in a puzzle and thus the avoidance of then having something that is too bland but I can see that I’ve really used too many…and guess what – these words are much harder to write sensible clues for.
    I appreciate the positive remarks that have been made, the vast majority of which concern the clues to the more regular solutions.
    I am interested in the comments about the LUR KER clues. Have I broken a rule or does anyone believe that they have any merit?
    LetterboxRoy – I have found some new grids so promise to never use this one again.

    1. Don’t know if the LUR KER malarkey has violated any setter code of conduct but I quite liked it albeit only twigged after entering the answers. Am now intrigued by whatever is hidden & shall begin my search. Thanks again.

    2. Personally, I have no problem whatsoever with the lur[-]ker clues, but it is a kind of reversed lift and separate which is not universally accepted
      Glad the grid is binned – I always look at a) are the corners/halves well connected and b) in the stats, is there a good spread of word lengths
      Lastly, if you find yourself having to clue BREZHNEV it’s a sure sign that something is awry with the grid fill

    3. Something cunning hidden, eh?

      Well, if we read down the even numbered columns, starting with the last letter of column 2, we get the message “O die! Did mail, beg ‘n’ need a- a- a big lace LED” from which I conclude Sundance has hidden a message expressing his frustration at the difficulties in ordering lightbulbs through the post.

      In terms of actual helpful feedback, I’m not a fan of the LUR + KER wordplay; it feels too much like a cheat for the benefit of the setter rather than a logical piece of wordplay to be satisfying.

      10a I liked, and made me laugh, 6d I had heard of thanks to Gilbert and Sullivan (well, technically Gilbert I suppose) although agree that “for” is misplaced and 19d is so very nearly an excellent clue (if only “new’s beginning” made sense in the surface!).

      Agree also with the general thrust of earlier feedback.

      Many thanks for creating.

      1. Dear Bungo

        Wow – you found it. No, only kidding, that is not it. What is “hidden” or perhaps more accurately “not there” is relatively simple but clearly isn’t very inspirational.
        Thanks for your positive comments.
        I see that even Prolixic has not made an appearance. I know that he sometimes has to deal with puzzles that make him wonder why he bothers but I hope that this is not the one where he decides to give up.

            1. Got to be something to do with the complete absence of anagrams. Unfortunately I navigated away from the puzzle without hitting save, and much as I enjoyed the puzzle, I can’t really face doing it again (memory of a goldfish!) to work out what’s going on with that.

              1. Dear Porcia
                Thanks for your interest and for enjoying the puzzle. The complete lack of anagrams was intentional and relevant to what I set out to do.

            2. OK. Couldn’t resist having another go.
              JK and PQRSTUVWXYZ all missing from grid.
              Had a hunt for an anagram lurking somewhere in the grid, but it’s beyond me. I’ll be interested to be let into the secret

              1. Dear Porcia
                Yes, that’s it. It seemed like a good idea at the time but it now feels like a damp squib. I had noticed that it has been sometimes commented that comparatively few letters are used in certain solutions so I constructed something using just 13 letters and specifically nothing after O. As so few letters have been used I thought that it would be harder to come up with sensible anagrams so decided to have none.

                1. Nicely done.
                  I’ve experimented with lipograms myself, and found excluding a certain number of letters actually makes the grid fill a bit easier (as long as you have a programmatic way of cutting down your dictionary). How was it excluding so many? Any mathematicians equipped to work out an optimum number?

                  1. Dear Porcia
                    I set a target of not using anything after O. The J and K were a bonus. This did mean that too many words needed to be obscure and hence the not brilliant clues.

      2. Ha-ha — I love the idea of crosswords themed on minor consumer inconveniences!

        We actually had the opposite problem: our former electricity supplier sent us unsolicited energy-saving light bulbs through the post. (I think this enabled them to meet some target for claiming to be environmentally friendly.) But the bulbs were of a type/size that didn’t fit any of our light sockets, so their environmental benefit was rather undermined by their sitting in a drawer.

        In the end we had to move house to be able to use them.

  13. Dear Prolixic
    You haven’t given up on me!
    Thank you for your incisive review. To be honest it was not as bad as I feared. I will try a simpler puzzle next time. Thank you once again.
    Thanks also to Big Dave. I will send a simpler puzzle and hope that you will give me another try.

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I do hope that Sundance deals with some of the issues raised in the various comments although I’m not holding out too much hope at the moment!

    1. Dear jane
      Thank you for your further input. I am disappointed that you think that I won’t deal with issues. I had hoped that my earlier comments would tell you that I would at least TRY to do so. I hope that you don’t think that I will not be able to succeed. I know that I will never be ELGAR but I really do want to improve.

      1. Hi Sundance, the last thing I want you to do is turn into an Elgar! All I would hope is that you make an effort to construct sensible surface reads and cut back a bit on the needless obscurities. Adding in ‘hiddens’ is fair enough but please make sure you’ve mastered all the basics beforehand.

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