Rookie Corner – 377 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 377

A Puzzle by Simandl

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

In order to avoid confusion with one of the regular blog commenters, Simandl is the new name adopted by “Manders”. 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 the setter formerly known as Manders.  Looking back at the first crossword, I found more niggles and errors in this crossword than in the previous one.  Key points to concentrate on are to avoid repetitions in wordplay ideas.  Using the percentage device and the 3rd letter device twice detracts from the crossword as a whole.  There were some other reputations as well.  It is a good idea to keep a list of the devices you have used when setting a crossword to try and avoid duplication and to keep a good variety of clue types.  This crossword was high on the anagram count (around a third of the clues) and four anagrams in a row is excessive.

On a positive note, there were some good clues to enjoy that painted pictures such as 12a, 20a, 3d and 19d.  Some of the surface readings of other clues need some polishing.  The word offender was 29a.

The commentometer reads as 7.5 / 32 or 23.4%.

Across

9 Confused nun leader is ignorant (9)
UNLEARNED – An anagram (confused) of NUN LEADER

10 Band starts to take record of old performances (5)
TROOP – The initial letters (starts to) the final five words of the clue.

11 Malaise about piss, we hear? (5)
ENNUI– A homophone (we hear) of ON (about) WEE (piss).

12 Nude bounding around boundary cannot be bound! (9)
UNLIMITED – An anagram (bounding) of NUDE around a five-letter word for a boundary.

13 Start rant (7)
KICKOFF – Double definition of the start of a match and to being an argument.  As the rant definition should be 3,4, this would have been a better enumeration.

14 Dump Trump’s rump! Timeless old blower (7)
SACKBUT – A four-letter word meaning dump followed by a four-letter American (Trump’s) word for a rump without the final T (timeless).

17 State jail imprisons nut (5)
PECAN – A two -letter state code for California inside a three-letter word (American) for a jail.  As the word for jail is an American word, perhaps State penitentiary imprisons nut would be fairer as there is then a direct link to the abbreviation.

19 75% of this belongs to him (3)
HIS – Three-quarters (75%) of the word this.

20 Contests 3rd over with 6 balls (5)
MEETS – An anagram (balls) of E (third letter of over) and the answer to 6d.

21 Wave nuts about in front of topless (and bottomless) Jamie (7)
TSUNAMI – An anagram (about) of NUTS and the inner letters (topless and bottomless) of Jamie.

22 Devour crazy drug. It’s outstanding! (7)
OVERDUE – An anagram (crazy) of DEVOUR followed by the abbreviation for ecstasy.

24 Circular race ship turns left (9)
SPHERICAL – An anagram (turns) of RACE SHIP followed by the abbreviation for left.  Try to vary wordplay.  Four anagrams in a row is excessive.

26 Shred dessert to disregard the French (5)
CRUMB – A seven-letter word for a type of desert without the final LE (the French).  Perhaps there is too-much of an overlap between the solution and the wordplay.

28 To be more confident, guarantee provider loses popular front (5)
SURER – A person who provides cover for losses without a two-letter word meaning popular that is at the front of the word.

29 Mollusc arms castle at sea following return of net (9)
TENTACLES – An anagram (at sea) of CASTLE after a reversal (return) of the NET from the clue.  I am lenient when reviewing clues in terms of surface readings if they make some kind of sense but this one is nonsense.

Down

1 Instrument blower is not loud (4)
LUTE – A wind-instrument (blower) without the initial letter (is not loud).

2 Back in the group we hear, surrounding place for treatment (6)
CLINIC – Reverse the IN from the clue and add a homophone of CLIQUE around it.  Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators.  We hear has been used already in 11a.  I don’t think that resulting letters sound the same when in the solution.

3 Energy lacking from coal fire in a messy state (10)
CALIFORNIA – An anagram (messy) of COAL FIRE IN A without (lacking) the abbreviation for energy.

4 Submerge broken flugelhorn missing 3rd valve and chord centre (6)
ENGULF – An anagram (broken) of FLUGELHORN after removing the third letter in value and the central letter in chord.  Again this repeats wordplay in 20a.

5 Union vows to keep register of hero worshippers (8)
IDOLISTS – The wrong words used in marriage vows (the correct phrase is I will) followed by a five-letter word meaning to keep register.  Some editors will not allow wordplay of definition.  However, it is in my version of Chambers.

6 Stalk New York team around (4)
STEM –  Reverse (around) a four-letter word for NY baseball team.

7 Drink can may be lifted (8)
PORTABLE – A four-letter word for a fortified wine followed by a four-letter word meaning can.  A common mistake but can and the part included in the wordplay are not synonymous.

8 Opinionated article endured cut by principal censor (2-2)
OP-ED – A five-letter word meaning endured without the initial letter (principal) of censor.

13 Set up a kiss, held back by ex? (5)
KAPUT – The answer is hidden and reversed (held back by) in the first three words in the clue.  I don’t the word order works.  The solution is not held back by ex.

15 Profitable business madame met resistance and left behind agency (10)
COMMERCIAL – A two-letter abbreviation for company followed by a three-letter abbreviation for madame and the abbreviation for resistance and then the abbreviation for left after the US intelligence agency.  Another repetition of wordplay with Left used in 20a

16 Try to spoil a test (5)
TASTE – An anagram (spoil) of A TEST.

18 Old blower gives brief job without spirit and stripped (8)
CRUMHORN – A five-letter word word a job without the final letter (brief) around a three-letter word for an alcoholic sprit followed by the inner letter (stripped) of and.  Definition gives wordplay does not work.  The wordplay gives the definition, not the reverse.

19 Trims Spooner’s vocal love shanties (8)
HAIRCUTS – A homophone (vocal) of Spoonerism of CARE (love) HUTS (shanties).

22 00 flour (40%) and mango (40%) makes tea (6)
OOLONG – The OO from the clue followed by 2two-fifths of the letters (40%) from flour and two-fifths (40%) of the letters from mango.  The percentage device has already been used in 19a.  Also, it is better to use this device to indicate the number of letters from the start or end of the word.

23 Big player has two shots to get fish (6,4)
DOUBLE BASS – A six-letter word meaning two shots followed by a four-letter word for a fish.

24 Odd show’s not 2.5 stars? (2-2)
SO-SO – The odd letters for the second and third words of the clue.  Oddly is better as an alternate letter indicator.  Show’s not, oddly, 2.5 stars would be better.

25 Lightly cooked rear? (4)
RARE – An anagram (cooked) of REAR.  Apart from the fact that an anagram of only four letters is not much of a challenge, the bigger issue here is that cooked is doing double duty as part of the definition and an anagram indicator.  This should be avoided.

27 (See 23) (4)


73 comments on “Rookie Corner – 377
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    1. Not sure why the page did not appear as it was correctly scheduled to appear. I have republished and the crossword should be available.

  1. Good morning all!

    Thanks for having a look at my second attempt. I tried to take into account the feedback from the first puzzle.

    Any feedback will be gratefully received.

  2. Thanks Simandl, an enjoyable solve with some nice ideas – I did like the repeated blowers (perhaps could have done with a few more, even?)
    A few errors (13a needs splitting 4/3, 29a has two enumerations, 23d doesn’t refer to the linked 27d) – although easy for solver to correct and individually very minor, collectively they were a bit off-putting.
    Some nice playful wordplay – I very much liked 14a; 12a though (for me) had one of the wordplay elements essentially meaning precisely the same as in the definition – so although it gave a pleasing surface, it seemed less satisfactory.
    I enjoyed the cheeky 21a, less keen on 11a where the crude word just seemed gratuitous.
    17a and 3d both good clues, but the repetition of “state” seemed a little odd to me – possibly a missed chance to interlink the clues.
    Add in a mixture of some great and some odd surfaces, and I think you can see where this is going – something of a mixed bag for me!
    But good fun and overall I think more on the positive side, including a fully functioning Spoonerism Fave for me, 22a :-)
    Thanks again!

    1. Fez, 19d. There is a fully functioning Spoonerism, but isn’t the “vocal” a redundancy? Is it supposed to be a homophone indicator? The answer is a straightforward/direct Spoonerism (based on the transposition of the initial sounds of words) of love shanties. The sounds/pronunciations are critical, the spellings not so. Eg: Is the bean dizzy? (Dean busy). I can’t see what the “vocal” is doing?

    2. Thanks for solving it and for your comments, they are much appreciated. I think that perhaps I need to learn there is a difference between “cheeky” and just rude. That’s a good point about “state” and also more blowers as others have mentioned. I’m pleased you enjoyed the majority of it. Thanks!

      1. Cheers Simandl … I don’t think there’s a problem even with ‘rude’ in the right environment (I do like Cyclops! but Indy/Guardian might also be ok with this quite mild expletive) just that it needs to be well integrated – there were plenty of other homophones available (us, little, French yes, pass, etc) so choosing the rude one needs to have a good reason. Perhaps “Bore told to piss off? On the contrary, quite the reverse” (ennui is in Chambers as a verb ‘to bore’; homophone – ‘told’ – of WEE and ON (‘off? on the contrary’), swapped over (‘quite the reverse’) Not for the Telegraph, though. Thanks again, looking forward to the next Simandl!

        1. What about the anagram indicator in 20a? Or have I parsed it wrongly. Wow!! Pogba has just scored a scorcher for France as I write.

          1. In 20a it does work, as part of the cricketing surface, so I think justified (and it’s one of Cyclops’ standard anagram indicators)
            Great goal!

            1. I just meant what you thought about the anagram indicator being another “rude” word for others to complain about?

  3. As Fez says, a bit of a mixed bag – it seemed as I was solving that there was quite a reliance on anagrams, but looking back, it isn’t quite as many as I thought. I spotted the theme quite early on too. My particular favourite was the small but perfectly formed 19a

    Thanks Simandi – I look forward to your third puzzle once you have noted what commenters, and in particular, Prolixic will have to say about this one.

  4. Welcome back, Simandl, under your new name. I pretty much agree with everything that Fez has said, although I would be stronger than him in my condemnation of 11a. Please leave that sort of stuff to the Independent whose editor encourages it. Overall this was very much a curate’s egg for me, both in terms of quality of cluing and surface readings.

    There were a number of repetitions: paradoxically “blower” may have been less obvious if there had been more of them as part of the theme. There were also two uses both of “state” and of “we hear” as a homophone indicator.

    Prolixic will pick up on a lot of points of detail and I will just mention:
    – The enumeration of 13a is an odd one. I have found reference to all of (7), (4,3) and (4-3), but I think in terms of “start rant” it probably needs to be (4,3).
    – I can’t find 5d in Chambers and Collins says it is an Americanism.
    – In 7d “can” means “is able to” not “able”.
    – I don’t think you need “back” in 2d as the letters to be reversed also appear the right way round in the answer.
    – “Cooked” is doing double duty in 25d.

    On the positive front there were some good ideas on show and I enjoyed most of the solve.

    Please pay heed to Prolixic’s comments to help you work on your rough edges, and I look forward to seeing your next submission. Many thanks, Simandl.

    1. RD. You have made some good points and I generally agree with you. Whilst the “back” isn’t essential in 2d, maybe the setter decided to use the IN in the answer that does require reversing just to make the clue a little bit more complicated/puzzling? Or perhaps they just didn’t notice your briefer option. Notwithstanding that, I’m not sure the homophone works anyway – as detailed by DD in # 9, below.

    2. Hi Rabbit Dave, thanks for the comments

      -I spent a long time pondering 13a but probably didn’t get it right in the end
      -I wasn’t aware 15d was an Americanism and it isn’t a very satisfying word. I think I was stuck in a corner during construction.
      -7d. noted
      -2d. Yes, I hadn’t clocked that!
      -I had hoped the question mark would offer lenience for the cooked working twice but perhaps not

      I am very pleased you enjoyed much of it, thank you for taking the time.

  5. Thanks for the puzzle, Simandl.
    As others have said this was a mixed bag. My anagram count reached 11 which is too many (including 4 in consecutive clues).
    I am less offended by the Shakespearean language in 11a than by the repetition of ‘we hear’ as a homophone indicator. Do you have a test solver? This is the sort of thing a test solver would pick up.
    My favourite clue was 14a.

    1. Thanks for the feedback and for solving the puzzle.

      A test solver would be very useful but I have struggled to find anyone I know to do it (not a lot of interest in cryptics in my social circle) which is why I am finding the advice on here so helpful. I’ll try and do a better job of checking my next one.

      Thanks again!

  6. Hi Simandl
    There are some great ideas and I did enjoy much of this. I like 14a & 13d particularly but there are some bits I struggled with:
    21a – Fine but bit clunky perhaps. “In front of Jamie naked” more elegant, though it takes the clue in the 11a direction!!
    2d – I hear cleek, not click, so this didn’t work for me.
    4d – What is “chord centre” in relation to the theme of the clue? I get the parsing, but struggle for meaning, though it may be a (musical) term I don’t know. So the surface seems a bit forced.
    5d – Haven’t come across this word, but wonder if the fact it is obsolete should be indicated? Look forward to Prolixic’s take. Love the “union vows” though!
    18d – Surface??? Seems nonsense to me and you appear to have Definition for Wordplay
    22d – quite like the idea … but doesn’t quite work for me as the 40% bits are a little random.

    But on the positive side, as I say, I did enjoy it despite having to reach for the reveal button at times, plus I learned a couple of new instruments!
    You’re not in the Sealed Knot military band are you?

    1. DD, 4d. “Chord” is related to the (musical) theme of the clue (along with flugelhorn and valve). You are being asked to remove (missing) the 3rd letter of “valve” (L) and the centre (letters/section) of “chord” (HOR) from FLUGELHORN to give an anagram (broken) of the answer (a synonym of “submerge”). “Chord centre” isn’t meant to indicate a specific musical term/phrase.

      1. Thanks Jose. Like I said, I get the parsing which you explained perfectly, but that then leaves me with a surface that makes no sense. That’s why I wondered if CHORD CENTRE actually meant anything other than the central letters.

        1. Yes, I agree that the surface as a whole doesn’t make much sense (not that it’s obliged to) but “chord centre” at the end is just straightforward setter’s-speak for the centre of the word “chord”.

            1. LBR. We all know that in the real world Southend isn’t H but South’s end is H! But you can’t (or shouldn’t) analyse cryptic clues as an academic grammarian/lexicographer would do. They are simply word puzzles written by setters who use (usually minor/subtle) grammatical jiggery-pokery and all sorts of other sneaky devices to fool the solver. It has been ever thus!

              1. Yes
                Firstly, it requires the lift and separation of sweet and heart
                Secondly, E is the ‘heart’ of ‘sweet’ or ‘sweet’s heart’ since ‘sweet’ possesses the letter at its heart
                Does ‘Roy pen’ mean a pen belonging to/of Roy?

                1. It was a rhetorical question. Once again, I know and we all know it’s grammatically wrong in the real world, but this is the surreal world of cryptic crosswords where rules can be and are stretched or broken (deliberately and cleverly). But, to each his own …

    2. Hi Dr Diva,

      I am really pleased you enjoyed the bulk of this puzzle. In response to your specific points:
      21a – “naked” would have been much neater
      2d – I was hearing “click” but now think that “cleek” is correct
      4d – Chord centre is a term used in music theory but to be fair it doesn’t have any relation to a flugelhorn
      5d – See previous comment
      18d – I don’t think it will win me any friends on here (!) but the surface works (I think) if you view it in an unsavoury context. I think the clue works technically with Old blower as definition, brief job – chor(e), spirit – rum, (a)n(d) stripped.
      22d – Yes I can see what you mean here.

      I’m not in the Sealed Knot band but I do play one of the instruments in the puzzle, which is also linked to my pseudonym.

      Thank you for your feedback and for solving the puzzle.

  7. Welcome back, Simandl.

    Regrettably I didn’t enjoy this at all, too many anagrams and repetitions, some very poor surfaces and a lack of 16d in 11a. Clearly you have a different sense of humour to me, as the sort of constructions used in 12a and 14a, for example, left me cold. I remember enjoying your debut puzzle, but it was almost like this one was compiled by a different setter. Come back, Manders!

    I do hope that your next one is much more like your first. Thanks, Simandl.

    1. Hi silvanus,

      I’m sorry you didn’t warm to this one, although I’m pleased you liked my first. I personally enjoy solving “cheeky” crosswords and tried to write some clues in that style. I know it is a fine line between humorous and rude which it seems I have not trodden well here perhaps!

      Thank you for taking the time to solve it and comment and I hope my next one is more to your liking.

  8. I’ll leave the detailed critique to others more qualified but I rather enjoyed this. Can’t say I cared for 11a (though did like 21a) & agree it was anagram heavy but there were some good clues. Never heard of 18d & annoyed that I didn’t figure it out from the wordplay without a letter reveal despite realising an abbreviated chore was involved but otherwise all ok. The big ticks for me were 14,17,19,21&22a plus 3,4,19&22d.
    Thanks Simandl & looking forward to your next one

  9. A bit ropey in places, mostly little grammatical details – which is not unusual for Rookie Corner
    The 11a word doesn’t particularly bother me but be careful with that kind of clue; if it’s not great there is a risk of it falling flat as it appears to have here
    A test solver should help you get away from the ‘What?’ surfaces and ideas that nearly work but not quite, and the obvious repetitions
    I did actually quite enjoy this warts ‘n all, so well done and nota bene Prolixic’s sage advice
    Thanks for the entertainment Simandl – try again!

    1. Yes, 11a has certainly fallen flat here!

      A test solver would be really useful, if anyone on here is willing to have a look at my next I would be very grateful.

      Thank you for solving and commenting.

        1. Ooooh, LBR, you are naughty! But if it helps, Simandl, I will be happy to cast an eye over it. I will ask BD to send you my details.

  10. Thanks for the puzzle Simandl. Unfortunately, with most of the clues, there’s an element that stops me from loving it – sometimes an odd surface, sometimes a shared root between wordplay and definition, sometimes an under-prepared anagram…Even 19a, the brevity and construction of which I admire, has a flawed definition – I can’t think of a context where the definition and answer can stand exactly for each other – would love to be proven wrong on this, however. There are some clues that got ticks from me – 21a, 22a, 5d, 7d and 15d. In my opinion, 15d is particularly impressive in how it generates a meaningful surface from complex wordplay – well done!

    1. C, 19a. I think you are (technically) correct. The dog (is) his/belongs to him doesn’t quite cut the mustard exactly. But can you really subject cryptic clues to such nuanced analysis/exploration? Setters have been using minor grammatical jiggery-pokery since day one, haven’t they? As BG once said (and I re-quote yet again): Cryptic clues are mere word puzzles, not pieces of precise literature. (Or something like that).

        1. I assumed you were talking about Virgilius/Brendan
          Agree that the only real requirement for a clue is that it leads you to the answer, the rest is style

        1. Generally, yes. But deliberate, clever, subtle imprecision is a legitimate part of the setters’ armoury too!

        2. Yes, it must be accurate (that’s the easier part) but you can paint it any way you want
          … and I don’t think you need me to test solve your puzzles, Conto

    2. Thanks for the feedback and for solving the puzzle. I am pleased that you liked some clues and I hope that with more thorough checking I can tidy up the next one to make the wordplay and surfaces more satisfying.

  11. Welcome back, Simandl, although I’m sorry to say that I agree with Silvanus and Conto over this one. The obvious points have already been made by others and I’d certainly recommend you to watch out for the number of anagrams you employ in future. Do get someone to test solve for you – several of our Rookies seem to do this for one another on a quid pro quo basis.
    Look forward to seeing a new, improved Simandl next time and please – no more like 11a!

    1. Hi Jane,

      Thanks for the comments and time. I agree with your points and have discussed them above so will endeavour to put them into action on my next attempt!

  12. I quite enjoyed this one too – only used one letter reveal; the first letter of 20a, so went through it relatively quickly. I quite liked the percentage ones, but perhaps having 2 in the same grid is not ideal. But I liked the old blowers, and it would have been fun to have more, along with 1d & 23/27, with the same theme

  13. Enjoyable and good fun, thank you Simandl. We needed Google to verify the instruments in 18d and 14a. We still can’t parse 20a and 19d but others can so it must be us being dim! Favourites were 19a and 4d for Mr H and 24a and 29a for Mrs H. We look forward to your next puzzle Simandl and thank you in advance to Prolixic for the review.

    1. H. 20a is and anagram of the 3rd (letter) of ovEr + the answer to 6d (STEM). Contests is the clue definition and I’ll leave you to discover what the anagram indicator is! 19d: Trims is the definition and the answer is simply a Spoonerism (which is based on transposed sounds) of love shanties, making the “vocal” (a homophone indicator?) redundant.

      1. * Sorry, that should read a Spoonerism of a synonym of “love shanties”. I was trying to write comments, watch Croatia v Spain and solve a cryptic in a DT book all at the same time.

      2. Hi Jose,
        I added the “vocal” as I was told in my last puzzle that because the first letters of each half of the answer couldn’t simply be switched I needed an indicator (not sure I’ve explained that very well). Perhaps I misunderstood because I previously thought as you do.

        1. S (and Prolixic, if your about). In 19d the phrase love shanties is a synonym of care huts, which in turn is a Spoonerism of haircuts. Spoonerisms are often based on transposing homophonous sounds (metathesis), not necessarily reliant on the direct swapping of initial letters (or spelling). Therefore the homophone indicator is a redundancy.

          There are no hard and fast or academic rules regarding Spoonerisms, they have evolved to become pretty flexible. Spooner claimed that he only ever initiated one himself – nearly all Spoonerisms have been made up by others. Here’s some that don’t use the direct swapping of initial letters but are based on rhyming sounds:

          The weight of rages will press hard upon the employer (rate of wages).
          You were fighting a liar in the quadrangle (lighting a fire).
          You have hissed all my mystery lectures (missed all my history).

          I learned all about Spoonerisms (and other things) from an old schoolfriend in the 6th Form, Mary Hough. :-)

          1. * I’m returning to this because I haven’t been lucid enough (not that anyone will be interested). I meant to explain that Spoonerisms don’t have to rely on swapping the singular initial letters ONLY and nothing else changes. Some are like that – MERRY FAN = FERRYMAN, for example, where only 2 letters are swapped but the remaining letters (i.e. the spelling) remains the same. As far as I know, the only rules that apply are:

            1. The initial letter, letters or syllables/sounds are transposed.
            2. The 2 elements must rhyme in the same way after the transpositions as they did before.
            3. Spelling differences after the swapping are immaterial (see examples, above).

            Maybe there should be more on the list. Feel free to add anything pertienent or omitted.

    2. Thank you Hilton! I don’t have many friends or family who solve cryptics so it has been brilliant to have some feedback (good and constructive) here. I’ll get working on a new one!

  14. Like Jose, I too have been distracted by the football recently (and the tennis today!). Aside: would “Czechia finds Holeš in Netherlands’ defence” work as a sub-headline for the sports pages? Anyway, back to the plot …

    Hi Simandl, I generally enjoyed solving this one. I think all of my points have already been made by others today, so I won’t repeat. And I look forward to reading Prolixic’s review tomorrow.

    1. Thanks for solving, I’m pleased you enjoyed it. I am also looking forward to Prolixic’s review tomorrow.

  15. Thanks to Prolixic for the analysis and to everyone for having a go at this.

    This is such a fantastic site and I wish I could spend more time commenting and solving other people’s puzzles. I have two small children so don’t have that luxury at the moment, which might also explain why this was a little rough around the edges!

  16. Coming to this rather late as I was looking for more puzzles on a wet Saturday. Many thanks to Simandl for the grid – whatever my gripes elsewhere, I have huge admiration for anyone who can put together a full puzzle with a range of intelligible and solvable clues!

    I have nothing to add that’s not been said above. I enjoyed the puzzle and it gave plenty of cause for smiles and groans – I look forward to your next grid, whenever it may be.

    Thank you to Simandl and to Prolixic.

  17. (still catching up) — as to 11a – wasn’t troubled by the “rude” word, fairly innocuous (I’d class it with “damn” on the vulgarity scale). What was interesting about the clue I thought was the “piss, we” pair — both of which would qualify as homophonic fodder.

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