Rookie Corner – 376 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 376

A Puzzle by Hubble

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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 Hubble.  This was a distinct improvement on your first crossword.  Apart from a major blooper in 1a, most of the other issues were technical errors which can be eliminated with practice.  In terms of dictionaries, the main ones used by setters are Chambers, Collins and the Oxford Dictionary (not the massive version).  I would stick to definitions given in one of these and shun on-line dictionaries unless published by one of the three publishers who produce the standard works.  The commentometer reads as 3.5/29 or 12.1%


1 Boasted about vulgar broadcast (6)
CREWED – A homophone (broadcast) of crude (vulgar).  This clue does not work as the solution is only the past tense to have acted as part of a crew, not to have boasted.

4 Rate remainder while sleeping (2,4)
AT REST – A two-letter word meaning rate followed by a four-letter word meaning remainder.  Like others, I do not think that rate means at.  At can mean at a rate of, but that does not make the two synonymous.

8 Slash old boy replacing head of close-knit group (7)
OBLIQUE – The abbreviation for old boy replaces the initial letter (head of) a six-letter word for a close-knit group.

9 Lover of fine food from legendary river (7)
EPICURE – A four-letter word meaning legendary and a three-letter name of river.

11 In charge following one’s agreement first could be fancifully striving for perfection (10)
IDEALISTIC – The abbreviation for in charge comes after the letter representing one, a four-letter word for an agreement and the three letters you could use to represent first.

12 Wander around city, we’re told (4)
ROAM – A homophone (we’re told) of Rome (city).

13 Kill country tribe (5)
ICENI – A three-letter word (in America) meaning kill followed by the abbreviation for Northern Ireland (country).  The American derivation of the word kill should be indicated.

14 Bond doctor to cheap material, only don’t mention it (3,2,3)
NOT AT ALL – The eponymous Doctor in the Bond film followed by a three-letter word meaning cheap material and a three-letter word meaning only.  I think that relying only on a definition that is indicated as Shakespearean requires you to indicate this.

16 Reserve’s on ice mostly, not matching Yeager’s achievement? (8)
SUBSONIC – A three-letter word meaning a reserve maintaining the possessive from the clue followed by the ON in the clue and the first two letters (mostly) of ICE.

18 Looking sickly like woman in Glasgow, perhaps (5)
ASHEN – A two-letter word meaning like and a three-letter Scottish word for a woman.

20 Returning part of bootleg device, move cautiously (4)
EDGE – The answer is hidden and reversed (returning part) in the fourth and fifth words of the clue.

21 Put on train or horse drawn transport (10)
STAGECOACH – A five-letter word meaning put on (as a production) followed by a five-letter word meaning train or instruct.

23 Analyses poker game with bikers regularly (7)
STUDIES – A four-letter word for a type of poker game followed by the even letters (regularly) in bikers.

24 Small, so reconfigured races on slippery obstacle courses (7)
SLALOMS – An anagram (reconfigures) of SMALL SO.

25 Lawyer the lady’s following moves quickly (6)
DASHED – The abbreviation for an American lawyer followed by a four-letter word meaning the lady’s.  Again, the American definition should have been indicated.  As a lawyer in England, I am certain that lawyer on its own does not indicate an American origin.

26 Hint of saucy frolic in borders of privet (6)
PROMPT – A four-letter word for a sauce frolic inside the outer letters (borders of) privet.


1 Six-sided copper cot (5)
CUBED – The chemical symbol for copper followed by a three-letter word for a bed.

2 European leaders of maritime institute to judge member of gulf federation (7)
EMIRATE – The abbreviation for European followed by the initial letters (leaders) of maritime institute and a four-letter word meaning to judge.

3 Learning issue about game (9)
ERUDITION – A seven-letter word for an issue (in terms of a publication) around the abbreviation for rugby union (game).

5 Theme to choose endlessly (5)
TOPIC – The to from the clue followed by a four-letter word meaning to chose with the last letter removed (endlessly).

6 King trapped in bar passage (7)
EXCERPT – The abbreviation for Rex (king) inside a six-letter word meaning bar.

7 Sailor McCartney’s first to cover home with treated canvas (9)
TARPAULIN – A three-letter word for a sailor and the first name of McCartney followed by (to cover in a down clue) a two-letter word meaning home.  I am not too fussed about first to indicate the first name.  You could equally have McCartney, say, to indicate his first name.

10 Bird‘s hot stance excited (9)
STONECHAT – An anagram (excited) of HOT STANCE.

13 Overwhelmed aunt dined out (9)
INUNDATED – An anagram (out) of AUNT DINED.

15 Gypsy narrator absorbs most of party (9)
TRAVELLER – A six-letter word for a narrator include (absorbs) a four-letter word for a party with the final letter removed (most of).  Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators mostly (16a) and most of are too similar

17 Go in, doss about and cover balls with these, maybe (7)
SPEEDOS – A three-letter word meaning to micturate or go inside an anagram (about) of DOSS.

19 Cover Scottish smoke disperser for gangster (7)
HOODLUM – A four-letter word for a cover on a coat followed by a three-letter word Scottish word for a chimney (smoke disperser).

21 Material had influence reportedly (5)
SUEDE – A homophone (reportedly) of swayed (had influence).

22 Icy space traveller that may be studied using setter’s device (5)
COMET – What may be studied by the Hubble Telescope (when its on-board computer is working!).

37 comments on “Rookie Corner – 376

  1. An enjoyable solve for us.
    Appreciate that 17d might not be to everyone’s taste but it got a hearty guffaw from us.
    Thought the reference to setter’s name was clever in 22d.
    Can’t find any justification for the answer for 1a having the definition required for the clue, but got it anyway.
    Thanks Hubble.

  2. I was just about to turn in later than usual when I noticed that Rookie Corner had been posted so I thought I might as well solve it and comment before lights out.

    Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Hubble. It’s good to see no indirect anagrams this time round, but, as with your debut submission, I found this a bit of a curate’s egg. My main concern was your surface readings, which I felt fell into three categories: mostly fine; some slightly dodgy; and a few awful.

    Some specific comments:
    – Perhaps I am missing something in 1a, but the past tense of “crow” when it means to boast is “crowed” not “crewed”.
    – I can’t find anything to support AT in 4a meaning “rate”.
    – I was disappointed to find two unindicated American terms: “kill” in 13a, and the “lawyer” in 25a.
    – Strictly speaking, 15ds are not gypsies.
    – I am not sure if “first” in 7d is sufficient to clue McCartney’s first name, and I will be interested to see what Prolixic thinks about that.
    – The less said about 17d the better.

    On the plus side, I really liked 12a, 18a, 21a, 26a, 3d, 5d & 21d.

    Well done and thank you, Hubble. You are clearly a capable setter and have some interesting ideas. Do pay heed to Prolixic’s wise words and also please work on formulating consistently smooth surfaces.

    1. On 1a, RD, you are half right – the BRB (Rev 13th Ed) Page 371 shows the past tense of crow as crew or crowed so, I’m sorry Hubble, I don’t think crewed is a word in the sense of boasting (obviously it is when crewing a ship, etc).

      1. Morning, Senf. I’m a bit puzzled by your “half right” comment about 1a when I said that crowed is the past tense of crow in the specific sense of crow required by the clue (i.e. to boast). Crew is the past tense of crow only when referring to a cockerel’s call and so not relevant to this clue.

        As you correctly say, crewed does exist as a word as the past tense of crew when referring to the people who operate a ship.

        Isn’t the English language wonderful?

        1. I was probably trying to be a little too clever which, with my ‘bare pass’ at English O-level, was not a wise thing to attempt.

          But, isn’t a cockerel crowing boasting? :wink:

  3. Thanks Hubble for an enjoyable and reasonably straightforward second Rookie which was much better than your first one.

    I agree with most of RD’s comments but I would add that 17d may get you noticed by one particular national newspaper crossword editor (who is not Mr Lancaster).

    I am not ‘anti-GK’ but I thought that the GK element of 16a was somewhat specialised given how long ago ‘Yeager’s achievement’ took place.

    I did like 8a and 26a.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  4. A nice straightforward solve. I agree with others about1a and the ‘AT’ in 4a and I’m not sure about 14a either

    Thanks Hubble and in advance to Prolixic

  5. Thanks Hubble for a pleasant puzzle. I agree with others that 1a and 4a don’t quite work.

    It’s interesting that two of the answers also appear in today’s back-pager.

    I thought that some of the definitions were a little too generous to the solver and some words could have been omitted (e.g. slippery in 24a, gulf in 2d and icy in 22d).

    My ticks went to 21a, 26a and 3d.

  6. Thanks Hubble. I too struggled with the ‘AT’ part of 4a & with ‘ALL’ in 14a (though I may well be missing something). I marked 12a, 13d, 21d, 21a, 6d, 18a & 26d as my favourite clues. Several surfaces looked a bit dodgy, eg 23a and 15d. And I marked 17d as ‘ho ho / good grief!’.

    Keep ’em coming!

  7. A very enjoyable puzzle but couldn’t quite parse 4a and 14a and queried our answer on 1a but it had to be. Last one in was 14d which made us chuckle. Many thanks Hubble and we look forward to your next one.

  8. By and large I enjoyed this Hubble and it most definitely shows good progress, in particular 23a, 26a, 6d and 21d. So good job!
    Agreed with others’ comments above. One minor additional point not mentioned concerning 16a – apart from it unfortunately being one your the weaker surfaces – the apostrophe undoes the grammar and makes a nonsense of it. Without the apostrophe, there is at least grammatical plausibility to the clue.

    1. I hesitate to defend 16a, Dr D, as it is one of the weakest surfaces, but, if you read “reserve’s” as “reserve is”, the English grammar is OK (even though the sentence is senseless).

      1. Yes, Rabbit Dave, I quite agree, it can be read that way, but my point is that I struggle to extract much meaning from “Reserve’s on ice mostly”, both on its own and in context, whereas I can make more of a case. albeit weak, for “Reserves on ice mostly”. But perhaps that’s just me?

        1. A “reserve” Is a type of wine (usually higher quality) so it would make sense to say “reserve’s on ice mostly” though the whole of the sentence is pretty meaningless.

  9. Thanks Hubble, good fun.

    As others have noted, definition for 1a isn’t right, and question marks over 4a (AT) & 14a (ALL) … to which I’d add the definition of 1d I don’t think is right either (and definiton for 17d is perhaps a little, ahem, ‘loose’? I like the clue though, very Cyclops/Private Eye)

    A few surfaces seemed a little strained. I felt the most successful clues were where you’d kept it a little simpler, and I had plenty of ticks: 12a, 13a, 18a, 21a (despite unannounced Americanism), 23a, 3d, 5d, 21d. My favourite was 26a.

    Thanks again!

  10. Welcome back, Hubble.

    Lots to like here, thankfully no indirect anagrams this time, very few (if any) technical issues and surfaces that mostly passed muster, so definite progress in my opinion. It is a pity that the “gateway clue” to the puzzle (1a) should be flawed and a couple of others were in the “nearly but not quite” category. As has already been mentioned, the least said about 17d the better. My favourite clue was 21a.

    Many thanks, Hubble, I’m sure your next one will maintain the upward curve.

  11. As is often the way, I could just put ‘ditto’ to RD’s comments and his list of ticked clues. It was a great pity that two of the worst issues appeared in the first two clues – rather set the tone for the remainder of the solve. As for 17d – words fail me.

    Thanks for returning to the corner, Hubble, you obviously have some good ideas, I look forward to seeing them honed to perfection next time!

  12. 1a is a bit of a howler, parts of 4&14a I can’t completely justify and some of the surface reads require a leap of faith but overall reasonably enjoyable.
    I liked lots including 8,9,12 &26a along with 3&7….and yes, your “marmite” clue 17d, which made me smile.
    Thanks for the entertainment and well done Hubble, look forward to your next offering

  13. Well I really enjoyed it Hubble. 17d appealed to my puerile sense of humour & would fit right in with some Graun cryptic clues I’ve come across. Agree that 1&4a were iffy but I found it a thoroughly entertaining solve with a pleasing absence of the head scratching (for me anyway) that is usually the case with Rookie Corner contributions. 8,13,21&26a plus 2 &3d were the ticks for me. I did groan at 7d but that’s because I’ve had my fill of Pauls after a battle with Brendan’s Graun prize.
    Many thanks

  14. A big thank you to Big Dave for publishing my puzzle and to all who have provided feedback – your comments are greatly appreciated.

    Apologies for the error at 1a. A howler indeed, Stephen L.

    Some points re other comments:

    4a The Cassell Concise Dictionary’s definition 4 for “at” is “denoting a value or rate,” and that is supported by other online dictionaries.

    14a The Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary definition 5 for “all” includes “(Shak.) only,” and we have phrases like “all work and no play.”

    15d The Cassell Concise Dictionary and others give “gypsy” as a definition for “traveller.”

    25a I thought my use of “lawyer” implied “American lawyer” since we tend to use terms like “barrister,” “solicitor” etc. rather than “lawyer” in this part of the world.

    I agree that some of the surfaces don’t pass muster. I wrote this puzzle back in February, and I hope I am now better at spotting and improving dodgy surfaces. For example, “Reserve’s put on ice mostly for failing to match Yeager’s achievement” is far closer to what I intended for 16a.

    Once again, I would like to thank all commentators for your invaluable feedback.

    1. Thanks for popping in and commenting, Hubble. It’s always good to be able to engage with the setters.

      Regarding 4a, I can see that “at” might denote a rate in a sentence such as “the car was travelling at 70 mph”, but this doesn’t make “at” and “rate” synonymous. I’d be more than happy if you can come up with an example which demonstrates the equivalence.

      Gypsies and travellers are often used as synonyms for each other in crosswordland even though they aren’t actually equivalent, so you are certainly not alone there. :smile:

      Thanks for the fun, and do keep them coming please.

      1. Hi RD,

        Thanks for coming back. I agree that “at” and “rate” are not directly interchangeable. We could have “Rooms are available at £x per night” and “The room rate is £x per night,” but that’s probably stretching it in a crossword clue. However, I am under the impression (probably mistakenly) that if a word appears as a definition for another in any mainstream dictionary, then it’s okay to use that in a clue, even if the pair are not synonymous.

        1. I think your example proves the point that “at” = “rate” doesn’t work.

          My personal yardstick which will satisfy most (if not all) solvers is, can you make a direct substitution in a sentence without altering the meaning?

  15. Thanks for the crossword, Hubble. I don’t have anything to add other than general encouragement.

  16. Good crossword, largely very enjoyable, for which my thanks, Hubbard. Great variety of clue types, a welcome scarcity of anagrams.

    Nothing more to add re 1a, could see where you were going with 4a and 16a – wasn’t that worried about the finer points of the parsing; lum (19d) is an entirely new word to me but the clue was very solvable from the checkers; laughed out loud at 17d – loved that clue, even if it might not go down awfully well were it to feature on the DT backpage!

    While 7d could only have been what it was, the “McCartney’s first” was somewhat ambiguous; American terms don’t bother me in UK puzzles when the words used are so much a part of modern daily British English and they did not slow me here; some great surface readings, and only a few felt rough.

    My hon. mentions list were 9a, 14a, 23a, 26a, 2d and 3d; 17d was my COTD.

    1. Thanks to Prolixic for the review – a really positive one for you Hubble. Well done! Hope you are pleased.

  17. Thanks for the review Prolixic
    Well done Hubble, just a tweak or two to check in future

  18. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. I was a little surprised that you didn’t comment adversely on 17d but perhaps, like clue length, you classify that as ‘setter’s choice’!

  19. I shall echo the thanks for the review – and being new to reading the Rookie Corner reviews could someone please explain the “commentometer”?

    1. The number of clues in which Prolixic finds an error or inaccuracy described as a percentage of the total number of clues
      Prolixic allows a fair bit of licence to new setters but will point out and clearly explain any problems, which is invaluable to any aspiring setter

  20. Belated thanks to Prolixic for the review, and to Hubble for a fun puzzle – looking forward to your next (though to be pedantic I still don’t think ‘cubed’ = ‘six-sided’ … ‘cubic’ or ‘cuboid’ perhaps, but ‘cubed’ is either ‘raised to power of 3’ or ‘diced / made into cubes’)
    Thanks again!

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