Rookie Corner 417 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Rookie Corner 417

A Puzzle by Twmbarlwm

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

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.

Twmbarlwm continues to impress.  There are only a small number of comments, one of them might be debatable but applying standard conventions, it is a justifiable points to raise.  The commentometer reads as 1 / 30 or 3.3%.  Given the consistent quality of the crosswords, I think we need to move from the Welsh valley to the heights of the NTSPP.


1 Summer visitor in Cornwall brook? (7)
SWALLOW – The geographical region of which Cornwall forms a part followed by a five-letter word meaning to brook or permit.

5 Like college class (7)
UNIFORM – A three-letter abbreviation for a college followed by a four-letter word for class.

9 I heard Carol making part of cake (5)
ICING – The I from the clue followed by a homophone of sing (carol).

10 Painful shoulder for Spooner’s untidy lout (9)
LITTERBUG – A Spoonerism of bitter (painful) lug (shoulder).

11 Guarding dock in recess, sees where trials are held (10)
COURTROOMS – A six-letter word meaning sees or dates includes (guarding) a reversal (in recess) of a four-letter word meaning to dock or tie up a boat.

12 Rousing musical, back tingling regularly (4)
GIGI – A reversal (back) of the even letters (regularly) in tingling.

14 Might a horse unfortunately start to tire here? (4,8)
HOME STRAIGHT – An anagram (unfortunately) of MIGHT A HORSE followed by the initial letter (start to) of tire.

18 Thinking again about seats with guys in the way (12)
REASSESSMENT – A two-letter word meaning about, an American term for seats or bottoms and a three-letter word for guys all inside the abbreviation for street (way).  As the American spelling of arses is being used, this should be indicated.

21 With it being cold, starts to hunch in coat (4)
CHIC – The abbreviation for cold followed by the initial letters (starts to) of the final three words of the clue.  Try not to repeat wordplay indicators (start was also used as the initial letter indicator in 14a).

22 Hurt sent secret audition (6,4)
SCREEN TEST – An anagram (hurt) of SENT SECRET.

25 Someone who presents mature port (9)
ANCHORAGE – A six-letter word for an on-screen presenter followed by a three-letter word meaning to mature.

26 Excuse boxer’s effort falling short (5)
ALIBI – The three-letter name of a world champion heavyweight boxer followed by a three-letter word for an effort or try / shot at something with the final letter removed (falling short).

27 Lead in Star Trek oddly entertaining in bad film, perhaps (7)
STINKER – The first letter (lead) in star followed by an anagram (oddly) of TREK includes (entertaining) the IN from the clue.

28 Significant bank job (7)
TELLING – Double definition.


1 Breaking into school, idiot who’s 28? (6)
SNITCH – A three-letter abbreviation for school includes (breaking into) a three-letter word for an idiot.

2 Dislike cartoon style, American, not English (6)
ANIMUS – A five-letter word for a Japanese cartoon style has the final E (English) replaced by a two-letter abbreviation for American.

3 After ‘Land Ho!’, point – at this? (10)
LIGHTHOUSE – A five-letter word meaning to land or disembark followed by the HO from the clue and a three-letter word meaning point (as in what’s the point / ???).

4 An agreement to follow Roger? (5)
WILCO – A radio-ham’s word indicating agreement that often follows the radio call “Roger”.

5 Faction heading off international parent corporation’s threat (9)
ULTIMATUM – A four-letter word for a sect or faction without the initial letter (heading off) following by the abbreviation for international, a two-letter word for a mother (parent) and a three-letter word for a stomach or corporation.

6 Day after the Glorious Twelfth, perhaps some grouse disease arising (4)
IDES – The answer is hidden (some) and reversed (arising) in the words “grouse disease”.

7 Neat Bond seen in elite institutions (8)
OXBRIDGE – A two-letter word for a cow (neat) followed by a six-letter word for a bond.

8 Dust china cups for artist (8)
MAGRITTE – A four-letter word for dust inside (cups) a four-letter word for a friend (chine).

13 ‘All bacon contaminated!’ That’s gripping news making a big splash (10)
CANNONBALL – An anagram (contaminated) of ALL BACON includes NN (news – new in the plural).

15 Cushy professorship that’s found in conservatory maybe (4,5)
EASY CHAIR – Cryptic definition of a form of seating.

16 Excellent support for Garfunkel in studio session? (3,5)
ART CLASS – A five-letter word meaning excellent underneath (support for) the first name of Garfunkel.

17 Carey, one accommodating a bit of Christian folk music (8)
MARIACHI – The first name of the singer Carey and the letter representing one includes (accommodating) the first letter (bit of) Christian.  I agree that as there are very few known people called Mariah, a definition by example indicator is not essential here.

19 For one turning, small sign (6)
GEMINI – The abbreviation of for example or for one reversed (turning) followed by a four-letter word meaning small.

20 Son tense, needing tinkle in queue (6)
STRING – The abbreviations for son and tense followed by (needing) a four-letter word meaning to tinkle like a bell.

23 Former tennis champ always on time (5)
EVERT – A four-letter word meaning always followed by the abbreviation for time.

24 I don’t like that King novel (4)
BOOK – A three-letter word expressing disapproval follows by the abbreviation for king.

32 comments on “Rookie Corner 417

  1. A quality puzzle. We were making no progress in the NW so went to the SE where we got a toe-hold and worked back from there with 1a the last to fall. Too many good clues to be able to pick just one favourite.
    Thanks Twmbarlwm.

  2. Thanks Twmbarlwm – a very pleasant end to my Sunday evening solving.

    It took me some time to get going and then I took a ‘shotgun’ approach to a steady completion.

    I really liked 156d and 23d.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Thanks Twmbarlwm, very enjoyable. Started slowly with only a handful on first pass, but working upwards from SE everything gradually – and satisfyingly – fell into place. Just one minor quibble I think 18a needs a US indicator. Great clues throughout, my favourites were 25a, 8d, 19d & 20d. Thanks again, and in advance to Prolixic.

  4. This was a very classy puzzle, Twmbarlwm, and a real pleasure to solve. My experience was similar to the 2Ks in that I made no headway at first in my usual starting point of the NW corner. On my first pass, I got a few answers in the NE and SW, and finally completed the SE. I then went back to the start and it all came together nicely.

    I tend to associate the arrival in the UK of 1a’s with the spring but, as they are still here in the summer, that clue is fine. Unlike Fez, I don’t think 18a needs a US indicator – it definitely does need one!

    I agree with the 2Ks, there are far too many excellent clues to try to pick a single favourite (or even a handful).

    Many thanks and very well done, Twmbarlwn. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic, who I don’t imagine will be overworked today.

  5. A really enjoyable puzzle pitched at just the right level – thanks Twmbarlwm.
    Of the many I ticked I’ll pick out 14a, 25a and 8d.

  6. Great fun, LOI 7d I had forgotten that neat construction. NE corner I found the hardest but steady progress and just one reveal got me to the finish. Thanks Twmbarlwm.

  7. Welcome back, Twmbarlwm.

    Absolutely superb, the quality of the clues, the constructions and the surfaces was first rate. I often raise my eyebrows when someone says that a Rookie puzzle could easily grace a national newspaper, but this one would pass with flying colours. I think that, since Acnestis, you are the best new setter I’ve seen, so I have a strong feeling that we shall see you published nationally at some point, should you want that of course.

    Congratulations and huge thanks for a brilliant puzzle.

  8. Very enjoyable indeed Twmbarlwm fresh and witty throughout.
    I really liked lots but I’ll highlight 1&14a plus 1,3,5,23&24d, and thought the construction of 8d particularly clever. Well done and thanks. Thanks in advance to Prolixic too.

  9. A big thumbs up from me too. A really top notch puzzle & easily my favourite of those done today (2 Telegraph & a Graun). Last 2 in were 17d & 27a & with the former I was fixated on George rather than Maria until the penny dropped. Big ticks for 1,10,14,22&27a plus 3,5,7,8,15,17&24d & ticks for the rest of them.
    Thanks & well done Twmbarlwm
    Can’t parse 11a ?

    1. Reverse a synonym of ‘dock’ and place it inside another word for ‘sees’ as in goes out with

      1. That’s what I figured but didn’t realise moor was synonymous with dock.
        Thanks for confirmation

  10. Cheers, everyone. I’m glad you all seem to have enjoyed the puzzle – thanks for giving up your time to solve it.

    Silvanus, I’m chuffed with your compliment. I’ve set many similar unsubmitted puzzles since this one and naturally I would love to set professionally one day. (But how does that happen? :scratch: :unsure: )

    Fez and RD, I deliberately didn’t indicate the Americanism at 18a because I think it’s so widely known that I can’t see anyone in the UK being baffled or unfairly stymied by it. I looked at other setters’ uses of it (eg Shed’s ‘backside’ in CLASS, Jason’s LASS clued as ‘Girl is left behind’, and as a synonym for bottom in DT 26389), and none of them indicated it either.

    Huntsman, the evocation of George Carey was deliberate (hence Christian folk music), so I’m glad you noticed it. In case anyone’s wondering, it’s Mariah, not Maria, which is why I didn’t use ‘perhaps’ etc, as I don’t think there are any other really famous Mariahs.

    1. I guessed it was & thought it very clever. Agree with you re ass – have often been told to get off mine & make an effort

    2. Hi TwmbarIwm, first of all many congratulations again on such a splendid puzzle. It was joy to solve.

      I wouldn’t want to take anything away from it by focussing on the one (very minor) negative point from my perspective, but I would like to spell out my reservations about the use of foreign words, including Americanisms, in British puzzles.

      I don’t believe there are any rules as such about the use of non-UK words in UK crosswords. It’s a question of what editors and solvers find acceptable, and it is unlikely that such a diverse group will be in total agreement on something like this. My opinion is that if a non-UK word or phrase is in regular use in the UK (e.g.: coup d’état) , this is fair game, but if it is not (e.g.: ass) then it requires an indicator. I know several setters who compile for UK daily newspapers and they aim to follow this principle, and Chris Lancaster, the Telegraph Puzzles Editor, has confirmed this in his excellent book How To Solve A Cryptic Crossword.

      A particular difficulty with US terms is that language evolves and yesterday’s Americanism becomes acceptable tomorrow in the UK. Collins and Chambers often disagree about them, although both are in full agreement that “ass” meaning “behind” is uniquely American. I agree this specific example wouldn’t baffle many British solvers, but nor would spelling colour as “color”, for example.

      My thinking is that it is probably better to indicate foreign words if in doubt.

      1. Thanks, RD. I don’t disagree with you because I think that’s a good principle to follow – and ultimately, of course, the editor would have the final say.
        In this case, I felt it would be more unwieldy as “seats in New York” or similar, especially given the precedents I found elsewhere, and hoped it wasn’t too much of a gamble. Obviously there are other synonyms, but this was the best surface with a story that I had. Tough word to clue, and not my choice!

    3. T, 18a. I agree with you – “ass” is not an “obscure” Americanism and surely doesn’t need any “indication”.

          1. :-)
            This discussion is starting to remind me of the Waldorf Salad episode of Fawlty Towers with the obnoxious Mr Hamilton.
            ‘Say if he doesn’t get on the ball you’re gonna bust his ass.’
            ‘Bust his..?’
            ‘Oh, that.’

  11. Hi Twmbarlwm,

    The natural progression from Rookie Corner is to Big Dave’s NTSPP slot on Saturdays, this has become a well-trodden path for many setters. You already have puzzles appearing on the MyCrossword site, so if you can gain promotion to the NTSPP too, a certain puzzles editor at The Independent who has a track record for giving opportunities to Big Dave alumni over the years could well be interested. You would need to submit a new sample puzzle, but you can (and should) certainly make reference to where your crosswords have previously appeared. I’d be happy to give you the cruciverbal equivalent of a “character reference” if that would help, as I’ve now worked for this particular editor for over five years. I would definitely recommend not making this step without at least one or two NTSPP appearances first, though.

    1. Hi Silvanus. I’d be delighted to have your help if it comes to it, but yes, early days. I wasn’t trying to get ahead of myself – I’m still not out of Rookie Corner, obviously, and the point of RC and NTSPP is to be a nursery and showcase for us novices. But I have occasionally thought about how new setters do get selected, and that it might involve networking on Facebook groups etc, which I don’t do; the alternative of sending editors unsolicited puzzles when they’re already overworked is probably inadvisable!
      Thanks for your advice and encouragement.

  12. Amazingly for me, my first go through resulted in just six unsolved clues. Second try (after a catnap) left just 13D and I finally resorted to revealing the first letter. That did the trick. I endorse the congratulations of my much more learned colleagues. Many thanks Twmbarlwm.

    1. Thanks, EC. I actually like the idea of a solver having relatively little trouble with my clues, with a small minority giving serious pause for thought. Quite hard to get that right for all, though.

    1. Thank you very much, RD. Looks like the jury has returned its verdict in the notorious bottoms case!

  13. Prolixic, thank you for the review and especially for the promotion! I hope I can maintain a decent standard for my next one.
    Thank you to all who have commented and advised and thanks to Big Dave and my test-solver who volunteered their services after my first Rookie appeared.

  14. Congratulations Twmbarlwm. This was most enjoyable tussle. I endorse earlier comments that this was a finer example of the cruciverbalist art form than some of those we see published in the broadsheets – notably today’s Telegraph back pager!

    Working from the downs upwards certainly seemed to the easiest way in, with the NE last to fall, but only with some electronic help I must confess. I await Proloxic’s review for an explanation of Bond in 7d and why film in 27a. I really enjoyed your clever anagram in 14a, and 20d raised the biggest smile.

    Many thanks for the entertainment.

  15. Congratulations Twmbarlwm, a well deserved promotion – looking forward to your first NTSPP :-)

Comments are closed.