Rookie Corner – 347 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 347

A Puzzle by Zorro

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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.

Another high quality puzzle from Zorro.  The main blips were the repetition of wordplay indicators and a rather poorly indicated reverse anagram clue.  The commentometer reads as 1.5 / 28 or 5.3%.  


1 Stick up for a foreigner caught embracing drunken revelry (12)
BACCHANALIAN – A homophone (caught) of back (support) an alien (a foreigner).

8 It’s essential to bow on the concert platform (9)
HORSEHAIR – Cryptic definition of the material from which part of the bow for playing a musical instrument is made.

9 Pooh starts to praise scenic Hundred Acre Wood (5)
PSHAW – The initial letters (starts to) of the final five words of the clue.

11 Prepare to carve ham (7)
OVERACT – An anagram (prepare) of TO CARVE.

12 Bite mushroom with bit of stuffing inside (6)
MORSEL – A five-letter word for a type of mushroom includes (with … inside) the first letter (bit) of stuffing.

14 Particle in dispersing helium (4)
ATOM – A phrase 2,4 meaning “in” without (dispersing) the chemical symbol for helium.  Perhaps an indication that the letters in the chemical symbol are moved separately would be fairer to the solver.  Maybe “all traces of helium”?

15 Nan losing heart in American’s dull, dull, self-contained apartment (6,4)
GRANNY FLAT – The outer letters (losing heart) of nan inside (in) the American spelling of a four-letter word for a dull colour followed by four-letter word meaning dull or insipid.

17 A time to hunt in clear oceans – proceed! (4,6)
OPEN SEASON – A four-letter word meaning clear followed by a four-letter word for oceans and a two-letter word meaning proceed.

19 Blow oddly into old English instrument (4)
OBOE – The odd letters of blow inside the abbreviation for Old English.

21 Bin Laden with bad scientist (6)
BOFFIN -The BIN from the clue includes (laden with) a three-letter word meaning bad or rotten.

23 Old maid in a great bother (7)
ABIGAIL – The A from the clue followed by a three-letter word meaning great and a three-letter word meaning bother.

25 Historic conference site in unknown country miles away (5)
YALTA – A letter used in algebra to indicate an unknown quantity followed by a five-letter name for a mediterranean Island without the initial M (miles away).

26 Stirring, stormy sonata in G – it’s not Saint-Saëns’ first, fourth or last (9)
AGITATION – An anagram (stormy) of SONATA IN G ITS after removed the first, fourth and last letters in Saint-Saëns.

27 Where marathoner might be seen eventually (2,3,4,3)
IN THE LONG RUN – Double definition of participating in a marathon and eventually.


1 Catch up with East European to get boat propeller (9)
BARGEPOLE – Reverse (up) a four-letter word meaning catch and follow with the abbreviation for East and a four-letter word for a European national.

2 Islander hiding in secret annexe (6)
CRETAN – The answer is hidden (hiding in) in the final two words of the clue.

3 Take her bra off? It’s extremely distressing (10)
HEARTBREAK – An anagram (off) of TAKE HER BRA.

4 Edible seaweed? Me neither!  (4)
NORI – Split 3,1 the solution would be another way of saying “me neither”.

5 Disease damaged pores in lady’s skin (7)
LEPROSY – An anagram (damaged) of PORES in the outer letters (skin) of lady.

6 They may be seen in forests before and after fires (5)
ASHES – Double definition of a type of tree and the remains of fires.

7 Go ape, or what? (5,1,6)
THROW A WOBBLY – A reverse anagram clue where the solution gives a series of letter and an anagram indicator word that would lead to OR WHAT.  The essence of a clue is that it must give sufficient information to enable the solver to reach the solution.  Whilst reverse anagram clues are a good form of clue, simply adding a question mark does not give a sufficient indication that a reverse anagram is required.  Perhaps “or what may be result”

10 Suffer punishment going off the straight and narrow? (4,3,5)
WALK THE PLANK – Cryptic definition of a type of naval punishment involving a straight and narrow piece of wood along which the person being punished must walk.

13 Digging land for pitching (10)
INTONATION – A phrase 2,2 meaning liking or digging followed by a six-letter word for a land or country.

16 Heavenly body’s swaying in freedom after dropping Ecstasy (9)
LIBRATION – A ten-letter word meaning freedom without the abbreviation for ecstasy.

18 Leaves brooch in Salvation Army church (7)
SPINACH – A three-letter word for a brooch inside the abbreviation for Salvation Army followed by the abbreviation for a church.  There are a few clues that use “in” as the containment indicator.  Try to find other indicators that would avoid repetition.

20 I’m about to venture, so to speak, somewhat above the ground (6)
MIDAIR – Reverse (about) the IM from the clue and follow with a homophone (so to speak) of DARE (venture).

22 Criminal escaped without wife – she’s back inside (5)
FELON – A five-letter word meaning escaped without the abbreviation for wife includes (inside) the last letter (back) of she.  Again a repetition of inside as a containment indicator.

24 Follow cab halfway to Illinois (4)
TAIL – The first half of a four-letter word for a cab followed by the two letter state abbreviation for Illinois.

30 comments on “Rookie Corner – 347

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed solving this well put together puzzle. So many ticks that we won’t pick anyone for special mention. All we have left to do is sort out the parsing for 14a. Sure it is very clever but the penny hasn’t dropped yet.
    Thanks Zorro.

  2. Thank you Zorro, very enjoyable, I think this is better than your last (second) puzzle which was better than your first.
    Like the 2Kiwis, I can’t quite ‘see’ the parsing of 14a and there are a couple of others that I will need to wait for Prolixic’s words of wisdom to fully understand.
    Again like the 2Kiwis, lots to like including 17a, 23a, 7d, 13d, and 18d.
    Well done and thanks again.

  3. I totally agree with Senf about your continuing progress, Zorro. This third puzzle was excellent – nicely challenging and a lot of fun. I have a lot of ticks and no concerns at all. This would not have disgraced the back page of the paper.

    Fighting it out for my podium places are: 1a, 14a, 21a, 23a,13d & 3d.

    Very well done, Zorro and many thanks. Please keep them coming.

  4. A most enjoyable accompaniment to breakfast, thank you Zorro

    Thanks also in advance to Prolixic

  5. This is really good and thoroughly enjoyable – thanks Zorro.
    Like RD I thought it worthy of appearing in a broadsheet – indeed I think it’s better than many broadsheet puzzles.
    Of many enjoyable clues I picked out 11a, 14a, 21a, 1d and 7d.
    Promotion cannot be far away.

  6. Welcome back, Zorro.

    Another high-quality puzzle, although unlike others I didn’t feel it was quite as good as your last. Perhaps my judgement was coloured by noticing “inside” repeated as an insertion indicator (in 12a and 22d) which added to the three instances of “in” and one of “into” did suggest an over-reliance on one particular device or its variants. There were also four examples of “definition in wordplay” and a lurker, so “in” was certainly working overtime today. I also didn’t care for the use of “marathoner”, I know it’s in the BRB but isn’t “marathon runner” a much less ugly option?

    That said, the ticks on my page are well into double figures, and most of the surfaces were excellent, only 16d raised an eyebrow as I think it could have been smoother.

    Very well done indeed on producing another excellent puzzle, but do watch the repetitions! Many thanks, Zorro.

  7. This an excellent puzzle – well done Zorro! Loads of clues easily worthy of a daily back-page cryptic. Apart from 16d’s surface being ever-so-slightly surreal and the device in 14a which some editors might want a little more clarity to (hard to explain without spoiling for others!), it all looks very good. Silvanus has a very good eye for spotting those repeated indicators – it will always help to list all that you have used and double-check for repeats before submitting.


  8. I was so delighted when my stab in the dark for 7d proved to be correct that I got rather carried away and applied the same technique to 27a. Managed to get that wrong twice over and it made a mess of the SE corner for quite a while. Actually, that corner was my downfall in any case as I didn’t know 16d, hadn’t met the old maid and 13d held out until the bitter end.

    I did notice the over-use of ‘in’ words and cringed a bit at both ‘marathoner’ and the surface of 16d but this was without doubt quite an accomplished puzzle.
    My favourite was 14a with a mention for 9a – a delightfully old-fashioned word that doesn’t often see the light of day.

    Thanks for the challenge, Zorro.

  9. Fully agree with Gazza & RD that this would easily be worthy of a back page slot & I preferred it to the DT today, which I also enjoyed. Unable to parse a couple (14&26a) & needed to confirm 4d but otherwise got there with a bit of head scratching. 7d my clear pick from many fine clues.
    Many thanks Zorro & well done

    1. 26a…anagram of the three words plus the letter G that follow stormy, minus the letters suggested in the rest of the wordplay.
      LBR has given a hint to the other

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed this – some clues that made me groan with pleasurable pain especially 10 & 13ds . I just cant see 14a parsing. 26a was also tricky ( and therefore clever) with a lot of writing down and crossing out the right letters once i’d worked out which words to anagram. Looking forward to the review tomorrow. Keep up the good work – i look forward to your next offering.

  11. Thank you Zorro, very enjoyable. We needed some google help with 1a, 25a and had to check 16d and 29a. Loved 21a, 27a, 7d and 18d. We still can’t parse 26a, 14a and 8a so will check in with Prolixic tomorrow.

  12. Thanks Zorro – I enjoyed this. Thanks to LetterboxRoy I’ve now parsed 14a, leaving 22d the only clue still to parse. My favourites are 11a, 15a, 3d, 5d, and 10d, with 7d getting the gold medal from me. My only issue is with your dig at edible seaweed – what’s not to love?!

  13. I am enjoying this so far but have yet to finish it. I loved 4d especially as the surface agrees with me that that particular foodstuff is barely edible (sorry Conto) but also it reminded me of the Accrington Brick Company’s Engineering brick. They wanted to show that they considered them to be as strong as metal, but when they made the moulds for the bricks they put the letters in the wrong way round and the name stuck.

    1. Thanks for your post. That’s very interesting about the Nori bricks – I hadn’t heard of them before!

  14. A good weekend/Monday for the “blog puzzles”, I enjoyed this but did need Mr G to confirm a couple.
    1&11a plus 4d&18d made me smile and I liked the clever 14a too.
    Many thanks Zorro and in advance to the reviewer.

  15. A quality puzzle and difficult in places, thanks Zorro. Comments absent reading others’:
    Liked 12,23,16 amongst many, favourite 21.
    1dn I like the construction even if the surface flags.
    10 no chance without the crossers.
    22 I haven’t parsed, might be an indirect anagram?
    Well done.

  16. Many thanks to everyone for your comments. It’s great to hear which clues have entertained (or not!). Thanks also to Big Dave for hosting.

  17. Very good indeed. Some very creative constructions and surfaces. As one who overuses “in” myself, I sympathize. I loved the “straight and narrow” clue.

  18. Thank you, Prolixic, for the review. Based on test solver feedback, I suspected 14a might be controversial and appreciate your suggestion for improving it and 7d.

    I’ll try to avoid those pesky repeated indicators like “like” and “in” in my next one! :)

  19. Great puzzle. I admire anyone who can even put together a basic framework let alone a full puzzle giving as much enjoyment as that one. Respect & thanks to Zorro! ***/****

  20. Spent a lot of time trying to fit monkey as the last word of 7d until the penny dropped.
    Finished with 21a and 22d.
    Great fun.
    Thanks to Zorro and to Prolixic.

  21. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I’m very glad that I was able to guess 7d, the correct way to go about it may never have occurred to me!

  22. I thought 7d was excellent and needs no further words of explanation. I only wish I could come up with clues like that!

    Couldn’t parse 22d – was trying to work FLEW rather than FLOWN into it. Ah well! It’s a rather archaic word these days, isn’t it (except in USA)? But I can’t help but think of the words of the Policeman’s song in Pirates of Penzance:

    “When a felon’s not engaged in his employment….”

    Anyway, nice work Zorro!

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