Rookie Corner – 374 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 374

A Puzzle by Tater

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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.

Tater has given us a well executed crossword with varied wordplay and sensible surface readings.  There are a handful of areas were the cryptic grammar could be improved but there were no major issues.  The commentometer reads as 2.5/29 or 8.6%.


1 Party the Parisian bishop gatecrashed for a piece of cake (6)
DODDLE – A two-letter word for a party followed by the abbreviation for doctor of divinity and the French masculine singular for the.  Not all bishops are doctors of divinity and not all doctors of divinity are bishops but there is enough of an overlap In previous usage.

4 First to abandon Wesleyan approach (6)
METHOD – A nine-letter word for a Wesleyan without the final three letters that look list 1st.

9 Hue and cry – criminal doctor escapes (4)
CYAN – An anagram (criminal) of AND CRY without (escapes) the abbreviation for doctor.

10 Syllabuses in favour of the alternative weight spelling (10)
PROGRAMMES – A three-letter word meaning in favour of followed by the alternative spelling of grams.

11 See returning king clothed in silver primarily showing diamond motif? (6)
ARGYLE – A single letter abbreviation for king inside (clothed in) the chemical symbol for silver before (primarily) a reversal (returning) of a three-letter word name of a diocese (see).

12 Tight-lipped one engaging in diplomacy given run around (8)
TACITURN – The letter representing one inside a four-letter word meaning diplomacy followed by an anagram (around) of run.

13 Unpredictable day for lift attendant? (2-3-4)
UP-AND-DOWN – The rise and fall of the lift containing the attendant gives the solution.  Perhaps “like a day…” or “Description of lift-attendant’s day is unpredictable” might be better.

15 Regretted sounding bad-mannered (4)
RUED – A homophone (sounding) of rude (bad-mannered).

16 Where to go to overindulge (4)
TOWN – The word that completes the phrase “go to…” as a synonym for overindulge.

17 Laurel perhaps starts to climb higher in October needing support (9)
STANCHION – The name of the comedian Laurel of Laurel and Hardy fame followed by the initial letters (starts to) the fifth to ninth words of the clue. 

21 Eligible academic perhaps (8)
BACHELOR – Double Definition of a single man and someone who has passed their first university degree.

22 The odds are one-sided (6)
UNEVEN – A description 2-4 of odd numbers and a word meaning one sided.

24 Reporters piece-work (6,4)
COLUMN INCH – Cryptic definition of how a reporter may be paid.  I don’t think that this is a particularly good cryptic definition.  Solvers are like only to twig this with the cross-checking letters in place.

25 Ford part found in Valparaiso lockup (4)
SOLO – A role played by Harrison Ford is hidden in the final two words of the clue.

26 Marsh harriers? (6)
MIDGES – Cryptic definition of the biting insects that may harry you when walking through marches.

27 Parking in lay-by – surprisingly not where the real action is (2-4)
BY PLAY – An anagram (surprisingly) of P(parking) LAY BY.  As the letters to be re-arranged simply involve moving the BY to the front of the letters given, this is not really a challenging anagram.  


1 Spooner reportedly to assess salad dressing for picnic? (3,4)
DAY TRIP – A homophone (reportedly) of a Spoonerism of RATE (assess) DIP (salad dressing).  I think that dip for salad dressing is a bit of a stretch.

2 Desperate character unpacked deadly blade (5)
DANDY – The comic character who was “desperate” followed by the outer letters (unpacked) of Dandy.

3 Follow speech in silence (3-4)
LIP-READ – What a deaf person may do to follow someone speaking.

5 Rhine cruise at the start needs reorganising to improve (6)
ENRICH – An anagram (need reorganising) of RHINE C (cruise at the start).

6 Latest about setter – pity it’s not good news (4,5)
HOME TRUTH – A three-letter word describing the latest news around (about) a two-letter word for the setter followed by a four-letter word meaning pity.

7 Sanguine undercover Bolshevik? (4,3)
DEEP RED – The colour of blood (sanguine) could be described by an undercover Bolshevik.

8 What gourmet in confusion calls toothsome (5-8)
MOUTH-WATERING – A nicely spotted anagram (in confusion) of WHAT GOURMET.  I am less sure that wordplay calls definition works though.  Perhaps describes “toothsome”.

14 Hospital featuring in latest report for hard-line journalist (9)
NEWSHOUND – The abbreviation for hospital inside (featuring in) a three-letter word meaning latest and a five-letter word meaning a report or sound.

16 Upset Romeo at cafe (7)
TEAROOM – An anagram (upset) of ROMEO AT.

18 Any thug could be mischievous (7)
NAUGHTY – An anagram (could be) of ANY THUG.

19 Perhaps throw some balls, then rest (7)
OVERLAY – A type of fabric throw comes from four-letter word for some balls in cricket and a three-letter word meaning rest.

20 Fair to take place outside the capital? That’s not on! (6)
BLONDE – A two-letter word meaning to a take place outside the capital of England without the On.

23 Stand for old PM losing his head whilst being installed (5)
EASEL – A four-letter word being the name of an old Prime-minister without the initial letter (losing his head) into which you add (being installed) a two-letter word meaning whilst.  The structure here of definition for wordplay does not work.

35 comments on “Rookie Corner – 374

  1. An enjoyable solve that was not a 1a for us. Not sure that the 1d Spoonerism quite works but lots of other really good clues to keep us amused.
    Thanks Tater.

  2. Very enjoyable and I probably found it more of a 1a than the 2Kiwis did. I support their comment on 1d – there seems to be a surplus letter in the ‘pre-Spoonered’ phrase. But, perhaps, as Spoonerisms are not one of my strong points, I have misinterpreted it.

    A Hmm on 26a as I don’t know enough about them, but I suppose like other creatures of their ilk they start off in marshy or boggy ground.

    Some clever clue constructions to mislead and/or confuse the solver such as 11a and 20d.

    I did like 1a, 12a, and 24a.

    Thanks Tater and in advance to Prolixic.

    1. S. I think you’re right about 1d. The pre-Spoonered phrase (4,3 as opposed to the 3,4 in the answer) seems to have a superfluous A in the first word. But, we may have both missed something …

      1. I took the source phrase to be RATE DIP which the good Reverend converts to DATE RIP, which is a homophone of the answer (although I am unconvinced that the answer is adequately defined by “picnic?”)

      2. Thanks to both. It looks like, together, you have demonstrated why it is not the best Spoonerism ever.

  3. An enjoyable accompaniment to my breakfast – the RH side was more of a 1a than the left. We do have a lot of 26 here on the marshes but we also have the birds in the wordplay so I was confused for a short while! I agree with the foreign correspondents’ views on the Spoonerism, not least because I’m not convinced that the item in part of the word play is really ‘salad dressing’

    Thanks Tater and in advance to Prolixic

  4. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Tater. I think this was pitched just right and it was good to see that you have eliminated the niggly typos that slightly spoilt your previous submission. You have managed to produce generally smooth surfaces without affecting the accuracy of the wordplay, and this was was great fun to solve.

    I have only very few minor comments:
    10a – I can’t decide if this quite works. Perhaps “an” instead of “the” would have been better?
    27a – This anagram is rather weak as the solver is presented with P LAY-BY to convert to BY-PLAY.
    1d – I thought this was a bit of a dodgy Spoonerism with a bit of a dodgy definition (even with the ?)

    My crowded podium comprises: 1a, 9a, 25a, 26a & 19d.

    Congratulations and thank you, Tater. Please keep them coming. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

  5. The suspect Spoonerism aside I thought that this was a top-rate puzzle – many thanks to Tater.
    My ticks went to 24a (although I think it needs an apostrophe), 2d, 6d, 14d and 19d.
    More like this please.

  6. Thanks Tater, top stuff and perfectly in the Goldilocks zone.
    The Spoonerism didn’t work, as others have mentioned – also agree with RD on 27a being a little weak, and with Gazza re apostrophe in 24a, – but otherwise excellent throughout with some very good surfaces and clever misdirection.
    Too many good clues to pick a favourite really, but amongst those in contention – 9a, 12a, 25a (very nice definition), 26a, 2d, 3d, 6d, 14d.
    Thanks again! And thanks in advance to Prolixic for review (also belatedly for NTSPP review yesterday!)
    (PS probably not quite right re cryptic grammar, and mix of Spooner/homophone, but…”Has Spooner picked up much French dressing for picnic? (3,4)” … ah well, it amused me anyway)

    1. Thanks Fez. Goldilocks zone is a fine place to be described.
      If solvers think a Spooner doesn’t quite work, you hold your hands up. I did add the homophone indicator at the twelfth hour but will be very reluctant to use a Spooner in future. Not least because not many people like them even if perfectly executed.
      27a – weak anagram, but thought it did “paint a picture”.

  7. Good morning all, and thanks for your lovely comments.
    Dressing is in Chambers as a synonym for dip, but I know what you (all) mean.
    Spooner to get a wide berth in future!

  8. Everything that I was going to say has already been covered above, so I would just add my congratulations to Tater on a fine puzzle. More of the same, please!

  9. Welcome back, Tater.

    I enjoyed solving this one, particularly the anagrams, although 27a was probably the weakest example. I would have preferred something along the lines of “Like an…” to precede 13a, but most of the constructions were fair and generally the surfaces stood up to scrutiny. My podium consists of 25a, 16d and 18d.

    Well done, keep it up! Many thanks, Tater.

  10. Hi Tater, as a fellow Rookie, I enjoyed this – not least because it shows real advancement from your last puzzle. Progress is possible (I keep telling myself!!!
    Clues were inventive and entertaining with ticks going to 4a, 12a, 15a, 26a, 5d and 14d. I had a couple of ???? which may just be down to me as others haven’t mentioned them, but they are very minor.
    1d Can’t see bishop strictly indicating the intended letters (though it didn’t prevent solving). Puzzled why you chose that when other words would have done (eg doctor, theologian)
    23d You have definition for wordplay, which I think breaks the “rules” – Prolixic will confirm if this is right. But it is easily fixed with MADE BY instead of FOR
    But other than that, it’s a good’un!!

    1. hi Dr Diva, I shared your reservation re the bishop in 1a … but it’s there in Chambers Crossword Dictionary. I think it may be specifically a Catholic bishop; I agree ‘doctor’ or ‘theologian’ may have been preferable. And good spot – plus good ‘correction’ – for 23d.

      1. The DD for bishop came up quite recently in a Giovanni back pager, so you’re in solid company Tater

      2. I’ve seen DD for bishop many, many times over the decades:

        Doctor of Divinity by country or church
        British Isles
        In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the degree is a higher doctorate conferred by universities upon a religious scholar of standing and distinction, usually for accomplishments beyond the Ph.D. level. Bishops of the Church of England have traditionally held Oxford, Cambridge, Dublin, or Lambeth degrees making them Doctors of Divinity. At the University of Oxford, Doctors of Divinity are ranked first in “academic precedence and standing”.[3] At the University of Cambridge, they rank ahead of all other doctors in the “order of seniority of graduates”

    2. Hi DD, thanks for the thumbs up, glad you enjoyed it.
      Didn’t think twice with the DD bishop as I have seen it used many times before.
      Really annoyed that you spotted the flaw in 23d as I thought I might have got away with it (until tomorrow at least). The puzzle was done a good few months ago, and I recently put together a simple excel spreadsheet that shows up and counts all abbreviations, indicators, link-words etc. I did wonder about tickling up the clue, but decided that was where I was when I wrote it and so let it stand.

      1. Lol. Not a hanging offence I suspect (especially when easily fixed) and nothing that detracts from the clear progress you have made. I can only aspire to the achieve the same!

        1. We’ll see. I am certainly looking forward to your next.
          Be about September, I calculate, the way things are going with all the lock-down would-be compilers.

  11. Hello again, Tater. Good to see that you’ve rid yourself of any pesky typos this time!
    I had the same reservations as others over the Spoonerism and the rather weak anagram at 27a and I agree with Silvanus that 13a would have benefitted from the insertion of ‘like an’ at the beginning. Interesting to see that the answer also popped up in this morning’s back-pager.
    Not keen on 26a but that could be down to personal preference.
    My favourites come, as usual, from the shorter clues – 21&24a plus 3d.

    Thank you, Tater, good to see you back again.

    1. Thanks Jane, that spell-checker in Crossword Compiler that I didn’t know about is a Godsend.

  12. Really enjoyed this Tater. Didn’t find it a 1a but after a slow start I worked through at a respectable pace. Am afraid I’m nonplused by the Spoonerism & 26a was an educated bung in but otherwise think I have them all parsed as you intended.
    Many thanks & more of this ilk always welcome.

    1. Nice comments thanks H.
      I wish I’d never heard of Spooner now.
      Still, you should have seen my first offering for that word :-)

  13. Some really clever stuff here Tater, with credible surfaces, I thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it comparable in quality to Saturday’s excellent NTSPP (though a little more gentle!)
    I particularly liked 1,9,12&16a plus 3d&18d.
    Many thanks to you and in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Thanks Stephen. Comments like those really do fire a chap up to start another!
      9a was my favourite.

  14. I’ve no problem with the spoonerism – in fact it raised a smile from this jaundiced old bu??er. Thanks Tater for an enjoyable solving session & of course to Prolixic as per.

    1. For me, the Spoonerism didn’t work because it was a two-stage process – first the homophone DATE RIP, then the Spoonerism – which is a bit of a trapdoor ie easy enough going one way but v difficult in reverse (as required by the solver).
      I think it needed one or the other – either just the homophone (“sounds like date rip”) or the Spooner (“Spooner’s tray dip”). The Spoonerism has to be sort of ‘natural’ mixing up the initial sounds (not just initial letters) eg CAT FLAP could be Spoonerised to FLAT CAP but not FAT CLAP..
      Well that’s how I see it anyway!
      Many thanks for the review Prolixic and again for the excellent puzzle Tater :-)

  15. I find a crossword most enjoyable when, after a couple of readings- through, I think: ” I cannot do any of these”, and then, with some perseverance, I go on to finish it.
    That was the case with this one, well, almost.
    Spoonerisms I hate, and 11 across was new to me.
    Thanks, Tater, you made my day.

  16. Thanks everybody for your kind words and Prolixic for a great review.
    Thanks also to LBR for play-testing and guidance.
    I would like to publicly absolve LBR from any blame with the Spooner.
    His only involvement was to red-pen the original dreadful clue I had for “daytrip”.

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