Rookie Corner 422 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 422

A Puzzle by Troellog

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This week Troellog joins Rookie Corner. 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.

Troellog is a Welsh term meaning devious; mazy; sinuous; spiral or tortuous.  Whether our new Rookie is from Wales or not, the crossword was entertaining and not overly devious.  As many have pointed out, there are a number of rough edges to the clues that need to be smoothed away.  However, the basic structure or framework of the clues is good.  I think that the particular points to concentrate on are avoiding repetitions in the wordplay and avoiding padding words in the clues.

Given the number of rough edges, the commentometer is fairly high, but all the issues are ones that can be easily remedied, so I hope that his or her next crossword shows a marked improvement if a lot of the simple issues can be addressed.  The informal scores on the doors in 8 / 32 or 25%


1 Ended ten-pin playing for free? (11)
INDEPENDENT – An anagram (playing) of ENDED TEN PIN.

7 Great in a sofa-bed (3)
FAB – The answer is hidden in the hyphenated word in the clue.

9 Act distant when topless (5)
EMOTE – A six-letter word meaning distant without the first letter (when topless).

10 Spell test, against the clock (4,5)
TIME TRIAL -A four-letter word for period or spell followed by a five-letter word for a test.  Here, the verbal phrase against the clock doe not lead to the nounal phrase in the solution.

11 Used to play with gorilla poop in back street (4,5)
TAPE DECKS – A three-letter word for a gorilla and a four-letter word for the part of a ship described as a poop all in a reversal (back) of the abbreviation for street.  Some solvers do not like verbal definitions where a verbal phrase is used to indicate a noun.  Provided that the verbal phrase identifies the noun sufficiently, this is permissible.  You can avoid the issue by indicating the noun with a contraction such as “One used to play…”

12 Fortunate girl ingests vitamin (5)
LUCKY – A four-letter name of a girl includes (ingests) a letter representing a vitamin required for, among other things, blood clotting.

13 Onwards! To battle, in Harrison (7)
FORWARD – A three-letter word meaning to battle inside the surname of the actor whose first name is Harrison.  As Harrison is a definition by example of people called by that surname, a definition by example indicator is required.  Perhaps a ? at the end of the clue.

15 To cut back before end of term is a test (4)
EXAM – A three-letter word meaning to cut is reversed (back) before the final letter (end) of term.  Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators.  Back was used as reversal indicator in 11a.

18 Singer from Reading? Sounds like it (4)
OTIS – The first name of the singer whose surname is Redding which sounds like the pronunciation of the Berkshire town of Reading.

20 I hear that their two relates to it, in legal terms? (7)
THERETO – Homophone (I hear that) of THEIR TWO.  It is a good discipline to try to avoid the same clue types in successive clues, particularly for homophone and hidden word clues which are simpler clues for the solver.  I would also omit the “that”.

23 After I ride every rodeo in the beginning, I get a horse? (5)
AIRER – The initial letters (in the beginning) of the first five words of the clue.

24 Box, rear and start to pogo jump, a celebratory move? (5,4)
CHEST BUMP – A five-letter word for a type of box followed by a three-letter word for a bottom or rear and the initial letter (start to) of pogo.  The jump in the clue is superfluous.  You should try avoid padding words that do not add to the wordplay.

26 Part of rig glides in one direction, squirming the most (9)
WIGGLIEST – Five letters (part of) from the third and fourth words of the clue inside one of the points of the compass (in one direction).  The word “in” has been used as an insertion indicator three times now.  Again, try to avoid this sort of repetition.  More importantly, I think that the clue lacks enough precision to make it fair for the solver.  In the same way that should should not use “Most of X “to indicate an indeterminate number of initial letters from a word, here you asking the solver to take an unknown number of letters hidden in the clue and insert them into another unknown word of indeterminate length.

27 Agitated, slew a red dragon here? (5)
WALES – An anagram (agitated) of SLEW A.

28 Use this to shoot spineless penguins? (3)
GUN – Remove the letters in spine (spine-less) from the last word of the clue.  Where the letters to be removed are not in the same order, it is customary to include an anagram indicator to show this.

29 A downtrodden dreary shrew does the laundry (6-5)
WASHER-DRYER – An anagram (downtrodden) of DREARY SHREW.  I think that the A at the beginning of the clue should be omitted here.  Again this is another verbal phrase to define a noun.  You could avoid this by having “dreary shrew’s one that does…”


1 Recognise some parts only fit Ned if back to front (8)
IDENTIFY – The answer is hidden (some parts) and reversed (back to front) in the fourth to seventh words of the clue.  Again there is the repetition of wordplay indicators (part has a hidden word indicator has been used is 26a and back (being similar to back to front) in 11a.

2 Very quiet as heart of complicated orders. Butterfingers?! (8)
DROPPERS – The musical abbreviation for very quiet inside (as the heart of) an anagram (complicated) of ORDERS.

3 Beg for parking at the front (5)
PLEAD – The abbreviation for parking followed by a four-letter word meaning at the front.  With link words such as “for”, the work only in one direction.  You can have wordplay for definition but not definition for wordplay.

4 Saw that bun was plain! (7)
NOTICED – Split 3-4, this would indicate a bun without sugar confection on the top.

5 Together, heard to be working with large numbers (2,5)
EN-MASSE – A homophone (heard to be) of ON (working) MASS (large numbers).  Another repetition of a wordplay indicator with hear already being used in 20a.

6 Stimulate it poorly in gallery (9)
TITILLATE – The it from the clue and a three-letter word meaning poorly inside (in – again) a four-letter name for an art gallery.

7 Quail is another bird on the one hand (6)
FLINCH – The abbreviation for left (one hand) inside a five-letter word for another bird.  I don’t think that the clue works to indicate that the abbreviation has to be inserted in the name of the bird.  A on B in a down clue indicates A on top of B, not A around B.  The link of defintion IS wordplay does not really work.

8 Go like this? Like a goat with unknown blood type? (6)
BILLYO – A five-letter word for a male goat followed by the letter for a blood type.  The unknown indicator is not required here as the name of the goat already ends with a letter Y.

14 Flush subsequent to having grand down (9)
AFTERGLOW – A five-letter word meaning subsequent to followed by the abbreviation for grand and three-letter word meaning down.

16 Erotically make male or female university friend (8)
SEXUALLY – A three-letter word indicating gender (male or female) followed by the abbreviation for university and a four-letter word for a friend.  Make as a link word does not work as the clue resolves cryptically to definition make wordplay.  Again it is a one way link word.  You could have wordplay makes (note the plural) definition, but not definition make wordplay.

17 Songwriter is also officer in charge and male model (8)
COMPOSER – A two-letter abbreviation for an officer in charge  followed by the abbreviation for male and a five-letter word for a model.  Try to avoid superfluous words.  Here, I would omit “is also” to avoid the structure “definition is also” wordplay and replace it with “Songwriter’s” to give the structure definition has wordplay.

19 At the start, stand up can cause extreme stress symptoms – but what an achievement (7)
SUCCESS – The initial letters of the fourth to tenth words of the clue.

20 A table from a very French atelier, oddly (7)
TRESTLE – A four-letter French word meaning very followed by the odd letters of atelier.  This is another clue where the two As could be omitted – particularly the second one.

21 Bug, using a bug? (6)
EARWIG – Double definition of to eavesdrop and a type of insect.

22 Doctor Silver on mythical creature that hoards gold (6)
DRAGON – A two-letter abbreviation for doctor followed by the chemical symbol for silver and the on from the clue

25 Dragged, to do this at the altar? (5)
TOWED – The two from the clue followed by a three-letter word of what a bride and groom do before the altar.

31 comments on “Rookie Corner 422

  1. There is a lot of original thinking here in what we found a very solvable puzzle. Quite a few little loose ends to tidy up and once they are taken care of we see the potential for some good puzzle from this setter. Biggest smiles came from 11a and 24a.
    Thanks Troellog.

  2. Very well done Troellog for producing such a witty accessible crossword.
    Many clues to like: 9a, 26a (lovely word) 1d, 4d, and 8d. all merit a mention with the pick of the bunch being the mischievous 11a.
    I felt that maybe there were some clues that didn’t quite work as well as you might have hoped. However I’ll leave that for those with greater expertise to comment upon.
    Well done again and thanks for the fun.

  3. A very enjoyable end to my Sunday evening cruciverbalism.

    I really liked 11a, 3d, 6d, and 19d.

    As the 2Kiwis said, plenty of potential but there were three things that I noticed, there may be more and I may be wrong of course:

    24a – ‘jump’ might be superfluous.

    28a – I am not sure that your ‘removal instruction’ to arrive at the answer works.

    20d – the two As help the surface reading but they don’t add anything to the clue.

    Thanks Troellog.

    1. S, 28a. Yes, the removed “spine” isn’t in that order. But, the clue would work if it was penis-less instead!

  4. Welcome to Rookie Corner Troellog and thank you for an enjoyable crossword. I really liked 11a, 23a (sneaky definition) and 19d. I agree with Senf about 28a – you need something to tell us that ‘spine’ isn’t in that order.

    There are a few other things that need attention which Prolixic will address in his review, for which many thanks in advance

    1. Prolixic is taking a family funeral today so the review may be delayed.

  5. Good fun, lovely start to a Monday morning. Thank you Troellog. Condolences to Prolixic.

  6. Hi, Troellog. I managed to solve this and enjoyed doing so — which is pretty much all I want in a crossword, so thank you, and well done.

    4A made me smile. I also particularly liked 6D, 7D, and 11A.

    In 13A, a different definition may be preferable, to avoid a big overlap between it and the 4/7 of the answer. (I do like the wordplay, though.)

    In 26A I wasn’t keen on the partial lurker, where the letters being extracted aren’t themselves a word, because there’s nothing to help you work out which arbitrary set of letters to extract until you have the answer.

    And in 5D, it’s hardly a coincidence that ‘masse’ and ‘mass’ are homophones, so that clue is a bit ‘single definition twice’: both of them have the sense of “large numbers”.

    Finally, I’m not convinced that all your definitions are quite the right part of speech. For instance, if I’ve parsed 29A correctly then its definition is “does the laundry”, a verb, yet the answer is something that does the laundry, a noun. And in 10A, the definition is “against the clock” (an adjectival phrase) but the answer is an activity that is done against the clock (a noun). Not quite the same, but in 4D “saw” is the definition and “was plain” is the wordplay; the bun only comes into it to give context to the wordplay (so we know which kind of not being plain you’re referring to) — which unfortunately means it doesn’t quite fit. Wordplay of “bun was plain” yields ‘cake noticed’ or similar. Maybe there’s a form like ‘was plain, as a bun may be’ where the “as” indicates the bun is just providing context (though obviously not exactly that phrasing, cos that wouldn’t work for the surface)?

    But … nothing in the preceding paragraph spoilt the puzzle for me (indeed I listed one of those clues among my favourites): they were all clear enough what you intended, and in some ways if the intent is clear and the clue leads to the solution both ways then the setter has succeeded. However, if the puzzle had been harder, then inaccurate parts of speech might be misleading enough to make a clue unsolvable; it’s still probably best to get these right.

    Thanks again. I hope I get to solve another one of your crosswords before too long.

    1. S, 13a. Yes, I agree. Advance! (adj) might be better.

      29a. I think that construct is quite common – using a verbal phrase in the clue to trigger a noun in the answer. I reckon that setters can get away with that sort of thing. After all, the answer is a thing that “does the laundry”. Is “downtrodden” being used as an anagram indicator?

    2. I really liked this clue, Smylers. I think all the clue is missing is a ? at the end, which, in my understanding at least, can indicate a clue by example or a whimsical clue – in this case the latter.

  7. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Troellog, with a promising debut which was fun to solve.

    There were a lot of “As” used as padding in a significant number of the clues, and several of your surface readings would fail the “would this make sense if I overheard it in the pub?” test. A few other minor comments:

    – Some people don’t mind the use of undefined names, but I sighed when I came across the vague girl in 12a.
    – I think “from” may be OK as a link between definition and wordplay in 18a but I’d like to find out Prolixic’s view on this.
    – “that” is unnecessary in 20a.
    – I can’t quite parse 24a. What role is “jump” playing?
    – Part of “rig glides” is a bit of a vague instruction in 26a. Once again I’d like to find out Prolixic’s view on this.
    – 28a needs an indicator that the letters to be removed are in a different order. (“Penis-less” would work!)
    – I don’t think 7d quite works.
    – “Also” is not needed in 17d.

    I had quite a few ticks, the best of which were: 11a, 23a, 19d & 25d.

    Well done and thank you, Troellog. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. Ah, you noticed the “penis-less” thing too. I did write my answer to Senf above before reading your comment here! In 29d, is “downtrodden” being used as an anagram indicator, do you think?

  8. Welcome to Rookie Corner, Troellog.

    I enjoyed solving your first crossword but it wasn’t without its flaws, unfortunately.

    Like others, I noticed many instances of superfluous words (padding) in the puzzle, I would suggest this is the main area that you need to eliminate when compiling a follow-up crossword. Two acrostics in one puzzle is probably one too many and there were repetitions of “hear” as a homophone indicator, “start” as an initial letter indicator and “in” as an insertion indicator. I also had similar thoughts to Smylers about the mismatch between certain definitions and those suggested by the wordplay. The surfaces were quite a mixed bag too!

    Overall, there was enough on display to indicate that you have an eye for a good clue, it was a pity about the rough edges. Many thanks, Troellog, I hope your next one will be even better.

  9. Nice debut with a fun puzzle – thanks Troellog.
    Most of the points that occurred to me have been made in comments above.
    My ticks went to 15a and 23a.

  10. Thanks Troellog, a really enjoyable puzzle. As others have noted, quite a few minor quibbles but I think many of these could be easily fixed with a little editing.
    26a is interesting – I’m not keen on this sort of partial lurker, but I think there were a couple of these in a recent Toughie … looking forward to Prolixic’s view on this.
    Most of the quibbles have already been mentioned but I’ll add that you may need to pay attention to a few link words – 3d has definition “for” wordplay, 16d “make” doesn’t work for me (or if intended to define ??? as a verb, I think it’d need to be “check / find out if” or similar), 19d I’m not convinced by “but what”. (I think “from” in 18a is fine, though!)
    I’m not sure the definition is the right part of speech in the otherwise excellent 11a, but that still makes my podium, alongside 14d (though surface a little odd) and 9a.
    Thanks again, and in advance to Prolixic

  11. As others have said, this was a fun and enjoyable solve, so you achieved the primary objective.
    I think there are a lot of minor technical issues which Prolixic will give clarity on – sorry to hear about the funeral – but one thing that struck me was an overuse of ???? These serve a specific purpose and were sometimes unjustified, I felt. One clue I thought did need one was 4d, yet none was found.
    But wit and promise a plenty Troellog with 25d my favourite. Keep going and learning and future puzzles will be excellent, I’m sure.

  12. Enjoyable and pitched at just the right level I thought for a Rookie debut on the basis that it’s best “not to run before you can walk”.
    Couple of little things mentioned by others that can easily be ironed out I would have thought didn’t spoil it overall for me.
    The solutions to 6&16d make an “interesting” combination and I thought 15&27a plus 25d were very smooth.
    Many thanks Troellog and thanks (and commiserations) in advance to Prolixic.

  13. Welcome to the Corner, Troellog. It made a refreshing change to get a puzzle from a Rookie who, as Stephen L commented, wasn’t trying to run before he could walk, I’m sure it’s far better to iron out any issues at this stage before attempting to ‘push the boat out’. This was eminently doable and quite enjoyable despite containing errors which Prolixic will advise you about in his review.
    Favourite here was 25d – ‘leave them on a high’ being a great mantra to follow!

    Thank you for bringing us the puzzle, Troellog, look forward to seeing your next one.

    1. A trivial point on 25d (also my favourite) was the unnecessary use of the comma. It serves only to reveal Troellog’s thinking rather too easily, nor does it have a grammatical function, and would have been better omitted IMO.

  14. Thanks, Troellog – you’ve made my day! I solved several on the first pass which spurred me on and, before I knew it, I’d finished. I understand many of the points made by those more experienced than I am but I found the clues accessible and thoroughly enjoyed the humour on display. More, please!

    Sympathies to Prolixic but how lovely to have a family member officiating.

  15. The experts have pointed out the flaws, a few of which occurred to me. Those aside I thought this a cracking debut pitched (as Stephen & Jane say) at just the right level & witty in places. 11a my clear favourite with a good few ticks elsewhere.
    Thanks Troellog & look forward to your follow up

  16. Well done on your debut, Troellog. Having made the same step a few weeks ago, I know just how many times you’ll have gone over your puzzle before pressing Send on the email to Big Dave. Some encouraging feedback on the wit and imagination from the community here and the general view that there are teething problems that can be fixed. You gave yourself one or two tough solutions to clue: 11a, 26a, 29a, maybe 2d.

    11a did make me smile, 27a is tight, 6d works nicely and I agree with those who’ve nominated 25d as the best.

    I’ll be interested in Prolixic’s view regarding 7d. I suspect it’s been debated many times before and plead, in my defence, that I am a newcomer to the forum. I’ve always wanted to feel that ‘on’ could work as an insertion indicator in the way you’ve used it. But I believe it is considered to be questionable. I have the mental image of letters tumbling down a bagatelle board (somehow remaining in the correct order!) and finding the potential insertion already in place at the bottom, so settling to either side of it.

    Thanks for the puzzle and keep at it.

  17. Not being a crossword expert I can only say that I enjoyed this puzzle from start to finish – thank you Troellog. Last one in was 11a with a smile. More please.

  18. Great puzzle, Troellog; really enjoyed the solve. Some very clever clues and my favourites were 11A, 13A & 18A I must be in a minority but I am quite happy with 28A! Thanks, I look forward to the next one.

  19. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic. Must have been the last thing you felt like doing this evening but it was much appreciated.

  20. Hi! Many thanks to Prolixic and everyone that took the time to comment – it really is appreciated. As you can gather, I really am a rookie (still learning the jargon, form and etiquette) and this was one of my very first efforts – but I hope to improve with practice and with your assistance.
    For reference: yes, downtrodden was meant to indicate an anagram; yes, I am Welsh; and I’ve had a good chuckle about the penis-less penguins comments!
    Thanks and I hope to submit another puzzle soon

    1. My first puzzle was nowhere near as good as yours, Troellog, and BD’s blog is a great place to learn. Stick with it and you’ll do very well, I feel.

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