Rookie Corner – 375 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Rookie Corner – 375

A Puzzle by Nudger

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we welcome a debut puzzle from Nudger. 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:

A warm welcome to Nudger with a good debut crossword.  Overall, the basics were there with only a handful of errors that can easily be corrected.  There were some comments about the length of clued.  However, this is a matter of style for the setter of the crossword, there are no hard and fast rules.   Nine anagrams is on the high side but you will often find more than nine in a nationally published puzzle.  The commentomter reads as 3.5/28 or 12.5%.


1 Monster hiding here? He’d be turned around (5,3,3)
UNDER THE BED – An anagram (around) of HED BE TURNED.

9 Insistence upper class rule without monarchy and without energy (7)
URGENCY – The abbreviation for upper class followed by a seven-letter word meaning rule without a monarchy without the first E (without energy).

10 Bung initially plugs hole in middle of gondola meandering somewhere in Italy (7)
BOLOGNA – The initial letter of bung replaces the middle letter in GONDOLA and the solution is an anagram (meandering) of GONBOLA.  Plugs hole in does not work for me as an instruction to replace a letter.

11 Scarlets, say, scrummaging, in two lines each, after 50-50 (8)
LLANELLI – An anagram (scrummaging) of IN LL (two lines) EA (each) after LL (50-50).  I think that this is too complex to be entirely fair to the solver.  You have a definition that requires a fair degree of general knowledge and an anagram where 4 out of six letters are derived from abbreviations.  

12 Last lap altercation (3-2)
RUN-IN – Double definition.

14 Walk backwards in quicker tempo (4)
TREK – The answer is hidden and reversed (backwards in) the final two words of the clue.

15 Hollow voice interrupting what might be said at the chalet bunks (6,3)
SKIVES OFF – The outer letters (hollow) of VOICE inside (interrupting) a phrase 4,3 that may be said at a chalet when winter sports enthusiasts arrive back and want to go inside.

17 Bricklayer’s rockery contains large sandstone formation? (5,4)
AYERS ROCK – The answer is hidden (contains) in the first two words of the clue.

19 Cutting first of claws turns dog into a bear (4)
POOH – The initial letter of claws is removed (cutting) for a five-letter word used informally to describe a dog.

21 About time, a knight returned and fought here? (5)
ARENA – Reverse (about) a three-letter word for a period of time and followed with a reversal (returned) of the A from the clue and the abbreviation for knight.  About as a reversal indicator does not work when it precedes the letters to be reversed.

22 Left-back ran around and had a tantrum (8)
STROPPED – A reversal (back) of a four-letter word meaning left on a ship has a four-letter word meaning ran around it.

25 Pleased drunk ran out (7)
ELAPSED – An anagram (drunk) of PLEASED.

26 I’ve heard song has arrived in African country (7)
TUNISIA – A homophone (I’ve heard) of TUNE IS HERE.

27 Starts to bake a nice “apple n almond” brioche, to study cake (6,5)
BANANA BREAD – The initial letters (starts of) of the first seven words of the clue followed by a four-letter word meaning to study.


1 Improve source of Danube in Prague perhaps (7)
UPGRADE – The initial letter (source) of Danube in an anagram (perhaps) of Prague.

2 Reception might see your first, and possibly children’s first, English (5)
DANCE – An anagram (possibly) of AND followed by the first letter of children and the abbreviation for English.  Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators.  Here first as an initial letter indicator has been used in 19a.

3 Old French king, according to James VI for example, holds gold cup (5,5)
ROYAL ASCOT – A three-letter word being the old French for king followed by a phrase 1,2 meaning according to and a four letter word for the nationality of James VI.  

4 Centres of Wolverhampton, South Edinburgh and Bristol become focal points (4)
HUBS – The central letters of Wolverhampton, South, Edinburgh Bristol.

5 Gives a false impression about French towers (8)
BELFRIES – A six-letter word meaning gives a false impression around the abbreviation for French.

6 Start meal, as above, replacing first Tango with booze (3,4)
DIG INTO – A six-letter word meaning as above with the first T (Tango) replaced by a three-letter word for a type of alcoholic spirit.

7 Horror comedy about a fated she-hound (5,2,3,4)
SHAUN OF THE DEAD – An anagram (about) of A FATED SHE HOUND.

8 A hateful damsel in distress gives the order to move quickly (4,5,5)
FULL STEAM AHEAD – An anagram (in distress) of A HATEFUL DAMSEL.

13 TT bike cuts out: find a receipt (6,4)
TICKET STUB – An anagram (out) of TT BIKE CUTS.  It is good practice to try and mix wordplay devices between clues.  Three anagrams in a row begins to make the crossword feel a little stilted.

16 Murderer to offend, like soldiers before (8)
ASSASSIN – A three-letter word meaning to offend with a two-letter word meaning like and the abbreviation for an elite group of soldiers before it.

18 I’ve heard you hit newcomer on the farm (3,4)
EWE LAMB – An homophone (I’ve heard) of YOU LAM (hit).  Another wordplay repetition.  I’ve heard was used as a wordplay indicator in 26a.

20 Incompatible work presented (7)
OPPOSED – A two-letter word for work followed by a five-letter word meaning presented.

23 16th Century in North-East where French originated (5)
OUNCE – The abbreviation for century in the abbreviation for North East with the French word for where before it (originated).  I don’t think that 16th is sufficient as a definition.

24 Centipede nests overshadowing garden (4)
EDEN – The answer is hidden (overshadowing) in the first two words of the clue.

47 comments on “Rookie Corner – 375

  1. 11a was a real test of our ‘General’ knowledge but we did work out a possibility from the wordplay and Google checked.
    A few details which we will leave for Prolixic to deal with but an enjoyable puzzle to solve for us.
    Thanks Nudger.
    PS. The enumeration for 3d should be (5,5) and not (5,4) as it shows at present.

  2. Quite enjoyable but somewhat spoiled by some very wordy clues, nine clues with nine words or more (I needed a second sheet of my smaller than A4 North American paper), and what some might consider to be a high anagram count – it was certainly beginning to get up there with seven.

    As the 2Kiwis said the enumeration for 3d is incorrect.

    Some specific comments:

    11a – I don’t think there is enough indication to link Scarlets to the answer, so quite specialised GK required.

    17a – Perhaps you should have indicated that the answer is the ‘old’ (no longer PC?) name for the sandstone formation (it is now known by its Aboriginal name).

    21a – I will be interested to read what Prolixic says in reference to the reversal indicator coming first.

    26a and 18d – Usage of the same homophone indicator and I don’t think that the ‘has arrived’ part of 26a quite works (for me).

    23d – Perhaps there should be some indication that the 16th is a weight.

    I did like 9a and 27a.

    Thanks Nudger.

    1. Really appreciate the feedback, Senf. I’ll work on the wordiness/conciseness (concision??) of the clues.

      Agreed re the renaming of 17a. It didn’t cross my mind though should have really. And I’ll await Prolixic’s comments on the reversed reversal indicator (though I can guess what the conclusion will be!)

      Varying my indicators is a definite target to take forward though some people seem to like 26a!

      And I’ve absolutely messed up 23d so a lesson to be learned there!

      Thanks again!

  3. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Nudger. I enjoyed the solve. This was an impressive debut puzzle – was it your first?

    Several of your surface readings were rather strained, particularly for some of your longer clues. For most new setters this is the hardest aspect to get right. It is better to master the basics first (which, on the evidence of this puzzle, I believe you are well on the way already) and then work on the surfaces.

    Prolixic will cover the technical aspects in his detailed review. At this stage I will just mention:
    – 11a is not quite an indirect anagram but four of the six letters of the fodder are derived from abbreviations. I’ll be interested to learn Prolixic’s view on whether or not this is acceptable.
    – 17a is technically fine, but it is too easy to spot the two-word lurker as the same split occurs in the fodder.
    – 26a doesn’t work for me as a homophone. I would suggest changing the clue to “some might hear …” [NB: you have used the same homophone indicator in 18d]
    – 3d: I think it’s a bit of a stretch to use an archaic foreign word even though you have clearly indicated its provenance. [BTW the enumeration should read (5,5) not (5,4)].
    – 23d: the definition is incorrect.
    – Initially I thought there was no clue for 24d, but I found it on p2 of the pdf file. [I don’t know if the formatting of the pdf file is the setter’s responsibility or not].

    I gave ticks to 19a, 4d, 5d & 18d, the last of which qualifies as an excellent homophone!

    Well done and many thanks, Nudger. Please follow Prolixic’s advice, polish up your surface readings, and do keep them coming. Thanks in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Hi Rabbit Dave. It was indeed my first, written a month or so ago and I already feel I’ve learned so much in the meantime!

      Surface reading is definitely something I’m keen to improve and I did actually redraft a few, sacrificing surface for technical tightness: I guess a combo of the two is where it’s at!

      Thanks so much for the in-depth feedback. I agree re 11a. I felt it was a tad too clunky for a “charades/anagram” but thought it just about worked! On reflection, given others had issues with the GK element, a rewrite would have been better! I also agree with 17a.

      26a and 3d I think I’m ok with…just! But probably only because others have liked them!

      Cheers again. N

  4. Welcome to Rookie Corner Nudger. 19a was my favourite

    Others have already mentioned the things I’d marked but I’d also say that in 11a as well as the anagram possibly being indirect, the solution also relies on General Knowledge. You have some very long clues which sadly led to the tiny clue for 24d ending up all on its own at the top of a second piece of A4 paper :( In addition to the comments from Prolixic and suggestions from others, you might want to look at things such as the variety of clue types (you have three anagrams in a row in the Downs)

    Thanks to you and in advance to Prolixic

    1. Many thanks for the feedback crypticsue. I was pleased when I cane up with 19a! Looking forward to the prolixic words of wisdom already!

  5. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Nudger.
    This was an enjoyable puzzle. Most of my concerns have been dealt with in earlier comments. Some of the definitions (e.g. 11a and 23d) are not great and nine anagrams is on the high side.
    The clues I ticked were 19a, 22a and 5d.
    Do take note of Prolixic’s wise words.

        1. All I can recall is that you expected me to know who the Scarlets are because I live in Wales!

  6. Welcome Nudger!

    Some good clues here: I noted 4d, 6d, 16d, 20d & 22d. I didn’t mind having to guess some missing General Knowledge. Unconvinced by the definition in 23d, unless I haven’t spotted something!

    I look forward to the next!


  7. Many thanks, Nudger, an enjoyable puzzle. 23d took us a while as we couldn’t work out what we needed and we didn’t know the film in 7d – last in. We look forward to your next crossword and to the review by Prolixic.

  8. Welcome Nudger.

    The written comments I made when solving the puzzle are very similar to those of previous commenters, I’d just add that, like Median a fortnight ago, if “about” is intended as a reversal indicator, then it should follow not precede the letters or word(s) to be reversed (21a). I’d also suggest that having two four-letter lurkers in a single puzzle is at least one too many. Technically, for a debut puzzle, this was a promising effort, I did feel that several of the surfaces were very “crosswordy”, i.e. not natural, but I’d hope that would become less evident in future submissions.

    Well done on producing a creditable first puzzle that was enjoyable to solve. Thank you, Nudger.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, silvanus.

      I take the point re the reversal indicator (though ‘about time’ felt so much better for the surface reading… so I thought I’d invent the verb ‘to about’!!!). Would a phrase like “Turn back time” be acceptable?

      Definitely looking to work on surface readings going forwards. It’s funny how so many of them feel natural when written but seem less so when read!

      Thanks again. N

  9. Thanks Nudger, an enjoyable crossword with some very good clues.
    It did seem a little anagram-heavy – especially with three in a row at one point – although I thought both 1a and 8d were particularly good anagrams… and it was nice to see 7d in a puzzle too!
    The homophone at 26a was just about OK, ie gettable with a bit of a groan (not a bad thing!), and a good homophone at 18d, shame it used the same indicator.
    11a I needed Google, but it was vaguely familiar and as the surface itself provided a good hint of what to look for, I think this was OK (not sure it even needed the ‘say’?) … for 23d, though, I do think the definition is insufficient on its own (in fact, on its own it might be more commonly used to refer to a fraction of the answer itself)
    3d enumeration was wrong – an easy mistake but it did throw me for a while!
    17a really does need an indication that the term is ‘controversial’ and no longer in use (plus it was not especially well ‘hidden’)
    I also liked 15a, 6d, 16d, 20d … for me, top spot went to 2d – however, on a very pedantic note (sorry!), I wasn’t keen on the big blocks in the grid – both 2d and 23d could easily have had another letter (eg add an R to 2d and a P to 23d) to create a nicer grid – but perhaps that’s just me!
    All in all an enjoyable solve and a lot of promise, I’m looking forward to the next Nudger.
    Thanks again!

    1. Many thanks, Fez, for the feedback and the groan! I agree it has almost ‘Everyman’ levels of anagrams. I’ll work on more of a spread of clues going forward.

      I also dislike big chunks of black so am a little annoyed I missed those easy fixes! I think I was more concerned with the two unches in the corners!

      I think I’ve addressed all your other points in above responses and they’re all absolutely fair so thanks so much for them.


  10. As a fellow Rookie and rubbish solver, I solved it!! So you’ve passed the first test of gracefully losing the solver v setter battle!!!
    I agree with others that surfaces need to improve (does 9a even make sense?) but, as others have said, it will come. That and a wider variety of clues. But this is a great forum for getting good feedback and everyone is very supportive, so stick at it!!
    My only quibbles are the 18d homophone. I guessed the answer but the 2nd word is not a homophone for hit, unless I am missing something, and I am really not sure that 23d is a fair definition but we’ll see what Prolixic says.
    But overall a good first attempt (and better than mine!)

    1. To ‘lam’ is to beat or thrash, so I do think it works using the second word as a homophone.

      1. Ahh! Well, that shows how much I know! I was reading ‘lamp’ which has a similar meaning. Thanks for the correction Mustafa.

    2. Hi Dr Diva! Congrats on your victory! Maybe we’re on a rookie setters’ wavelength!

      9a sort of makes a little sense probably, possibly, in the kind of dystopian world where the upper classes are forced to rule… because the monarchy has been deposed…yet they’re reluctant to do so, y’know…

      And I 100% agree on 23d!

      Thanks for the encouragement.

  11. Must say I did enjoy this puzzle, for which many thanks to you Nudger. Although somewhat wordy and with too many anagrams, it would not have been out of place as an early-week backpager, IMV, and it was certainly a slightly more challenging solve than some recent Saturday prize puzzles.

    I felt the degree of GK required was reasonable, and certainly more current (even with 17a) than is required by some of the established setters. 11a I knew and got the answer, but failed entirely to parse it; as has been said above, without a qualifier the non-PC 17a might bother some people more than it concerned me; I laughed out loud at the homphone in 26a.

    Hon. mentions to 19a, 25a, 26a, 27a, 2d, 4d, 5d and 7d, and 23d my COTD.

    1. Wow! Many thanks for the kind words Mustafa G.

      And not that I want you to take any of it back… but I’ve been agreeing with others that 23d doesn’t work. Yet it’s your COTD. Maybe you saw what I was getting at but didn’t quite achieve!

      Cheers again,

  12. Welcome to the Corner, Nudger. As others have commented, this was quite a good effort for a debut puzzle and I doubt that Prolixic will find too many technical issues – probably just those already mentioned. However, Silvanus put it extremely well when he said that several clues were very ‘crosswordy’ – it was as if the solver was reading through the thought processes involved in constructing a clue rather than being presented with the finished article. Perhaps that’s something you could work on for next time?
    Well done for braving the den, Nudger, I hope you’ll feel encouraged to return.

    1. Many thanks, jane!

      After reading the feedback, I’m already working on number 2 so have certainly not been discouraged!

  13. Well, I have a full grid with quite a few bung-ins waiting for tomorrow’s review, but I did rather enjoy the process!
    I thought the homophone at 18d was OK. The one at 26a might need a little something extra.
    The answer I have at 23d was the only word I could fit in, and it took a while to click that it might indeed be the “correct” answer.
    Lots of good ideas, and will look forward to your next.

    1. Many thanks, Tater.

      Maybe 26a needs a ‘South East/Cockney’ pronunciation indicator?

      I look forward to my next, too. If only to put right the wrongs!

  14. Hi Nudger. I haven’t read any previous comments except the first one but I’m sure the great and the good on here will have given you any technical guidance. I have a full grid and more or less all of the parsing though there are one or two where I’ll be particularly interested in Prolixic’s comments.
    From a purely enjoyment point of view I thought it was great, contemporary and refreshing with some really good ideas.
    I liked 1a (though thought “communist” might have been better than monster), thought 9&10&15a clever, loved the lol homophone at 26a and ticked with 4&5d too.
    No problem at all with 17a other than it being a tad “jumps right out at you”.
    For me personally more fun than today’s back pager but not as polished so well done.

    1. Wow! Many thanks for your kind words Stephen L. And glad you liked 26a which seems to have split the crowd a little.

      Agreed I missed a trick with monster/communist!


  15. Time has escaped this evening so I have not had time to write the review. It will have to await Tuesday evening for preparation and posting.

  16. Late to this as a pre lights out.solve. I’d fully endorse Stephen’s first paragraph in comment 14. For a first effort I thought it was excellent & fun to solve.
    Big ticks for me were 1,9,19&27a plus 2,3,4,6,16&18d.
    Yes there some flaws & too many anagrams but I look forward to your next effort.
    Well done

  17. Really enjoyed this challenge & well done to Nudger especially as it is his first puzzle! As always, GK is easy if you know the answer!! Personally, I am happy with some anagrams as they help me get started if I am struggling so, not all bad!! 6D was clever & my favourite and, whilst perhaps not technically correct, I enjoyed getting 23D!! Look forward to the next one, Nudger; thanks :)

  18. No complaints from this solver. Thanks to Nudger & Prolixic in advance. I solved this sat in the sunshine while waiting for the granddaughter to wake up from her pm nap. Most satisfactory expenditure of time.

  19. I’ve not read any other comments so there may be some duplication. However, this was an enjoyable solve with some good ideas but I thought some clues could have dome with a bit of attention to detail.
    I liked 19ac, 22ac, 5dn and 6dn – and a ‘bonus point’ for 6dn for the use of ‘first’ to specify which of two repeated letters to remove.
    On the other hand the surface of 9ac didn’t make sense – did a link word such as ‘of’ after ‘insistence’ somehow get lost? And in 10ac ‘plugs hole in’ rather implies that the B (bung initially) should come somewhere in the middle of the word. I thought 17ac was a bit too obvious and I’m not sure that ‘ran out’ is an accurate definition in 25ac.
    A worthy debut, though, and I’ll look forward to your next appearance.

  20. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, I would think that Nudger will be more than happy with his ‘scores on the doors’!

  21. Wow. Thanks Prolixic. Really chuffed with that for my first attempt. I’ll work on all points raised for Crossword #2!

  22. I was able to answer this clue but did not understand it. Can someone explain the use of ‘an engineer’ in this clue?
    Clue. A non-drinker, an engineer, accepting tip for service. So, A non drinker =Att , An engineer =? , accepting tip = end, for service =Attendance.

    1. Welcome to the blog, Anthony.
      The last 4 letters of the answer are AN (from the clue) and CE (Civil Engineeer).

  23. (more catching up). I thought this was a fine puzzle, enjoyable and challenging to the end.
    Unlike the others, I thought what 23d was very clever — I liked the “lift and separate” necessary to parse “16th century” – then again I had the three checked letters by then so OUNCE was unavoidable.
    And to continue being slightly contrarian, I thought the “apple n almond” clue (27a) signaled too obviously the initialism. Perhaps even prefixing an apostrophe for “apple ‘n almond” might have slightly disguised it?

Comments are closed.