Rookie Corner – 356 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Rookie Corner – 356

A Puzzle by Tater

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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 Tater.  The typos in the version I downloaded had been corrected but it is important to double check before submission.  Overall, this was much more polished and accessible than the previous crossword.  Two points particularly to watch are producing a balanced set of solutions and clue types and looking at the subtle changes in the meaning of words depending on context in which a word is used.  For example, to circle can mean to go around but circulating means moving in a circle or from place to place.  The commentometer reads as 5/30 or 16.7%.


9 Praise circulating small hospital after current achievements (15)
ACCOMPLISHMENTS – A ten-letter word meaning praise goes around (circulating) the abbreviations for small and hospital after a two letter abbreviation for alternating current.  To circulate means to move in a circle or to pass from person to person or place to place, not to go around something, so as a container indicator, I am not sure that it works.

10 Animal trail encompassing northern outskirts of Ecuador (7)
PANTHER – A four-letter word for a trail goes around the abbreviation for northern followed by the outer letters (outskirts) of Ecuador.

12 Launch meeting perhaps concerning head of government – non-drinker in temperance club (7)
REGATTA – A two-letter word meaning concerning and the first letter (head) of Government following by the abbreviation for teetotaller (non-drinker) in the abbreviation for Alcoholics Anonymous (temperance club).

13 Doffs cap reportedly any way you like (9)
FREESTYLE -A five-letter word meaning doffs followed by a homophone (reportedly) of tile (cap).  I don’t thing that the first five letters of the solution are synonymous with doffs.

14 Nutcase perhaps boat picked up (5)
SKULL – A homophone (picked up) of scull (boat).

15 Exercise papers at university (5-2)
PRESS-UP – A five-letter word for papers followed by a two-letter word meaning at university.

18 Set back following celebrity debut (5-2)
START-UP – A three-letter word meaning set is reversed (back) after four-letter word for a celebrity.

21 Swimmer turning back after missing start of thermal therapy (5)
REHAB – A six-letter word for a swimmer is reversed (turning back) after removing the initial letter (start) of thermal.

23 Liberty perhaps, reduced (9)
STATUETTE – A cryptic definition of a small (reduced) statute (Liberty perhaps).

25 Soap performance before theatre (5,2)
SCRUB UP – Cryptic definition of a cleansing routing before an operation in a theatre.  Try to thing about word similarities in the solutions.  In the space of five clues we have had three solutions all ending with the same two-letter word.

26 Blusterer, head of state travels east to see mates perhaps (7)
BOATERS – A seven-letter word word for someone who blusters with the S (head of state) moving to the end (travels east).  Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators.  Head of as an initial letter indicator has already been used in 12a.

29 Seb – Croatian idol upset by dope (8,7)
ANABOLIC STEROID – An anagram (upset) of SEB CROATIAN IDOL.  I think you can have the definition given by the wordplay but wordplay by the definition does not work as a link word.


1 Privileged American existed prior to start of Prohibition (4)
WASP – A three-letter word meaning existed before (prior to) the initial letter (start) of prohibition.  Another wordplay repetition with start of already used in 21a.

2 Have a quick look around keeping poles apart (4)
SCAN – A two-letter abbreviation meaning around inside (keeping … apart) the abbreviation for the magnetic poles.

3 Misshape misshape! (8)
EMPHASIS – An anagram (misshape) of MISSHAPE.  Maybe something more is required to give the clue a firmer indication that the repetition is the solution.  Perhaps putting the second word in bold italics?

4 Cloth – extremely casual grey blend (6)
CLERGY – The outer letters (extremely) of casual followed by an anagram (blend) of grey.  Although extremes of can mean the extremities, extremely means exceedingly, which is not the same thing.

5 Title challengers Spurs rue upsetting (8)
USURPERS – An anagram (upsetting) SPURS RUE.  For upsetting to work as an anagram indicator, it needs to go before the letters to be rearranged for the cryptic grammar to work.

6 Pictures games I toyed with (6)
IMAGES– An anagram (toyed with) of GAMES I.  Try to look at the balance of clue types across the crossword.  We have just had four anagram clues in a row.

7 Update this month about detailed dealings (8)
INSTRUCT – A four-letter word meaning thing month around a five-letter word meaning dealings with the final letter removed (detailed).

8 Collapse after digesting crummy food (8)
ESCALLOP – An anagram (after digesting) of COLLAPSE.

11 Horse maybe more graceful – non-starter (5)
AIRER – A six-letter word meaning more graceful without the first letter (non-starter).

15 Soft airs playing on piano discovered by Edith Piaf perhaps (8)
PARISIAN – The musical abbreviation for soft followed by an anagram (playing) of airs over (on) the inner letters (discovered) of piano.

16 Heavenly light (8)
ETHEREAL – Double definition.

17 Type of mail delay puts one off receiving charity (4-4)
POST-PAID – An eight-letter word meaning delay without the “one” from the clue followed by a three-letter word for charity or assistance.

19 Flatters tory leader involved in corrupt USA deal (8)
ADULATES – The initial letter (leader) of Tory inside an anagram (corrupt) of USA DEAL.  Tory should be capitalised in the clue.

20 Perfect state (5)
UTTER – Double definition, the second meaning to speak.

22 Monkey smell surrounding sailor working (6)
BABOON – The abbreviation for body odour around (surrounding) the abbreviation for able seaman followed by a two-letter word meaning working.

24 Confirm bishop accepted after second time absconding – not quite good enough (2,4)
AT BEST – A six-letter word meaning confirm with the second T (time) removed and the abbreviation for bishop included.

27 Half-naked archer discovered in bedrooms regularly (4)
EROS – The even letters (regularly) in bedrooms.

28 Motown pop (4)
SODA – Cryptic definition of an American term (Motown) for a fizzy drink.

46 comments on “Rookie Corner – 356

  1. Clever puzzle with a good smattering of trickier clues to stretch the grey matter. 7d was the last one for us to get sorted. A couple (like 3d) that although clever, not sure that they quite work. Pity about the misspelling in 17d but that did not cause any delay.
    Thanks Tater.

  2. More like a back pager compared to the Toughie last time.
    A couple of Hmms:
    3d – I agree with the 2Kiwis comment above
    29a – I thought that the anagram material was somewhat contrived
    I did like 25a, 15d, and 17d.
    Thanks Tater.

    1. Thanks Senf. I wish I had the skill to regulate the difficulty level. I was surprised my last was thought a stiff challenge by some – it certainly wasn’t by design. I suppose I’ll get more control with practice. At the moment, if a clue is fair and reads (fairly) well, it goes in!

  3. An enjoyable solve – thanks Tater. I thought 1, 2 & 3d (even though slightly quirky) were all good for me. And my favourite? 15d.
    I think I have your email address from last summer so will send more detailed comments on clues there rather than spoiling here.
    Keep ’em coming!
    Tim / Encota

  4. Welcome back, Tater. This was very enjoyable and much more accessible than your previous offering. You are clearly on an upward track – and, appropriately, UP is your favourite word in this puzzle!

    It was slightly disappointing to see three spelling mistakes: Rookie Crner; crummy; and recieving, and I’m not sure if “by” is a valid link word between wordplay and definition in 29a but we shall see tomorrow what Prolixic has to say about that. But those minor points aside, this was an accomplished crossword.

    I had lots of ticks and my crowded podium choices are: 25a, 1d, 3d, 11d, 15d & 28d.

    Well done, Tater, and many thanks. I’m looking forward to your next one.

    1. Thanks for your kind comments RD. That’s not the first time I’ve been “got” for bad spelling, though given the number of times I read through the puzzle before sending it off, I can only hold my hands up (and take Sue’s advice about cut and paste in future).
      I can’t think where I’ve written Rookie Crner, and although crummy and crumby are given as variants in Chambers they do have different meanings and I was at fault using them as interchangeable I suppose.

      1. Thanks very much for responding, Tater.
        – Rookie Crner is at the top of the pdf file.
        – Obviously a spell check wouldn’t have picked up “crummy”. Might “… crummy sounding food” perhaps have been better?

          1. Rookie Crner was my mistake. I have corrected that and 17d, but I’m not at all sure that crummy is a spelling error – it’s in the BRB with crumby as its first definition.

            1. Well, who would have thought that crumby/crummy could be so complicated? I had always taken “crumby” to mean covered in crumbs, and “crummy” to mean covered in lice, and hence slang for “poor quality”. It wouldn’t do to mix them up in a restaurant. :wacko:

  5. I enjoyed this – thanks Tater.
    There are a lot of anagrams clustered together in the down clues (6 in 8 clues) which I think makes the puzzle slightly unbalanced.
    My ticks went to 23a, 1d, 2d and 15d.
    More like this would be welcome.

  6. I too enjoyed this.

    Some of the clues are quite wordy, and I agree with Gazza about the anagram content. In addition to the spelling errors mentioned by RD, Tory in 19d should have a capital T. The easiest way to check spelling mistakes would be to copy and paste your clues into a Word document as all the errors would be helpfully underlined in red!

    Thanks to Tater, and, in advance, to Prolixic

    1. Thanks Sue
      I have a spell checker that works on most things – but not Compiler, unfortunately. I shall certainly use your cut and paste advice in future!

      1. Make sure your document is in English (United Kingdom) not English (United States) as otherwise a well-known Rabbit won’t be happy

      2. I’m confused by your comment as (Crossword) Compiler has its own spell-check facility, I find it very useful.

        1. Well, you learn something every day.
          The check grid “red tick” on the main screen is not the one Compiler is talking about. Obviously, it’s the one on the review/edit clues sub-menu DOH!
          Thanks Silvanus I’ll never have a spelling blooper again :-)

  7. Found this puzzle far more comprehensible than your previous one which definitely made for more enjoyment. Shame about the spelling mistakes and some rather wordy clues but I thought this was a distinct step up – well done, Tater.
    Top three for me were 23&25a plus 2d.
    I look forward to reading what Prolixic has to say and hope you’ll be back with another offering before long.

    1. Thanks Jane.
      My fourth has been ready for a while but will be getting (another) spell check before it goes anywhere.

  8. Welcome back, Tater.

    Another very accomplished puzzle, well done! Several of your clues would have been perfectly at home in a national newspaper and the surfaces were generally excellent, but I was also surprised to see the typos and, in common with others, I thought you overdid the anagrams this time. Like RD, I did raise my eyebrows at “wordplay BY definition” in 29a and noticed “head” repeated as an initial letter indicator in 12a and 26a. I’m not convinced about 3d either.

    I have numerous ticks on my printed page so I won’t nominate a favourite clue, as many were worthy candidates. Congratulations on a third very good puzzle, Tater, little errors like misspelled words shouldn’t detract from the finished product but unfortunately they do.

    1. Is ‘wordplay by definition’ any different to ‘with’ or ‘and’ – not meaning by way of, but simply standing along with?

      1. Hi LbR,

        I can tell you that “wordplay WITH definition” is not generally accepted by the Telegraph, whereas “definition WITH wordplay” is fine. You’ll note that in my comment I didn’t say that Tater’s construction was wrong, but merely that it raised my eyebrows.

        1. Hello Silvanus – fair enough
          As I understand it you can use a link word that means definition [plus] wordplay or wordplay [plus] definition
          Eyebrow exercise is a hidden bonus of Rookie Corner!

  9. Judging from the above comments from those far more competent than me, my difficulties here are more to do with my lack of ability than anything else! So I was very glad of the many anagrams which were easy to spot and offered light relief.
    Otherwise this was a real curate’s egg for me. Some great and (to me at least) novel ideas, some sloppy spelling (esp 8d where the error completely changes the meaning of the definition) and some clues that I thought bordered on unfair (or could it be that they were just too hard for me?!!) inasmuch the definitions barely define the answers (13a,7d) or because there is scarcely enough in the clues on their own to solve them without already having letters from other answers (28d, though I still love the idea and brevity!). Also I don’t feel 18a survives the grammar test as the answer is hyphenated and the definition and answer don’t therefore seem to correlate (though are clearly connected). Plus I have no idea about the relevance of Edith Piaf in 15d and await Prolixic’s explanation eagerly!!
    Having said that I loved 10a, 15a, 25a,1d, 22d, and a lot of other elements (launch meeting, nutcase, travels east, detailed dealings etc).
    So, Tater, I enjoyed grappling with it a lot, and, though I felt a bit miffed in places, I have learned plenty through doing so. Nevertheless I need to up my game before I can solve such puzzles unaided!!

    1. Hi Dr Diva. Thanks for taking the trouble to write – much appreciated.
      As for the puzzle, we are all learning, and with all these helpful comments, there’s no better place!

      1. Indeed, and, like I say, I learned plenty from your effort. Just wish I was more accomplished at unravelling them!!

  10. Thanks Tater. I enjoyed much of this, and found it fairly gentle apart from a couple in the SE corner that took a while to yield. There are a handful I’m not sure about – hopefully tomorrow’s review will clear things up. My favourite clue is 15D, with 21A the runner-up – or should that be ‘swimmer-up’?!

  11. Thanks Tater. Enjoyed this a lot though found it challenging in places. Needed a letter reveal for the 11d/13a checker to get those 2 & to twig the right type of horse. Couple that didn’t entirely work for me (3d& 7d) & a couple I can’t parse fully (15d & 28d) but lots of ticks – 1,8, 17,22&27d plus 13,21& 23a. The surface of 29a might have been a tad nonsensical but it was immensely satisfying to solve it (for me anyway) without resorting to pen & paper

    1. Hi Huntsman
      15d…musical instruction for soft plus anagram of airs plus inner letters of piano
      28d…the American (Motown) name for pop……well that’s how I saw it!

      1. Cheers Stephen. Only commented last week or so that I always miss de-tailed/dis-covered in the wordplay – you’d have thought it would be a flashing light by now….. Good clue.
        28d was about what I made of it too.

  12. Felt like solving a proper crossword although misled in 15d and 29a as by usually means next to.
    3d actually made me laugh even if it might not be cryptically acceptable.
    Liked the therapy in 21a and the archer in 27d although a capital A would have been more fun as I pictured Jeffrey Being naughty.
    Thanks to Tater for a pleasant puzzle.

    1. Thanks for your kind words.
      Misleading you with 15d (my favourite clue) has got to be a result.
      The clue that first went in there was “French capitalist”, which I thought for ages as far too weak. I’m glad I had another go.
      Although capitalising the word archer is (I believe) acceptable, it always strikes me as equally as devious as de-capitalising a proper noun – which is not to be done. (that’s got to be too many as’s!)
      Jeffrey is, however, still a very naughty boy ;-)

  13. Thanks for the enjoyable puzzle Tater. We found the top half easier than the bottom half, 26a and 28d were our last ones in. Favourites 10a, 1d and 20d. Still one or two to fully parse so look forward to Prolixic’s comments tomorrow

  14. Thanks Tater for an interesting and quirky puzzle. Comments absent reading others:
    High points 4,10,15 and particularly 26.
    Thought for various reasons 13,23,3,24 didn’t work – will see what Prolixic thinks.
    28 had me puzzled, I guess you could call it a cryptic definition.

    1. Thanks Prolixic.
      I don’t think the definition works in 24 – I can’t think of a sentence where they are interchangeable, but it’s a tricky phrase. “If you’re lucky” comes close.
      I thought the -up phrases might be a mini theme. Everyman has made a trademark of similar.
      Thanks Tater.

  15. Thanks for that Prolixic, very much appreciated – plenty to think about. I’ll have a (another) real good look at my number 4 before sending it in.
    Thanks also to those that gave it a go and posted comments, and to LBR for playtesting and trying to keep me on the right tracks.

    1. Well I really enjoyed it all, so there.

      I am sure Prolixic is highly qualified to assess and recommend improvements to your efforts, but perhaps he should also check his own spelling before submission – there are two ‘thing’s where he meant ‘think’ in his forensic comments. This shouldn’t detract from the quality of his suggestions, but as an ex-proof reader I am afraid it does.

      A thank you to Big Dave for removing the annoying wipe clean button which used to appear above the CHECK button and was always liable to be clicked in error by my clumsy big fingers when tackling the NW corner!

  16. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, particularly your comment about ‘circulating’ which I had happily accepted without a second thought. I was a little surprised by your objection to the use of ‘extremely’ in 4d as I’m reasonably sure I’ve seen it used in this way several times in the past.
    Well done again to Tater – I’ll be expecting you to defeat the commentometer in grand style with No.4!

    1. You are right, Jane: “extremely” is a well-established ends selection indicator. See the entry for the word in Chambers XWD dictionary.

    2. Thanks Jane.
      The clue originally used “going round” which fits the clue better I think. It was during one of those repetition hunts that it was changed to circulating, which is fine for circulating rumours but not containment (I see now).
      The bit I thought would cause most comment was AC = current which does feel a little clumsy. It fitted the surface too well to change.
      You do see lots of devices used on the back-pagers that, I think, wouldn’t pass a Prolixic (or indeed LBR) analysis, so as a (probably perpetual) learner I am glad to have the proper way pointed out.
      No4 is getting another mauling as we speak. I’ll probably ruin it :-)

      1. All I do is make sure the puzzle is solvable and suggest improvements to surfaces, mainly
        For learning and advice, nothing beats the regular commenters here and an expert review from Prolixic
        PS – please don’t ruin #4!! :lol:

  17. Very late to the party so there’s not much to add. I liked 21 ac in that ‘swimmer’ was not a reference to a fish, and I liked the idea behind 4dn even if the clue wasn’t perfect. But I have to sy that I agree with Prolixic about 5dn.
    It was all gettable, though, and a pleasant solve, so I’ll look forward to your next one.

  18. I’m afraid I’m even later! There really isn’t much to add except to say that I thought this was a very good puzzle, Tater. I found it entertaining and very enjoyable. I particularly liked your homophone at 14a, 15a, the cryptic definition 23a, and 15d. Flawed or not, I also rather liked 4d!

    Well done, Tater, and thank you very much. I hope we shall see another puzzle from you soon. Much appreciation to Prolixic for the most interesting analysis.

Comments are closed.