Rookie Corner – 373 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 373

A Puzzle by Median

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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 Median.  With a crossword with a puzzles theme.  A number of comments have been made about cross-referenced clues.  They are fair game for the setter but can divide solvers.  They did not put me off the crossword.  I think that they work better if you are solving on paper.  On screen, you have to scroll up and down to see the cross-referenced clues which makes solving more fiddly.  Some of the surface readings could have been smoother but, as I have said before, this comes with practice and, unless the clue as a sentence is completely non-sensical, I tend to be more lenient than the massed commentariat!  Overall this was enjoyable.  Most of the errors were minor technical ones.  The commentometer reads as 3.5/32 or 10.9%.


1/5 Struggle to remember carbon sinks are messy (4,4,6)
RACK ONES BRAINS – An anagram (messy) of CARBON SINKS ARE.

9 Worn out old shoe finally caught on mine (8)
DECREPIT – The final letters of old and shoe followed by the abbreviation for caught, a two-letter word meaning on and a three-letter word for a mine. 

10 Bundle of hay absorbs very loud sound control (6)
BAFFLE – A four-letter word for a bundle of hay includes (absorbs) the abbreviation for very loud in musical terms.

12 Worried, I’m on alert – it’s my job (4,5)
LION TAMER – An anagram (worried) of IM ON ALERT.  Although the definition is not an exact one, I think it works here as the remainder of the clue refers elliptically to it.

13 Arms components in wireless with I/O switch (5)
RADII – A five-letter word for a wireless set with the O changed to an I.

14 Winners run away from contests (4)
ACES – A five-letter word for running contests without the initial R (run away).

16 Confuse new burden with flipping record-entering (7)
NONPLUS – The abbreviation for new followed by a four-letter word meaning a burden that include a reversal (flipping) of a two letter abbreviation for a long-playing record.

19 From start to finish, layer abuts a new church. That’s better! (7)
ENHANCE – A three-letter word for a bird that lays eggs with the first letter moved the end (start to finish) followed by the a from the clue, and the abbreviations for new and the Church of England.  A blip on the repetition radar with the abbreviation for new used in 16a

21 Old crisis about God (4)
SUEZ – Reverse (about) a four-letter word for a Greek god.  If you use about as a reversal indicator it should follow the word or letters to be reversed.

24 E Nesbit partly recalls playwright (5)
IBSEN – The answer is partly reversed (recalls) in NESBIT.  As the word is hidden only in Nesbit, the E should have been omitted. For the cryptic grammar to work, recalls should be recalled. Ideally, hidden words should not end at a word boundary such as “Playwright knocking back some Stones bitter”

25 This angry promise, impossible if 30? (9)
CROSSWORD – A five-letter word meaning angry and a four-letter word meaning a promise with two definition.

27 Learner leaves before time after medic is gloomy (6)
DREARY – The abbreviation for learner is removed from a five-letter word meaning before time and the remaining letters follow (after) the abbreviation for doctor (medic).

28 A cushy register of sixteen teasers in choice beginners’ puzzle (8)
ACROSTIC – The initial letters (beginners) of the first eight words of the clue.

29 Cold, damp and reportedly spacious (6)
RHEUMY – A homophone (reportedly) of ROOMY (spacious).

30 Stupid 25, lacking hints? (8)
CLUELESS – Double definition.


1 Used to sift cryptic verse (6)
RIDDLE – Double definition.

2 Pest in the nest that calls its name? (6)
CUCKOO – The onomatopoeic name of the bird that lays it eggs in other birds’ nests.

3 Old athlete‘s finished, missing last race (5)
OVETT – A four-letter word meaning finished without the last letter followed by the abbreviation for Time Trials (an IOM race).

4 Heading north, spirit is gripped by identical mysteries (7)
ENIGMAS – A reversal (heading North) of a three-letter word for a type of drink (spirit) inside (gripped by) a four-letter word meaning identical.

6 Set new time to change score (9)
REARRANGE – Double definition, the first to set a new time for a meeting and the second to change a musical score.

7 Disbelievers find lies all over (8)
INFIDELS – An anagram (all over) of FIND LIES.  All over on its own does not work as an anagram indicator.  All over the place would be much better.

8 Get parliament to accept the end of taxes – most unworthy (8)
SEEDIEST – A three-letter word meaning get or understand followed by a four-letter word for a parliament around (to accept) the last letter (end) of taxes.

11 Secretly, Lawrence was an architect (4)
WREN – The answer is hidden in (secretly) in the second word of the clue.  Like Silvanus, I am not convinced by secretly as a hidden word indicator.  Perhaps Lawrence welcomes former architect would be better.

15 1 down Tory on a French instrument (9)
CONUNDRUM – A three-letter abbreviation for Tory followed by the French masculine singular for A and a four-letter word for a musical instrument.

17 16 is violent in drink (8)
BEWILDER – A four-letter word meaning violent inside a four-letter word for an alcoholic drink.

18 Some DNA under abandoned shop produces toxic gas … (8)
PHOSGENE – A four-letter word for some DNA under an anagram (abandoned) of SHOP.

20 … and so on. Hydrogen’s cut (4)
ETCH – A three-letter abbreviation meaning and so on followed by the chemical symbol of Hydrogen.

21 Uncomplaining on escaping from fantastic locations (7)
STOICAL – An anagram (fantastic) of LOCATIONS after removing (escaping) the ON from the clue.

22 Got on swallowing iodine, which will cure this (6)
GOITRE – The GOT from the clue and a two-letter word meaning on includes the chemical symbol of Iodine.  Another blip on the repetition radar with on having been used in 9a as the relevant indicator.

23 Government orders saint-killing to rise? (6)
EDICTS – The abbreviation for saint and the combining form of word meaning killing in homicide, fratricide, etc.

26 Fuel pottery centre (5)
STOKE – Double definition.  

28 comments on “Rookie Corner – 373

  1. A very definite thumbs up from us. And a ghost theme to have us scratching our heads too.
    Well put together and good fun.
    Thanks Median.

  2. Thanks Median but I have to say that, for me, it is probably not an improvement on your last Rookie. In particular, personally I am not a fan of ‘cross-referenced’ clues and I don’t think we see many of them, if any at all, in DT puzzles for example. So, the quantity you have included spoiled it for me.

    I don’t think the 24a reversed lurker works properly, but I will leave that to the experts.

    Also, and prefixing my comment with I only just scraped through English O-level many years ago, there seems to be a mixture of a verb and an adjective in 19a but I will be happy for the experts to prove me wrong.

    Thanks again.

  3. Thanks Median, an enjoyable puzzle with a nicely worked theme (personally I like cross-referenced clues!)
    I think Prolixic may well pick up on some technical/grammar issues, as some clues didn’t seem quite right, but I don’t think there was anything too major (ie unfair on the solver… though I did think 12a needed something more in the way of definition).
    For me, some of the surfaces needed a bit of polish – I think a few would struggle to pass the ‘pub test’ often referred to here. 9a might just scrape past that test – a very nice construction, but a more meaningful surface would’ve helped.
    Despite those reservations I did really enjoy solving – my favourites were 6d and 8d.
    Thanks again!

    1. I was aware that 12 across – LION-TAMER – was only vaguely defined, but thought there was enough of the ‘&lit’ factor to make it acceptable.

      1. Looks like Prolixic agrees (thanks for the review Prolixic!) and the &lit factor is indeed nice. Personally I do think it needed a little more (eg “I’m on alert, worried I might get a mauling from the big beasts at work”) but then again I’m in a minority re long clues … and maybe not in the best taste either!
        Anyway thanks again for the puzzle – a few technical issues and odd surfaces, yes, but for me it passed the main test – enjoyment – with flying colours.

  4. As others have said, some clues need polishing, but it passed the ‘can I solve it before my tea goes cold’ test.

    I did like 11d which has a hidden word indicator not in the list in the 12th edition of the BRB. Perhaps they should add it.

    Thanks to Median and, in advance, to Prolixic

  5. Thanks Median – that was enjoyable though, as others have said, some of the surfaces (e.g. 23d) are rather bizarre.
    My favourite clue was 8d.

  6. Many thanks, Median. A very pleasant start to a Bank Holiday Monday. Favourites were 12a, 16a, 19a, 30a and 15d. We can’t parse part of 9a and we weren’t aware of a ghost theme. Thoroughly enjoyed by us. Look forward to more from you.

    1. 9a…..A type of shoe without it’s last letter (finally caught), the usual abbreviation for on plus the three letter mine.

      1. 9a … The final letters of olD shoE plus the cricket abbreviation for ‘caught’ followed by ‘on’ (2) and ‘mine’ (3).

  7. Hello again, Median.

    As others have said, some of the surfaces were very unconvincing, but I surprised myself to learn that a carbon sink does actually exist (although it wasn’t quite what I was expecting). Although I enjoyed the solve, there were a number of technical issues in evidence, for instance 21a as written clues the god not the old crisis, “about” as a reversal indicator should follow not precede the word(s) it’s modifying. I’m hesitant about the validity of “secretly” in 11a, but in any case constructions should always be in the present tense wherever possible, so it would be better expressed as “…is an architect”. To me, “all over” in 7d suggests a reversal not an anagram, “all over the place” would do the trick though. My ticks went to 14a, 29a and 8d.

    Like Senf, I’m not a fan of cross-referenced clues either, but I’ve seen many examples where they were far more intrusive than they were here. Congratulations on producing another puzzle, Median, I hope your next will be even better. Thank you.

    1. Silvanus, regarding your comment about 11a, I agree that the present tense tends to work better in crosswords but it set me thinking. It occurred to me that I would never say or write “he is an architect” when referring to someone who has been dead for nearly 400 years. However, I would use the present tense in conjunction with an adjective, e.g. ” … is a famous architect” on the basis that although he is no longer alive he is still very much revered. Is that logical?

      1. Yes, agreed RD because the ‘is’ is operating on ‘famous’, which he still is, whereas he is not still an architect

      2. Hi RD, I suspect that Median was using the verbal phrase “was an architect” to be the definition, whereas I had read it as (“Secretly, Lawrence”) made (rather than makes) “an architect”. As you might gather, ‘m not a huge fan of using verbal phrases to clue nouns or proper nouns, to me this construction is synonymous really to saying just “designed buildings” to define “architect”. In this case, I see nothing wrong with the present tense being used in the wordplay to lead to a definition of someone long dead, as it’s still wordplay makes (defines) definition.

    2. Good idea to have ‘all over the place’ as the anagram indicator in 7 down. As you say, ‘all over’ suggests a reversal. Thanks.

  8. A quickish solve, with just enough ‘doh’ moments for me. Spotted the theme towards the end. Linked clue are fine for me, provided I can solve them, otherwise they aren’t!

  9. Welcome back, Median. This was another ‘nearly but not quite’ puzzle for me, those surface reads really do need to improve!
    Issues such as the very loose definition in 12a, clueing the wrong word in 21a etc have already been covered by others and no doubt Prolixic will mention them in his review but those are things that could have been picked up by a test solver – I wonder whether you have one on board?
    On the question of interlinked clues, I think I’m in the ‘no thank you’ camp overall. As John H commented above, they’re fine if you can solve them – perhaps best to use them very sparingly?

    Thanks for bringing us another compilation, I’ll look forward to seeing some super-smooth surfaces next time!

  10. Welcome back, Median. I agree with pretty much everything that the previous commentators have written and, in particular, I can simply say “ditto” to Jane’s remarks @9.

    8d was my favourite.

    Well done and thank you, Median. Please polish up your surfaces, pay heed to Prolixic’s comments, and then hurry back with another puzzle for us to enjoy.

  11. Hi Median – thanks for another puzzle
    This is a reasonable puzzle spoiled my some poor surfaces and grammatical inaccuracies – much the same as your last, sorry to say
    My queries have mostly been covered by earlier comments but 24a is another that is not quite right – ‘recalls’ would need to be ‘recalled’ at the very least
    Also agree with Silvanus on the word order for ‘about’ and the use of ‘all over’
    Perhaps the interlinked clues set me off on a bad footing; they irritate me and are only to be used if there is a good reason for doing so
    I am a little surprised that one or two of these errors slipped through the net; you should recognise these things by now I would have thought
    A good effort which was enjoyable on the whole, but the devil is in the detail
    Absorb Prolixic’s invaluable feedback and I’m sure your next will be much improved

  12. I’m not someone who usually pays a great deal of attention to surface reads unless they stick out like a sore thumb for whatever reason, but even I noticed some were a little strange, but (giving you the benefit of the doubt) maybe that was because I’d read previous comments.
    People far more qualified than me will have pointed out any technical faults so I’ll accentuate the positives and say overall I enjoyed it, particularly 1/5,14,27&29a plus 2,8&26d. I did get slightly befuddled at one point by all the linked clues though!
    Thanks and well done Median.

  13. Overall there was more to like than to dislike so it’s thumbs up for me.
    And dislike is certainly too strong a term for the clues that didn’t reach the standards of a publishable crossword.
    I’m sure Prolixic will give you the right advice for those.
    Really liked the Athlete in 3d and the accuracy of 22d.
    I don’t mind cross referencing clues and appreciated the 25/30 va et vient.
    Thanks for the fun and look forward to your next one.

  14. As usual I’ve not read anyone else’s comments so I may be duplicating (or possibly contradicting) what others have said – and I’ll leave detailed criticism to Prolixic.
    I found this a straightforward and fairly quick solve. The only clue that really jarred was 21ac which to me is the wrong way round – it tells the solver to reverse the crisis to get the god as the answer, whereas it’s the crisis which is the answer.
    On the positive side I liked 13ac, the linking of 25ac and 30ac, the use of one answer as the definition for another (16ac/17dn and 1dn/15dn) and the linked surfaces of 18dn and 20dn.
    A pleasant diversion whilst enjoying the sunshine. Thanks, Median.

  15. Thanks for the puzzle Median. I like some of the ideas here, notably the ‘calls its name’ part of 2d and the wordplay ideas behind 12a and 7d.

  16. Thanks a lot for the comments, folks, especially those from Prolixic. As with my previous puzzle, I’m struck by the differences of opinion about some of the clues. Another illustration, I guess, of the lesson I learned years ago as a lecturer: you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

    Anyway, down to some specifics. Prolixic’s point about cross-referenced clues being fiddly when solving on screen is very interesting and had never occurred to me. I tend to be a late adopter of technologies and am still firmly in the groove of solving on paper. I’ll bear the point in mind for the future.

    Still on cross-referenced clues, I was already aware of the danger of over-using them. As a solver, I’ve been irritated when there are lots and the puzzle just feels like a tangled mess. I did think three – as here – would be OK.

    I do agree that some of the clues were clunky. I’m working on it, but – as in life more generally – I find it really hard to be smooth all the time!

    Reading of the ‘repetition radar’ here proved better than mine. I’d combed the puzzle looking for repetition, but missed the remaining instances, even though one of them was in consecutive clues (16 and 19 across). Hmm.

    As for the use of ‘about’ as a reversal indicator, I wasn’t aware of the ‘rule’ that it should follow the word or letters to be reversed. Thanks for that.

    With 24 across, I accept the point about hidden clues not ending at a word boundary.

    Overall, I’m encouraged by the responses to my second offering here. Thanks again, everyone.

  17. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, always some good lessons to be learned from your words of wisdom although I do wish you were a little less lenient where surface reads are concerned!

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