Rookie Corner 394 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 394

A Puzzle by Meles

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Regular solvers will know that I try to introduce a new setter every two weeks, and today is no exception – welcome to Rookie Corner Meles. 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 truly excellent debut from Meles with no major issues.  The cluing was consistently good and fair.  All the comments are very minor ones.  The commentometer reads as 2/30 or 6.7%.


9/13/12 Film producer wanted Emmy glory or bust (5-7-5)

10 Lose it and aim too high, missing last target at the end (9)
OVERREACT – A nine-letter word meaning aim to high without the final letter (missing last) followed by the last letter (at the end) of target.

11 Better trajectory for Premier League? (3-6)
TOP-FLIGHT – A three-letter word meaning better or outdo followed by a six-letter word for trajectory.

12 See 9

13 See 9

15 Society with bravery eradicating a plague (7)
SCOURGE – The abbreviation for society followed by a seven-letter word for bravery without (eradicating) the letter A.

17 Broadcast sound needs gold leads to deliver ideal output (5)
AUDIO – The chemical symbol for gold followed by the initial letters (leads to) of the final three words of the clue.

18 Suggestion that’s pointed perhaps? (3)
TIP – Double definition for a suggestion or hint and the end of a pointed item.

20 Metal bar holding other supports (5)
INGOT – The answer is hidden in (supports) the third and fourth words of the clue.

22 Key key for one fleeing (7)
ESCAPEE – The full six-letter word for a key on a computer keyboard (unless you are a Mac owner!) followed by a single letter musical key.

25 New place is unique (7)
SPECIAL – An anagram (new) of PLACE IS.

26 At home in bed about to give keynote? (5)
TONIC – A two-letter word meaning at home inside a three-letter word for a bed with all the letters reversed (about).

27 Being sixteen, suffering with acne regularly (9)
EXISTENCE – An anagram (suffering) of SIXTEEN followed by the even letters (regularly) in acne.

30 Fill up with anger, possibly stopping assistant returning (9)
REPLENISH – A three-letter word for anger (as an exemplar of seven deadly trespasses) inside a six-letter word for an assistant with all the letters then reversed (returning).

31 Golf course connections (5)
LINKS – Double definition.


1 Leave out essential parts of some renditions (4)
OMIT – The central letters (essential parts) of the final two words of the clue.

2 Son and daughter ingest poison becoming covered in spots (8)
STIPPLED – The abbreviations for son and daughter include (ingest) a six-letter word for an alcoholic drink (as in what’s your poison).

3 Get annoyed as part of portfolio burns on the counter (4)
BOIL – The answer is hidden (part of) and reversed (on the counter) in the sixth and seventh words of the clue.

4 Sweet bread loaf (8)
DOUGHNUT – A five-letter word for money (bread) followed by a three-letter word for a head or loaf.

5 Rotten truths are half-hidden in divisions (6)
TENTHS – The final halves (half hidden) of the first two words of the clue.  I think that the are clashes slightly in the cryptic reading of the clue.  Sillvanus’ suggestion of “repeatedly” would improve this.

6 Clumsily trip on male gym equipment (10)
TRAMPOLINE – An anagram (clumsily) of TRIP ON MALE.

7 Advocate wife wearing coat (6)
LAWYER – The abbreviation for wife has a five-letter word for a coat around it (wearing).

8 It’s up to monarch to inspire (4)
STIR – Reverse (up) the it’s from the clue and follow with the abbreviation for king.

13 Poise shown in words to Father at dinner (5)
GRACE – Double definition, the second being a prayer before meal.

14 Bird poo wrecked swings (10)
WOODPECKER – An anagram (swings) of POO WRECKED.

16 Praise former charge in speech (5)
EXTOL – A two-letter word meaning former followed by a homophone (in speech) of a four-letter word for a tax or charge.

19 Second time I engaged in awfully cheap imitation (8)
PASTICHE – The abbreviations for second and time and the letter I from the clue in (engaged in) an anagram (awfully) of cheap.

21 Good band entertains pub to visible delight (8)
GRINNING – The abbreviation for good and a four-letter word for a jewellery band includes a three-letter word for a pub.  I am not sure that visible delight is a precise definition.  Perhaps “to visible delight” would be better worded “showing visible delight”.

23 An ape seen about forest’s treetops (6)
CANOPY – The AN from the clue with a four-letter word meaning to copy around it (see about).

24 Way to shut up pupil? (6)
EYELID – Cryptic definition of something that covers (shuts up) the pupil in the eye.  Way in this clue does not work.  Perhaps, as suggested in the comments, Something to shut up pupil would be better.

26 Divided North supports corruption from the South (4)
TORN – The abbreviation for North below (supports) a reversal (from the South) of a three-letter word meaning corruption.

28 Mixing up temperature units turns rabbit to powder (4)
TALC – A four-letter word meaning to chat or rabbit with the final letter changed from K (kelvin) to C (centigrade) miking up temperature units.  I am not convinced that mixing up is precise enough to indicate swapping them – perhaps “Changing temperature units” would be better.

29 Drugs picked up for leisure (4)
EASE – A homophone (picked up) of Es (drugs).

50 comments on “Rookie Corner 394

    1. Good morning, Meles (Badger?). Welcome to Rookie Corner with a truly impressive first submission. I’ll bet a pound to a penny that this is not your first ever crossword. It was light, it was fun to solve, your clueing was concise and accurate, and your surface readings were remarkable for a debut.

      I have only three comments, the first two of which are very minor:
      – 11a: For me, “best” would have been better than “better”.
      – 23d: I think “in” would have been a preferable link word between wordplay and definition, and the surface would still read well.
      – 24d: “Way” seems incongruous. How about “Use this …” instead?

      My page is littered with ticks, and it is rare for me to pick an anagram as my favourite but I’m going to select 14d today.

      Very well done, Meles, and thank you. More like this soon please! Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

        1. Yes, you are right, Fez. I was thinking “in” made slightly more sense for the surface, forgetting that the wordplay needed “about” as an insertion indicator., and the clue doesn’t need a link word between wordplay and definition.

      1. I think with 24d I was so surprised to come up with a cryptic definition quickly for once that I didn’t give it the requisite checking over… You are of course right and Use this (or Something to suggested by Twmbarlwm below) would make this clue work as intended.

        To answer the first point, it is indeed from Badger (old school nickname) and in hindsight that might have been a more useful pseudonym!

  1. My goodness, what an absolute delight!

    However, one comment, in 26a, the ‘insertion instruction’ is also what has to be obtained from ‘at home’ and inserted into the type of bed (I am sure Prolixic will explain it better).

    Thanks Meles.

    1. I’m not sure I understand your reservation about 26a, Senf. Does it matter that the synonym for “at home” is the same word as the insertion indicator? It’s not doing double duty as both are present as separate elements in the wordplay.

  2. Wonderful, many thanks Meles. Lots of great clues, so tough to pick a single favourite but my shortlist is: 11a, 30a, 2d, 4d, 7d, 14d, 19d.

    My only comment – and it really is extreme nit-picking – is the “are” in 5d isn’t necessary and for me slightly disrupts the grammar. But that’s a very minor point, the only real complaint was that it was over all too soon.

    Thanks again (and in advance to Prolixic, though I expect he won’t be working quite as hard as usual for this review)

    1. I did wonder about 5d, Fez, but decided that the “are” was necessary in order to indicate that “half-hidden” applies to both the first two words.

  3. Great stuff Meles! Lots of strong clues, not too difficult but plenty of clever misdirection. Not totally convinced by 24D – good idea but is the solution really the “way”? Particularly liked 15A, 17A, 27A, 2D, 14D and 23D. Thanks!

  4. A great puzzle indeed and it passed the Mini Shredded Wheat test as I wrote in the last solution while eating the last spoonful of cereal.

    I look forward to seeing more of your crosswords soon. Thanks in advance to Proilixic

    The eagle-eyed amongst you should note that when you see a similar clue to one found in this crossword in an MPP in a few months time, I solved the MPP clue yesterday so no ‘borrowing’ of ideas will have taken place.

  5. This is a very good debut – thanks Meles. You’ve got the difficulty level right and not tried to make your clues too complicated.
    I particularly liked 10a, 11a, 30a, 2d, 23d and 26d.
    More like this would be very welcome.

  6. A very solver friendly puzzle. Nothing too obscure or too complicated here. The clues looked like clues, read like clues and led to an answer like regular cryptic crossword puzzle clues do. If only more rookies could recognise that. I often give up on a rookie puzzle because the clues are so dissimilar to what I am used to. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck it probably is a duck. Well done Meles. A very credible first offering. I hope there are more to come

  7. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Meles.

    As others have said, this was a highly impressive debut and I have lots of ticks and double ticks on my printed page. Bravo! The surfaces were mostly excellent, although 28d stood out as being very unconvincing and probably needed a complete re-think. I agree with Fez’s reservation about “are” in 5d, “repeatedly” could have substituted for it, and I would have preferred to see “ingesting” to “ingest” in 2d for similar cryptic grammar reasons. “In” was repeated as an insertion indicator (26a and 19d) and I thought having two last letter devices (deleting one, adding another) in 10a wasn’t the smoothest of constructions. All these are fairly minor points, however, and shouldn’t detract from what was a high-quality puzzle overall.

    Congratulations, Meles, you have set the bar pretty high now for your second puzzle, but on this evidence I’m confident you’ll maintain or even surpass this standard. Many thanks.

    1. I definitely prefer repeatedly for 5d, the “are” was to indicate the same but didn’t seem quite right – probably should have been a prompt to revisit it (likewise for 28d). I did struggle with mixing tenses on 2d but ingesting / becoming fixes that nicely.

  8. Great puzzle, thank you Meles. Couldn’t understand ‘Way’ in 24d to arrive at the answer. Also in 30a didn’t think the word used for ‘anger’ meant anger. Otherwise much enjoyed. Look forward to the next one.

    1. In 30a I think “anger, possibly” refers to one of seven deadly examples (though more commonly cited as “wrath”)

  9. Welcome to the Corner, Meles. I can only reiterate what has already been said about this being an excellent debut puzzle with only the most minor of corrections possibly required. I wonder how long it took you to figure out an anagram for the first across clue?
    Not sure that I’ve satisfactorily parsed 22a but no doubt someone will enlighten me.
    Well done indeed, I hope we can look forward to seeing plenty more offerings from you.

  10. A very good debut indeed. The first clue was a beauty to kick it off, with the poo on the swings a close runner-up at 14d.
    I think ‘better’ was fine at 11a, presumably as a verb.
    I agree with others that ‘way’ in 24d isn’t quite right – maybe ‘something’ instead.
    I’m not sure about ‘to’ as a link to the definition in 21d, although that’s a very minor point.

  11. I agree with others and MP in particular in that if this had appeared as a midweek back-pager there would have been nothing to suggest it was out of place.
    My ticks go to 11,15&22a plus 4d(very funny)8&14d.
    Many thanks Meles, great stuff.

  12. Great to see you here, Meles. Well done on producing this puzzle and congratulations for the positive comments it’s receiving. I too enjoyed it. I personally really liked 28d – I thought it was a natty construction and the surface brought to mind a scientist whose error leads to the accidental combustion of a laboratory bunny! I also really like 27a, 14d and 23d. My only piece of constructive criticism relates to 26a – while there’s nothing technically wrong with it, it felt a little odd to have ‘in’ beside something clueing ‘in’.

    1. That’s interesting on 28d, in my head it was a someone trying to roast (?) a rabbit and horribly burning it. I rather like your version though.

  13. Like others I found this excellent and had lots of ticks, notably 21d and 23d. In 24d “way” indicates a method (eg blink) in which the answer may be used. My only comment that others haven’t made was that a few clues were surprisingly simple – notably 9/13/12 (given away instantly by the letter count), 18a, 25a & 31a. I’m sure Crypticsue was only on a small bowl of Shredded Wheat this morning!!! Even for me, this made it an easy solve, but very pleasant nonetheless.

      1. No, I don’t think so RD. Suggesting that “way” pointed more to a verbal answer than the actual one.

    1. I was particularly slow to get 9/13/12 (could see what was required but couldn’t think of the answer) so for a while was bemoaning the impact this had on my ability to make progress. However, the rest was sufficiently friendly for that not to be a problem for too long. I’m not a huge fan of clues that span so many words across the grid for that reason – whether or not the solver gets the answer quickly can have a disproportionate impact on the difficulty of the puzzle.

      1. I did wonder about 9/13/12 as I often have the same reservations when solving. I justified (to myself) the inclusion as it has 17 letters (10 crossers) so not *too* different from a full row or column clue. I saw a recent comment about making clues in useful grid locations harder so that the solver earns the payoff, I guess the same applies here?

  14. Very good Rookie Corner fare, not over-pitched as has been noted
    All went in smoothly and no pauses for nose-wrinkling – surely a sign of a good puzzle
    Many thanks and well done Meles

  15. Thanks for all the comments, it is very much appreciated. I was concerned this would be too straightforward so am pleased that it seems to be an enjoyable solve!

    The detailed points are great – all fair and definitely some places that could be tightened up. I’ll try to respond individually later on today.

  16. The 9/13/12 COTD was a corker to kick off with & the standard of clueing was maintained throughout. I thought it a real pleasure to work through from start to finish. This could comfortably grace a DT back page slot. Ticks aplenty from me – 10,15,22,27&30a plus 1,7,13,19&21d all good ‘uns
    Many thanks & well done on an excellent debut. Bring on the next one

  17. Very enjoyable and a fairly quick solve. Some very neat clueing worthy of more established setters. My only quibble is with 22ac where the clue seems to lead to a word ending in ER whereas to get 24dn it needs to be the EE ending – or have I missed something? (Apologies if that’s already been answered – I’ve only skimmed through the previous comments.)
    Thanks, Meles – I don’t think it’ll be long before you’re in the NTSPP slot.

    1. Got it now! The first key needs to be expanded then followed by the second so ‘key key’ is the wordplay followed by ‘for [definition]’. D’oh!

  18. Thanks to Prolixic for the review and once again to everyone that commented, the feedback is really valuable and much appreciated. Hopefully I’ll be here again soon!

  19. Meles. May I point out that Prolixic’s comments in Italics are very few. I don’t remember a debut puzzle with so few before. You can be truly proud of this

  20. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. So nice to see a Rookie displaying such talent in a debut puzzle.

  21. A very late comment from me. I fully agree that this was an excellent Rookie debut. Quite exceptional, in fact.
    Unlike so many Rookie offerings, it was also accessible and thoroughly enjoyable.
    Many thanks, Meles, and congratulations. I do hope we shall be seeing more of you soon.
    Many thanks Prolixic for the excellent review. Much appreciated though not needed for once!

  22. This was the first Rookie crossword I have attempted and I thought it was excellent. I really enjoyed it and my favourite clues were 23D & 28D.

    I waited until the review appeared before commenting, as I am relatively new to both the DT cryptic and this website. I agree with most of the previous comments, but a couple of things puzzled me.

    In 15A I don’t see why S is an abbreviation for Society. S may be the initial letter, but I have never heard of society being abbreviated in this way.

    In 20A ‘supports’ seems a strange choice of word to indicate a lurker.

    May I add my congratulations to Meles on a great start.

    1. hi Scientist,

      Re 15a S is an abbreviation for Society because … Chambers dictionary (the Big Red Book, BRB) says so! I think if it’s in Chambers it is considered fair (and if not then no … which rules out possibly more familiar abbreviations such as A/D = across/down for cruciverbalists, or i = information as in the standard signs for tourist info)

      This reliance on / regard for Chambers may be a little arbitrary, but it does make sense to have a ‘standard’ reference to ensure all is fair (even if not always intuitive) – it can act as a sort of referee to decide in cases of doubt. And in this case, S = Society is deemed OK.

      As for 20a, “supports” I think is a good description of how the larger phrase includes/houses the lurker. Chambers (again, of course) includes definitions for “support” including “to sustain” and “to nourish” which I think do describe the intended relationship.

      It’s well worth following Rookie Corner – this one from Meles is an exceptional example, but no matter the ‘quality’ of puzzle the comments (and especially Prolixic’s reviews) always make it educational! For aspiring setters, and for anyone interested in the workings of cryptics, it really is the best place to learn.

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