Rookie Corner – 364 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 364

A Puzzle by Grecian

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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 Grecian with another quality crossword.  Other than comments on the different standards applied to assessing crossword clues by editors (which do not count towards the commentometer), there are very few real issues with the clues themselves.  I particularly likes 17d which was an excellent spot.  The commentometer reads 2/32 or 6.25%


1 Soft cat and what it may do (6)
POUNCE – The abbreviation for soft followed by a five letter word for a type of cat.

4 Breakdancers accepting government cut (5-3)
SCRAG-END – An anagram (break) of DANCERS includes the abbreviation for government.  Not all editors will accept the implicit break in the word break dancers to give wordplay and letters to be arranged.

10 The Thing? (7)
ARTICLE – Weak cryptic definition of the part of speech of which “the” is an example.

11 Dog restrained by lead – maybe once bitten, twice shy? (7)
PROVERB – A five-letter dog’s name inside the chemical symbol for lead.

12 Fish left fly (4)
TANG – Reverse (left) a four-letter word for a small fly.

13 Star athlete wanting start of race fixed as a minimum (2,3,5)
AT THE LEAST – An anagram (fixed) of STAR ATHLETE after removing the letter R (wanting start of race).

15 About time to accept negative reaction and start again (6)
REBOOT – A two-letter word meaning about and the abbreviation for time include (to accept) a three-letter word for a negative reaction.

16 Frank Ocean in the middle of nowhere (4,3)
OPEN SEA – A four-letter word meaning frank and a three-letter word for ocean.

20 Guide for Spooner’s adulterer (7)
TEACHER – A Spoonerism of CHEATER.  Spoonerisms are the accidental transposition of the opening syllables of two words so do not work for single words.  The clue structure definition for wordplay does not work very well.

21 Hobby is one with complicated part for uninitiated (6)
RAPTOR – An anagram (complicated) of PART followed by the for from the clue without the opening letter (uninitiated).

24 Blairite movement working for freedom (10)
LIBERATION – An anagram (movement) of BLAIRITE followed by a two-letter word meaning working.

26 Blowtorch (4)
LAMP – Double definition for blow and torch.  Not all editors will accept implicit breaks in clues where the solver has mentally to divide the words.  Here you could have Broken blowtorch!  Whilst the solution means to punch as a verb, the word blow is used here in a nounal form as “to blow” does not mean to punch.

28 Smooth Cockney heavy (7)
AIRLESS – How a Cockney might describe someone who is bald.  I wonder if there is too many steps to get from smooth to bald to hairless to airless.

29 Unpredictable rodent in Morecambe (7)
ERRATIC – A three-letter word for a type of rodent followed by the first name of the comedian who was part of the due Morecambe and Wise.  As Morecambe is used a definition by example, this should be indicated.

30 It’s insane to cut rude bits (8)
SANITISE – Expand the IT’S to its full form and include it in the word sane (in-sane).  Another clue where the unindicated break in the wordplay would not be accepted by all editors.

31 Typical Chelsea display leads to Frank Lampard’s obscene rant against Liverpool (6)
FLORAL – The initial letters (leads to) of the final six words of the clue.


1 Instrument of change in spy novel (8)
PSALTERY – A five-letter word meaning to change inside an anagram (novel) of SPY.

2 Broadcast a blue film for No.10? It cannot be defended! (9)
UNTENABLE – An anagram (broadcast) of A BLUE around (film for) the abbreviation for number and the number 10 as you would spell it.

3 Tip tap (4)
COCK – Double definition for another word for “tip” as you might a hat and a type of plumbing tap.

5 Catch rats in stations (3,5)
COP SHOPS – A three-letter word meaning to catch and a five-letter word meaning rats or betrays.

6 Swimming in a pool lane endlessly, like an Olympian (10)
APOLLONIAN – An anagram (swimming) of IN A POOL LAN (lane endlessly).

7 Rene Magritte holding a flush (5)
ENEMA – The answer is hidden in the first two words of the clue.

8 Be back in time for a kick about (6)
DEBATE – Reverse (back) the BE from the clue inside a four-letter word for a time.

9 Match against East Barking (5)
VESTA – The single letter meaning against followed by an anagram (barking) of EAST.

14 Fraud and rogue let out at the same time (10)
CONCURRENT – A three-letter word for a fraud and a three-letter word for a rogue followed by a four-letter word meaning to let out to a tenant.

17 Two in movie sharing a fan (9)
EXTRACTOR – The name of an additional uncredited person in a film and the name for a credited player in a film sharing the letter A.

18 They may fill craters covering island road (8)
DENTISTS – A five-letter word meaning craters around the abbreviations for island and street.

19 Queen with contemporary clothing is hot (8)
TROPICAL – The single letter abbreviation for queen with a seven-letter word meaning contemporary around it (clothing).

22 King beset by unpleasant gas discharges (6)
CLEARS – The name of a Shakespearean king inside the initial for an unpleasant gas used in riot control.

23 Pitch on first day in good condition (5)
TONED – A four-letter word meaning pitch followed by the first letter of day.  Not all editors would accept first on its own as an initial letter indicator.

25 Benefit captures heart of Cardi B (5)
BORON – A four-letter word for a benefit or blessing includes (captures) the central letter (heart) of Carid.

27 Examination undertaken by 18 (4)
ORAL – Very weak indication of the type of examination that would be carried out by the answer to 18.

52 comments on “Rookie Corner – 364

  1. A very slow solve for us but we did eventually get a full grid although there are a few where we’re not sure we have got all the parsing.
    17d gets our tick for favourite.
    Thanks Grecian.

  2. A good crossword thank you Grecian – looking at the clues, I’d say the ‘surface reading police’ will be happy.

    There are some clever bits of sneakiness in there once you work out the wordplay – the only shame being the spare N in the anagram fodder for 30a which also doesn’t seem to have an anagram indicator – unless of course I’m missing something. I’m also not entirely convinced that 20a is a proper Spoonerism either

    Thanks also, in advance, to Prolixic

    1. CS, like you I initially thought that 30a was an anagram gone wrong, but in fact it’s a lift and separate clue: IT IS “in” SANE.

    2. Many thanks Sue. Hopefully, 30a makes sense now. I was convinced you were right, as it was so long ago since I wrote the puzzle. Cold sweat time

  3. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Grecian. I thought this was both nicely challenging and a very fine puzzle which was satisfying to solve. Apart from 3d, which I can’t find any justification for as a meaningful phrase, your surface readings are very good which is nice to see.

    I was going to comment that you shouldn’t use made-up names like George Ocean and Cardi B, until I found out using Google that both actually exist! The fish in 12a was new to me too.

    26a & 30a are both “lift and separate” clues which some editors won’t allow, and 26a is an unindicated American word (Chambers agrees).

    I’ve got lots of ticks with 31a, 14d & 17d making it onto my podium.

    Well done and many thanks, Grecian. I’m looking forward to your next one. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Many thanks for your kind comments RD – much appreciated. I must check out Frank Ocean’s brother George 😉

      1. It’s perhaps unsurprising that I’ve never heard of George let alone Frank. I wonder where that came from? :wink:

  4. Thanks Grecian, very good indeed!
    There were a few unindicated ‘lift & separate’ clues which might raise eyebrows – 26a in particular I thought could at least do with a question mark Like crypticsue, not convinced by Spoonerism although can’t really put finger on why! And I wasn’t sure about the indicator in 12a, but will see what Prolixic says (thanks in advance)
    14d & 17d favourites amongst a lot of great clues – many of which raised a “d’oh” on finally seeing the light. And Frank Ocean was crying out for that clue!
    Thanks again, hope to see more Grecians soon!

    1. Many thanks Fez. That’s really helpful feedback. It’s funny about the Spoonerism. When I say it out loud, it works in my head, but if there’s any doubt, it probably needs changing

  5. I enjoyed this a lot and found it quite tough, especially the SW corner.
    Like others I didn’t think the Spoonerism worked very well and I don’t like ‘first day’ in 23d.
    There were a number of penny-drop moments and many clues to like – I’ll list 31a, 5d, 14d and 17d.
    Many thanks to Grecian – more like this please.

    1. Many thanks Gazza. I’m so glad you enjoyed it (& that it was a challenge). Thanks for taking the time to complete the puzzle and for commenting.

  6. Welcome back, Grecian.

    I thought this puzzle was excellent for the most part, with convincing surfaces and many clues like 13a, 15a, 31a, 6d and 14d that would not look out of place in a national newspaper. I was less keen on the “lift and separate” clues though, and I share Gazza’s reservations about the Spoonerism and the use of “first” in 23d. I also felt that, in an otherwise very good puzzle, 10a stood out as being a little weak and 11a is now something of an old chestnut, even if the second half of the clue gave it a new twist. 7d reminded me of the Paul Simon song, I still think “After The War” is a ridiculous name to give to a dog!

    A lot of promise in evidence once again, I enjoyed solving the puzzle a lot. Many thanks, Grecian.

    1. Many thanks Silvanus. That’s really nice feedback and I’m so glad you enjoyed it. You’ll have to explain the Paul Simon reference to me!

  7. Thanks Grecian for a most entertaining puzzle. I can’t claim to have finished it unaided or parsed everything, but I got enough to be impressed. As a newcomer to the site and a (hopefully) imminent first-timer in Rookie Corner, I look at other Rookie entries with some trepidation given the high standard that is typically on show! I was taken by the succinctness of your clues and very impressed by the ingenuity of a number of them; 30A and, in particular, 17D stood out for me. I found some of the two-word clues difficult and not always as satisfying as many of the others, maybe because the task seems clear but the words don’t necessarily come to mind without ploughing through lists of synonyms. In 26A, I think there is an alternative, equally valid answer, which tripped me up. Well done and I’ll look forward to seeing another puzzle from you soon.

    1. Many thanks Coot. That’s lovely feedback. I do know what you mean with the 2-word clues, but I’m trying to get my average clue word count down to 5 or 6 and they really help with that! Good luck for next week – I’m sure it will be a great experience.

  8. I enjoyed this one far more than your debut themed puzzle, Grecian, although I still found it quite tough in places. I’m not sure what Prolixic will have to say about clues such as 4,12&30a plus 23d but time will tell!
    I did have to consult Mr Google about Frank Ocean, Cardi B and the 12a fish and I’m not convinced that 26a works particularly well but everything else seemed spot on to me.
    Favourites list included 31a plus 5,14&17d.

    Many thanks for the puzzle, hope you’ll be back again soon.

    1. Many thanks Jane. I’m glad this one was more enjoyable. I really do appreciate the positive feedback.

  9. Very good – there are a few technical points which, while they don’t bother me in solving the puzzle, will be picked up as minor infringements
    Some excellent clues producing a very enjoyable solve, well done and thank you Grecian

    1. Many thanks LR. Really appreciate your kind comments. Hopefully, I don’t pick up enough minor infringements to get a red card!

  10. A rare comment from me (except when in the spotlight), but I do solve and read each week.
    I just had to say how much I enjoyed this puzzle – very inventive and fresh-feeling. I have a couple yet to parse and one failure which, as no-one else has mentioned it, is sure to be down to me.
    I didn’t have a problem with the Spooner, and a good reworked chestnut every now and again is not a problem for me.
    I have a big tick next to 17d, and will be watching out for your next!

    1. Oh, thanks Tater. That’s lovely feedback. Like you, I’m a bit of a lurker on here, except when it’s my turn – mental note to change this, as I recognise how much the feedback helps me. The “fresh-feeling” comment is fantastic to hear. I’ve been working on a crossword where every clue contains a rapper’s name, but don’t think I’ll share it on here. I recognise that the crossword/rap Venn diagram overlap is almost certainly microscopic! Appreciate you taking the time to comment.

      1. hey Grecian, that sounds great… I’m working on one with various references to De La Soul’s 3ft High & Rising – perhaps rap-crosswords will become a new genre

  11. Thanks Grecian. Very enjoyable. The Spoonerism works for me, and I applaud the succinctness of your clues.
    I think you have tainted Magritte with a fairly unpleasant but amusing association for the rest of my life!

    1. Many thanks Gordon. To be fair, some of his art was somewhat enematic. I’ll get my coat…

  12. I fairly rattled through this but it was very enjoyable. I had no problems with the Guardianesque clues to 4, 26 and 30 but, as Prolixic says, they wouldn’t be acceptable everywhere. I liked 1dn and 14, and as for 17 – brilliant! See you in the NTSPP slot before long?

    1. Many thanks Exit. Yes, maybe I should widen my solving away from the Guardian. Really glad you enjoyed it.

  13. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic,but I’m still unsure about how 26d works. Perhaps someone can explain?

    1. Hi Jane – if you mean 26a, split blow (as in to hit) and torch (as in a light) they could both be LAMP but as Prolixic points out ‘a blow’ is not quite ‘to lamp’ (thump)
      You can hit something ‘landing a blow’ but not ‘blowing’

      1. Solving the puzzle yesterday, my initial thought was ‘burn’, which seems ok as a synonym for torch, and burn and blow have similar meanings in respect of money.

      2. Thanks, LbR, I did indeed mean 26a. Think I’m happy to stick with my thought that the clue doesn’t really work – and the comment from RD below rather amused me!

    2. My concern was also that “blowlamp” is the American for “blowtorch”. :wink:

      On reflection that must be some kind of record for a one-word clue: a “lift and separate”; a dubious synonym; and an unindicated Americanism. Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb! :smile: Only kidding, Grecian, it was an excellent puzzle.

  14. Huge thanks to Prolixic for the review and for going pretty easy on me! Huge thanks also to Big Dave for publishing my puzzle. Finally, thank you to all of you who had a go and took the time to say nice things and give me constructive feedback. It is all much appreciated. G

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