Rookie Corner – 345 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 345

A Puzzle by Tater

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Tater has changed his name from Spud in order to avoid confusion with another setter. 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:

A welcome return for Tatar (briefly Spud before he realised he had had his chips with a conflict with another setter of that name).  There was a lot of quality on show here with some very good clues.  Even where there are comments, these are minor ones.  The commentometer reads as 2/30 or 6.7%.


8 Greek fare fellow ate when cooked (4)
FETA – The abbreviation for fellow followed by an anagram (when cooked) if ATE.

9 GP perhaps, – “Everyone’s put on weight” (3-7)
ALL-ROUNDER – A three-letter word meaning everyone followed by a seven-letter word meaning put on weight.

10 English bishop with mission (6)
ERRAND – The abbreviations for English and Right Reverend (Bishop) followed by a three-letter word meaning with.

11 Dotty Lulu’s top retreats (8)
PULLOUTS – An anagram (dotty) of LULUS TOP.  Perhaps the surface reading is not the best here.    As a noun, this should be enumerated 4-4.

12 Obvious, car club admits double parking charge (8)
APPARENT – The abbreviation for Automobile Association (car club) includes the abbreviation for parking twice (double) with all these letters followed by a four-letter word for a charge made by a landlord.

14 Mediocre cherub found in nativity scene? Quite the opposite (6)
CRECHE – The answer is hidden (found in) the first two words of the clue.  The quite the opposite reverses the sense of the wordplay so that the nativity scene is found in the preceding words.

16 Blunder to send European ale back (4)
SLIP – A reversal for a four-letter word for a type of European beer.

17 Drives son to the West-End for Roller (5)
SURGE – A five-letter word meaning drives or impulses with the S (son) moved to the beginning – to the West-End.

18 Leader of wizards, what’s more his stick (4)
WAND – The initial letter (leader of) Wizards followed by a three-letter word meaning “what’s more”.

19 Socially acceptable and more reliable loan shark (6)
USURER – The single letter meaning socially acceptable followed by a five-letter word meaning more reliable.

21 Ernie makes fun of know-alls (4,4)
WISE GUYS – The surname of the comedian Ernie followed by a four-letter word meaning makes fun of.  As Ernie is used as a definition by example, perhaps this should be indicated.

23 Wishes for the best there to save the wicket-keepers blushes (4,4)
LONG STOP – A five-letter word meaning wishes for followed by a three-letter word meaning the best.

26 Remove disorderly scout troop missing northerner (6)
UPROOT – An anagram (disorderly) of SCOUT TROOP after removing (missing) a four-letter word for a person who lives north of the border.  As the letters to be removed are in order, a secondary anagram indicator is not required.

27 Popular story reportedly where George kept his drink (10)
BESTSELLER – The surname of the footballer George followed by a homophone (reportedly) of cellar (where he kept his drink.  Given the wide range of Georges possible, perhaps some clear indicator could have been given of the intended George and there should be an definition by example indicator.  

28 Supervises ladders (4)
RUNS – Double definition of manages or supervisors and ladders in a pair of stockings.


1 Loo permits distributed in big city (10)
METROPOLIS – An anagram (distributed) of LOO PERMITS.

2 Hippie turn on? (8)
LAVA LAMP – Cryptic definition of a type of psychedelic type of light that hippies may have had.  I agree that the cryptic connection here is too remote.  Again, the enumeration here would normally be 4,4.

3 Name the fireworks man with the French, not the Spanish (6)
HANDLE – The composer of the Music for the Royal Fireworks with the Spanish word for “the” replaced by the French word for “the”.

4 Trim, possibly round the ears if struck (4)
CLIP – Double definition of a hair cut and the word that goes before “round the ears” for being hit.

5 Shock beginning (8)
FOLLICLE – Cryptic definition of where hair begins to grow.  As shock is a plural noun when used for hair, the solution should be a plural for cryptic definition to work.

6 Further action before admitting sergeant? (6)
ENCORE – A three-letter word meaning before includes (admitting) the abbreviation for non-commissioned officer (sergeant?).

7 Shame Atherton grips the bat at its thickest point (4)
MEAT – The answer is hidden in (grips) the first two words of the clue.

13 Confuse two thirds of the queue (5)
THROW – The first two-thirds of the word “the” followed by a three-letter word for a queue.

15 Sweetheart exposes derriere on holidays (10)
HONEYMOONS – A five-letter word for a sweetheart followed by a five-letter word meaning exposes derriere.

17 What Astaire put on with agents coming back round for drink (8)
SPRITZER – A four-letter word for what Fred Astaire put in on with a reversal (coming back) of a four-letter word for agents around it (round).

18 Speculators? We’re smuggling silver and brass every now and then (8)
WAGERERS – The we’re from the clue includes the chemical symbol for silver and is followed by the even letters (every now and then) of brass.

20 It’s OK to put things straight on the first of October (6)
RIGHTO – A five-letter word meaning put things straight on the first letter of October.

22 Old fashioned marketplace (6)
SQUARE – Double definition of an old fashioned word meaning old fashioned and a place where a market may be held.

24 Your turn on the radio it’s said (4)
OVER – The word that is said in radio communications to indicate that a response is awaited.

25 Score draw (4)
PULL – Double definition for to score romantically and to drag or draw something.

32 comments on “Rookie Corner – 345

  1. That took us well into ‘Toughie Time’ but we did get everything sorted eventually. Some really clever clues and a couple ( 2d for example) that did not quite hit the spot for us. 5d and 14a earned the biggest ticks from us.
    Thanks Tater.

  2. I agree with the 2Kiwis that this is Toughie like and I needed some electronic assistance and Reveals for completion.
    Definitely a Hmm on 2d and also on 23a and 27a (for the guess which George).
    15d raised a big smile and I liked 12a, 14a, and 17d.
    Thanks Tater.

  3. Welcome back with your new alias, Tater – are you a Mr Murphy, perhaps?

    This puzzle was a fairly tough challenge (not a problem!) which took me quite a while to get into. I found the more I progressed, the more I warmed to it.

    As a veteran wicket-keeper, woe betide any captain who tries to put a fielder at 23a when I am playing! My minor concerns relate to 26a (which I think strays into indirect anagram territory), 27a (perhaps “footballer George” would have been fairer for the solver) & 2d (a very vague cryptic definition).

    I haven’t come across 20d spelled that way before; I think the (5-2) or (5,2) variant is more usual as per P.G. Wodehouse. Also I would have enumerated 11a as (4-4) rather than (8); Collins indicates is the latter is the American version.

    On the positive side, I had a lot of ticks: 2a, 10a, 14a, 3d, 5d, 6d & 13d.

    Well done, Tater. I enjoyed this a lot. Please keep them coming. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic. I don’t think he will have too much to comment on this week.

  4. Definitely a crossword to make the cryptic grey matter work hard on a Monday morning, but very enjoyable especially when the pennies dropped on some of the clues, including my favourites 3d, 5d and 17d

    Thank you for the crossword – more like this please – and in advance to Prolixic

  5. I liked this a lot – thanks Tater.
    I needed Google to understand what Hippie had to do with answer to 2d and I agree with comments above that it doesn’t really work. That apart I thought that there was some inventive clueing.
    I particularly liked 9a, 14a, 17a, 5d and 13d.
    More like this would be welcome.

  6. Welcome back, Tater.

    For me this definitely wasn’t a case of Spud-u-like, Tater-u-don’t. I thought the puzzle was tremendous, and I didn’t find the level of difficulty that tough either, but perhaps I was merely on the right wavelength. It does make a huge difference.

    Like others, I felt 2d was a tad ambitious (Chambers lists the answer as two words), and I thought “fireworks man” unfair to those who wouldn’t know the connection. Perhaps “composer” was rejected for being too obvious, but it is what I would have used. I would have preferred “Ernie” and “George” each to have had a “perhaps” or a “possibly”. “In” would probably have been better than “for” in 17a. Other than those observations, I must congratulate the setter on the high quality of the surfaces and many excellent constructions and the welcome use of humour too. I have ticks against well over half of the clues, so I consider this puzzle to be one of the most accomplished seen in Rookie Corner this year. Not quite the best or even second best, but certainly nudging for a 2020 podium place.

    Well done indeed, Tater, and thank you for a very enjoyable solve. I would hope your third puzzle will be even better, please don’t disappoint!

    1. Thanks Silvanus.
      Lovely comments!
      This was done some time ago, and my mentor has me better equipped with question marks and perhaps/maybe usage now.
      There’ll probably be too many of them now.
      I have been having a minor crisis with correct link-words and have recently gone through a couple of weeks worth of back-pagers listing the various approaches in the form “def from wp” etc. The best ones hardly use them at all and some get away with them the completely the wrong way round. I suppose a good surface hides the cracks.
      Don’t disappoint? That’s pressure!

      1. Hi Tater,

        If your mentor is the same one you mentioned that was guiding you with your previous puzzle, then I think you are in very good hands.

        I used to find that link words posed problems too, but I think you’ll find the more puzzles you create the less of a problem it becomes. As you say, it is often better if one can eliminate them entirely but that is almost never completely possible. One tip is often to embellish them, so that the link is disguised, so “from” can become “emerging from” or “coming from” and “to” can become “leading to” and “in” could be “resulting in”. Although it adds an extra word, it usually makes the surface smoother.

        Good luck with your future puzzles!

  7. Good morning, and thanks for all the nice comments.
    It really does make me want to keep setting (although I have 2 1/2 more almost ready as we speak :-) )
    Thanks too to LBR for play-testing (read “tuition”) continued patience and valuable guidance.
    Not a Murphy RD just middle-name Edward and decided to keep the spud theme when a change was required.
    As someone who tackles a toughie only when CS says it’s OK to, I am surprised people think it on the tough side. OK I see 2d is a leap of faith, but it tickled me too much to leave out – I honestly expected “too easy” comments. I suppose it’s not unknown for a setter to imagine all his clues are obvious.

  8. A quality puzzle with good surfaces and good fun to boot.
    I agree with others that George was a bit too vague in 27a and if the maverick genius had one of these, I’m sure it was very well used!
    I also needed Wiki to confirm the hippie element in 2d.
    As another former wicket-keeper, I too would have been horrified to see a 23a in position when I had the gloves on!
    Ticks aplenty, including 14a, 17a, 5d, 17d.
    Great stuff, Tater. Please keep them coming.

    1. I’m still playing although the wretched Covid-19 did it’s best to stop me this year. At least we were able to get a couple of months’ worth of games at the end of the season.

      1. Well done! How are your knees?
        My back and shoulders are wrecked from rugby, so cricket is definitely off the agenda now.
        Pity, because after two cataract operations, my eyesight is now excellent!

    2. Thanks Shabbo.
      I did imagine George with the drinking link might be enough but you can’t argue with solvers opinions.
      This was a later reworking of my very first attempt that you might have already suspected was cricket themed. Basically I removed all the cricket reliant clues.
      9a was originally Beefy instead of GP which I was really pleased with – If you know who Beefy is!

  9. Thanks Tater. I enjoyed this – for me, it was fairly plain sailing for the first two-thirds, before the last few clues took a while to be solved. In my opinion, ‘Beefy’ would have improved 9a, though I can see why you changed it to make it more universal. I liked 18a, 13d, 22d, and 25d, though 17d was my favourite of all. One quibble I had which no-one else has raised is the def part of 14a – it didn’t work for me. Just a quibble, though – generally a good puzzle – well done Tater, and thanks again!

      1. Ah, I wasn’t aware of that meaning. It still seems a little unsatisfying, though I can’t really elaborate without spoilers.

  10. Having read through the previous comments, especially those from my guru @6, I felt obliged to revisit this one, which I solved at silly o’clock this morning.
    To be honest, I still have a few too many ‘hmms’ to offer unconditional praise but I did enjoy quite a few of the clues – 10,21&27a plus 17d earning podium places. Regarding 27a – from personal experience of the Bramhall days, I think he did have a 27a installed in what was referred to as the public loo (exterior completely covered in white tiles) but doubt that any of the alcohol was ever around for long enough to make its way into there. Happy, carefree days and doubtless several ruined livers!

    Thanks to Tater – hopefully I’ll tune into your wavelength rather better next time.

    1. Thanks for the positives Jane.
      Apart from “hands held up” 2d, I’d think I’d like to know which were the hmm’s if you’ve the time, although I’m sure Prolixic will find them tomorrow.
      Tater No3 is just about ready to post, but I don’t think you’ll find a great deal of difference – it’s just what comes out when my brain cell is connected to the battery

      1. Hi Tater,
        Sorry, didn’t realise you’d replied until a friend pointed it out a few minutes ago.
        The clues I really didn’t care for were 11&14a along with 2&18d, plus – I don’t think 7d counts as very ‘general knowledge’ more a case of reliance on checkers and going through the routine of ‘if all else fails, look for a lurker’. Aside from those, a couple of the surface reads – 18a & 4d didn’t ring true and I’d second RD’s comment about 26d straying into indirect anagram territory.
        Won’t deter me from trying Tater 3 – you’ll have enough peeled for a decent portion of chips by then!

  11. Well, I didn’t think this was too much of a toughie, although some lateral thinking was needed, e.g for 5dn. In fact I found it quite enjoyable except for a couple of points: (1) I don’t think referring to the drink in the clue to 16ac as ‘ale’ will do you any favours with real ale connoisseurs, and (2) I think you need to be careful with enumeration as others have already pointed out – my particular gripe is with 2dn which should be (4,4) as given in Chambers. Incidentally I couldn’tr get 2dn and had to resort to reveal for it; although it’s in Chambers dictionary, Chambers Word Wizard doesn’t give it at all. On the other hand I thought 10ac was very neat, and I liked 17dn as well.

  12. Thanks Tater, that was fun. Comments absent reading others’ (there may be spoilers):
    Lots of solid clues, best were 13,18,24,25.
    14 didn’t know that meaning, thanks.
    2 Far out. Even with all the crossers, took a while – will it stump some people?
    5 Cheeky – like me clueing EARPLUG as an aid to sleep.
    6 Definition a bit strained? You were after a military flavour perhaps. How about ‘more song and dance’?
    Cheers Tater.

  13. Really enjoyed the solve.
    Loved what Astaire put on in 17d and the cryptic 5d.
    24 and 25d made me laugh and helped me getting and understanding 23a.
    No problem with 14a obviously.
    First time I have a go at a rookie since MP’s last offering.
    Not disappointed at all.
    Thanks to Tater and I look forward to your next crossword.

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, I was particularly interested to learn that 26a is acceptable despite the letters to be removed not being consecutive. George and Ernie occurred to me immediately which is more than can be said for the ‘bat at its thickest point’!

    1. Hi Jane – the letters to be removed are a synonym in order (being consecutive doesn’t matter), not an anagram of the northerner

  15. Thanks Tater, we really enjoyed this puzzle yesterday evening but left a couple needing completion over breakfast. Google helped with 2d and it took a while to sort 18d. Loved 3d, 14a, 15d, 28a, 26a and 17a. We look forward to your next puzzle. Thanks also to Prolixic.

  16. Thanks everybody for the kind words. You never really know how people are going to find your puzzle and I couldn’t be happier with your reactions.
    Also thanks to Prolixic for the review and for spotting the flaw in 5d.
    Hope to see you next time

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