Rookie Corner 431 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner 431

A Puzzle by Troellog

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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 Troellog.  After the first crossword, I was hoping for a marked improvement in the clueing removing a number of rough edges.  As the commentometer reads as 4.5/32 or 14.1%, this has happened (with repetitions of wordplay largely removed and padding words omitted).  There were also a lot of good clues.  The main points to watch are the use of abbreviations and having similar words in the final grid.


1 Contracts secured dubiously (7)
REDUCES – An anagram (dubiously) of SECURED.

5 Tell soldier to abandon the hindmost (7)
COMMAND – An eight-letter word for a soldier without the final letter (to abandon the hindmost).

9 Public figure to dominate (9)
OUTNUMBER – A three-letter word meaning public followed by a six-letter word for a figure or amount.

10 Start bawling as I re-use nappies – wee child (5)
BAIRN – The initial letters of the second to sixth words of the clue.  Start on its own does not work to indicate the initial letter of a single word, let alone the initial letters of two or more words.  A little reworking to “Wee child starts to bawl as I re-use nappies” would have solved this.

11 Storm wildly to and fro, without fail (7)
TORNADO – An anagram (wildly) of TO AND FRO without the initial letter of fail.  For this to work, F would have to be a valid abbreviation for fail.  However, this is not give in the main dictionaries.  Perhaps “Storm wildly to and fro but not loudly” would have been better.

12 Best to choose one then keep quiet (7)
OPTIMUM – A three-letter word meaning choose, the letter representing one and a three-letter word meaning keep quiet.  The last three letter mean silent or silently, not keep quiet.  Perhaps, “Best to choose one parent” would be better.

13 Fill up net in panic? There’s more than enough (9)
PLENTIFUL – An anagram (in panic) of FILL UP NET.

15 Priest in catholic church may be bit of a saint? (5)
RELIC – A three-letter name of an Old Testament priest in the abbreviation for Roman Catholic.

17 Take lid off paints and stir thoroughly to get this finish (5)
SATIN – Remove the first letter (take lid off) from PAINTS and make an anagram (stir thoroughly).

19 Her allies, drunk, cause a ruckus (5,4)
RAISE HELL – An anagram (drunk) of HER ALLIES.

22 Fog enveloping motorway from Birmingham (7)
BRUMMIE – A five-letter literary word for a fog or heavy mist around the abbreviation for a motorway.

25 Stupid Omicron variant (7)
MORONIC – An anagram (variant) of OMICRON.

26 Driver in part of Hamburg erratic (5)
URGER – The answer it hidden in (part) of the final two words of the clue.

27 Dodgy internet a treat (9)
ENTERTAIN – An anagram (dodgy) of INTERNET A.

28 Expose detective’s act (7)
DISPLAY – A three-letter possessive form of detective’s followed by a four-letter word for an act.

29 Frenetic French frolic (7)
FRANTIC – The abbreviation for French followed by a five-letter word for a frolic.


1 Thatcher’s workplace slated perhaps? (7)
ROOFTOP – Cryptic definition.

2 Cleaner declares arrears critical (9)
DETERGENT – A homophone (declares) of DEBT (arrears) URGENT (critical).

3 Company with uranium and radium on books. Arms running? (7)
COURANT – The abbreviation for company followed by the chemical symbols for uranium, radium and New Testament (books).

4 Speaker may be underdog (9)
SUBWOOFER – A three-letter prefix meaning under and a six-letter word describing a dog by the noise it makes.  Not all editors will accept an unindicated requirement to split underdog into under dog.

5 Use Cointreau, shaken, not neat, for trifle (5)
CURIO – An anagram (shaken) of COINTREAU after removing the letters in neat.   Where the letters to be removed are not in the order given in the clue, a secondary anagram indicator in a subtractive anagram – this was done correctly in 7d but not here .

6 Hoodlum attacks half-sister (7)
MOBSTER – A four-letter word meaning attacks followed by the final half of the word sister.  There is perhaps too much of an overlap between the first part of the wordplay and the solution.

7 Unusually, cent cut from income tax. Confused? It’s a given (5)
AXIOM – Remove the jumbled letters (unusually) of CENT from the words INCOME TAX and make an anagram (confused) of the letters that remain.

8 Unknown in genes, leading to 1001 clones to start. Exciting! (7)
DYNAMIC – One of the letters used in algebra in a three-letter abbreviation for genes followed by the roman numerals for 1001 and the first letter (to start) of clones.

14 Let one in before test, as long as phrase is repeated (9)
LEITMOTIF – The let from the clue with the letter representing one in it followed by a three-letter word for a car test and a two-letter word meaning as long as.  Try to avoid reusing wordplay indicators – one to indicate the letter was used in 12a.  The use of “is” in the definition implies a verbal form of solution.  

16 Ambush uncovered alien in broadcasting authority (3,2,4)
LIE IN WAIT – The inner letters (uncovered) of alien followed by the IN from the clue and a homophone (broadcasting) of weight (authority).

17 Sober replacement expected, finally appointed (7)
SUBDUED – A three-letter word meaning a replacement followed by a three-letter word for expected and the final letter of appointed.

18 Supporting miners, long time Labour figure (7)
NUMERAL – The abbreviation for the miners union followed by a three-letter word for a long time and a single letter abbreviation for Labour.  As with 11a, the clue requires L to be a recognised abbreviation for labour, but this is not included in the main dictionaries.

20 I rue art lost in ancient Italy (7)
ETRURIA – An anagram (lost) of I RUE ART.  A pet peeve of mine (though you see it in national papers is cluing a place, town or region as “in X” where X is the country where the place town or region. 

21 Short, lacy or nice bottoms off? (7)
LACONIC – Remove the final letters (bottoms off) from the second to fourth words of the clue.

23 Recommends 26 does this (5)
URGES– What a person who is 26 across may do.  Having an across and down clue with the same root that differ by one letter is not good.  The grid should have been redesigned to avoid this.

24 Opposition to spy endlessly over retreating soldiers (5)
ENEMY  A three-letter word meaning to spy or look without the final letter (endlessly) around (over) a reversal for a three-letter word for soldiers.  In a down clue, A over B indicates A on top of B not around B.

25 comments on “Rookie Corner 431

  1. A new word for us in 22a but it did not cause a problem.
    We thought this a very competently put together puzzle that was a joy to solve.
    Thanks Troellog.

  2. Thank you Troellog – a very enjoyable end to my Sunday evening cruciverbalism.

    Cryptic Sue will probably finish the solve before she finishes her cereal but I am sure that the experts will find a few things to pick up on so please take note of what they say.

    I had smiles for 15a, 3d, and 4d. 3d was an unexpected uses of ‘arms’ and 4d was just plain clever.

    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic.

  3. Senf was correct in his guess as to cereal v crossword!

    The Across clues were a bit anagram heavy but I enjoyed the solve very much

    Thanks to Troellog and, in advance, to Prolixic

  4. Thanks Troellog, a very enjoyable solve.

    I agree with CS the anagrams were probably overused (10 in total I think). On subject of anagrams, 5d and 7d are interesting; in 7d you’ve used a secondary indicator but not in 5d. Usually a secondary indicator is expected, but I’ve recently seen at least one Telegraph clue without (by Elgar, no less, iirc). If reading the ‘instructions’ of the clue in order, in 7d the subtracted element is removed ‘before’ the solver is asked to anagram; in 5d, the anagramming comes first – so that the subtracted element could be thought to have already been mixed up and no longer requires a separate indicator. So … I think you are on safe ground without the secondary indicator in 5d, and correct to use it in 7d. But will be interested in Prolixic’s (and others) views!

    A few minor quibbles:
    – I think 10a needs to be “Starts to bawl…” (although having the single-letter “I” as part of the phrase is perhaps not ideal)
    – I’m not sure the abbreviations in 11a and 18d are standard?
    – I very much like the attempt to indicate a heraldic term in 3d, but not convinced it quite works grammatically
    – Definitions in 14d and 20d don’t seem quite right
    – The definitions in 23d are very ‘same-sidey’, but in any case I’m not keen on having two such similar entries in the grid
    – I also expect the synonym in 8d mightn’t be quite correct, but I think it is fine in crossword-land!

    Despite these quibbles it was a really fun puzzle with lots of good ideas and plenty to enjoy. Favourites for me were 15a (for the definition), 22a (for the surface) and 2d (a super homophone). Many thanks again Troellog, and in advance to Prolixic.

    1. I didn’t think about the abbreviations in 11ac and 18dn at the time but one might justify F for ‘fail’ by reference to examination gradings A to F where F is equivalent to a fail. L for ‘Labour’ (with or without uppercase L) isn’t correct, though. Where political parties are concerned L is Liberal (now of course Lib Dem) – Labour is usually Lab.

      1. I’m not sure about F for fail – GCSE (for example) has pass grades A-G (so F is a *pass* grade, with U for ‘unclassified’ being, basically, fail); A-levels although only A-E are passes the ‘fail’ is again U; in Scotland it’s usually NA (no award). (The ‘International Foundation Year’ award *does* have F=fail, but it seems a bit obscure.)
        I’m well aware this level of pedantry is excessive – as others have rightly pointed out, Troellog’s puzzle is great fun and that enjoyment easily trumps such minor quibbles!

  5. Well done, Troellog – I thought this was very neat overall. Favourites were 1a, 4d and 17d.

    As crypticsue says, it’s quite anagram-heavy, and the juxtaposition of 23d and 26a is unfortunate (and then you’ve used a related word as an element of the wordplay in 2d as well). There were a few other small details here and there I could pick up on but nothing to really spoil the fun. I look forward to reading Prolixic’s review.

  6. Welcome back to Rookie Corner, Troellog. You have made good progress since your first submission and this was a lot of fun.

    Fez has already mentioned several of the points I was going to make particularly regarding the abbreviations in 11a & 18d and the use of “starts” rather than “start” for 10a. However, I am not convinced by his logic regarding the lack of secondary anagram indicator for 5d. How about “Cointreau, shaken not stirred neat, for trifle?”

    The surface of 17a doesn’t make sense as it needs to read “take lids off paints …” which would of course not work for the wordplay.

    22a would be a perfect clue except that the M1 doesn’t go through Birmingham!

    I had a lot of ticks on my page but the outstanding moment for me was the realisation of the relevance of the broadcasting authority in 16d.

    Many thanks and well done, Troellog, and please keep them coming. Thanks too in advance to Prolixic.

    1. You’re probably correct re the secondary indivator, RD – I’m sure I’d seen at least one recent clue without, but can’t find it in a (very cursory) search of the archives so could well be mistaken. Whilst I think my logic is sound, I do agree including a secondary indicator is fairer anyway, and in this case with ‘shaken’ and ‘stirred’ available it may have provided a superiror surface too.

  7. Great, Troellog, fun to solve. We agree with Widdersbel re 23d and 26a and we still haven’t fully parsed 16d. Otherwise no problems once we put the correct answer into 9a to resolve 4d.
    We look forward to more from you. Thanks in advance to Prolixic and very best wishes to BD re Tilsit’s latest update.

  8. Hi Troellog, like others I found this an enjoyable solve, albeit slightly heavy on the anagrams. I pretty much agree with Fez’s analysis word for word. The problem with 14d for me is that you have a verbal phrase defining a noun and, in 20d, a prepositional phrase defining a proper noun. But as a whole I thought the puzzle was fair to the solver (perhaps overly so at times!) and displayed some excellent ideas – 3d, 4d raised smiles. Good job!

  9. Very enjoyable Troellog.
    I can’t add to what others have so I’ll just say well done!
    16,17&21d were my ticks. Pity the 25a anagram is so generally known though;
    Thanks and thanks in advance to Prolixic

  10. Welcome back, Troellog.

    Like RD, I thought this second puzzle from you showed a distinct improvement on your first, particularly as far as the surface readings were concerned.

    Yes, the anagram count was high, but I suspect you’ve endeared yourself to our reviewer by including some subtractive anagrams, possibly his very favourite type of clue! Most of the annotations on my printed page have already been raised, notably by Fez, but you should be very pleased with the progress you’ve made. I’ll choose 22a as my favourite clue, excellent surface and good misdirection!

    Many thanks, Troellog.

  11. Bravo, Troellog, I thoroughly enjoyed this one regardless of whatever niggles may be picked up by the experts. I was unfamiliar with the 22a fog and didn’t overly care for the 23/26 combo but found a considerable number of clues worthy of ticks and/or smiles – 17 by my count!
    As I think I mentioned on your last outing, it makes a refreshing change to come across a Rookie who simply wants to hone his talents and produce enjoyable puzzles.

  12. As one who is far from expert, my criteria involve enjoyment with just enough challenge to exercise diminishing brain cells in order to complete a crossword. This ticked all my boxes so many thanks, Troellog. It’s great that those with much more experience are prepared to give up so much time to pass on their thoughts and always constructive help.
    I look forward to your next effort.

  13. I thought this an excellent puzzle, Troellog, and other than the number of anagrams (which, because of the differing types used, unusually didn’t bother me) the only point that I had marked to raise was the lack of a plural ‘s’ in 10a. I should have been quite happy to encounter this on a Monday/Tuesday DT backpage.

    Many thanks indeed for the pleasurable solve, and in advance to Prolixic for the review.

  14. I’ve not read anyone else’s comments, so there may be some duplication.
    This was an enjoyable puzzle to solve and none the worse for being quite easy. Possibly a bit heavy on the anagrams, not that it bothered me.
    Clues I particularly liked were 1ac, 17ac, 25ac (topical), 3dn (maybe a hyphen before ‘running’ would improve the surface), 14dn and 17dn (might be seen as topical).
    On the other hand I wasn’t too sure about the construction in 5dn and 7dn; in both cases there was no indication that the letters to be taken out of the anagrammed word were in that order – although the answers were plain enough. I thought also that the dependence of 23dn on 26ac was a bit weak since the two words differ by only one letter – it ought to be possible to devise alternative clues for either or both; I can see one or two possibilities.
    And in 22ac I had to look up the synonym for fog in the BRB, but it’s there so no problem. (I thought at first it was the French word – which it is, but for haze rather than fog as I found when I looked it up).
    So thanks, Troellog, I’ll look forward to your next one.

  15. Many thanks for review no.2 Prolixic! I do wish the commentometer gave credit for ‘artistic impression’ as this was a most enjoyable solve and the small errors didn’t seem to be important given the overall ‘feel’ of the puzzle.
    Learnt something new in the definition of 21d, I had it pegged as something rather different – just as well I don’t have occasion to use the word!
    Thanks again to Troellog – more of the same please.

    1. Good point, jane – rather a fun puzzle with a few rough edges (like this one) than one that’s technically perfect but dull!

  16. Thanks for the review Prolixic – especially good to get your view on 5d, as the master of the subtractive anagram! I’d defend 12a though – BRB does give “mum” as an interjection (“not a word’) Thanks again Troellog for a very enjoyable puzzle, looking forward to your next.

    1. I thought that about 12a as well, Fez. But the clue requires ‘keep quiet’ → ‘mum’. I can come up with sentences where ‘keep quiet’ can be replaced by ‘keep mum’ (and therefore where ‘quiet’ can become ‘mum’). But having ‘keep’ in the clue but not the answer seems awkward.

      1. Yes I had sane thought initially (which is why I looked it up!), but BRB does have “mum” on its own as the interjection, so I’d say that just “mum!” alone is, surprisingly, “keep quiet!”

        1. Ah, I see what you mean, Fez. Sorry, I’d failed to grasp specifically what ‘interjection’ was meaning there.

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