Rookie Corner – 368 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 368

At The Local by 8ball

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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 8Ball.  As with his first crossword, the cluing was good but let down by the repetition of wordplay indicators such as back (three times) for a reversal, around as a containment indicator (three times), top / topping for an initial letter and one for I.  One tip for avoiding this is to keep a list of the wordplay indicators and abbreviations that you use.  In Crossword Compiler I use the “Notepad” to jot these down in a separate window as I set the clues so that I can quickly spot if I have used a device before.  In a few places, a final review to spot grammatical errors would have helped as well.  These are all points that can easily be addressed and give a final polish to the crossword.

I liked the way that the number of pub games, snacks and drinks contributed to the theme indicated by the title with the added bonus of “Camra’s Passion” forming a question in the perimeter of the crossword.

The commentometer reads as 4.5/32 or 14.1%.


8 Formal dress worn on vacation after travel (4)
GOWN – The outer letters (on vacation) of worn after a two-letter word meaning travel.

9 Dangerous to begin to operate on king under the influence (5)
DRUNK – The first letter (to begin) of dangerous followed by a three-letter word meaning to operate and the abbreviation for king.

10 Stagger back to get snack (4)
NUTS – A reversal (back) of a four-letter word meaning stagger.

11 Stipulation to consume fizzy drink before losing gas (6)
CLAUSE – A three-letter word meaning to consume preceded by (before) a four-letter word for a fizzy drink brand without the abbreviation for Oxygen (losing gas).

12 In final moments, winger gets goal finally and a point that’s deserved (8)
ENTITLED – Within (in) a three-letter word meaning final moments include a three-letter word for a bird (winger) followed by the final letter of goal and the abbreviation for east (point).

13 Excessive amount of time mother knocked back drink (8)
AMARETTO – A reversal (knocked back) of a three-letter abbreviation for excessive, a three-letter word word an amount of time and a two-letter word for a mother.

15 I would fall cycling around oily substances (6)
LIPIDS – The abbreviated form of “I would” with a four-letter word meaning fall with the first letter moved to the end (cycling) around it.

17 Barmans tool to baffle regulars at first (7)
MUDDLER – A six-letter word meaning baffle followed by the first letter of regulars.  A couple of points on this.  The apostrophe was omitted from “Barman’s” and, as the solution is an American term, this should be indicated – “American barman’s…”.

19 Signal for help around pub after one shows signs of pressure. (7)
ISOBARS – The morse code letters for a signal for help around the abbreviation for public house all after the letter represented by one.  I don’t see anything wrong with “shows” as the clue resolves to wordplay shows definition.  A full stop is not required at the end of a clue.

22 Sounds like my hero’s distraught when love leaves (6)
RHYMES – An anagram (distraught) of MY HERO’S after removing the letter representing love or zero.  Possibly not a precise definition as you would struggle to substitute the definition for the solution in a sentence.

24 Last of meat and potato pies I’m cooking to make perfect (8)
OPTIMISE – An anagram (cooking) of T (last letter of meat) O (last letter of potato) PIES IM.   I think that “last of A and B” works as an indicator without using last of both A and B.

26 Religious leader drops a copper in centre of inhabited city (3,5)
ABU DHABI – The name of the founder of an Eastern religion without one of the letters D (drops a copper) inside the middle letters (centre) of inhabited.

28 I reportedly see double with cases of lemonade. It’s spiked! (6)
ICICLE – The I from the clue and a homophone (reportedly) of see repeated (double) followed by the outer letters (cases) of lemonade.  Cases here should be the singular.

30 Despise westernly hosts small drinks (4)
SIPS – The answer is hidden in (hosts) and reversed (westernly) in the first word of the clue.  Try to avoid archaic words such as westernly.

31 Manage to come back with hot date (5)
EPOCH – Reverse (to come back) a four-letter word meaning to manage and follow with the abbreviation for hot.  Avoid repeating wordplay indicators such as back for a reversal  – used in 10a and 13a.

32 Tango, waltz and rumba dancer ultimately a leader (4)
TZAR – The letter represented by Tango followed by the final letters (ultimately) of waltz, rumba and dancer.  Again, I think that A and B C ultimately works to indicate the last letters of A, B and C.


1 Game where one starts breaking budget (4)
POOL – Double definition of a bar game and a pot of money.

2 Investigated singers heard interrupting finale (8)
ENQUIRED – A homophone (heard) of choir (singers) inside (interrupting) a three-letter word meaning finale.

3 A few weeks before Christmas lawyer retired to blow off some steam (6)
ADVENT – A reversal (retired) of the abbreviation for District Attorney (lawyer) followed by a four-letter word meaning to blow off some steam.

4 After 10, throw up (not quietly) and fight machine  that gives hits back (7)
JUKEBOX – The abbreviation for Jack (card after 10) followed by a four-letter word meaning to throw up without the initial P (not quietly) and a three-letter word meaning to fight.

5 Models like traveling around wearing short and sexy tops – they’re colourful and sweet (8)
SKITTLES – The model car sold by Ford (repeated as models is in the plural) with an anagram (travelling) of LIKE around them all inside the initial letters (tops) of short and sexy.  The UK English spelling of “travelling” would be better for a UK crossword.  This is the third use of around as a containment indicator – used in 15a and 19a.

6 Popular pop group mostly showing rhythm (2,4)
IN STEP – A two-letter word meaning popular followed by a five-letter word for the name of a pop group without the final letter (mostly).

7 Infection from dirty place when given drug (4)
STYE – A three-letter word for a dirty place followed by the abbreviation for ecstasy.

14 Trap runner at the finish? (5)
MOUTH – Double definition for a facial feature and the estuary of a river (runner).

16 Horse drawn vehicles with five times more up front goes quick (5)
DARTS – A five-letter word for horse drawn vehicles with the initial letter (in Roman numerals) multiple by 5.

18 Catches Serena getting frustrated after wasting second of serves in tennis regularly (8)
ENSNARES – An anagram (getting frustrated) of SERENA without the second letter of serves inside the even letters (regularly) of tennis.

20 Come across beggar having casual drink in the middle of Stoke (4,4)
BUMP INTO – A three-letter word for a beggar followed by a four-letter word for a drink of beer and the middle letter of Stoke.

21 Lion frequently In bad mood seen topping food chain? (7)
DOMINOS – The even letters (frequently) of LION inside an anagram (bad) of MOOD followed by the first letter (topping) of seen.  Watch for errors such as “In” in the clue which has been capitalised incorrectly.  Also, as tops has already been used as a first letter indicator, a different word should have been used here.

23 Legendary ugly woman amused when given makeover (6)
MEDUSA – An anagram (when given makeover) of AMUSED.

25 Spies returning to hotel smuggled in titanium artform (3,3)
TAI CHI – A reversal (returning) of the American spy agency and the abbreviation for hotel inside (smuggled in) the chemical symbol for titanium.

27 Temporary setback puts boy on brink (4)
BLIP – The abbreviation for boy followed by a three-letter word for brink.  B for boy is not an abbreviation recognised by the major dictionaries.

29 Alien not one exercising to become skinny (4)
LEAN – An anagram (exercising) of ALIEN after removing the letter represented by one.  Take care not to repeat wordplay such as one for I – used in 19a.

29 comments on “Rookie Corner – 368

  1. A clever puzzle that had us working hard. Last one in was 21d where it took us ages to twig the definition.
    Went searching for a pangram when we noticed all the high scoring Scrabble letters but unless we have missed something, there seen to be couple of letters that missed the cut
    Well done and thanks 8ball..

      1. In relation to the heading “at the local”, I think the Nina is two words starting with the C in the first column on the left hand side.

      2. Hey

        So This puzzle is part of a series I made where there are hidden themes leading to an answer, but is an entirely optional endgame. This one is simple in the fact it’s just an additional clue spelt around part of the grid. Others are a bit trickier.

  2. An interesting exercise, 8Ball, which I enjoyed overall – well done on most of your surfaces, some are very inventive and clever
    The odd surface of 4d and the US spelling in 5d jarred a little but no major gripe
    What I did notice is that the puzzle is rather wordplay-heavy at the expense of cryptic misdirection
    I will be interested to see what others make of it
    Well done and thanks for the entertainment

  3. Definitely better than your first Rookie 8ball. I would agree with LbR that it was an interesting exercise but I would add convoluted, 18d for example, to his adjectives of inventive and clever.

    I really liked 26a but perhaps it could have/should have been ‘old copper’ instead of ‘a copper’ to be dropped.

    In 32a, ultimately, as a last letter indicator, could be taken by some to include the last letter of anD as it is in the ‘string of words’ but, obviously, that would provide an extra letter.

    The BRB indicates that the verb for using the barman’s tool is an Americanism so perhaps that can also be applied to the tool itself and be indicated accordingly.

    On the whole, quite enjoyable, thank you.

  4. Welcome back 8ball – I have to say that I found this crossword quite hard work with the bottom being a lot easier than the top. There do seem to be an excessive number of twelve and thirteen word clues. I didn’t know the American barman’s tool and I didn’t think the clue was particularly helpful in getting me to the solution.

    Thanks for the crossword and in advance to Prolixic for his review.

  5. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, 8ball. I found this quite tough but mostly enjoyable with some interesting and clever ideas on show.

    Most of your surfaces were smooth which is good to see, but 30a & 4d are rather suspect in this respect. I had some niggles: missing apostrophe in 17a (and the answer is an American word); American spelling in 5d; capital I in 21d; “shows” in 19a implies the answer should be singular – “showing” would be better; I don’t think your definition is accurate in 22a; I think 24a needs to start “last of both …”; I can’t find any validation for b = “boy” in 27d, why not use “bishop”?

    Although that seems like quite a long list, they could all easily be rectified with a bit more attention to detail and the help of a test solver.

    I liked a lot of the clues with 26a my favourite.

    Many thanks, 8ball, and in advance to Prolixic for his review.

  6. Well done on producing an inventive and enjoyable puzzle, 8ball.
    Most of the quibbles I had have been covered by the night shift and the early risers above.
    I highlighted 15a, 26a and 28a as top clues.

  7. Thanks 8ball, enjoyable and some good ideas on show.

    Personally, I like a long (convoluted?) clue every now and then, and enjoyed both 12a and 5d.

    Mostly the surfaces were very good. 4d did seem a bit clunky (and I’m not sure about how to get the first letter, other than it’s position in the alphabet – I may well be missing something here!) And I very much liked the initial device you used for 16d… but then the two parts didn’t match so this jarred a little (essentially, “vehicles goes quick”)

    On ‘technical’ points…
    28a I think it should be just “case” singular?
    20d I’m not sure what the “in” is doing (other than helping smooth the surface)
    21d I thought was great but not sure if, strictly, “seen topping” is quite right (as opposed to eg “seen’s topping”) but still, I think it’s fair for the solver and made for a good surface reading.
    27d Is the abbreviation for “boy” accepted (I only know it as part of “old boy”)?
    (By the way… in 24a, I do think “last of X and Y” fairly implies the last of both words, without needing further qualification)
    Will be interested to see what the review has to say… many thanks in advance to Prolixic.

    Very minor point – a few little errors, all easily done (missing apostrophe in 17a, full stop in 19a, American spelling in 5d, capital in 21d)

    Overall very enjoyable – I really liked 19a and 22a, and my favourites were 1d and 14d.

    Thanks again!

  8. Welcome back, 8ball.

    Like your previous puzzle there was a lot to like, but quite a few niggles, mostly of the grammatical kind which ought not to have made the final puzzle really. Omitting apostrophes and misspelling words in clues are both very avoidable with a little more attention to detail, I’d suggest, and using a singular verb after a plural subject in a sentence (16d) particularly grated. “Back” was used three times as a reversal indicator, and “tops”/”topping” was also repeated. As far as I can tell, “westernly” (30a) is now an obsolete word, at least as far as Chambers and Collins are concerned, and I thought having “final” and “finally” in the same clue was clumsy.

    My favourite clue was 31a, closely followed by 19a and 24a.

    Many thanks 8ball, I do hope you can eliminate the niggles next time.

  9. Good to see you back again, 8ball. Most of my points have already been covered by others and I think you would do well to remember that ‘the devil is in the detail’! I wonder whether you have a test solver on board – if not, it would stand you in good stead to find one. Other Rookie setters are often willing to help out on a quid pro quo basis.
    Top clues for me were 24&31a and I have to confess that I haven’t yet managed to sort out the working of 11a.

    Thank you for bringing us another puzzle, I’m sure the comments plus the review from Prolixic will help you on your way to the next one.

    1. Jane, 11a is a well-known fizzy drink with the O (for oxygen) removed, followed by a synonym of consume.

    2. 11a – a three letter synonym for consume and a generic fizzy drink with the chemical symbol for a gas removed (losing). That the fizzy drink ‘element’ goes first is indicated by ‘before.’

  10. I enjoyed most of this – my main ‘gripe’ was 32a, which seems to combine the 2 possible spellings of the answer word. Otherwise lots to like, as others have said

    1. I think that if you follow the setter’s instructions there can only be one possible spelling on this occasion, Ruth – T(tango) followed by the ultimate letters of waltZ,rumbA and danceR.

      1. Jane, I suspect Ruth was labouring under the same misapprehension as me when I solved 32a that there were only two spellings of the answer: TSAR & CZAR, and 8ball seemed to have come up with yet another one. However, when I checked my BRB, I did find the answer there as a third possibility.

        1. Strangely enough, the spelling 8ball used was the one I would automatically come up with – must be courtesy of an old school history book!

      2. Yes, I know how it is reached, and why it has to be that, but I had only come across TS** and CZ**, not TZ** which looks ‘wrong’ to me as RD says. I don’t have BRB to check. In my youth the TS spelling was more usual, and recently the CZ seems to have gained ground, but I hadn’t come across the TZ possibility before. I know they are all approximations from transliterating from the original Cyrillic letters…

        1. I thought exactly the same as you Ruth. Still doesn’t look right to me but guess we must bow to the BRB.

  11. Thanks for all your feedback :)

    This was one of my first creations, and submitted it around the same time as my Xmas themed one. I have created a lot more since, and believe I’ve been improving each time.

    I do get my puzzles tested over on the Cracking the Cryptic Discord server, however the feedback I get is never quite as thorough as what I get on here. If anyone doesn’t mind me sending them the odd puzzle for a test then do please reach out.

  12. Had a couple left before posting and glad that Jane brought up the matter.
    Now that 11a and 1d are sorted, I am happy to say that I really enjoyed the solve.
    A few niggles maybe, but they didn’t spoil the enjoyment.
    Knew 17a as our Apple Mojito is a bestseller.
    Didn’t realise that 25d was an art form.
    14d made me laugh.
    Favourite 31a.
    Thanks to 8ball.

  13. Enjoyed this a lot 8ball & pleased to see it’s pretty much a thumbs up from the critics other than some fixable gripes, a couple of which I noticed. I found it quite tough & used 2 letter reveals to get me over the line (both of which I may not have needed if I’d remembered the At the Local theme). Am assuming the after 10 indicates the letter J’s position in the alphabet & if so can’t recall seeing that wordplay device before. Couldn’t parse 11a either (thanks also) & can’t get the Abu part of the city. 17a new to me also though think I’ve got one somewhere.
    Many thanks.

    1. My assumption re the J (not for the first or last time) hopelessly wide of the mark.
      Thanks for the review

      1. I had same assumption about the J… and not really convinced by the alternative explanation, either! Has this device been used before – I’m all for innovation, but can’t help feeling this needs something more to be ‘fair’ to solvers?

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, it would seem that most of 8ball’s mistakes can be easily remedied. Let’s hope he works on them for next time.

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