Rookie Corner – 349 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 349

A Puzzle by Bardwig

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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 Bardwig.  Technically, the only point was the one repetition of head in the clues indicating the first letter of the word.  Whilst, there could have been a little more polish, this comes with practice. 

The commentometer reads as 0.5/ 29 or 1.7%


1 English conservationists managed church portal (8)
ENTRANCE – The abbreviations for English and National Trust (conservationists) followed by a three letter word meaning managed and the abbreviation for church.

5 Sad and lonely bishop beginning to expiate on paper (6)
BEREFT – The abbreviation for bishop and the first letter (beginning to) of expiate followed by a two letter word meaning on or about and the abbreviation for Financial Times (paper).

8 CFO’s predecessors peak north of the border (3)
BEN – The preceeding letters to each of C, F and O.

9 Decoy from the underworld reversing bull wagon (10)
DISTRACTOR – A three word meaning the underworld followed by a reversal of a three letter word meaning bull or rubbish and a four letter word for a wagon.

10 Wimpy carries small bowl for fashion designer (8)
WESTWOOD – A three letter word meaning wimpy includes (carried) the abbreviation for small and is followed by a four letter word for a bowl used in the sport of bowls.

11 Buoyant love in a bachelor pad perhaps (6)
AFLOAT – The abbreviation for love inside the a from the clue and a four letter word for an apartment (bachelor pad perhaps).

12 Sound of butterfingers back from Wilderspool (4)
OOPS – The answer is hidden and reversed (back from) in the last word of the clue.

14 Hoody vexed about wife returning old couple’s greeting (3,2,3,2)
HOW DO YOU DO – An anagram (vexed) of HOODY includes the abbreviation for wife followed by a reversal (returning) of the abbreviation of old and a three letter word for a couple.

17 Is caucus overwhelmed by a lot of variety? (10)
MISCELLANY – The IS from the clue and a four letter word for a group or caucus covered (overwhelmed) by a four letter word meaning a lot.  Some editors will not allow wordplay of definition.

20 Staple substance for rumination? (4)
FOOD – A word for a staple requirement that goes before the phrase “for thought” (for rumination).

23 Writer currently pursuing Attorney General’s responsibility (1,1,4)
C P SNOW – The a three letter word meaning currently after (pursuing) a abbreviation for Crown Prosecution Service (Attorney’ Generals responsibility).

24 Funny poem: eccentric keeps one in store (8)
EMPORIUM – An anagram (funny) followed by a three letter word meaning odd or eccentric with the letter representing one inside.

25 Counsel conceals call to somewhere on the River Mersey (10)
WARRINGTON – A four letter word menaing counsel or advise includes a four letter word meaning call on the phone and the TO from the clue.

26 Tattoo family head to foot (3)
INK – A three letter word meaning family has the first word moves to the end.

27 Whinge including everything, allegedly, that’s making your skin creep? (6)
CRAWLY – A three letter word meaning whinge includes a homophone (allededly) of ALL (everything).

28 Haggard’s audience come closer (4,4)
DRAW NEAR – A five letter word meaning haggard or gaunt followed by a three letter word meaning audience.


1 Joint accommodation in space (5,4)
ELBOW ROOM – A five letter word for a joint followed by a four letter word for accomodation.

2 Expert’s conclusion: a drink invigorates (5,2)
TONES UP – The final letter (expert) followed by a three letter word meaning a and a three letter word meaning drink.

3 Wanted man went regularly, first thing in the morning (2,4)
AT DAWN – The even letters (regularly) of the first two words of the clue.

4 Like to run in loop supplying aid to catharsis (6,3)
CASTOR OIL – A two letter word meaning like, the to from the clue and the abbreviation for run all in a four letter word meaning loop.

5 Daring head of Volkskammer abroad in disguise (7)
BRAVADO – An anagram (in disguise) of V (head of Volkskammer) ABROAD.

6 Rush through desert, female lieutenant holding enemy up (6,3)
RATTLE OFF – A three letter word meaning desert or renege followed by the abbreviations for female and lieutenant around a three letter word for the enemy all reversed.

7 See 13

13/7 Support argument in favour of district rugby player (6,3,7)
SECOND ROW FORWARD – A six letter word meaning support or back followed by a three letter word meaning arguement, a three letter word meaning in favour of and a four letter word for a district.

15 Reported restaurant user may take one to cause an explosion (9)
DYNAMITER – A homophone (reported) of DINER (resturant user) MIGHT (may) followed by the abbreviation for take.

16 Betting expert’s mask adjusted in Communist Party rising (9)
ODDSMAKER – An anagram (adjusted) of MASK inside a reversal (rising) of a three letter for communist and a two letter word for a party.

18 Ruling most of port wine out of order (2,5)
IN POWER – An anagram (out of order) of PORT WINE after removing the last letter (most of).

19 Unhappy Liberal texted affection with humility (7)
LOWLILY – A three letter word meaning unhappy followed by the abbreviation for liberal and the texted form of l love you (affection).

21 Originally old Réti innovation finessed in Carlsen’s English Opening (7)
ORIFICE – The initial letter (originally) of the second to eighth words of the clue.

22 Immediately repeated words of reproach (3,3)
NOW NOW – A three letter word meaning immediately repeated.

36 comments on “Rookie Corner – 349

  1. A couple of answers in the SW that we were not too keen on, 19d and 27a and not sure what 8a and 23a are alluding to, but apart from those the rest all went together smoothly and kept us smiling. !6d was new to us.
    Thanks Bardwig.

  2. Very enjoyable but I have Hmms on 27a and 19d – my answers just about make sense and I know they are ‘real’ words, although the BRB indicates 27a as an adjective while the required answer appears to me to be a noun, but . . .
    For the 2Kiwis:
    8a is a mountain in Scotland (peak north of the border) (found from the letters that precede C, F, and O in the alphabet).
    The first three letters of 23a are an abbreviation for a legal organisation that is under the authority of the UK Attorney General so, while the writer for the answer is (1,1,4), read it as (1,1,1,3). It took a while for the penny to drop for me on that one, It will be interesting to read the comments from UK residents.
    I did like 6d and 16d.
    Thanks Bardwig.

    1. Senf, I thought 23a was fine but it helped that he was one of my favourite authors and the (1,1,1) organisation is commonplace in the news over here.

      1. Thanks RD, but, a little tongue in cheek, did you know that the (1,1,1) is under the purview of the AG?

  3. I enjoyed this greatly. Like Senf, I was none too sure about 27a and 19d. However there were some good clues and I especially liked 1a.

    Many thanks, Bardwig.

  4. Good morning, Bardwig. I found this to be a tough but rewarding challenge in which several of the clues took quite a while to parse after I was satisfied with my answers. You appear to have racked back on the GK requirement compared with your previous Rookie puzzles, although that might simply mean it happens to be GK that I know this time round.

    My comments are very minor, arguably to the point of nit-picking.

    The surface of 12a reads strangely and the choice of Wilderspool seemed a bit random (apart from the essential consideration that it contains the required letters!) until I found that it is a now closed Rugby League ground in 25a. Does that indicate where you hail from?

    13d/7d is very old terminology. In Rugby Union at least it is now obsolete. However it is a good clue.

    Although the clue is fine, the answer to 19a is a ghastly word.

    I agree with Senf that 27a doesn’t work as the answer is an adjective. It can be used as part of a hyphenated noun but I don’t think that the inclusion of the question mark justifies using it on its own as a noun.

    There was a lot to like here with 1a, 14a, 23a, 1d, 13d/7d & 21d battling it out for places on the podium. I think I’ll nominate 21d as my favourite for its clever surface reading which, although irrelevant to the solve, may however not make much sense to anyone unfamiliar with chess.

    Well done, Bardwig, and thank you.

  5. I enjoyed this. It’s probably not widely known but 8a/10a is a 13d/7d who is something of a hero in 25a. Good to see him getting a mention in crossword land.

    1. Thanks, Modica. Am happy to see the mini-theme didn’t go completely unnoticed. After retiring from the game, he also set up his own 20a/24a.

  6. I enjoyed this too – and I didn’t find it as tough as others did, although I could have done without the lecture from Mr CS when I asked him to confirm that there was such a person as a 13/7 – wish I’d just investigoogled as there is quite a lot about it on RU pages online

    No question marks this time – my favourites were 8 and 20a

    Thanks Bardwig – more like this please – and, in advance, to Prolixic

  7. An enjoyable puzzle – thanks Bardwig.
    I have a few reservations – the homophone in 15d doesn’t work for me and I think that ‘head to foot’ in 26a would be better in a down clue.
    There are lots of good clues – I’d pick out 1d, 3d and 13/7d.

    1. Thanks, Gazza. Not sure I agree about ‘head to foot’: it’s possible to move from the head of a bed to its foot without changing one’s angle of elevation. I might feel less confident about using ‘top to bottom’ in the same context, even if I’ve often seen ‘top of’ used in across clues to indicate a first letter.

      As regards homophones in general, I don’t suppose there’ll ever be 100% agreement among solvers as to what works and what doesn’t.

      1. G and B, 26a. A bed does have a head and a foot in its normal horizontal position, so it should be fine to use “head to foot” in an across clue when indicating moving the first letter to the other end of the word. But, then again, who’s to know we’re talking about beds?

  8. Struggling with 23a and 19d at the moment. Enjoyed 1a, 20a, 1d. Couldn’t parse 5a and not sure if we have the correct answer for 2d. Just got 23a. Still unsure of 19d. Otherwise good fun with breakfast. Thank you Bardwig and also Prolixic in advance to understand some answers.

  9. Welcome back, Bardwig.

    After eight appearances in Rookie Corner there is very little to fault technically I would suggest, but some of the surface readings like 4d and 16d I continue to find rather unconvincing and I suspect that will always remain an issue. I share the reservations that Gazza and RD have already raised about 27a and 26a respectively. I quite like the “predecessors” device in 8a, a quick check reminded me it was also used in RC284 as “Arrest the predecessors of HSBC”. I think “keeps” would have made a better containment indicator in 10a and I couldn’t really see why something more recognizable like Volkswagen, perhaps, wasn’t used instead of “Volkskammer” in 5d. My favourite clue was 5a.

    Clearly 25a is close to Bardwig’s heart, but we learnt that from its inclusion in RC307 and so it seems a little self-indulgent to repeat it.

    I enjoyed the solve, which is the most important point of a puzzle, so many thanks Bardwig.

    P.S. It was nice to hear Maize (late of this parish) rightly praising Rookie Corner in John Halpern’s Zoom Show on Saturday.

    1. Hello again, silvanus.

      Thank you for your feedback, which I always look forward to. This time, I must admit, you’ve surprised me in more ways than one. I was anticipating a reaction to 5d, but more on account of the repetition of “head”, which has already appeared in 26a. Obviously, “head/leader of [any institution or organisation beginning with ‘V’]” would have sufficed, so I just let my warped sense of humour decide and went for a GDR reference.

      Otherwise, down the years, I’ve read a variety of books and articles on cryptic crossword construction but this is the first time I’ve ever come across the implication that a setter should avoid using grid entries that have already appeared in his/her previous puzzles. When compiling RC307, I was also toying around with two alternative clues for the grid entry in question. Both struck me at the time as technically sound, so it seemed like a pity not to use at least one of them when the opportunity arose.

      Anyway, glad you enjoyed the puzzle overall.

      1. Hello Bardwig,

        I must admit I missed the two instances of “head”, good of you to own up!

        There’s nothing wrong whatsoever in repeating a proper noun from a previous puzzle, but I don’t think Warrington and its rugby team holds the same attachment for most solvers as it seems to with you, so to mention it in two separate puzzles, plus associated references to the team’s former stadium and player(s) seemed rather self-indulgent to me.

  10. Thank you Bardwig – I enjoyed this crossword. I put ticks beside lots of clues – 1A, 5A, 14A, 24A, 25A, 28A, 3D, 4D, 13/7D, 16D, 18D, and 22D. I only parsed 8A after reading others’ comments; clever – maybe a bit TOO clever for my liking! I’m still to parse ‘from the underworld’ from 9A and ‘bowl’ from 10A. I agree with others that 12A is rather unsatisfying – it’s such a lovely word, I think it could have been clued more neatly. I would have preferred a more down-to-earth word than ‘caucus’ for 17A. I wasn’t fond of the homophone and definition parts of 27A. The definition part of 2D wasn’t quite right for me. I’m not sure ‘in disguise’ is the best indicator in 5D – maybe that’s just me. I couldn’t parse the ‘desert’ part of 6D. To my mind, 15D had one too many letters – however, I may be missing something. I applaud the reference to text speak in 19D – I think there should be more of this in crosswords so that they move with the times – the answer is a slightly awkward word, though. I’m not into chess, so the surface of 21D meant nothing to me until reading one of the comments above. Bardwig – please take these comments as what they are – subjective minor issues in a generally excellent crossword. Well done, and keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment, Conto; I appreciate the feedback. Assuming a clue is technically sound, then all other comments are bound to be subjective: reactions to 16d in this particular puzzle are a case in point, while homophones generally are a constant source of controversy in crosswordland. I won’t respond for now to the other issues you raise as Prolixic will probably cover some of them in tomorrow’s review.

  11. I really enjoyed this accessible puzzle. Many thanks, Bardwig.
    Second row forward is still heard from time to time in rugby union circles, although this is a reference to rugby league, as has been mentioned above.
    I spent too long trying to fit TIME upside down in 6d and I enjoyed the use of predecessors in 8a.
    Please keep them coming!

  12. Ily too Bardwig.
    19d is such a silly word that it has become my favourite in this very very enjoyable crossword.
    Everything made perfect sense to me and I even knew the crown prosecution service in 23a.
    I ticked quite a few clues while solving and was impressed by the quality of the puzzle.
    Didn’t realise that you have been around for some time, but I encourage you to carry on until you reach perfection.
    Thanks for the fun.

    1. Thanks, jean-luc cheval; glad you enjoyed it.
      I’m never going to achieve perfection but I suppose a little less imperfection would be a worthwhile aim.

  13. Good to see you again, Bardwig.
    I didn’t know that there was a ‘title’ for a 16d and can’t say that I cared for either 15 or 19d but there was much to enjoy in this one – the simple 20a was probably my favourite with a mention for 12a which always reminds me of an old comedy sketch of a surgeon conducting an operation – Bob Newhart or Bill Cosby, I think.
    Just as well RD was around to advise us on the surface read of 21d although, like Silvanus, I did think there were a couple of other clues that didn’t quite cut the mustard on that score.
    Thank you for the puzzle and for scaling back on the GK this time.

  14. Thanks Bardwig. Enjoyed this a lot though found it tough & needed a couple of letter reveals to finish. The 9th letter of 15d ruined the 15d homophone for me & didn’t care for 27a but otherwise all good for me. 8&23a were my clear picks

  15. Thanks to all of you who have provided feedback so far. If I can just offer a general response to some recurring items:

    Regarding the construction of the SW corner – and at the risk of boring people with my grid-filling strategies: once the longer answers were in place, along with 18d which was more or less forced, there were several options. I chose the 23a entry because it seemed to offer the best chance of an original clue. Then at 19d I wanted on principle to avoid obvious items ending in ‘E’, mainly because vowels are generally considered less solver-friendly than consonants. I could have used a comparative adjective but I remember having read somewhere that it’s stylistically preferable – albeit not always realistic – to avoid grid entries containing the most common prefixes and suffixes. So that’s why things ended up the way they did.

    19d is by no means a common word but to me its sound is more amusing or even poetic than ‘ghastly’ (RD). Both Collins and Oxford offer 27a as an independent item; in the clue, “that’s” is intended as a linking device as in “that’s [a word meaning] making your skin creep” – which in my opinion is not the definition of a noun.

    By the way, I have to admit that, after numerous unsuccessful attempts, I gave up trying to enjoy rugby union years ago, so am relatively unfamiliar with its jargon.

  16. Another good crossword Bardwig, but again (as has been pointed out by others) that last bit of polish is missing in places, which is unfortunate
    Otherwise very enjoyable, thanks for the challenge

  17. Thank and well done to Bardwig.
    I’m no pundit but I enjoyed this one and didn’t find it too tricky, although I can’t get 10a or 2d – I have potential answers for both but just can’t quite see “why” for either.
    Well done again from me and thank you, in advance, to Prolixic.

  18. Thanks Bardwig, an enjoyable puzzle certainly. Thanks Prolixic for the review.
    Whilst ‘head’ works for the start of a word in any orientation (‘the head of the procession’), I don’t think ‘foot’ works in an across clue.
    Beds only have heads and feet because humans sleep on them.

    1. Maybe so, Gonzo, but a human still has head and feet when in a horizontal position – like lying on a tattooist’s couch, for example.

  19. Nice work Bardwig – I was stumped by 19d as were others I reckon; granted you admit it’s a ‘filler’. Also not familiar with 10a – evidently I don’t move in those exalted (?) circles! But the rest was fine.

    Once I noticed the link between 25a and 13/7d, I scanned around for more themers but without success – alas 8a 10a isn’t a name to me! But I couldn’t help being reminded of the much-loved and sadly-missed Eddie Waring with his unique commentary style and inimitable pronunciations of teams such as 25a and “Hull Kingston Rovers”.

    So keep at it B.! No “heading for an early bath” for you!

    1. Thanks, Laccaria. I’ve always been a great Uncle Eddie fan and even today enjoy listening to his voice on old YouTube videos. However, I can remember Saturday afternoons back in the late 1960s when I would follow the second half of games on the BBC with my grandad: he always enjoyed watching rugby league on telly but seemed rather less impressed by the idiosyncratic commentary style.

  20. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, I’m sure that Bardwig will be happy with his ‘exam’ results!

  21. Many thanks to Prolixic for the review, although I don’t quite understand the comment on 17a, where ‘of’ is not intended as a link word but part of the phrase ‘a lot of’.

    Be that as it may, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken the time to solve and comment on my puzzles over the past 12 months. I’ve really appreciated the feedback and hopefully will be able to put some of the advice to good use next year. Special thanks to Big Dave for affording me the opportunity to present the puzzles online, and again to Prolixic for continuing patiently to explain the nuances of good clue-writing to all us rookies.

    I wish everyone a safe and pleasant Yuletide and much good health throughout 2021.

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