Rookie Corner – 372 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Rookie Corner – 372

A Puzzle by Sundance

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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.

Sundance is definitely ironing out the kinks in his clues.  Having reigned in the difficulty level in his previous crosswords, this one improves on the surface readings.  The main issue here was an over reliance on certain clue types and the repetition of wordplay indicators.  Definitely heading in the right direction.  The commentometer reads as 4.5/34 or 12.8%.


8 Substitute good sort of order (8)
STANDING – A phrase 5-2 for a substitute or locum followed by the abbreviation for good.

9 Small measurement acquired small gold bars (6)
INGOTS – The abbreviation for inch (small measurement) followed by a three-letter word meaning acquired and the abbreviation for small.

10 Mr Bean has spiritual meeting without church (4)
SEAN – A six-letter word for a spiritual meeting without the abbreviation for Church of England.

11 Crikey – some heartless birds (5)
GEESE – A three-letter word meaning crikey followed by the outer letters (heartless) of some.

12 Get up and pull (4)
DRAG – Double definition for “get up” as a form of costume and as to pull or two something.

13 Emphasised state of anxiety (8)
STRESSED – Double definition of having given emphasis to something and a state of anxiety.  Perhaps being in a state of anxiety would be better as the second part of the double definition as “state of anxiety” on its own gives the solution without the “ED” ending.

16 Police man’s swindles (6)
STINGS – The lead singer of the Police maintaining the ’s in the solution.

18 One of best artistes (4)
STAR – The answer is hidden in (of) the final two words of the clue.  A nice &lit clue.

20 Secured but assembled without her (5)
GATED – An eight-letter word meaning assembled without the “HER”.  Perhaps for the cryptic reading definition “and” wordplay would be better than definition “but” wordplay.  Try to avoid using repeated wordplay indicators.  Without has been used as a deletion indicator already in 10a.

21 Alternatives suggested for those who row (4)
OARS – A homophone (suggested) of ORS (alternatives).

22 Go back on some serene gesture (6)
RENEGE – The answer is hidden in (some) the final two words of the clue.

23 Call team for the best seats (8)
RINGSIDE – A four-letter word meaning call or telephone and a four-letter word for a team.

26 Fruit – peeled or pealed? (4)
RANG – Remove the outer letters (peeled) from a citrus fruit.

28 D or E possibly attacked in reverse (5)
NOTES – A phrase 3,2 meaning attacked is reversed.

30 Traps spirits (4)
GINS – Double definition of traps used to snare animals and alcoholic spirits.

31 Want abode Sir Elton John has (6)
DESIRE – The answer his hidden (has) in the second to fourth words of the clue.  The “John” could be omitted from the clue.

32 Make concoction of 20d (8)
GENERATE – An anagram (concoction of) the answer to 20d.


1 Certify that the largest has been beheaded (6)
ATTEST – A seven-letter word meaning having the most fat (the largest) without the initial letter (has been beheaded).

2 A French refusal shortly (4)
ANON – The A from the clue followed by the French for no (refusal).

3 Prongs holding a thousand pale colours (6)
TINGES – A five-letter word for the prongs of a fork includes (holding) the abbreviation for grand (thousand).

4 Thus arises the monster (4)
OGRE – A reversal (arises) of the four-letter word in Latin for thus.

5 Insult facilitated the sick (8)
DISEASED – A three-letter word meaning to insult followed by a five-letter word meaning facilitated.

6 Old painter mostly turns up (4)
AGED – A reversal (turn up) of a five-letter name of a painter after removing the final letter (mostly)

7 Particularly odd foreigner (8)
STRANGER – Double definition of a word meaning “particularly odd” and a foreigner.

14 Strange eastern lake (5)
EERIE – The abbreviation for eastern followed by a four-letter name of one of the Great Lakes of America.

15 Put off taking bomb from judge (5)
DETER – A nine-letter word meaning to judge without the mine at the end (taking bomb from).

17 Presses a little hair on scalp (5)
IRONS – The answer is hidden in (a little) the final three words of the clue.

19 32 somehow after 12 (8)
TEENAGER – An anagram (somehow) of the answer to 32a.

20 Environmentally friendly garment heard to be popular in Japan (5,3)
GREEN TEA – A five-letter word word meaning environmentally friendly followed by a homophone (heard) of a kind of shirt or garment.  I think that “something popular in Japan” would be better definition.

24 Sniffing some of a cappuccino’s ingredients (6)
NOSING – The answer is hidden in (some of a) the final two words of the clue.  Five hidden word clues is far too many.  At most, three is acceptable and if three are used, usually one should be a reversed hidden word.  Also try to avoid reusing wordplay indicators such as some to indicate a hidden word.

25 Give fruit that’s holding on (6)
DONATE – A four-letter word for a dried fruit includes (holding) the ON from the clue.  Another repetition of a wordplay indicator with holding as a containment indicator having been used already.

27 Resolve to treat an icy road (4)
GRIT – Double definition for resolve or courage and to treat an icy road.

29 Takeaway country (4)
TOGO – A phrase 2,2 meaning takeaway.

30 Game soldiers give blood (4)
GORE – A two-letter word for a Japanese game followed by the abbreviation for Royal Engineers (soldiers).  For the cryptic reading to work it would need to be wordplay gives solution or wordplay giving solution.  Here give would be better as giving.

27 comments on “Rookie Corner – 372

  1. Well done Sundance.
    A whole grid full of competently put together clues that were a pleasure to solve. We left 19d until last so we could be sure what we were working with but still had a satisfying penny-drop moment with it.
    Thanks Sundance.

  2. Thanks Sundance, that was entertaining
    20a ‘definition but wordplay’ jarred a little but there was plenty more to like
    Thanks in advance to Prolixic

  3. Thanks Sundance for an enjoyable conclusion to my Sunday evening of solving. As with your last Rookie this was on the easier end of a Monday back pager for me.

    The only ‘problem’ I had was with the ‘connected’ 4-letter clues of 26a and 27d.

    I really liked 20a, 23a, 19d, and 25d. 19d in particular because of initially assuming that ’12’ was something to do with 12a.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic (I don’t think he will be able to claim any overtime this week).

  4. Wow! What a lovely surprise to start the week.

    After half-a-dozen or so submissions to Rookie Corner, Sundance, you didn’t seem to be making much progress. However I am delighted to say that this puzzle was a quantum leap forward with mainly accurate wordplay, and you also managed to combine brevity with generally smooth surfaces. All of this made for a most enjoyable solve, and I have only a few, relatively minor comments.

    In terms of surface readings, you now appear to be at the point where you only need a final bit of polish. In today’s puzzle I will just mention 9a, 16a, 28a & 3d as requiring some attention.

    A few specifics:
    12a. I am not sure that the answer is quite synonymous with “get up” (but I’ll be happy if you – or anyone else – can convince me otherwise!)
    13a. The definition is a noun, but the answer is an adjective.
    16a. The surface suffers by splitting “Police” and “man’s”. “Lift and separate” as a device without indication seems to be becoming accepted by more editors, so personally I think it would have been fine to have written this clue simply as “Policeman’s swindles”.
    31a. You should avoid padding when cluing a lurker. “John” is surplus to requirements and could have been omitted as he is sufficiently well-known as just Sir Elton.
    3d. G is the abbreviation for a thousand dollars, not a thousand.

    Very well done and thank you, Sundance. You are definitely on the right track now and I am very much looking forward to your next offering. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. RD – for 12a I took it to be ‘get up’ as in costume, etc for an entertainer of the answer’s ‘persuasion.’

      I had, and still have, a bit of a problem with 13a which I interpreted as a double definition. The first part of the DD and the answer works well for me but I would have the answer minus the last two letters for the second part of the DD.

      1. Thanks, Senf.
        12a – I had the wrong answer. I had entered DRAW, which is fine as a synonym of “pull” but not of “get up”!
        13a – I agree it is a DD. I should have said specifically that my comment applies to the second definition.

        1. Look closely, considering all the other solutions, and you’ll see why ‘draw’ couldn’t possibly have been the answer!

          1. Crikey. There are only ten letters used in the grid which can be used as anagram fodder for STRONG IDEA or DESIGNATOR. Well done, Fez, but however did you spot that?

            1. I think penny dropped when I’d solved the three connected anagrams (teenager etc). Although I guess they’re quite common letters, I think it’s admirable to produce a really ‘solver-friendly’ puzzle under such a constraint. I enjoy a ‘challenging’/toughie solve but for me this extra dimension elevated Sundance’s puzzle well above a typical ‘Quiptic’ (as the Grauniad calls them … Monday back-pager in the Telegraph?)

  5. Ta S*ndan*e… or is it ‘Designator’?

    A gentle solve but very enjoyable. A few minor points that I think Prolixic will pick up on, eg definitions not quite right (13a, 20d, maybe 19d), a couple of iffy surfaces (eg 3d), and I think Sir Elton is sufficiently famous to not need his surname!

    A lot of nice clues – many impressively concise. Hard to pick a favourite but my tick list includes 12a, 16a, 26a, 19d (even though I’m not sure the definition is strictly correct), 27d, 29d.

    Given the relative ease of the crossword itself I was also pleased that you added that little bit more of interest, a strong idea

    Thanks again!

  6. Welcome back, Sundance.

    I can see you have made an effort to improve your surface readings and make them more succinct and that is to be commended, but there were still a few clues (like 3d and 25d) that struck me as odd. My principal concern this time though was your over-reliance on just two types of clue, lurkers and double definitions, which together made up around one third of the puzzle. I think it’s fine to have two or three of each in a puzzle but not five or six. My repetition radar bleeped several times with “some” used twice as a hidden/lurker indicator, “holding” repeated as a “containment indicator and “without” used for two different deletions. Something to watch at the editing stage, I’d suggest. I share some of the other reservations already made by others, but I did detect signs of progress and that is encouraging. My favourite clue was 27d.

    Many thanks, Sundance.

  7. Thank you, Sundance. We really enjoyed your puzzle. Favourites were 8a, 10a, 20a, 26a, 5d, 6d and 19d. The number of lurkers certainly helped in solving! A couple in the NE corner were the last in and still unsure where the last letter in 7d is indicated in the first 2 words of the clue.
    We look forward to your next puzzle and to Prolixic’s review.

    1. re 7d, he’s not just odd but ‘particularly’ so – I think this works, but perhaps ‘excessively’ or similar would be better?

        1. Thank you Fez and Dr Diva. I think ‘comparatively odd’ would work really well for me.

  8. Nice to have a straightforward puzzle on the Rookie.
    A few clues need a bit of correction but on the whole it felt like a “proper” crossword if such a thing exists.
    Liked the connection between 32a and 20d but wondered why you didn’t carry on with 19d as you could have had: 20 drunk after 12.
    Really liked 26a.
    Thanks and well done to Sundance.
    Look forward to Prolixic’s review and to your next offering.

  9. Thanks Sundance! My favourite clues were those attempting something a bit quirky, i.e. 16a, 26a and 19d. I also have ticks beside 17d, 24d and 30d for their sensible and evocative surfaces.

    (SPOILER ALERT) I had a wonderful moment while parsing 16a…My neighbour was listening to the radio and the right song came on at exactly the right time!

  10. What a difference – this was so much of an improvement, Sundance.
    Obviously still some tweaks required but I very much liked the ideas behind 13,16,26&32a plus 25,27&29d.
    Keep up the good work!

  11. Well done Sundance, this was a lot of fun and an accomplished puzzle, a nice mixture of the relatively simple and the more ambitious, showing some imaginative cluing. To me it out outshone today’s back pager.
    I’m not normally a fan of linked clues but liked the three in the bottom half, along with 8,10,11,16&26a plus 5,27&29d.
    I don’t often do the Rookie Corner but I can’t imagine many better ones appearing here.
    Good stuff, thank you, and in advance to Prolific.

  12. Hello Everyone
    Apologies for the late appearance but I looked at some of the comments earlier and fainted! I am delighted that (nearly) everyone had something really positive to say and although I know that I still have a long way to go it has been marvelous to receive so many encouraging remarks.
    I am sorry not to have posted any individual replies but I have been ‘under the weather’ recently (no, not the dreaded you-know-what).
    Fez: Signed rota – well spotted. Will anyone else?

    1. Hi Sundance, thanks for your efforts, which resulted in a puzzle that, the points raised above nothwithstanding, I found really accessible. As a Rookie still trying to iron out the kinks and address previous shortcomings in my own works, it’s good to hear you have made pleasing progress. Using the clue type table provided by Prolixic’s Guide to the Construction of Cryptic Crossword Clues should certainly help to address any variety issues ( if you are not familiar with it).
      Couldn’t make sense of 25d surface
      Favourite was 16a

  13. Struggled a bit to get on wavelength but an unaided completion which is always a plus. I enjoyed your last one in this slot & I’d say this was further progress. I do agree with the point made by Silvanus that it was maybe a little lacking in variety but still a pleasure to solve.
    Thanks Sundance & well done

  14. Hello again
    Thank you to Prolixic for this encouraging review. I will take all of the points on board and try to further improve for next time.
    Once again I really appreciate the comments everyone has put on. I am frustrated that one person is still not particularly positive but I will just have to try that bit harder.
    I am disappointed that no-one (apart from Fez) appeared to spot my Nina.
    Thank you again to Prolixic and as always to the Genius who is Big Dave.

  15. Thoroughly enjoyable& gets my vote for the best Rookie for a long time. Thank you Sundance & of course, Prolixic.

  16. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I do hope that Sundance can rid himself of those pesky repetitions and experiment with the use of different clue types. I look forward to his next submission to the Corner.

  17. Many thanks for the review Prolixic and well done Sundance
    Particularly pleased to find that your comments pretty much match my notes – a little game I play to improve my own analysis of puzzles

  18. Late to the party so there’s nothing really to add to what’s been said already. But I found this a pleasant diversion despite its faults.

Comments are closed.