Rookie Corner – 360 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 360

A Puzzle by Bungo

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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.

All the basics are here in terms of constructing clues but, as with previous crosswords, Bungo has released his inner otter and come up with clues are are too convoluted in places.  It is unfortunate that the three worst offenders were consecutive across clues which perhaps overly affected people’s views of the crossword.  The commentometer reads as 2.5 / 28 or 8.9%


1 Copy corgis whirling around like spinning tops (10)
GYROSCOPIC – An anagram (whirling around) of COPY CORGIS.

6 Six at centre of lewd conviction (4)
VIEW – The Roman numeral for six followed by the inner letters (centre) of lewd.

9 Horrid seaman, having no time with his kind…  (10)
ABOMINABLE – The abbreviation for able seaman followed by a phrase 1,3 indicating no minutes followed by a four-letter word indicating the capacity of the seaman.

10 …and others, tardily retires (2,2)
ET AL – Reverse (retires) a four-letter word meaning tardily.

12 Modest piece reviewing vigorous Bond (5,7)
BORIS GODUNOV – An anagram (reviewing) of VIGOROUS BOND.  Although technically the clue is sound, a definition by reference to the composer’s first name and an anagram of a less well known work make the clue less fair for the solver.

15 Die determined to drink last drops from grappa, obstler and mini cognac bottles (9)
ALEATORIC – A three-letter word for beer (drink) and the last letters (last drops from) grappa, obstler, mini and cognac include (bottles) the TO from the clue.  The clue works, though in a very Yoda-like fashion.  This is another clue where the the art of the setter is put to the test to produce a fair clue.  The solution is an unusual word which has been defined cryptically.  The wordplay itself is highly convoluted.  Putting all that together means that this clue is too heavily balanced against the solver.

17 Lacking direction, I love initially producing convoluted clue (5)
OTTER – A six-letter word for the crossword complier (I) without the abbreviation for south-east (lacking direction) preceded (initially) by the letter representing love.  Clever and self-referential at many levels but the definition is not one given in the dictionaries and would not be known to many people, even though who are regular solvers but not setters.

18 Smooth apart from onset of unimportant cracks (5)
SUAVE – A four-letter word meaning smooth includes (cracks) the first letter (onset) of unimportant.

19 Reportedly stomach companies becoming contentious (9)
BELLICOSE – A homophone (reportedly) of BELLY (stomach) CO’S (companies).

20 Mistakenly blench at stopping charge for ultimate latitude (5-7)
CARTE BLANCHE – An anagram (mistakenly) of BLENCH AT inside (stopping) a four-letter word meaning charge or responsibility.

24 Greek hero starts to aim javelin at Xerxes (4)
AJAX – The initial letters (starts to) of the final four words of the clue.

25 Show Duke of Cambridge’s order for wedding? (4,2,4)
KISS ME KATE – A request / instruction that might be made  or given by Prince William to his new wife after the making of their marriage vows.

26 Coward possibly cut heart out of book (4)
NOEL – Remove the central letter (cut heart out) of a five-letter word for a book.

27 At home, expert checks airless tyre – and how he describes it? (10)
INFLATABLE – A two-letter word meaning at home and a four-letter word meaning expert around (checks) a four-letter word describing an airless tyre.


1 Fly from nanny, say, trading old for new (4)
GNAT – The type of animal sometimes described as a nanny with the abbreviation for old replaced by the abbreviation for new.

2 Cross street outside over and over again (4)
ROOD – The abbreviation for road (street) around (outside) the abbreviation for over twice.

3 It might cause embarassment or exasparation? (4,2,3,3)
SLIP OF THE PEN – Cryptic definition of what might cause spelling mistakes such as those included in the clue.

4 Fragment from bazooka piercing African mammal (5)
OKAPI – The answer is hidden (fragment from) in the third and fourth words of the clue.

5 Extremely immoral pub draws in Joe? Absurd. (9)
ILLOGICAL – The outer letters (extremely) of immoral following by a five-letter word for a pub that includes (draws in) the abbreviation for an American squaddie (Joe).

7 Vocal modulation from Italophile, perhaps? (10)
INTONATION – Split 4,6, this would indicate someone keen on a country such as an Italophile.

8 Learned admiring description of Gunga Din? (4-6)
WELL VERSED – A description of a good poem.

11 Rollicking anthems arranged with no “dim.” (12)
ADMONISHMENT – An anagram (arranged) of ANTHEMS NO DIM.

13 Garland: she’s called to answer in song cycle (5-5)
DAISY CHAIN – The five-letter name of the girl on a bicycle made for two who was asked to answer followed by a five letter word meaning cycle.  The link from cycle to the required word is tenuous.

14 About to spoil passion I must be enthralled by partnership again (10)
REMARRIAGE – The two letter word meaning about or on followed by a three-letter word meaning to spoil and a four-letter word meaning anger or passion with an I included (must be enthralled by).

16 Revolt Aslan, taking view of White Witch – … (9)
REBELLION – How the White Witch, the evil witch in the Chronicles of Narnia, would have described Aslan.

21 …he’s snarling through his nose (5)
NASAL – An anagram (snarling) of ASLAN (from the previous clue, indicated by the …).  Taking one word from the previous clue indicated by the ellipses is an acceptable device but should be used sparingly.

22 Smear name in article? Quite the reverse (4)
DAUB – The indefinite article inside a three-letter word meaning to name.

23 e.g. Wilder segment of DNA (4)
GENE – Double definition of the actor and a component part of DNA.

45 comments on “Rookie Corner – 360

  1. Thank you Bungo, another enjoyable puzzle. However, as with your last one, I did need some electronic assistance to finish.

    In particular I thought that:
    The definition in 12a was a little obscure relying on solvers to recognise the first name of a composer and the particular work is somewhat more than a ‘piece.’
    The 15a answer was a new word for me and the ‘steps’ in the instructions might be in the wrong order as it is only ‘TO’ that gets ‘bottled’ – I think.
    17a just has me completely mystified.

    I did like 19a, 27a, and 8d.

    Thanks again.

    1. Many thanks, Senf, and I’m delighted you found it enjoyable on the whole.

      12a – fair point on the general knowledge requirements – it happened to fall within my wheelhouse; my hope was the hugely helpful checkers in the second and longer of the two words of the answer would be sufficient to get solvers who weren’t as familiar across the line.

      15a – yes , idea is that it gets bottled by all the following bits of wordplay. I think it’s fair (though open to correction); whether solvers find it enjoyable or not is of course a separate question!

      17a is perhaps too self-indulgent; the surface is a tongue-in-cheek reference to feedback from my previous Rookie Corner, and Prolixic’s comment on 6d in that puzzle (link below) will at least give you the definition I was going for. Obviously Prolixic will have to mark it as a fault, but my hope was that it might give the regulars a chuckle. Since it’s just baffled the first two regulars to leave feedback, it looks like this might be wishful thinking on my part!

      Link to previous puzzle:

      1. Thanks for your response Bungo. You do, however, prompt me to make a couple of further comments.

        !2a – Your wheelhouse will not be every solver’s wheelhouse. For example, my wheelhouse is aerospace, aircraft propulsion in particular, so try this probably not very good clue – First flower for aerial power (7). The answer is WELLAND – almost all jet engines from the Rolls-Royce Derby facility are named after rivers and this is acknowledged as the first. I know that, but do all solvers?

        17a – Your previous (second) Rookie was four moths ago. I have no idea how many puzzles I have solved and reviews I have read in the interim but it must be 200 plus or minus. So, it becomes a very obscure reference in my estimation.

  2. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Bungo, with a challenging and generally enjoyable puzzle although some of it was not very solver-friendly. There were a lot of good ideas on show, but I did feel that, having improved your surface readings with your second Rookie puzzle, this aspect has slipped back again this time.

    I agree completely with Senf about 15a & 17a. For the latter, I had to reveal the two unchecked letters as I can neither parse the answer nor find a definition in the clue.

    There are three clues for which I will be particularly interested to learn Prolixic’s views. The homophone of the synonym for stomach in 19a is not a real word and where does the final E come from? I am not sure if 3d is acceptable or not. Is it OK to use ellipses as a device to link anagram fodder from one clue to the next?

    My podium choices were 25a, 27a, 8d & 22d.

    Many thanks, Bungo, and well done.

    1. Many thanks for the feedback Rabbit Dave, and I’m delighted you found it generally enjoyable.

      I’ve responded to Senf about 17a which I hope will clarify what I was thinking.

      19a – idea is that both parts of the wordplay are a homophone which should get you the “e”.

      Comments on surfaces duly noted, and like you, I await Prolixic’s comments on the other aspects with great interest.

      1. Thanks for responding so promptly, Bungo.

        Re 17a, I had completely forgotten 6d in your puzzle four months ago! I had assumed that the definition must be “convoluted clue” but looking up the answer in my BRB, using Google, or in any of the online dictionaries didn’t reveal this definition. I am kicking myself for missing the wordplay though as explained by Retiefus @3.

        Breaking down 15a, unless I am missing something it seems to me that the wordplay is telling the solver to bottle up TO ALE (drink) inside ARIC but the charade needs to be ALE followed by TO inside ARIC (or an anagram of TO ALE inside ARIC).

        1. 15a – intention is that you treat ALEARIC as one string of letters which bottles TO, but the fact the clue is drawing comment suggests that even if I’m right that the clue is fair then it’s not all that satisfying for solvers once they’ve cracked it.

    2. RD. I think 19a is (just about) OK. They’re both unreal homophones – BELLI (belly) and COSE (co’s). I think if the great Petitjean had written this clue, it would have been accepted as refreshingly nonconformist/wacky/humorous and nobody would have batted and eyelid.

  3. Re 17 across, I = setter, lacking direction (south east) = tter, love initially = o at the beginning, but no definition of the furry animal that I can see.

    1. I’ve responded to Senf in the first comment regarding the definition. I’m glad the wordplay was understandable, at least!

  4. I found this enjoyable but quite tricky and was not helped by my initial reading of the second word of 16d as ‘Asian’ – it really is time to go to Specsavers.
    Like others I had no idea on the definition of 17a before reading the comments above and I needed Mrs Google’s help to discover the significance of Modest in 12a.
    ‘Embarassment’ in 3d lacks an R.
    The clues I enjoyed most were 18a, 8d, 13d and 22d.
    Many thanks to Bungo.

  5. I found that to be a really difficult crossword and had it not been foggy outside, I might well have given up and gone for a walk. Sorry Bungo but thank you

    I have quite a lot of question marks by clues I don’t understand how I got from the clue to the solution so am looking forward to Prolixic’s review, for which many thanks in advance

    1. No need to apologise, Sue; I’m grateful for the feedback. The fact solvers of the calibre of you and Gazza are finding it at the tricky end of the spectrum certainly says quite a lot.

      Apologies from my end that you didn’t find it more enjoyable.

  6. Many thanks Bungo, that was tough but satisfying :-)

    I thought there were many really good clues. I thought the surafaces were pretty good on the whole (with 11d perhaps the main exception). 12a definiton really clever, although agree with Senf on ‘piece’ – however it is regarded as a ‘master’piece so why not? As with others, 15a didn’t quite work for me (it needs “to drink” to be “drink to”, but then surface wouldn’t make sense… but I think with a bit of massaging this could be made to work – and the definition was great, again). 25a maybe ‘request’ rather than ‘order’… I’m not sure? And 13d synonym for second word perhaps seems a bit of a stretch to me? 17a and 19a I thought were fine, by the way! 3d took me a long time to notice the spelling mistakes – but once I did, this was perhaps my favourite.

    Thanks again for a very enjoyable puzzle!

      1. Actually on revisiting 15a I can see it *does* work… as you explained in earlier comment. A very tough clue. (And for 17a perhaps I should clarify it was fine ‘within the specific context of Rookie Corner in the light of previous discussions’!) Thanks again Bungo.

  7. Welcome back, Bungo.

    I must admit that, following BD’s intro last week, I was expecting to see another debutant this week, but maybe there has been a change in schedule.

    Like CS, I found this very tough too, and I regret to say that the more I got into the puzzle the less I enjoyed it, mainly because I thought several clues were unfair to the solver and/or were overly complicated. In the end, I sought electronic assistance to complete the grid. Clearly, 17a is something of an autobiographical statement and not a definition to be found in a dictionary either!

    Many clues were excellent, like 24a, 2d, 4d and my favourite, 22d, but I didn’t warm to 9a, 15a, 20a, 16d or 23d. Technically, I didn’t spot any cardinal errors but I felt that several of the surfaces were very contrived such as 1a, 12a and 1d, and the number of question marks to justify definitions by example (three successively in 5d, 7d and 8d) suggested that the setter ought to have considered easier alternatives, perhaps.

    Not my favourite recent puzzle, but I do admire the work put in by the setter to produce what he has compiled. Thank you, Bungo.

    1. Many thanks for the feedback Silvanus; 17a was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek nod to the previous puzzle rather than a mission statement for this one, but perhaps I was asking for trouble by including it!

      Question mark in 7 was to indicate the slightly fanciful element to the wordplay than the definition by example, but obviously the clue still contains a definition by example so the point still stands.

  8. Like you, Bungo, I am a Rookie setter, though I am definitely not the best solver!
    So the fact I could only make fragmented progress with your puzzle unaided is no surprise (to me anyway!!). But I do struggle with the idea that a clue (17a) references a previous puzzle I may or may not have seen and, like others, I find no definition once the clue is parsed (thx Retiefus for that!). I’ve read your explanation of 15a to RabbitDave and see your thinking but feel that Alan Turing might have done well to get that one especially with “die determined” (though cute) as the definition. Once others pointed out 3d, I let go of my irritation at the typos and thought “very clever …… but too clever for me!” I’d say 24a would be improved as “starts aiming javelin at Xerxes” as the “to” is redundant and interferes.
    But overall, there are some really good clues you have some great and creative ideas. Definitely hang on to those but perhaps reflect on some feedback I received on my debut – that the idea is for the setter to help others to solve the puzzle (albeit with booby traps) and not to prevent them from doing so. Just a thought!
    COTD 18a
    Will be really interested to read Prolixic’s review

    1. Many thanks for the feedback, Dr Diva – all appreciated. Fully agree that ultimately the solver should be guided towards finishing the puzzle – not much point in setting a crossword that can’t be solved!

    2. In 24a the ‘to’ is entirely necessary as ‘starts’ on its own doesn’t mean the ‘first letters of’ unless it comes after the fodder, ie ‘Good old boy starts….’ is fine for ‘gob’ or ‘Starts to good old boy’, but not ‘Starts good old boy…’

      1. Not so, I think. “Starts to…” is fine, but “good old boy starts” isn’t and would be rejected by any editor.

  9. Hello again Bungo
    I thought his was good in places but sorry to say not the further improvement I was expecting after your last outing
    I did get the 17a connection but the temptation to include it should probably have been resisted
    On balance I can’t say I particularly enjoyed the solve as a fistful of clues were contrived or perhaps overly ambitious, which is evident in some of your surfaces
    Well done for producing a puzzle at all and thanks for the entertainment

  10. Hello again, Bungo, quite a while since we last saw you in the Corner. To be honest, I didn’t enjoy this one which is a shame as there were, yet again, some good ideas but they were often marred by lack of attention to details such as choice of wordplay and surface reads.
    It will be interesting to read what Prolixic has to say about some of the clues that have already been mentioned by others and my plea to you would be to forget about being overly ‘clever’ in your next puzzle, it really isn’t necessary nor appreciated by many of us. Sorry, Bungo, I’m sure this took a long time to compile but perhaps you need to think rather more about ‘solver satisfaction’ in future?

    1. Many thanks for persevering with the puzzle, Jane, and for the feedback.

      I promise I am aiming to create something solvers will enjoy and not show off how “clever” I can be, but clearly there’s room for improvement for my judgement on that front.

  11. Having enjoyed & solved your previous puzzle Bungo I’m sorry to say I didn’t enjoy this one as much but that’s probably because it was pitched beyond my solving abilities & as such a bit of a slog. I did eventually get to within 2 of a finish with the aid of revealing 2 checkers but 15&17a were way beyond me. There were nevertheless plenty of clues I did like – 18,19,20,24&25a plus 2,4,22&23d would be my ticks. Am looking forward to dropping 15a into conversation when the debate about luck of the dice versus strategy in backgammon crops up again.
    Thanks Bungo but perhaps a bit easier next time.
    Ps Does anyone know why the completed & saved RC & NTSPP puzzles don’t stay saved?

    1. Hi Huntsman – as a regular backgammon player and having an interest in such things, I once did some lengthy maths on luck v strategy
      The results clearly showed that the roll of the die barely figures in the probability of winning, strategy reigns supreme. The variation of luck swings about 15% either side of 50/50 (rarely exactly 50/50), yet a good player will win 80% or more of games played using strategy, assessing risk factor and keeping options open
      Chess is my absolute top favourite game – there is no luck involved, so top GMs can win almost every single game (Morphy, Reshevsky, Fischer, Kasparov, Carlsen…) until someone comes up with a deeper understanding

      As for saving completed puzzles, there must be some reason the server doesn’t identify you; I’m not sure whether it’s logon details, IP address or cookies that should identify you
      Do you use any security software that might be blocking cookies etc?

      1. Never really had the patience (or ability) to play chess to a decent standard but was a pretty decent backgammon player & have been known to play for tidy stakes many moons ago. The game simply isn’t the same unless money is involved as it’s all about when to offer the double & whilst I fully agree the better player (as with poker) will usually come out on top there is the odd occasion aleatory kicks you very hard in the butt. Remember losing 16x a not inconsiderable stake to 3 consecutive double 6s when home & hosed, or so I thought, at the bearing off.

  12. I attempted with some trepidation after reading teh comments above, but found all but three of the clues more than acceptable. The three are the ones mentioned above quite often. 12a couldn’t be anything else, but I don’t understand why it’s a modest piece; 15a is a word / concept not known to me, or I suspect, many, and even though I got it with electronic help, I am still struggling to parse, even with your explanation above. 17a doesn’t have a definition that I can see ….
    Apart from that, some great clues. Well done Bungo!

    1. For 12A, try googling the ‘piece’ in question. (Though whether technically it’s a mere ‘piece’ is up for debate.)

    2. Many thanks Cryptor for the vote of confidence.

      12a is not modest, I agree; there’s a good reason that word starts the clue. Relieved you were able to get the answer, nonetheless.

  13. Thanks for the puzzle, Bungo! Personally, I found the difficulty level about right, apart from 15A, which is a word I’m not familiar with and am yet to parse, and 17A, which I see others have mentioned elsewhere. There are some nice ideas and constructions here…I like 2D and 22D.

    I also read ‘Aslan’ as ‘Asian’ – that’s ten minutes of my life I won’t get back!

    Lastly, I quite liked 3D, which I think is quite a neat idea.

    Thanks again!

    1. Many thanks Conto; glad you enjoyed it.

      Of all of the possible red herrings I considered, the fact Aslan might be misread as Asian wasn’t one, but it seems to have been one of the most effective!

  14. Many thanks indeed to Prolixic for the review and to everyone else who attempted the puzzle and left feedback; it is all gratefully received.

    I had hoped that including the ruddy animal in the grid would have provided a sufficient aide-memoire not to create any otters, but clearly still work to do on this aspect!

  15. Thank you to Prolixic for explaining the clues where I’d lost the will to parse. I’d never heard of an otter in relation to a convoluted clue, but I sincerely hope that Bungo leaves otters on the riverbank rather than in his future crosswords

  16. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I would have to agree that the three clues you mentioned did indeed go a long way towards colouring my judgement of the entire puzzle but there was also the issue of some rather strange surface reads.
    Hopefully, Bungo will take on board all the comments when he comes to compile his next puzzle.

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