Rookie Corner – 359 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 359

A Puzzle by Manders

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Manders is our latest debutant (with two ore iting in the wings!). 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 to Manders (the setter not the poster on the main blog).  A good start for a debut crossword.  Save in a couple of instances, there were no major problems with the clues.  The commentometer reads as 5 out of 30 or 16.67%


1 No stamp? Perhaps he won’t deliver! (7)
POSTMAN – An anagram (perhaps) of NO STAMP.

5 Husband to broadcast code which keeps locks secure (7)
HAIRPIN – The abbreviation for husband followed by a three-letter word meaning to broadcast and a three-letter abbreviation for the code you use to access services when using a cash machine.

9 Bach analysis reveals pulse (5)
CHANA – The answer is hidden (reveals) in the first two words of the clue.

10 Conniving business member drunk hiding cut diamonds (9)
COMPLICIT – The abbreviations for company (business) and member of parliament (member) followed by a three-letter word meaning drunk inside which (hiding) you include a three-letter word for diamonds with the final letter removed (cut).

11 Drug Marie Curie initially backed encompassing riotous wild trips with conscience? (10)
ECOTOURISM – The abbreviation for ecstasy (drug) followed by a reversal (backed) of the initial letter (initially) of Maria Curie inside which (encompassing) you include an anagram (wild) of RIOTOUS.

12 Steal lager back (4)
SLIP – A reversal (back) of a four-letter word for a type of European lager.

14 Spooner’s bomber rained building material (12)
PLASTERBOARD – A Spoonerism of blaster (bomber) poured (rained).  As the solution requires a homophone of one of the resulting words rather than direct swap of the initial letters, perhaps Spooner’s announced “Bomber rained building material” might have been better.

18 Sit-com about Trump supporters? (12)
CHEERLEADERS – A six-letter name of a US sitcom around a six-letter word for describing a person such as Donald Trump before President Biden took the reins of America.

21 Dial tone conceals recorder (4)
ALTO – The answer is hidden (conceals) in the first two words of the clue.  The solution is defined as any instrument in the relevant voice register.  Therefore, recorder is a definition by example and this should be indicated.

22 S&M skill: I Never, not ever swallow (4,6)
SAND MARTIN – The S from the clue, the word that is represented by &, the M from the clue followed by a three-letter word meaning skill and the I never from the clue without the ever.

25 Stuttering p-priest in type of suit (9)
PINSTRIPE – An anagram (stuttering) of P PRIEST IN.

26 Woman has husband from Cork, say? (5)
IRISH – A four-letter word being a woman’s name followed by the abbreviation for husband.  Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators such as H for husband – already used in 5 across.

27 Stand up poop scoop (7)
DUSTPAN – An anagram (poop) of STAND UP.  I don’t think that poop works as an indicator.  As a verb or an adjective, it does not carry any sense of rearranging the letters.

28 Trigger alien leaving philanthropist (7)
DONATOR – A nine-letter word for a trigger for an explosive device without the abbreviation for extra-terrestrial (alien).


1 Ruffle fairy queen (6)
PUCKER – A four-letter word for the name of a fairy in Midsummer’s Night Dream followed by a two-letter abbreviation for the current queen.

2 Issue after sea salt, say (6)
SEASON – A three-letter word for a child (issue) after the SEA from the clue.

3 I walk road disturbing grassland bird (10)
MEADOWLARK – A two-letter word meaning I followed by an anagram (disturbing) of ROAD WALK.  With disturbing as an anagram indicator, it needs to go before the letters to be rearranged for the cryptic grammar to work correctly.

4 French city runs better (5)
NICER – The name of a French city on the Riviera followed by the abbreviation for runs.

5 Hot unit has messy dates in North-West London (9)
HAMPSTEAD – The abbreviation for hot followed by the unit of measurement for electrical current and an anagram (messy) of DATES.  Try to avoid vague definitions such as in North West London to define places.

6 Lidl employees keep slack (4)
IDLE – The answer is hidden (keep) in the first two words of the clue.  

7 Funny Individual (8)
PECULIAR – Double definition.  I threw myself for a while by writing in Singular which I think is a valid solution as well.  Whilst it is hard to spot alternative solutions, sometimes having a test-solver who comes up with an equally valid answer is helpful to weed out the unintended solution.

8 Diaries, not records, restrict publicity (8)
NOTEPADS –  The NOT from the clue followed by the abbreviation (in the plural) for extended play records around (restricting) a two-letter word for publicity.  The definition “diaries” is not really a synonym for the solution.

13 Lincoln, in short, runs quota anomaly (10)
ABERRATION – The three-letter abbreviated form of Abraham (Lincoln in short) followed by the abbreviation for runs and a six-letter word for a quota.  Another repetition of wordplay indicators with run having been used in 4d.

15 A strained calculation of SI Unit (9)
STERADIAN – An anagram (calculation) of A STRAINED.  A few points here.  First, a noun (calculation) should not be used as an anagram indicator though some editors will permit it.  Even then, the noun must have some indication of rearrangement (such as organisation).  Secondly, whilst the wordplay using an anagram is a valid form of wordplay, cluing unusual words with an anagram is not the fairest form of clue for the solver.  Finally, some editors will not allow wordplay of definition as a clue structure.

16 “One-day diet” taken from discredited eating program is abandoned (8)
SCRAPPED – Remove the letters in I D (day) DIET from the DISCREDITED from the clue and include (eating) a three-letter word for a computer program.  As the letters to be removed are not in the order given in the clue an anagram indicator is required.

17 Instruments remaining on board ship (8)
SEXTANTS  A six-letter word meaning remaining inside the abbreviation for steamship.

19 Rigorous independent court goes after leaders of sex trafficking ring (6)
STRICT – The abbreviations for Independent and court after the initial letters (leaders) of sex trafficking ring.

20 Harbour announcer (6)
ANCHOR – Double definition.

23 Fear about cutting Father (5)
DREAD – A two-letter word meaning about inside (cutting) a three-letter word for a father.

24 Bust open revealing end (4)
STOP – The answer is hidden (revealing) in the first two words of the clue.  Whilst there is no hard and fast rule, I would try to have no more than two hidden word indicators in the clues.  If there is a third, try to ensure that one of them is a hidden reversed clue.

25 comments on “Rookie Corner – 359

  1. Certainly gave us quite a run for our money. The SW corner held us up the longest with 18a and 25a being the last to fall. A couple of trips to the BRB needed for confirmation, notably 9a and 15d.
    A lot of thought has gone into this well put together puzzle which we enjoyed solving.
    Thanks Manders.

  2. Well done Manders. A little bit of head scratching required but very enjoyable nevertheless.
    Like the 2Kiwis, the BRB was required a couple of times.
    I really liked 5a, 22a, 13d, and 19d.
    But, I had a couple of Hmms:
    I am not sure that the answer ‘matches’ diaries in 8d.
    I will be interested to read what Prolixic thinks about the anagram indicator in 27a.
    Thanks for a very pleasant end to my Sunday evening of solving.

  3. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Manders. This was a promising debut and I enjoyed the solve, parts of which I found quite challenging. Given that 18a is out of date (do I hear sighs of relief from certain quarters?), I imagine this must have been in the queue for a while.

    There were a few errors and rough edges which I’ll leave to Prolixic to point out, and I agree with Senf about your definition in 8d. Some of your surfaces are surreal, and the less said about the surface of 22a the better. There were two instances of incorrect capitalisation, one in 22a and one in 7d. Although some commenters think it’s OK, personally I don’t like to see vague names used as part of the wordplay such as you have done in 26a.

    There was a lot to like here and 5a was my favourite.

    Please pay heed to Prolixic’s wise words and also work on improving your surface readings. Well done and thank you, Manders. I shall look forward to your next puzzle.

  4. Enjoyed this puzzle, thank you Manders. 9a was new to us, also 15d but Google helped out. Favourites were 25a, 17d and the straightforward 1a and 5a. We look forward to your ‘two ore iting in the wings!’.

    1. I took the two waiting in the wings to be two more debutants rather than two more puzzles from Manders, welcome though those would be if that was the case

      1. It is two more debutants. Multiple submissions to Rookie Corner are discouraged as setters are expected to apply the lessons learned from one puzzle to the next.

  5. Many congratulations to Manders for producing an enjoyable debut puzzle – let’s hope it’s the first of many.
    Like others I had to verify 9a and 15d.
    I suppose if ‘pants’ can be an anagram indicator then ‘poop’ can be as well – in any case it’s an innovative usage.
    My ticks went to 10a, 25a and 17d.

  6. Well done Manders. I found this a most enjoyable crossword to solve over the shredded wheat. The SW corner was trickier and, although I knew 9a, I did have to fit in the anagram letters I’d got left over and then check I’d made a correct Unit in 15d. Because of the way I solve, I’m not a great noticer of surface readings but I have to say that reading 22a didn’t really go with eating breakfast!!

    I have a query about one definition, I did notice the ‘capitals’ and I did write RD by 26a, but apart from that, I didn’t find that much to quibble about.

    Thanks very much to you, and in advance, to Prolixic

  7. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Manders.

    Well done for taking the plunge and submitting your first puzzle. I really enjoyed solving it, and it’s always refreshing when someone who is known from the Blog decides to try their hand at setting. I was sorry to hear about you having to give up your allotment though.

    There were some really good clues here, especially 17d and 18d, but I think you overdid the number of lurkers (4), and to have three of them to clue four-letter words wasn’t ideal. In subtractive constructions like 16d, if the letters removed are in a different order than in the fodder then an anagram indicator is required. My repetition radar spotted “husband” and “runs” used twice each to clue the letters H and R respectively and “reveal” appeared in two of the lurkers. The Spoonerism didn’t quite work for me and some of the anagram indicators chosen were eyebrow-raising! The surfaces in certain clues were extremely unconvincing, but several (like the aforementioned 17d and 18d) were excellent.

    Congratulations on producing this, Manders, I hope we’ll see you return. Many thanks.

  8. Thanks Manders, an enjoyable solve with lots to like.
    A few strange surfaces, and not sure about definition in 8D. The two ‘obscure’ (to me!) answers, 9A and 15D were both very fairly clued (although indicator in 15D perhaps not quite right – but the intention was obvious so not a problem).
    I liked 16D but agree with silvanus it perhaps needed an anagram indicator, and also liked 18A despite it now being out-of-date.
    Favourites amongst many ticks were 27A (where the ‘unconventional’ indicator worked well, I thought), 17D and 19D.
    Thanks again, and looking forward to further offerings.

  9. Congratulations Manders.
    Really enjoyed the solve and despite a few technical points, I thought this was excellent as a first attempt.
    Very much liked the trips with conscience in 11a and 22a made me laugh.
    Thanks and look forward to your next one.

  10. An excellent debut, Manders, and I’m pleased to note that you do like some birds even though pigeons aren’t amongst them! I have a similar love/hate relationship with the Herring Gulls who have taken to nesting on my roof.
    I’m another who did need to consult the BRB over 9a & 15d and I’m not convinced about the accuracy of 8d but there were some little gems on show in the likes of 17&19d.
    I’d agree with Silvanus about the over-use of lurkers to clue 4-letter words and I thought some of your surface reads could have benefitted from being re-worked but overall I thought this was a very creditable puzzle.
    Hope we see some more from you in the future but make sure you don’t spend too much time compiling – you’ll need to take plenty of exercise now that you’ve given up the allotment!

  11. That was great, Manders. Thank you for the challenge. I did struggle with one or two but there are some excellent clues such as 1d and 2d among others. 15d was a new word for me. I would try and add it to the vocabulary but I don’t think it will stay there. I groaned when I saw the dreaded Spooner. He is my nemesis when it comes to crosswords.

    A great debut and I look forward to more. :good:

  12. Hi all,

    Thanks for having a go at my first puzzle, and thanks Dave for putting it on your site! I really appreciate all the comments and will be take them on board for the next one.

    I am actually brand new to this blog but some of the comments assume I am someone else (with an allotment!). Have I pinched their name?! I don’t want to tread on any toes so do let me know and I’ll change it in future.

    All the best!

    1. Welcome to the blog

      We have a long standing commenter called Manders so it might be best if you changed your alias

        1. How embarrassing all round! For all I know, you love pigeons and have never owned an allotment. You are certainly not of the same sex as our original Manders!
          What’s wrong with using your own name – or maybe just Nick?

          PS Manders No.1 thought we’d all lost our marbles when she received congratulations today!

  13. Thank you Manders. I have a letter in every light. Those letters arrived there courtesy of your clues in a reasonable time and even provided some amusement along the way. What more can we ask from a puzzle from a beginner? By all means take note of the comments above and especially read what Prolixic writes in italics after your clues. A nip here and a tuck there is about all it needs as far as I can see. Thanks again

  14. A very accomplished debut submission. Add me to the list of those unfamiliar with 9a (helpfully lurking) & 15d (took 2 stabs to sort the anagram). Struggled in the NE until I twigged it wasn’t net at the end of 5a & also bunged in stub at 24d which held things up. 8d a bit tenuous & maybe a couple of surfaces a tad clunky (22a did make me laugh though) but that aside much to admire. 17d & 25a were my picks.
    Thanks Manders / Nicholas

  15. A good puzzle which I enjoyed. I’v no problem with the definition of 8d or the novel anagram indicators; lots to like here
    Agree with MP that just a nip and tuck here and there is all this puzzle would benefit and good surfaces will come with practice
    Only two things stood out for me – 16d (as per Silvanus) and the abundance of four-letter lurkers, which is never going to be ideal
    Many thanks Nicholas and well done for producing such an entertaining debut

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